Tag:James Shields
Posted on: September 11, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 11:52 am

On Deck: Strasmas, McGowan, AL Wild Card race


By Matt Snyder

It's September 11, 2011. Much smarter people than myself have written about today, but things other than baseball should certainly be somewhere in our minds. Ten years ago today was a rough one. Let's be happy for what we have and cherish life. When you do stumble back to baseball for entertainment -- and it's essential for maintaining sanity -- you can follow all the live action on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. For me, though, it feels like baseball takes a back seat to the 10-year anniversary of a day that was so horrible, yet brought us all together as one, big family.

Strasmas ... again: It's Strasmas in D.C. Phenom Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the season Sunday for the Nationals, as they host the Astros. He worked five shutout innings Tuesday, allowing just two hits while striking out four. In his major-league career, Strasburg has a 2.71 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 73 innings. Expect him to work somewhere from four to six innings, depending upon how the pitch count falls. Henry Sosa (2-3, 4.11) takes the hill for the Astros, whose next loss will match a franchise-high 97 for the season. Astros at Nationals, 1:35 p.m. ET.

Dustin's Return: Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan hasn't started a game in the majors since July 8, 2008, but he'll give it a go Sunday against the Orioles. He's had several surgeries -- two to his shoulder and one to his knee -- and a long road of rehab back, so it's difficult to not root for him. He allowed three runs in four relief innings earlier this week, but it feels like a clean slate in his start Sunday. Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.28) takes the hill for the Orioles. Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET.

Sunday's Big Game: If the Rays beat the Red Sox, it will only be a 3 1/2 game lead for the Sox in the AL Wild Card race. And the Rays visit the Red Sox for a four-game series on their upcoming road trip. As if the stakes weren't high enough, two All-Stars take the mound. James Shields (14-10, 2.77) squares off against Jon Lester (15-6, 2.93). Last time the two started in the same game, the result was a 3-1 Red Sox win -- in which Shields only allowed a three-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in one of his major-league leading 11 complete games. Rays at Red Sox, 1:40 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:09 pm

Verlander leads candidates for AL Cy Young Award

Verlander, Shields, Weaver

By Evan Brunell

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Cy Young Award winner.

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP

The AL Cy Young is pretty much a foregone conclusion as Justin Verlander continues to run away with the award. But the ballot gives you five names to put in, so Verlander won't be the only one getting votes. Let's take a look at the top five candidates alphabetically:

Josh Beckett, Red Sox: Beckett has two things working against him in consideration for the award -- that being his recent injury derailing him and possibly costing him a chance at 200 innings pitched. When you compare that to the four other pitchers on the list, that will be a significant issue. In addition, while pitcher wins are an irrelevant statistic when it comes to actually evaluating performance, there are still plenty of voters who believe in it. Beckett's 12-5 record won't do him any favors despite a 2.49 ERA. One thing working in his favor is that Beckett has showed up against the Yankees or any other team with a record over .500, as his 2.06 ERA in 16 such starts indicates.

CC Sabathia, Yankees: Sabathia is no Verlander, but he's racked up the second-most wins thanks to pitching behind New York's offensive, gifting him a 19-5 record. He's also already logged 218 1/3 innings and his 2.97 ERA as-is would be his best mark as a Yankee. Oh, and Sabathia leads all AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement, so there's that. The reasoning behind that is that Verlander has pitched behind a tight defense that has only allowed 23.5 percent of batted balls to fall in, while the Yanks' defense is at 31 percent, making Sabathia and Verlander's ERA difference greater than it should be.

James Shields, Rays: Shields used to be known as Big Game James. It's Complete Game James now, as the righty has dazzled baseball with 11 complete games, four of them shutouts. He's come close a couple other times to complete games and/or shutouts as well, and has racked up 218 innings pitched over 29 starts, checking in with a 2.77 ERA and 14-10 record. The last time a pitcher had at least 11 complete games in a season was Randy Johnson (a name you will hear again in this space) back in 1999.

Justin Verlander, Tigers: It would be a surprise if Verlander didn't win the award unanimously after the year he's having. He's already notched 21 wins and is on pace to throw over 250 innings, which would be a career high. Add in 226 strikeouts in 224 2/3 innings currently with a 2.40 ERA leading the league and there simply isn't any other checkboxes one can tick off in stating a Cy Young Award case. This will very likely end up a career year for the 28-year-old ... not because he can't keep it up, but because he's had a perfect storm of a year. The last pitcher to win more than 22 in a season was Randy Johnson in 2002, when he came away with 24.

Jered Weaver, Angels: Up until a recent hiccup, Weaver was keeping pace with Verlander in the Cy Young Award race. After his Aug. 5 start against the Mariners, Weaver had a 1.78 ERA in 24 games started, posting a 14-5 record in 176 2/3 innings. Add in 150 punchouts and four complete games, and it's easy to see why some thought he could mount a challenge to Verlander. Fast-forward a month later and the righty is still having a strong year, but is solidly behind Verlander at this point with a 2.49 mark in 206 1/3 innings. There might even be an argument that Weaver was a better pitcher in 2010.

Who is the best candidate to win the AL Cy Young Award? We'll answer that later in the year, but have your say in the comments.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 6:22 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:37 pm

Shields just keeps completing games

By Matt Snyder

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields had only five complete games in his entire career coming into the season. He hadn't completed his own start since June 10, 2008, and that was of the eight-inning variety (a loss on the road). The last time he'd thrown all nine innings was May 9, 2008. So, basically, you could have gotten pretty good odds had you wanted to place a prop bet somewhere that Shields would lead the majors in complete games this season.

And if you found some place willing to give fair odds in a legal wager, you'd be on the cusp of wealth.

Monday, Shields threw his 11th complete game of the season, in what what was his 29th start. He entered the season with a rate of about one complete game in every 30 starts. This season, he's completed games more frequently than once every three starts. The second-most complete games in the AL at this point is less than half Shields' total, as Mariners ace Felix Hernandez has five. No one else in the more-offensive AL has more than four. Roy Halladay is the NL leader with seven, while Cliff Lee has six and Clayton Kershaw has five. Save a huge finish for Halladay -- during which time Shields would have to stop completing his own games -- James Shields will be the 2011 leader in complete games. And it probably won't even be close.

Even more impressive -- via Stats, Inc. -- is that the 11 complete games marks the most in a season since Randy Johnson completed 12 in 1999.

In every baseball season, we see our fair share of minor and major upsets. In 2011, Complete Game James has to qualify as one of the biggest.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:16 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 11:46 am

On Deck: Labor Day baseball


By Matt Snyder

Follow all game action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard.

Cardinals last stand: The Cardinals swept the Brewers last week in Milwaukee. Now the Brewers visit St. Louis for three games. Being 9 1/2 games out int he NL Central, the Cardinals need to sweep the Brewers again, otherwise you'd have to consider this race over. Even if they do sweep, 6 1/2 is a tall order, but it's at least feasible. Jake Westbrook (11-7, 4.72) is the Cardinals' starter Monday, and last time out he gathered the win -- and hit a grand slam -- against the Brewers. Randy Wolf (11-9, 3.58) was the starter for the Brewers that game, and it's a rematch Monday. Brewers at Cardinals, 4:15 p.m. ET.

Shields rematch: The Rangers have a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL West -- which is one of the few remaining intriguing races. Monday, they'll open a series in Tampa Bay. James Shields (13-10, 2.84) is the starter for the Rays, and last time out he handcuffed the Rangers for eight shutout innings, only allowing four hits. Only the Yankees and Red Sox have scored more runs among AL teams than the Rangers, so it's a tall order to hold them down once, much less twice. Scott Feldman (1-0, 2.86) will start for the Rangers in what was supposed to be struggling Alexi Ogando's spot. Rangers at Rays, 1:10 p.m. ET.

Big week for Cleveland: The Indians trail the Tigers by 6 1/2 games and have a two-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central. This week, the Indians have three games at home against the Tigers and four in Chicago against the White Sox. Monday, Ubaldo Jimenez (8-10, 4.70) looks to get things off to a positive start for the Indians, while Doug Fister (6-13, 3.26) will try to bury them. This could be a huge series, as the Tigers could essentially put the division away, but an Indians' sweep brings things to within 3 1/2 games. The two then have another three-game series later this September.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 27, 2011 1:44 am
Edited on: August 27, 2011 1:45 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Capuano dazzles in career game


By Evan Brunell

3 UpChris Capuano, Mets: It was a game for the ages for Capuano, who threw a complete game shutout while punching out a career-high 13, limiting the Braves to just two hits and zero walks. It was just the second loss in nine games for Atlanta, throwing 122 pitches in the effort. Capuano had a perfect game through five until Dan Uggla singled to break it up. The lefty had two good seasons for the Brewers back in 2005-06, but missed two seasons starting in 2008, and only tallied up 66 innings last year before moving to the Mets, where he's had a bounceback year with 154 1/3 innings with a 4.43 ERA. Capuano isn't a great pitcher, but he's a capable back-of-the-rotation starter that's providing value to New York at minimal cost.

James Shields, Rays: While James Shields won't win the Cy Young Award, he's making a bid to finish pretty high up in the standings, as he blew away the Royals, allowing just one run in a complete game, whiffing 12 to give him 192 on the year. His ERA is down to 2.96 in 201 innings and set a prestigious record for being the first pitcher to register at least 10 complete games in a season since CC Sabathia in 2008 between the Indians and Brewers. It's also just the second time it's happened since 2000, so Shields has accomplished something quite remarkable.

Nelson Cruz, Rangers: Cruz was a beast Friday, allowing the Rangers to take a three-game lead in the AL West. He slammed two home runs and doubles apiece to grab his 27th and 28th of the year, chipping in six RBI to push up to 84 and added three runs on a monstrous 4-for-5 night. He's now hitting .265/.318/.528 on the year, but August hasn't been kind to Cruz thus far. This game snaps a 4-for-23 skid.

3 DownRoy Oswalt, Phillies:  In Oswalt's last start, he had an outing worthy of landing on the 3 Up. But Friday, he had nothing against Florida, giving up five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, coughing up 12 hits while allowing a walk and striking out just two. "It was pretty much one bad pitch," Oswalt told the Associated Press, referring to Marlins catcher John Buck's grand slam . "[It was] a slider that didn't do what I wanted it to do." Oswalt was surprisingly booed by his home crowd, and now has a 3.77 ERA on the year. He's been touch and go ever since missing over a month with a back injury, and this was just one of these days where nothing quite worked.

A.J. Burnett, Yankees: What can you say about A.J. Burnett these days? His ERA is now 11.91 in August after giving up nine runs in five innings against the Orioles. He also racked up nine hits allowed. That August ERA is pretty bad, but so is his ERA in the second half of the year: 8.64. Phil Hughes isn't exactly doing a great job forcing the issue, but the Yankees need to skip Burnett in the rotation and put him on layaway for a bit. It's time for drastic measures, as nothing is working. Give Hughes a few turns through, and then re-evaluate things. If New York wants Burnett locked in for the postseason, a breather may be the best thing at this point.

Jose Constanza, Braves: Even through the hubbub around manager Fredi Gonzalez sitting Jason Heyward in favor for Constanza, everyone seemed to realize the benching would only be temporary. Eventually Constanza would cool off after a scorching start. Well, after going 0 for 3 with a strikeout against the Mets, it dropped his average to .173 over the last 23 at-bats. The cooling off is starting and should eventually result in Heyward returning to full-time play. Just in time for the postseason, too.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:47 pm

On Deck: Rangers, Angels start big series


By Matt Snyder

As long as the weather cooperates -- and it won't Saturday or Sunday -- we'll be blessed with a full 15-game slate Friday night. Keep track of every game by following along live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard.

Head-to-Head: The closest division race (where a team is actually in danger of missing the playoffs) is the AL West, now that the Rangers have lost three in a row and the Angels are red-hot with six consecutive victories (Check out Scott Miller's column on the Angels' recent ride). The Rangers lead has dwindled down to two and the Angels will visit Texas for a three-game series this weekend. Last time the two clubs squared off, the Rangers went into Anaheim, took three of four and left with a seven-game lead. This series represents a chance at redemption for the Angels. Dan Haren (13-6, 2.98) will start for the Angels, and he was torched last time he saw the Rangers, as he gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings back on July 20. Interestingly, Derek Holland (11-5, 4.42) -- the Rangers starter Friday night -- also pitched that game and was equally torched (9 H, 7 ER). The Angels actually won 9-8. Holland has seen the Angels since, though, and fared very well. He went 8 2/3 innings while allowing three runs and striking out seven in the Rangers' 7-3 win on August 13. Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET.

Shields returns to Toronto: Rays starting pitcher James Shields entered the 2011 season with zero All-Star appearances, five career complete games and two shutouts. He led the majors in hits and earned runs allowed in 2010, while also leading the AL in home runs given up. Back on April 24 of this season, he went into Toronto and shut the Jays out. It was his second straight complete game and his first shutout since 2008. That outing seemed to set the tone for a career year for Shields, as he's now been to an All-Star Game and leads the majors with nine complete games. He also has four shutouts, tying him for the AL lead. Friday night, Shields returns to the Rogers Centre to face those Blue Jays again. Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 4.32) is tasked with topping Shields for the Jays. Rays at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

Watch the Rox: Will history repeat itself? Remember 2007? The Rockies were six out in the middle of September but closed winning 14 of their last 15 to win the NL Wild Card. They actually got really hot for an extended stretch to make the 2009 playoffs as well. So even though you see the Rockies pretty far back -- nine games out with just over a month left -- it's hard to definitively say they're out of the race. Also consider the Giants and D-Backs have endured several rough patches each. Oh, and the Rockies have won five in a row. Friday night, they attempt to stay hot as they visit the Dodgers -- who have a three-game winning streak themselves. Esmil Rogers (6-2, 6.00) tries to keep the Rockies going while Ted Lilly (7-13, 4.58) looks to keep his club on track. Rockies at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:44 pm

Rested Rays bullpen finally gets used

David PriceBy C. Trent Rosecrans

For the first time since Juan Cruz threw an inning of mop up duty in a loss to the Yankees on Saturday, Rays manager Joe Maddon made the call to his bullpen for the ninth inning of Wednesday afternoon's game against Boston.

After a rainout on Sunday and an off day on Monday, the Rays threw back-to-back complete games in Tuesday's doubleheader split against the Red Sox before Price went 8 in Tuesday's game against the Red Sox. Pitching coach Jim Hickey went to the mound after Price walked Dustin Pedroia with two outs, but Price stayed in and on his 116th pitch of the game, threw a 96 mph fastball past a swinging Gonzalez for strike three to finish his game. Price allowed just three hits and struck out six, walking three in eight shutout innings.

Kyle Farnsworth came in for the ninth inning to nail down the 4-0 Rays victory, getting two line drives to right and a grounder to end the game.

As for Tuesday's complete games by James Shields and Jeff Niemann, the Rays public relations staff had a couple of notes from the Elias Sports Bureau in their game notes, among them:

• The last time a team had two complete games in one day was on Aug. 13, 1993, when the Brewers' Angel Miranda and Ricky Bones did it against the Tigers -- back when the Brewers were an American League team.

• The last time a team threw two complete games in one day at Fenway Park was with Luis Tiant in a different uniform, as Tiant and Sonny Seibert threw complete games against the Red Sox for the Indians on June 29, 1969.

• The last time two pitchers on the same team threw complete games on the same day at Fenway Park was when Dennis Eckersley was a starter for the Red Sox and he and Mike Torrez threw complete games against the Tigers on Sept. 23, 1979.

• The last time two teammates threw complete games while allowing three hits or less was when Boston's Matt Young and Roger Clemens did it on April 12, 1992 -- as Young lost without allowing a hit and Clemens won on a two-hitter.

• It was the first time the Red Sox have been held by an opposing team to three hits or less in back-to-back games was Sept. 2-3, 2000 against the Mariners. Of course, the Rays made that three games in a row on Wednesday.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 2:28 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 11:15 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Wang wins at Wrigley

Chien-Ming Wang
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals: The Nationals right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up an infield single to Tony Campana. He left the game after the inning, allowing just Campana's hit, while striking out one and walking two. He earned his first win since 2009 when he was a Yankee.

James Shields, Rays: Shields recorded his eight complete game of the season -- the most in the majors this season. Not only does Shields lead the majors in complete games, only four teams (not counting the Rays) have more complete games than Shields -- the Phillies (14), Angels (10), Mariners (10) and Rangers (9). It was his fourth shutout of the season, one behind Cliff Lee and tied with Derek Holland for second-most in the majors. The Rays wrapped up their 4-0 victory over the Royals in a tidy 1 hour, 53 minutes, about the same time as a Yankees-Red Sox seventh-inning stretch.

Cliff Lee, Phillies: Lee didn't get his sixth shutout, but he did pick up is 12th victory of the season, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out 10 in eight innings. Sure, that seems like nothing too special for Lee. What made Tuesday's performance was what Lee did at the plate. In the third inning his sacrifice bunt helped lead to the team's first run and he did it all by himself in the seventh inning when he homered off of Dodgers starter Ted Lilly. It was his second homer of the season and his career.

David Pauley, Tigers: The right-hander came into Tuesday night's game on Wednesday morning. Pauley was the Tigers' seventh pitcher of the game and struck out the first batter he faced, Jason Kipnis. But from there he walked Asdrubal Cabrera and gave up a single to Travis Hafner. With a runner on third, he intentionally walked Carlos Santana to face Kosuke Fukudome, who was 0 for 5 with four strikeouts in the game. With a 1-2 count, he hit Fukudome to score the winning run. It was the Tigers' 12th straight loss at Progressive Field. 

Curtis Granderson, Yankees: With the Yankees down two in the ninth inning with two outs and two on, Granderson, the runner on third, fell for the fake move to third and Jordan Walden picked him off for the final out of the game. As if that wasn't bad enough, Mark Teixeira was at the plate for New York and didn't get a chance to give the Yankees a victory after Mariano Rivera blew his sixth save of the season on a two-run homer by Bobby Abreu in the top of the ninth.

Josh Spence, Padres: Spence didn't pick up the loss and wasn't even charged with a run, but he entered the Padres' game with two on in the eight and after a sacrifice bunt, intentional walk and a sacrifice fly, the game was tied. He then walked Ronny Paulino to load the bases and walked Ruben Tejada, a .246 hitter, to force in the winning run for the Mets in the eighth inning. The walk capped a three-run eighth inning for a 5-4 Mets win.

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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