Tag:Ricky Romero
Posted on: June 26, 2011 10:55 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 10:07 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Romero does it all

By Matt Snyder

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays. Romero entered Sunday with a 2.98 ERA, but a 6-7 record. Here's the number of runs scored in support of Romero in his seven losses: 2, 1, 0, 0, 3, 2, 0. Sunday, Romero took matters into his own hands on the mound and in the batter's box as a veritable one-man wrecking crew. Romero went the distance on the hill, throwing a four-hit shutout and striking out five. He also had a two-RBI single in the sixth.

Danny Espinosa, Nationals. The Nationals didn't even record their first hit until the sixth inning, but Espinosa came through with the big blow in the seventh. The rookie second baseman hit a two-run homer of Philip Humber to give the Nats a 2-1 lead, and that ended up being the final score. Espinosa now has 14 home runs, 47 RBI and is possibly on his way to winning the NL Rookie of the Year, should things continue on this path. Meanwhile, the Nationals sent interim manager John McLaren out with a 2-1 record and have won 13 of 15 games.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants. The youngster was huge last year down the stretch in propelling the Giants to the NL West title and ultimately World Series championship with an absolute gem in Game 4. This season, Bumgarner had scuffled prior to Sunday. He came in with a 3-9 record and 4.06 ERA. He hadn't gotten lots of run support, but had also been knocked around a bit. His last outing -- 1/3 inning, nine hits, eight earned runs -- was an unmitigated debacle. But Sunday night, in front of a nationwide audience, Bumgarner stepped up with a huge outing. He worked seven innings and allowed just six hits, one walk and one run. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in the Giants' 3-1 victory. With the win, they swept the Indians and are now up 1 1/2 games in the NL West. While we're here, let's note Jeremy Affeldt pitched two perfect innings for the Giants to close it out and struck out five. Quite a day for the Giants pitching staff.

Jonny Venters, Braves. It was a rough afternoon for the man who entered Sunday as arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball. Venters brought in a 0.56 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 51 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. He'd only allowed 24 hits all season. Yet Sunday, in one of the best pitcher's parks in the majors against one of the weakest hitting teams in the majors, Venters couldn't finish the eighth inning. There were two infield singles and later an intentional walk that were out of Venters' control, but he walked the leadoff man and allowed back-to-back singles to Orlando Hudson and Chase Headley before being chased. Venters' final line showed 2/3 of an inning with four hits, four earned runs and two walks. He had only allowed three earned runs all season before the outing. This is likely only a blip on the radar, but it's still worthy of mention due to how big an outlier it appears to be.

Pirates defense. We discussed the Cardinals' defensive woes Saturday night and now it's time to look at another team in the NL Central -- which, by the way, is easily the worst defensive division in baseball. Only the Reds are better than average and at least three of the division's six teams are dreadful in the field. Anyway, I slightly digress. In going for the sweep against the Red Sox, the Pirates kicked the ball around Sunday. They committed four errors, which led to three unearned runs allowed and a two-run loss. These are precisely the kind of games the new Pirates -- who are still above .500 and within four games in the NL Central -- are trying to eliminate from their arsenal.

Diamondbacks bullpen. Starting pitcher Joe Saunders entered Sunday with a 4.35 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. He had a 4-7 record for a team only a 1/2 game out of first place. All he did against a very capable Tigers offense was throw seven innings and allow just four hits, one walk and one run. He struck out eight and departed the game with a 2-1 lead. Just an inning later, the Tigers held an 8-2 lead and then ended up winning 8-3. The culprits: Relievers Aaron Heilman, David Hernandez and Bryan Shaw. The three combined to cough up six hits, six earned runs and two walks ... all in the span of only recording three outs. The Tigers' seventh run in the inning scored on an error, but the game had gotten out of hand by that point.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 6:07 pm

Romero calls team meeting after comments

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ricky RomeroSometimes a Twitter apology isn't enough -- or at least that's what Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero believes.

After defending himself and his postgame comments from last night on Twitter, Romero held a closed-door meeting to address his teammates.

MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm tweets Romero wanted to make sure his teammates knew he wasn't "calling them out" and his comments were misinterpreted -- or at least sensationalized.

Following a 2-0 loss, Romero had some frustrated comments about the team, which has scored just 13 runs in the nine games he's started that the Blue Jays went on to lose. Overall, he's 6-7 with a 2.98 ERA.

From the Toronto Star

"All I can do is just pitch," Romero said. "I can't worry about the offense and what they do. I’ve always said this at one point we can’t rely on [Jose] Bautista, we can’t rely on [Adam] Lind. We've got to get somebody else to step up and get on base and drive them in. These guys are getting pitched around. Everyone's got to step it up or else we're not going to be winning ballgames. This team doesn’t revolve around one or two guys. Everyone's got to put in their parts. That's how we win ballgames."

This morning he tweeted this:

I don't know that any of his teammates took it as him "calling them out," just a pitcher that was frustrated after losing a close game. I'm pretty sure there were frustrated Blue Jays hitters saying the same thing, just nobody was asking them.

Expect this "controversy" to blow over quickly.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 4:50 pm

On Deck: Jack McKeon's back

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

MarlinsMCKEON'S RETURN: The Marlins will have their new skipper taking over tonight, as 80-year-old Jack McKeon will take the ropes as manager for the first time since 2005. McKeon is the third manager of the team in 2011 and fifth in two years as Edwin Rodriguez, who replaced Fredi Gonzalez last season, resigned before Sunday's game. After the bench coach managed Sunday, McKeon took over on an interim basis. At 7:10 p.m. ET, McKeon will become the second-oldest manager behind Connie Mack in baseball history and will host the Angels as the Marlins look to stop their losing streak, now at 10 straight and with 20 losses in their last 22 games. Jered Weaver takes on Anibal Sanchez in a nice pitching matchup. Angels vs. Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

MortonPUMPKIN TIME? Charlie Morton has been a revelation at 27 for the Pirates as he's adopted Roy Halladay's pitching style. Morton continues to impress with a 3.21 ERA. But his last two starts haven't been that great, and his 46 strikeouts and 34 walks aren't exactly impressive. Morton has yet to face an AL team on the year and, while the Orioles aren't the cream of the crop, will present a nice test for the righty as the Pirates look to get back to .500 after a weekend sweep by the Indians. He'll duel Jake Arrieta, who has eight wins despite a 4.45 ERA. Morton has seven. Orioles vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

RomeroHudsonPITCHING DUEL: A nice matchup is in store for the 1992 World Series contestants, as Toronto heads to Atlanta with Ricky Romero and his 3.01 ERA ready to do battle. Romero tied a career high in his last start with 12 strikeouts over eight innings and seems to be developing into a feared left-handed starter right before our eyes. Going up against him is seasoned veteran Tim Hudson, looking to crack the 4.00-ERA barrier as he is eight points over. The Braves have lost six of their last nine at home, so there's a desperation to turn around their fortunes. Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar will be back in town for the first time since being traded to Toronto last season. Blue Jays vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 5:29 pm

Best first-round picks of the last decade

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With the MLB Draft beginning Monday night at 7 p.m. ET, the Eye on Baseball crew is going to look at the best -- and worst -- first-round draft picks by each team in the last 10 years. 

With the way the baseball draft goes, there are plenty of busts in the first round every year, but there are a lot of great players in the game that were drafted in the first round and the supplemental first round. Tomorrow we'll look at the misses, but for today, here are the hits.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Most first overall picks make the majors and many (Alex Rodrgiuez, Ken Griffey, Chipper Jones) find their way to superstardom. Justin Upton may not be a superstar yet, but the first overall pick of the 2005 draft already has one All-Star appearance under his belt and will probably have more to come.

Atlanta Braves: With the 14th pick in the 2007 draft, the Braves took a local kid, outfielder Jason Heyward. Nice pick.

MLB Draft

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters is close to taking this spot, but for now it's still Nick Markakis, who was taken with the seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft out of Young Harris College in Georgia.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox had five picks in the first round and the supplemental first round in 2005, and as good as Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie are, the pick here is right-hander Clay Buchholz, taken 42nd overall out of Angelina College.

Chicago Cubs: While his name is now a cautionary tale, it's easy to forget just how good Mark Prior was before arm trouble. Drafted with the second pick of the 2001 draft, he won six games in 2002 and 18 in 2003, his best season. Overall, Prior was 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA.

Gordon BeckhamChicago White Sox: Even with his struggles last year and this season, Gordon Beckham has been a productive player for the White Sox after he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Cincinnati Reds: Taken out of high school with the 12th overall pick in 2005, Jay Bruce is the reigning National League Player of the Month and only seems to be getting better at 24. He already has 85 homers in his career, including a National League-best 17 this season.

Cleveland Indians: How bad have the Indians' first-round picks been the last decade? The 18 players taken by Cleveland in the first round and the supplemental first round over the last 10 years have collected just 506 games in the majors, 334 for Cleveland. Lonnie Chisenhall (29th overall in 2008) may eventually be their best in this list, but for right now it's the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie, who at least has 40 big-league wins.

Colorado Rockies: While the Indians' choice was tough, the Rockies' wasn't -- Troy Tulowitzki was taken with the seventh overall pick in 2005.

Detroit Tigers: With the second pick in 2004, the Tigers took Justin Verlander.

Florida Marlins: The team's best pick of the last decade came in the fourth round of the 2002 draft when it took high school pitcher Josh Johnson, but as far as first-round picks, their best is right-hander Chris Volstad, taken with the 16th pick of the 2005 draft.

Chris BurkeHouston Astros: The Astros didn't have first-round picks in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and haven't had much production from any of them. There's really just two choices, Chris Burke (10th overall, 2001) and Jason Castro (10th overall, 2008). Castro has potential, but is out this season and has played in just 67 big league games, so the pick is Burke, who played in parts of six seasons with three teams, but his 18th-inning walk-off homer (left) to clinch the 2005 NLDS against the Braves is one of the franchise's signature moments.

Kansas City Royals: This choice could be much more difficult in five years, but for now it's pretty easy -- Zack Greinke. The Royals selected him sixth overall in the 2002 draft and he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jered Weaver was the 12th pick of the 2004 draft.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers took lefty Clayton Kershaw with the seventh pick of the 2006 draft out of a Texas high school.

Milwaukee Brewers: This could change in a couple of years, but for now, Prince Fielder (seventh overall, 2002) leads Ryan Braun (fifth overall, 2005). Fielder is a free agent this offseason, while Braun is under contract through 2020.

Minnesota Twins: There were those who questioned the pick of hometown boy Joe Mauer with the first pick in the 2001 draft instead of Prior. Not anymore.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon may not think he's a franchise player, but David Wright is the team's best first-round pick in the last decade, taken with the 38th overall pick in 2001.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have plenty of first-round picks on their roster, although few were their picks. Two key pitchers, starter Phil Hughes (23rd overall in 2004) and reliever Joba Chamberlain (41st overall in 2006), were Yankee picks. The pick here is Chamberlain, who has allowed fewer runs in a similar number of innings and is currently pitching.

Oakland Athletics: A chapter of the book Moneyball focuses on the 2002 MLB Draft and Billy Beane's distaste of drafting high school players. In the book, the team is excited the Brewers take a player they won't touch (Fielder), and the team also doesn't want Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels or Matt Cain -- all high school player. But they get the man they want the most, Nick Swisher at No. 16. It's a good pick, as is Joe Blanton at 24 -- but it's hardly Greinke, Fielder, Hamels or Cain. The team also picked Jeremy Brown, a catcher out of Alabama, and Mark Teahen in the supplemental round. 

Philadelphia Phillies: Another pick from the Moneyball draft, the pick after the A's took Swisher, the Phillies snatched up Hamels, the left-hander from a California high school with the 17th pick.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The 2005 draft featured six players listed as center fielders taken in the first round -- and all six have made the big leagues. The second one taken was the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen with the 11th overall pick. The others were Cameron Maybin (10), Bruce (12), Trevor Crowe (14), Ellsbury (23) and Colby Rasmus (28).

San Diego Padres: The Padres may have had one of the biggest busts of the last decade in Matt Bush, the first overall pick in 2004 draft, but he's not been their only bad pick. The best of the lot was Khalil Greene, taken No. 13 in 2002, who had a promising start of his career, but his troubles with social anxiety disorder drove him from the game. Still, he's the Padres' career leader in homers by a shortstop with 84.

San Francisco Giants: Nine teams passed on the right-hander out of Washington, some scared off by his funky motion and small stature. Tim Lincecum proved them wrong.

Evan LongoriaSeattle Mariners: Adam Jones (37th pick in 2003) played in just 73 games for the Mariners, but was named an All-Star and won a Gold Glove with the Orioles in 2009.

St. Louis Cardinals: With a compensation pick for the Red Sox signing Edgar Renteria, the Cardinals used the 28th pick of the 2005 draft to take Rasmus out of an Alabama High School.

Tampa Bay Rays: Were Luke Hochevar and Greg Reynolds better than Evan Longoria? The Royals and Rockies took those two right-handers with the first two picks of the 2006 draft, leaving Longoria (left) for the Rays.

Texas Rangers: Funny story here -- in 2001 I was working at the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia and was covering the NCAA Regional in Athens when a Teixeira-led Georgia Tech squad was bounced from the tournament. After his last game, a kid from the student radio station asked Teixeira if he thought his poor showing in the regional would hurt his draft status. The Georgia Tech coach, Danny Hall, took the microphone before Teixeira could answer and said, "No." So did the Rangers, who took him fifth overall.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays took lefty Ricky Romero out of Cal State Fullerton with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft.

Washington Nationals: Another pick that could change with the emergence of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but that's still several years away because of the fourth pick of the 2005 draft,  Ryan Zimmerman.

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 12:29 pm

Pepper: Scorching Hafner could hit DL

By Evan Brunell

HAFNER HURT: Indians DH Travis Hafner is hitting like it's 2006, as the oft-injured DH is roaring along at a .345/.409/.549 clip with eight doubles and five home runs in 127 plate appearances.

Sure, that average is over his head, but he's still geared up to have a quality season. It's about time, as Hafner has been one of the game's most overpaid players as he succumbed to injuries following his four-year, $57 million deal signed during the 2007 season. He's been a major reason why Cleveland finds itself in first place, and has helped fend off any type of decline that could have happened once Grady Sizemore hit the disabled list.

Unfortunately, Hafner may be joining Sizemore on the DL with a sore oblique. He was taking swings in the batting cage prior to Wednesday's game when one swing left him unable to swing any more. After being a late scratch, Hafner plans to get the injury checked out Friday with a MRI.

"One of the big things was how it felt [Thursday] morning," said Hafner. "It wasn't worse. That's kind of encouraging."

Obliques are the scourge of baseball these days, and unfortunately for Hafner, he's probably going to have to go on the DL and could be out for a month or more. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

: Jim Leyland still lives in Pittsburgh, but he hasn't been back in the stadium as an opposing manager since 2006, his first year with the Tigers. Leyland, of course, is well known for his 11 years managing the Pirates in the glory days, back when Barry Bonds was manning left field. (MLive.com)

A nice story about Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia's night on Thursday. Romero went seven strong while J.P. Arencibia crushed a home run that eventually gave the team a 3-1 victory. Both players were reeling from the passing of a two-year-old fan after a battle with leukemia. (Toronto Star)

Jose Bautista's leap from last man on the bench to the best hitter in the game is still tough to wrap one's head around. But it's not the last time such a leap has been made. The closest comparable? Seattle's Bret Boone, who jumped in relevancy from 1999-2001. Of course, the likelihood that Boone used steroids is high, but unless you're really reaching or just hate Bautista/the Blue Jays, the same questions are not there for Bautista. (Fangraphs)

It's always entertaining to see players wear throwback uniforms. Sometimes these uniforms are preferable to the current set... sometimes they're nice memories or a way of learning more about history. Sometimes, they make us burst out laughing. History's being profiled Saturday when the Red Sox and Cubs wear 1918-era uniforms. (Boston Globe) Here's a look at what you can expect -- the 1918 uniforms of the BoSox and the 1918 road uniforms for the Cubs. And yes, no logo for the Red Sox.

: Sometimes I wonder if we take ourselves a little too seriously. Andre Ethier, who was slightly irritated with a photographer prior to Monday's game, flipped him the bird before adding the other hand to the equation. Ethier joked about the situation before Thursday's game before issuing a standard mea culpa. "I wasn’t [angry] at all. If you’re going to stand there and take the same picture for 15 minutes, what’s the difference between the first and the 15th minute? It just got kind of annoying. I guess I slipped up, and that temper you guys sometimes like to write about, got ahead of me and I didn’t use my head and use the best judgment in that situation. I made a mistake of it and it’s unfortunate." Don't we have better things to worry about? (Los Angeles Times)

Are the Cardinals the most disliked team in baseball? Let's look at the evidence. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

When talking about Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects (try saying that four times in a row), the conversation invariably turns to Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie. Except that Allie is nowhere to be found on the stats pages. That's because he's been at extended spring training, working on his windup and a lack of control. Things have progressed to the point where he is nearing game action. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Adam Lind won't be back with the Blue Jays for at least 10 days and is still a week away from baseball action in his recovery from a sore back. (Sportsnet via Twitter)

WHO'S OUT IN BALTIMORE? When Alfredo Simon returns to the Orioles' bullpen on Sunday, someone's gotta go. Bet on one of Brad Bergesen or Chris Tillman, as Jeff Zrebiec writes. Both -- especially Bergesen -- have been very poor in the rotation and the team can go with four starters for several days because of Brian Matusz's looming return late next week. (Baltimore Sun)

JOHN SMOLTZ RULE: John Smoltz effected a rule change in minor-league baseball while on a rehab assignment with the Red Sox in 2009. Now, major-league pitchers on rehab starts down on the farm can use major-league baseballs in games. (MLBlogs.com)

TWITTER CLOSED: Tony Sanchez closed his Twitter account amid what we thought were the Pirates being too sensitive about players going on Twitter and expressing a personality. However, Sanchez closed his account on his own (although a stern talking-to from the brass didn't help). Sanchez was benched three games for criticizing umpires. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

GOLD: A pretty neat promotion the Angels are putting on in which fans will get an autographed baseball from a player. Those lucky enough to end up with a gold baseball will then get to meet that player and get four tickets to another Angels game. (Orange County Register)

DL-BOUND: Joe Blanton is returning to the DL and will take Shane Victorino with him. The Flyin' Hawaiian has been hobbled the last few days and now the Phillies have decided they can't wait for him to heal much longer. Don't expect Domonic Brown's promotion, as GM Ruben Amaro continues to hold Brown back. (Wonder if it has to do with service time?) Anyways, expect either Delwyn Young or Ronnie Belliard to get the spot. (CSNPhilly.com)

NO MORE TOBACCO: The call to ban all types of tobacco in baseball only got stronger with the Diamondbacks' CEO Ken Kendrick calling for such a ban. (Arizona Republic)

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Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:33 am
Edited on: May 14, 2011 1:34 am

3 up, 3 down: Hellickson dazzles; Twins flounder


By Evan Brunell

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays -- The rookie needed 120 pitches to put together a dominating performance, a career high, but what a performance it was. He blanked the Orioles in a complete game, allowing a paltry four hits and one walk while whiffing three and set another personal best by going longer than seven innings, also a career first. Hellickson has a pristine 2.98 ERA on the year, but is doing just fine in replacing Matt Garza. While he's likely got some adjustment troubles ahead of him as teams and hitters get a book on him, he's for real.

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays -- Romero came pretty close to matching Hellickson, but fell one out short but still took out the Twins on four hits, three walks and eight punchouts. Romero's ERA dropped to 3.35, which hides the fact that two of his last four starts had been anything but strong. He got rocked against the Tigers last time out, giving up six runs in 3 1/3 innings. Boston also forced him out of the game with one out in the fifth on April 18 with five runs, but ran his record to 3-4 with the outing. The 26-year-old has really developed into a nice pitcher.

Cameron Maybin, Padres -- Are we seeing a breakout? Maybin posted his second-straight four-hit effort, tacking on three runs and RBI apiece while also drilling two home runs; one in the fifth off Jorge De La Rosa and a two-run shot against Matt Belisle in the seventh. San Diego ended up losing the game 12-7 to the Rockies however, and dropped to 14-23. Maybin, who spent years tantalizing Florida with his potential, now has a .273/.348/.453 line on the year and is benefiting from a change of scenery (and consistent playing time). He struggles in Petco Park, but who doesn't?

Honorable mention -- Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth, sparking dreams of matching Johnny Vander Meer as the only two pitchers to throw back-to-back hitters. Alas, Melky Cabrera had something to say about that.

Twins offense -- Romero is no slouch as a pitcher, but four hits? Really? Minnesota's pathetic effort dropped the team to 12-24, and the AL Central favorites are now all but dead and buried. The hits came from the Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 hitters and were all singles. It's tough to fathom, but the Twins have baseball's worst offense, easily behind the Mariners and Padres with 113 runs scored. San Diego is second to last with 127, so it's not particularly close. Yes, Joe Mauer is out and Justin Morneau isn't the same, but Minnesota really should have done a better job securing depth in all aspects of the roster.

Coco Crisp, Athletics -- A risk, and that's exactly what it was as it didn't work out. Crisp was caught stealing home in the eighth inning on a straight steal, and the White Sox eventualy edged the A's 4-3. "I sorta stutter-stepped instead of just going ahead and going through with it," Crisp told MLB.com after the game via Twitter. "That’s what made it close in his favor and not mine."  Overall, Crisp went 0-for-3 atop the lineup with a walk. It might be high time for skipper Bob Geren to hightail Crisp's .250/.273/.379 line out of the leadoff spot as the A's sink to 19-19, one game behind the Rangers and an additional half-game behind the Angels.

Dustin Moseley, Padres -- And that's why you don't believe in hot starts. Moseleay, who had a 1.63 ERA through six starts, has now turned in back-to-back duds. It's not fair to Moseley to consider him a bad pitcher, especially given he still has six strong starts, but he doesn't belong in the conversation with upper-echelon pitchers and his new 3.40 ERA -- while still a touch high -- is far more representative of his skills. He couldn't give Maybin and San Diego a win by drawing his fifth loss of the year (and that's why counting on win-loss records is ludicrous) by giving up six runs and nine hits over four innings, walking two and striking out three.

Dishonorable mention -- Brandon League blew his third straight save and now has an unenviable place in baseball history as his recent string of games have given him the worst streak a relief pitcher has put together in history.

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Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:19 am

On Deck: Verlander's chase for Ks, Teheran debuts


By Evan Brunell

BEST MATCHUP:  Justin Verlander (2-3, 3.75 ERA) will look to stop the Tigers' recent streak of futility when Detroit takes on Toronto, who will counter with Ricky Romero (2-3, 3.00 ERA). Both Verlander and Romero are two of the league's better pitchers in the early going. Romero had his previous start pushed back two days after straining his left oblique muscle. That injury is something to watch, given recent rash of obliques knocking players out for extended periods of time. Romero is also looking to build on the momentum of defeating the Yankees to break a personal three-game losing streak. Verlander, meanwhile, will attempt to narrow the gap between himself and Cliff Lee for baseball's lead in strikeouts. Lee has 60 on the night after a brilliant 16-K effort Friday night while Verlander is currently at 51. Tigers at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. ET

PHENOM LOOKS TO EXTEND STREAK: The Atlanta Braves withstood Lee's outburst to take out the Phillies for its sixth straight victory, which pushed Philly's edge in the NL East to 3 1/2. Atlanta still has to leapfrog the Marlins, who are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Braves and face the Nationals Saturday. Atlanta will toss out rookie Julio Teheran, who is making his first career start in a spot start. Teheran is widely considered the best pitching prospect in the game and is not even of drinking age. The Braves' rotation is all sorts of silly deep, isn't it? Philly will counter with one of its non-aces, as Kyle Kendrick replaces Roy Oswalt in the rotation. It will be Kendrick's first start of the year after making eight relief appearances, tossing 13 innings of a 2.08 ERA but with a horrid 2/8 K/BB ratio. He's going to have his hands full with the streaking Atlanta squad. Braves at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

CELLAR DWELLERS: Not every day you advocate a game between two of the worst teams in the NL, but hey. Houston and Pittsburgh are actually both holding their own so far, with the Bucs checking in at a 15-17 record and Houston 13-19 and playoff aspirations still firmly in hand. Teams aside, this is an intriguing pitching matchup, as Bud Norris is breaking out before our very eyes. He's improving his command the more he pitches and now has to be talked about in the same vein as Brandon Morrow and could even be better than his Jays counterpart. Opposing Norris is Charlie Morton and his new Roy Halladay pitching motion which has delivered a 3.75 ERA thus far. However, a 5.40 BB/9 means the wheels will fall off anytime now. How long can Morton continue to defeat inevitability? Astros at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 5:49 pm

On Deck: Can Clayton Richard halt the streak?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ethier's Kryptonite? -- We all know about Andre Ethier's 24-game hitting streak. Tonight could be the night it ends. Ethier is 1 for 13 in his career against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard with two strikeouts and no walks. Richard is 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA and pitched into the eighth inning in his last start. Padres at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

Welcome back -- Clint Barmes was supposed to be the Astros' long-term answer at shortstop. Instead, he suffered a broken hand in spring training and hadn't played this season. Tonight he makes his Astros debut, batting second and playing short. Barmes hit .400 (6 for 15) in four minor-league rehab games this week. Brewers at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

He lives -- The Yankees seemed to have struck gold in two reclamation projects -- two nights ago Bartolo Colon looked like he was poised for another Cy Young and tonight Freddy Garcia makes his third start of the season. In his first two, Garcia has allowed just four hits and no runs in 12 innings. He faces the hard-luck Ricky Romero, who struck out 10 Rays and allowed just five hits in his last outing and picked up a loss. He's received just four runs of support in his last four starts. Blue Jays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com