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Tag:Tyler Clippard
Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: NL East

By Eye on Baseball team

Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the National League East has an actual race -- as well as a team with a bloated payroll and no hope -- which leads to a great chance of some pretty interesting trades to and from the division. Here's a look at the five teams in the NL Eeast:

Philadelphia Phillies

Status: Buyers

Needs: Bullpen, RH bat

Notes: Manager Charlie Manuel said he'd love a right-handed bat (Philadelphia Daily News), probably in the outfield, but this is the Phillies and expect the team to focus on pitching -- at least that's what history tells us. And because their rotation is pretty good (you may have heard about some of these guys), they focus on relievers, likely ending a streak of five years of adding a starter midseason. The team is likely one of the many suitors for Padres closer Heath Bell, although some suggest the Phillies prefer Mike Adams. Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reportedly told Adams he won't be traded. However, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres, the Phillies are willing to give up Class A first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton in return for Adams.

Another bullpen trade partner could be the Orioles, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler said. The Phillies could be interested in Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara.

MLB Trade Deadline

As for the right-handed bats, the Phillies are in on the same folks everyone's chasing -- Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and maybe Jeff Francouer. The biggest hurdle of all for the Phillies is money, as in they've already spent it and they're worried about the luxury tax. The team has just between $2 and $3 million to spend and avoid the luxury tax.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Phillies and Royals have already exchanged names in a possible Melky Cabrera trade. Cabrera is a cheaper, younger switch hitter for those who fall short in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.

Now, if they're going big and bold, Buster Olney of ESPN.com, tweeted the Phillies could go for Pence, centering the deal around right-hander Vance Worley.

Atlanta Braves

Status: Bargain shoppers

Needs: Right-handed bat

Notes: The Braves need a right-handed bat like Roy Halladay needs air conditioning. Atlanta looks like the front-runner for the National League wild card, but don't have much money to spend. The biggest issue right now for Atlanta is its inability to hit left-handed pitchers. Braves hitters are hitting just .211/.285/.337 against lefties, with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer all below the Mendoza line against southpaws. That's why Jon Paul Morosi's report of the Reds' Jonny Gomes drawing the interest of the Braves makes sense, Gomes kills lefties to the tune of a .340/.446/.547 slash line this season and .281/..377/.510 in his career. There's also the regular names such as Ludwick and Beltran.

To make room for more payroll, the team could trade right-hander Derek Lowe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien wrote. The Tigers could be interested in Lowe, but would have to take up the rest of the $20 million he's owed through 2012.

New York Mets

Status: One-stop shopping

Needs: Young talent under team control; pitching

Notes: Outfielder Carlos Beltran is the top position player on the market, but his future is clouded by the number of teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield and the fact that he's not for sale, he's for rent. Whatever team gets him won't even get compensation picks if he leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Mets would reportedly rather pay Beltran's salary and get a good young player or top prospect in return. They could unload him to a team willing to pay the roughly $8 million left on his contract, but then they wouldn't get much in return. The Mets would prefer big-league ready pitching talent. New York seems confident it can re-sign Jose Reyes, meaning they're not ready to throw in the towel and go full-on rebuilding anytime soon. 

Beltran, however, does have a no-trade clause. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo!, Sandy Alderson gave Beltran a short list of teams interested -- the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Brewers and maybe the Yankees -- and Beltran hasn't ruled any of them out.

It's pretty certain now that the Mets won't deal Reyes, but it appears they may be holding on to Jason Isringhausen, too, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets.

Washington Nationals

Status: Listening to all offers

Needs: Leadoff man/center fielder of the future

Notes: The Nationals have pieces to deal -- from catcher Ivan Rodriguez to relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett, plus starters Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny. In short, they're open for business, with GM Mike Rizzo saying no player is "untouchable" -- but then following that up with "we're not going to touch our core." That means, "after a while, they don't ask for [Danny] Espinosa," Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Ryan Zimmerman is also likely untouchable, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos.

One name to watch is shortstop Ian Desmond, but that would take quite the return for the team to move the 25-year-old.

More likely to go are some of the team's relievers. The Nats are deep in the bullpen and it's a position that's always in demand. The top tier would be Clippard or even Storen, but that would require Washington receiving a leadoff-hitting center fielder in return, someone like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus or Denard Span, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes.

Florida Marlins

Status: Sellers

Needs: Third baseman, starting pitchers

Notes: The Marlins have starting pitchers that would interest many teams, but they may not part with them. Next year they rename themselves the Miami Marlins when they move into a new stadium and ownership would like a competitive team on the field when that happens.

Ricky Nolasco is the top starter to be had, but Knobler says they'd have to get a younger, cheaper starter in return for the 28-year-old right-hander.

The one the team may part with is Javier Vazquez, but it's not really their decision. Vazquez has a full no-trade clause and isn't in any hurry to leave South Florida. There are few places he'd accept a trade.

Sure to be gone is closer Leo Nunez. The Phillies are interested in Nunez. The other teams desperate for bullpen help -- like the Cardinals and Rangers -- are likely to at least inquire what it may take to get him.

Randy Choate has been verbal this week about his problems with current manager Jack McKeon and could get shipped off for not being a good soldier.

Also on the block are free-agents-to-be Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante. Infante's value is a lot less than it was a year ago.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: July 18, 2011 2:05 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: AL West

By Eye on Baseball Team

Baseball's trade deadline is just 13 days away. The rumor mill is certainly spinning, but we've only really seen one big move -- the Brewers acquiring Francisco Rodriguez. In the upcoming days we'll take a glance around baseball and sort out what we can expect to see from each major-league team. First up, the AL West, a division that saw several deadline deals last season, including an intradivisional Cliff Lee deal (though that happened in early July). It doesn't appear the landscape is ripe for another blockbuster like that, but let's dive in.

Texas Rangers
Status: Buyers
Upgrade needed: Pitching, both starting and relief.
Possible matches: Padres, Marlins, Nationals, A's, Mariners
Notes: If the Rangers continue to win at this pace and create big separation in the AL West -- they're currently up four games and have won 11 in a row -- they won't feel the need to make a big splash. They have reportedly talked to the Marlins about pitching, with Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Leo Nunez as possibilities (Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports). Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports, however, that the Marlins aren't going to move Nolasco or Sanchez. Evan Grant of Rangers Blog reports the Rangers are interested in Heath Bell, Mike Adams, Andrew Bailey and Brandon League -- though Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says the A's would have to be overwhelmed to move Bailey, since he's under team control until 2014. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports also has the Rangers in on Bell, Adams, Bailey and throws in Tyler Clippard of the Nationals. Buster Olney of ESPN says the Rangers are the "leaders" in the Bell/Adams sweepstakes. I'd expect the Rangers to do whatever it takes, within reason, to get to the World Series again.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Status: Frugal buyers
Upgrade needed: Could use more pitching and another bat.
Possible matches: They'd have to shed payroll first, so none at this point.
Notes: Thanks to several high-priced acquisitions in recent memory (Vernon Wells, c'mon down!) the word is the Angels don't want to increase the payroll -- even though general manager Tony Reagins denies that assertation, there's evidence to suggest it. So, while they'd probably like to upgrade several areas -- coincidentally, an upgrade over Wells would be nice -- there won't be much flexibility. Expect the Angels to make minor trades at the absolute maximum. UPDATE: Rosenthal reports Aramis Ramirez is on the Angels' wish list, but that Ramirez still has no intention of waving his no-trade clause for anyone -- at least until after July 31. This is interesting on several levels. Going after Ramirez would completely contradict the notion that the Angels aren't adding payroll. Not only is Ramirez making a pretty penny this season, but a trade would cause a $16 million option for next season to vest. Also, Ramirez's insistence on not leaving starts to make you wonder if he knows the Cubs will pick up his option after the season.

Seattle Mariners
Status: In limbo, but probably sellers.
Players available: Doug Fister, Jason Vargas, Erik Bedard, Brandon League.
Notes: We can't really be sure how things stand just yet. The Mariners were all set to be buyers and were reportedly interested in upgrading the offense, for example. But they've now lost nine in a row and -- teamed with the Rangers' winning streak -- that has buried them. I can't see a reason to move Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners won't, but some are sure to speculate about him. Just take those "rumors" with a grain of salt. All-Star reliever Brandon League could fetch a decent return and, when the Mariners decide to start selling, Bedard seems like a name that could be involved in any trade talks. Knobler also reports that Vargas and Fister are available -- and points out Hernandez and Michael Pineda are not.

Oakland Athletics
Status: Sellers
Players available: Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Conor Jackson and Michael Wuertz. Probably several more, too.
Possible matches: Pretty much any buyer.
Notes: You have to figure at least three of the above players are shipped somewhere. Things will probably go down to the wire, as none are huge difference makers and will probably be last resorts on July 31. Willingham could go sooner, as he's being dangled, it's just that not many teams are overly excited about him. The Pirates are said to be in on him, but could be setting their sights higher on Hunter Pence.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:42 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 4:01 am
 

Clippard 'vultures' win thanks to Pence's throw

Brian McCann

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Tyler ClippardThere will be no hiding of the truth when Tyler Clippard tells the tale of his victory in the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix. The Washington Nationals right-hander threw just three pitches in the game and gave up a hit to the only batter he faced, but that was enough to pick up the W in the National League's 5-1 victory on Tuesday.

"No, I'm going to say I grooved an 0-2 heater to [Adrian] Beltre and Hunter Pence threw him out at the plate to vulture a win in my first All-Star Game," Clippard said. "I don't think that story gets any better."

It was certainly enough for Pence, who was playing left field for the first time since 2005 when he was a member of the South Atlantic League Lexington Legends. Pence had a single in the game as well, but it's the throw he'll remember.

"Taking runs away and playing baseball, that's what it's all about, being a complete player," Pence said. "These days in the National League, that's what we're known for, being able to play small ball."

The National League trailed 1-0 when Clippard came in to relieve Cliff Lee and face Beltre with Bautista on second and Josh Hamilton on first and two outs.

"I had a weird intuition that he was going to hit a line drive and I was like, OK, if he's going to hit a line drive, I'm going to make a good throw. I was kind of anticipating it a little bit. McCann was right in position, made a good catch and tag -- that's not easy to do. It happened the way I envisioned it."

Beltre hit a one-hop liner to left and Pence fielded the ball a split second before Bautista touched third base and made a perfect play to McCann, who had time to set up and tag the sliding Bautista to end the inning.

See the play here.

In the bottom of the inning, Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer to give the National League a 3-1 lead and ultimately make Clippard the second National in a row to earn the All-Star win. Last season Matt Capps picked up the victory, like Clippard recording just one out.

"It's one of those weird things that has taken place. Coming into the game right there, that crossed my mind," Clippard said. "I was trying to get out of there without any damage.  We scored at the right time and it happens."

So who is getting the win for the National League in Kansas City?

"[Drew] Storen," Clippard said. "Storen's getting it next year."



For complete All-Star Game coverage, keep up with Eye on Baseball in Phoenix

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Naming the middle reliever All-Stars

Romo

By Evan Brunell

The All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday and while there will be no shortage of superstars, there will be plenty of shortages of one of the most valuable commodities in the game: middle relievers.

Middle relievers get shafted, both in dollars and fame, from acknowledgment. All the glory rests with the closer in an ill-conceived role whereupon a three-run lead in the ninth is deemed more important than a one-run lead in the eighth. It's hard to blame anything for the middle reliever's small stature in the game, however -- the two prized pitching positions one can play is as a starting pitcher or closer. If you can't hack it in the rotation, your only shot is to make a career of it in the bullpen. So already, relief pitchers are known as failed starters, even as specialization increases to the point where some top prospects are exclusively relievers when drafted. Middle relievers have it worse -- they're not good enough to close, either, so are marginalized to the middle innings.

So yeah, it makes sense for middle relievers to be leftover scraps.

But middle relievers are important in the game, with virtually every manager speaking to how crucial it is for a middle reliever to be able to carry the baton from the starter to closer. Oftentimes these days, it's not enough to simply get the starter to give way to the setupman who then steps aside for the closer. You need that guy for the sixth or seventh inning.

So let's take a minute and acknowledge some of the best middle relievers in the game. To qualify, a middle reliever must have no more than five saves on the season, nor be considered a setupman. A setupman is considered to be the first reliever listed after the closer in the CBSSports.com MLB depth charts. Injuries will be factored in provided the injured reliever has not been out an extended period of time. David Robertson is considered a setupman because Rafael Soriano has only pitched 15 innings. We want to focus on those sixth or seventh inning guys that have gotten the job done.

Here are your AL and NL All-Stars, with six representatives per league.

American League All-Star middle relievers

AlburquerqueAl Alburquerque, Tigers -- Alberquerque was placed on the disabled list Friday, but that only serves to underscore how valuable he was to the team. Manager Jim Leyland said the right-hander has been a "godsend" and Detroit would be six or seven games worse without the rookie. Alburquerque was inked to a split contract that paid him a certain amount of money if he was in the majors or minors. Many were surprised, as Alburquerque wasn't thought to be much entering the year. That's changed, as his strikeout rate per nine innings (14.59) trails only one other reliever, who happens to be on this list. Alburquerque also boasts a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings.

JohnsonJim Johnson, Orioles
-- Johnson has been huge for Baltimore after seeing his luster dim somewhat over the last couple years. Johnson has shaken off injury to post a 2.28 ERA, coughing up just eight walks in 47 1/3 innings and punching out 33. It's extremely rare for a non-closer to post a Wins Above Replacement 1.0 or higher, with only two middle relievers quaifying, both whom are on this list. But a hair under 1.0 is Johnson at 0.9, along with Alburquerque.

PauleyDavid Pauley, Mariners -- Pauley has been around, being sent from the Padres to Red Sox in a minor deal and making a few spot starts for the Red Sox over 2006 and 2008. He got razed, but boasted a promising curveball and solid control numbers. An excursion in Baltimore later, Pauley ended up with Seattle and made 15 starts last season plus four bullpen appearances, registering a 4.07 ERA. He earned a job in the bullpen to start 2011 and hasn't looked back, throwing up 43 2/3 innings of 1.40-ERA ball. He still doesn't throw gas, but limits his walks and -- it must be said -- has received very good luck on batted balls dropping in for hits. He has the fifth-most innings pitched of any reliever in baseball.

PauleyGlen Perkins, Twins -- Perkins has been the object of ridicule for quite some time in Minnesota, but rubs shoulders with Alburquerque and Johnson with 0.9 WAR. The lefty has posted up a 1.98 ERA on the year and has yet to allow a home run. While his walks per nine innings is up to 3.5 from a career mark of 2.4, not many will complain about his 9.3 K/9, way over his career mark of 5.1. He's doing his job against left-handed batters too, limiting them to nine hits in 41 at-bats (.200 batting average).

PestanoVinnie Pestano, Indians
-- Behind Alburquerque and Robertson, Pestano has the highest rate of strikeouts per nine inning. Unlike the two relievers that precede him, Pestano does so with a modicum of control, walking 11 in 29 2/3 innings. There's a healthy dose of luck involved, as he's allowed 22 percent of balls to drop in for hits compared to a league average of 30 percent, plus has stranded an eye-popping 90.9 percent of baserunners. Even Mariano Rivera can't sustain such a high figure. But isn't that what you want from a reliever? To strand baserunners and strike out batters? Well, can't do much better than Pestano there.

ZieglerBrad Ziegler, Athletics -- The submariner grabbed people's attention back in 2008 thanks to his unorthodox delivery, 11 saves and 1.06 ERA. Since then, he's been a solid middle reliever. This season, though, he's something else entirely: an elite reliever. He's doing it without the benefit of luck, too. While Ziegler is struggling against left-handers much as he has throughout his career thanks to his arm angle and has been limited to just six innings worth (most submariners and low 3/4 throwers have difficulties against opposite-handed batters) -- but he's baffled righties completely and will be the perfect complement to Perkins on the squad. Overall, Ziegler has a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings.



National League All-Star middle relievers

BastardoAntonio Bastardo, Phillies -- Bastardo is currently the Phillies' closer, but we'll cut him some slack since he only just stepped into the role with Ryan Madson's injury. At the start of the season, Bastardo worked as a middle reliever and remained there for much of the year despite turning in a great performance one after the other. Bastardo racked up 33 strikeouts in 29 innings prior to Friday's games and has taken over the vital left-handed role that J.C. Romero filled for years. The way Bastardo has been going, he'll have no trouble hanging onto a setupman role once Madson returns along with Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras.

BrayBill Bray, Reds
-- Before 2011, Bray's claim to fame was being part of the contested deal that sent Austin Kearns to Washington in 2006 and separating him from close friend Adam Dunn. Dunn would later become Kearns' teammate in Washington in 2009. Gary Majewski was part of that deal headed back to Cincinnati but injuries derailed his Reds career before it even started, and a complaint was later filed by MLB that Nats GM Jim Bowden had hid Majewski's injury. But back to Bray: the lefty has quietly been a solid middle reliever the last two years but broke through this year with a 1.65 ERA. Again, as much of these relievers are, Bray is lucky that some things beyond his control have gone his way, such as batted balls in play. But there's no denying that the lefty is on his way up after struggling with injuries and looking like he was going to wash out of the game.

BrayTyler Clippard, Nationals
-- Clippard is so dominating, only one other person ranks higher in Win Probability Added. WPA measures how a player affects win expectancy during parts of the game they are directly responsible for. Clippard has had the fortune of pitching in high-leverage situations, but he's also come through at an extraordinary rate to register a 3.03 WPA, second only to Joel Hanrahan's 3.18, and Hanrahan is a closer. Put middle relievers aside for a moment. As far as WPA is concerned, Clippard is the second best reliever in the game. He's earned that distinction with a 2.00 ERA and a crazy 99.3 percent of baserunners stranded. This doesn't count inherited runs, which Clippard does tend to allow in, but still, if a player gets on base via Clippard, he's not scoring.

LuebkeCory Luebke, Padres
-- Luebke recently earned a promotion to the rotation off the strength of his bullpen work, making four starts. Coming up as a starter, Luebke was tossed in the bullpen as a left-hander and is now the third NL lefty on this All-Star team. He became a long reliever of sorts, posting a 3.23 ERA in 39 innings. Unlike most pitchers, Luebke's luck actually worked against him, as he let in baserunners over and beyond what is normally expected, and his 2.83 xFIP reflects far better what he contributed out of the bullpen.

ReynoldsMatt Reynolds, Rockies
-- Like many names on this list, Reynolds is yet another 20-something who has excelled out of the bullpen. He now makes four lefties in the bullpen, but his year can't be denied. His 3.46 ERA is the highest of any middle reliever All-Star, but much like Luebke, he's been unlucky. Serving as Colorado's primary left-handed specialist, he'll serve the same role in this bullpen after punching out 20 lefties in just 14 2/3 innings.  Reynolds can hold his own against righties but is really best avoided against them. With his ability to completely shut down the best lefty hitter in the game, both Colorado and this All-Star team don't mind that he's less than optimal against right-handers. (If Sean Marshall hadn't counted as a setupman, he would have been here in place of Reynolds.)

RomoSergio Romo, Giants
(pictured) -- Romo boasts the best xFIP of any reliever in the game -- closer, setupman or middle reliever. That xFIP is at 1.61, which is also the only xFIP under 2.00 for any reliever. (Think of xFIP as ERA minus all the aspects of ERA a pitcher is not responsible for.) Romo blends strikeout ability (38 in 25 2/3 innings) and control (four walks). It may be hard to believe, but Romo is actually outperforming his numbers from last season, in which he finished with a 2.18 ERA. (In 2011, Romo is currently at 2.45.) With a fastball that doesn't even average out to 90 mph, you wouldn't necessarily think Romo would be so dominant. But he doesn't rely on his fastball; he instead dares batters to hit his slider. And they can't. Maybe it's the beard?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 2:42 am
Edited on: May 7, 2011 2:43 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Big day for Reyes

Reyes

By Evan Brunell

3upJose Reyes, Mets -- Reyes sure likes his contract year, huh? The question has to be asked: how much of this is him being healthy and how much actually invested and trying -- motivated? A mixture of both, I think. He went 3 for 4, scoring two runs against the Dodgers and Hiroki Kuroda. Oh, and the three hits were a double and two triples. He's now hitting a cool .326/.377/.500. As much as I want him to stay with the Mets (long term, signing an extension), they simply have to trade him, don't they?

Athletics offense -- Oakland was able to net a 3-2 victory, but only mustered five hits and none with two. But the interesting thing is the zero strikeouts registered by anyone on the team. Yes, that's an anomaly, but it underscores how little the A's whiff; they're 22nd in baseball with 203 strikeouts. That's what Moneyball's really about; finding ways to get the best bang for your buck. The A's pioneered it with on-base percentage, kickstarted the defensive resurgence we've seen, and are now monopolizing a team who doesn't strike out. (And really, they only have one major offender with Josh Willingham's 35 punchouts. But they'll gladly pay him for his power.)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals -- Part of what I aim to do with this 3 up, 3 down series is highlight some more obscure players to give them their due. That's why Clippard beats out some honorable mentions who have already had separate articles written about. Clippard has evolved into a mixture of a long reliever while also being as good as any setup man in the game. That's an interesting -- and lethal -- combination. Now you don't need three pitchers to shut down the 7-8-9, you only need two. He went two innings Friday against Florida, striking out both sidse until Drew Storen can on in the ninth. And, scene. The outing gives Clippard a 1.29 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 21 innings pitched. That paces him for 106 innings, by the way. Last reliever to pitch that far? Steve Sparks for the Tigers in 2003. How's that for a name? Scott Proctor (102 1/3, 2006 -- thanks, Joe Torre) and Scot Shields (105 1/3, 2004) are other recent relievers to reach that mark. Proctor and Shields shined in the ERA department as well as Guillermo Mota, who tossed 105 the same year as Sparks. 

Honorable mention -- Cliff Lee's historic start with 16 Ks, Jaime Garcia's near-miss of a perfect game.


3downAndy Oliver, Tigers -- The Tigers' 2009 second-round pick had five fairly awful starts for the Tigers last season but is still a promising lefty at age 23. But down in Triple-A, he had his start Friday pushed back because of a sore hand induced on Thursday by playing with a... slingshot. Yeah, really. The early entrant for oddest injury of the year, Oliver will skip a start although Triple-A manager Phil Nevin (already?) said he could have started today if they needed him to; the soreness just gave them an excuse to do what they intend to do from time to time, which is to skip Oliver. Expect him to make a handful of starts for Detroit down the stretch, possibly quite a bit more if he keeps up his 3.64 ERA start in five starts with a 31/12 K/BB in 29 2/3 innings.

Matt Harrison, Rangers -- First, the line: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. Not awful, right? Limited his runs. But it was clearly another poor start from the lefty, who expended 119 pitches ans the Yankees beat Texas 4-1. He really should have given up a lot more, and he's got a seat that just grew a little warmer with Tommy Hunter's impending return.

Vernon Wells, Angels -- It looked like Wells was finally getting hot: he cranked a homer May 2nd and then started a four-game hit streak that included a two-hit night in six at-bats with another homer. But he couldn't keep the good times going even as the Angels edged the Indians 2-1 in 10 innings. He had an 0-for-4 night, striking out three times. He's showed enough power so far that he should be considered a factor, but his lousy plate discipline is severely hampering him.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:01 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/16: Super Nova

Ivan Nova

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Ivan Nova, Yankees -- The right-hander competing for a spot in the Yankees' rotation showed he could handle AL East competition on Wednesday, dominating the Orioles. Nova didn't allow a hit in six innings, and just two O's reached base. Nova hit Robert Andino to lead off the game and Adam Jones reached on an error in the fourth inning. Nova faced 19 batters, one over the minimum, throwing 59 pitches, 41 for strikes.

2. Elliot Johnson, Rays -- Competing for a spot on the Rays' bench, Johnson -- who has mostly played at second base -- made his spring debut in center field, and made quite the impression. Johnson stole three bases -- including a steal of home in the sixth inning, also had a double and as ingle, two runs and two RBI.

3. Joe Mauer, Twins -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer made his spring debut on Wednesday and singled on the second pitch he saw. Mauer served as the team's designated hitter and is expected to catch on Thursday in a minor league game.

3 DOWN

1. Tyler Clippard, Nationals -- The reliever coughed up his team's four-run lead by walking the first two batters he faced, then giving up two doubles, a triple and an RBI single to score the winning run.

2. J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks -- Another reliever, another disaster. Putz faced five batters and didn't retire one. He did, however, get credit for 1/3 of an inning because Erick Aybar was caught stealing. He walked three, gave up two hits and four runs. He also added a wild pitch to boot. But hey, he was throwing 92-94 mph, so there's that.

3. Daniel Schlereth, Tigers -- Well, while we're at it, why not make it a trilogy? Lefty Daniel Schlereth faced four batters Wednesday against the Cardinals and walked all four of them. Coming into Wednesday's game, he'd walked just one batter and hadn't allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: July 16, 2010 10:41 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:34 am
 

Zimmerman doesn't want Nats broken up


Ryan Zimmerman The Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman knows the team isn't headed to the postseason in 2010, but he's hopeful the team doesn't look too far into the future and keep some of the pieces the team does have right now -- especially Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham.

Zimmerman is under contract through 2013, so it's understandable he'd like the others to stay. However, Dunn and Willingham are free agents after the season, so even not trading them will guarantee they stay in DC.

"We're so close," Zimmerman told the Washington Post 's Adam Kilgore . "I mean, they know. Mike [Rizzo] and Stan [Katsen] are smart. They're one of the biggest reasons we're so much better this year. They drafted well. They traded well. They know what we need to do to win. I don't think either of them want to get rid of either of those guys. They understand what we have, and they're proud of the team we have."

The Nationals are 39-50 and hoping to avoid 100 losses for the third season in a row.

Both Willingham and Dunn have expressed a desire to stay with the Nationals, but Dunn may be wavering because of the Nationals' lack of communication on an extension.

Dunn is also the team's best trading piece, but there's no immediate replacement for Dunn's power production in the system.

The team's other trading piece is closer Matt Capps, signed to a one-year deal. Capps has 23 saves and in a market short on relievers, he could bring in more than his future worth, especially with Drew Storen ready to take over the closer's role and Tyler Clippard with cloer's stuff, as well.

Zimmerman, though, said he'd like to keep the team together and pal the rest of the season at full strength in order to stay below 100 losses and maybe entice free agents to come to Washington.

"I think this year is the first year where we can kind of see over the hump," Zimmerman said. "Next year -- I hate talking about next year already -- but next year we have a possibility to do a lot of damage."

The Nationals are clearly a team on the rise, but Dunn is 30 and may be looking to play for a winning team for once, in his 10 seasons, the only winning team he's played for is the 2008 Diamondbacks, a team that finished 82-80. Dunn joined the team in a trade after the deadline and failed to make the playoffs.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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