Tag:Matt Harrison
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:11 pm
 

Harrison leaves early with blister

By Matt Snyder

When Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison left after six innings and 99 pitches with a 10-0 lead, no one really batted an eye. It was a full day's work and the game was already in hand. As it turns out, though, Harrison actually left before the Rangers had planned, due to a blister on his pitching hand (RangersRadioBD on Twitter).

Harrison did collect the win to move to 5-4 and he lowered his ERA to 3.26.

If the blister is serious enough to cause Harrison to hit the DL, the Rangers' rotation will suffer a hit. Scott Feldman, Brandon Webb and Tommy Hunter have all been on the disabled list all season and aren't anywhere near returns. Webb would be the closest and he appears about a month away. Realistic options to replace Harrison if need be -- again, he may not go on the DL -- are the recently-recalled Michael Kirkman and the recently-demoted Dave Bush. The problem with each is that they've been used as relievers recently and would need to stretch back out.

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Category: MLB
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.

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Posted on: May 2, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Hunter to pitch rehab game Wednesday

By Matt Snyder

Matt Harrison's days in the Rangers' starting rotation may be numbered.

Tommy Hunter, who went down late in the spring with a groin injury, is getting the ball for Double-A Frisco Wednesday. The target the Rangers have in mind is reportedly 45-50 pitches and he'll be ready to rejoin the major-league club once he gets up into the 90-pitch range -- which should be about three starts, barring setbacks. (SportsDayDFW )

A few weeks ago, the thought was that Alexi Ogando would be moved back to the bullpen once Hunter was ready to return, but lanky right-hander is dealing and it would be foolish to throw that away. He's 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Harrison has flat-lined. As I noted in 3 up, 3 down Sunday evening, Harrison has given up 14 hits and 11 earned runs in his past 4 2/3 innings. That's over the course of two starts, not just one. Things don't appear to get any easier next time around, as Harrison will face the slugging Yankees Friday. If he doesn't get things figured out very soon, he'll be the odd man out in the deep Rangers' rotation.

Hunter, 24, was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 128 innings last season. He initially won a starting job out of spring training but then injured his groin the same day.

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Posted on: May 2, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 12:21 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Marlins muscle up



By Matt Snyder


3 UP

Florida Marlins' offense. Hanley Ramirez started the fun in the first inning with his first home run of the season, snapping an incredibly long drought for himself. The Marlins weren't done with the long ball, though -- far from it. Before the day was over, they'd connecting on five home runs. Greg Dobbs and John Buck went deep. Mike Stanton hit a mammoth blast to center. Even the light-hitting Emilio Bonifacio knocked one out, and it was his first career home run that wasn't of the inside-the-park variety. Meanwhile, the Marlins won 9-5 and continue to claw at the heels of the mighty Phillies in the NL East. They are certainly one of the most fun teams to watch. Too bad so few do in person. Maybe (hopefully) it changes in the new yard next season.

Bud Norris, Astros. Even if they aren't always consistent, the Brewers have some pretty good hitters, led by superstars Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Norris stymied the whole team for almost eight innings Sunday, working 7 2/3 innings and only allowing three hits. He did walk three, but also struck out 11 without allowing a single run. He's now thrown 13 2/3 shutout innings in his last two starts and has a 1.05 ERA in his last four starts (25 2/3 innings) after a rough first two outings.

Carl Crawford, Red Sox. There are no words that could possibly describe how abysmal the start in Boston has been for Crawford after signing his gargantuan contract. Sunday, we moved to a new month and Crawford knocked in the game-winning run in walk-off fashion against the Mariners. He got to celebrate with his teammates and hear the home crowd cheer him. I love stats, but one thing stats can't measure is the human element. Now that Crawford has had a weight lifted off his chest, the bet is he gets going. When he does, you'll hear that it was simply a regression to the mean from many, but it has to start somewhere. Breaking through with a big hit like this is something that sets a player's mind at ease.

BONUS UP: The Phillies fans -- along with a decent amount of Mets fans -- in attendance Sunday night in Philly. When news of Bin Laden's death spread through the stadium, fans stopped worrying about team allegiances and chanted "USA! USA! USA!" (There's a good video of it here , but I'm not sure it lasts too long before MLB sees it and pulls it). It's a nice reminder that, while we might bicker amongst ourselves, we're still Americans. Pass along some of that camaraderie this week.

3 DOWN

Ryan Franklin's fortunes, Cardinals. Franklin took the loss and the Cardinals' late-inning bullpen woes continued. If you look only at the surface of what happened, that's what you'd see. But remember, you can learn a lot by actually watching games. Not only did Ryan Theriot drop a pop-up to let Alex Gonzalez on base -- who scared the game-winning run -- but the Brooks Conrad single to win the game for the Braves was a blooper with eyes. Anyone who blames Franklin for this doesn't know a lick about baseball.

Matt Harrison, Rangers. So much for that hot start. Remember, after Tax Day, Harrison was 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Then he had a decent outing (6 2/3 innings, three earned runs) and took the loss. Since then he's been dreadful, and that may even be an understatement. In his past two starts, including Sunday's debacle against the slap-hitting A's, Harrison has allowed 14 hits, 11 earned runs and five walks in 4 2/3 innings. He couldn't even make it through two innings Sunday. Worse yet for Harrison is the fact that Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Brandon Webb are making progress in recovery from injuries -- not to mention how well Alexi Ogando is throwing the ball. Harrison could very well be pitching himself out of a job. Who woulda thought that a few weeks ago?

Carl Pavano, Twins. He's in such a bad stretch, he can't even properly throw a temper tantrum. After being rocked by the Royals to the tune of 12 hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, Pavano went nuts on something in the corner of the dugout with a bat (watch it on MLB.com by clicking here ). To use one of my favorite lines from Seinfeld, Pavano failed at failing, because he was trying to break the bat: "That's why I kept wailing away, because that [expletive deleted] wouldn't break." (Twins Now via Twitter)

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Posted on: May 1, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 12:05 pm
 

On Deck: Mish-mash in the Central

on

By Matt Snyder


Upside-Down Central: Coming into the season, the AL Central was said to be a three-team race between the Twins, White Sox and Tigers. Go grab a look at the standings as we head into May, though. They appear to be almost completely upside down from what we've seen in recent years. The Indians have won five straight and a franchise-record 18 in April. They don't appear to be going away. Meanwhile, the Tigers, Twins and White Sox have lost a combined 14 consecutive games. The Twins and White Sox are already nine games out of first. The Royals have won two straight after it appeared they were coming back to Earth. Does the turning of the calendar to May bring a complete reshuffling? Ozzie Guillen is ready to forget about April and I'm guessing Jim Leyland and Ron Gardenhire have the same feeling. I do expect the three bottom teams to get better in the coming weeks, but the Indians don't look like pretenders. This could actually be one of the most exciting divisional races. Or, if things don't change, the most boring. We'll see.

Still Streaking: Andre Ethier's 26-game hitting streak (an April record) is the talk of baseball. He's hitting .400 with a 1.059 OPS, 10 doubles, three home runs, 16 RBI and 15 runs during the streak, so he's not just squeaking by with a single per game. Dustin Moseley is the opposing hurler Sunday. In three career at-bats, Ethier has three hits, including a home run, against Moseley. That's far too small a sample to make any judgements, other than to say that he certainly won't be feeling anything less than confident when stepping into the box. That matters. Expect the streak to be at 27 come Monday.

Underrated Pitching Matchups: On a day when we're treated to Jered Weaver (update: nevermind, he's out ), King Felix and the surprising Justin Masterson, there are quite a few pretty solid, yet under the radar, pitching matchups. Jordan Zimmermann has not pitched nearly as bad as his record (1-4) or ERA (4.55) would indicate and he's facing an anemic San Francisco offense with Matt Cain opposite him. Expect a low-scoring affair. How about Jaime Garcia against the recently-arrested Derek Lowe? Dustin Moseley only has a 1.99 ERA to this point, and he takes on Jon Garland, who hasn't been bad. Ricky Nolasco against Bronson Arroyo is another pretty good match. Cliff Lee squares off against Chris Young (1-0, 2.65) in Philly. Over in the AL, young gun Zach Britton toes the slab against the White Sox -- who trot out Gavin Floyd (3-1, 3.60). Matt Harrison is looking to get back on track against the A's and Gio Gonzalez (2.70 ERA). As I said, lots of good pitching matchups that wouldn't necessarily immediately turn heads.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Webb's (lack of) velocity a serious issue

By Matt Snyder

In this morning's Pepper , I passed along that Rangers' starting pitcher Brandon Webb threw two perfect innings in extended spring training. At the time, that was all the information that was at my disposal. After reading the report filed by Jason Grey of ESPN.com, there's definite reason to believe Webb isn't anywhere near being ready to return.

The reason is that his fastball is dangerously slow. Meaning, it's a high-school level velocity. He threw 12 fastballs, and Grey had Webb clocked at 84 one time. That was his fastest pitch. Everything else sat between 78-82 mph. Yes, he was throwing a fastball only 78 miles per hour.

For what it's worth, Webb still feels like he's going to get close to where he was before all his arm issues.

"[Pitching coordinator Keith Comstock] feels like there's more clicks in there, and I do too. I feel like there's definitely some more in there. I'm not too far off. 84 is a little low. When I was good I was probably 86-89, topping at 90 or so. If I can get back to 86-88 I think I'll be all right," Webb told Grey. (ESPN Insider )

Webb also told Grey he was "letting it go" and not holding back on his fastballs. So that's definitely a problem.

In terms of getting back to the bigs, the team Webb plays for is as much a problem as his velocity. The Rangers have gotten solid starting pitching, with a 3.56 ERA that ranks them third in starting ERA in the AL. With Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson firmly entrenched in the rotation, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison going lights out, Derek Holland having a decent start and the impending returns of Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman, there isn't exactly a pressing need for starting pitching. And with the Rangers figuring to be in the thick of the AL West race all season, there's no reason to rush anyone -- and the club certainly won't be throwing anyone out there who can't break 85 with a fastball.

At this point, I'd be shocked to see Webb on the Rangers before August and wouldn't even be surprised if he fails to make it the entire season. It's sad how quickly an arm injury has derailed his once-stellar career, but it appears to be the sobering reality -- no matter how optimistic Webb continues to remain.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Pepper: Contentious homecoming



By Matt Snyder


Lance Berkman played in parts of 12 seasons for the Houston Astros. When he joined, he was the new member of the "Killer B's," along with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. He was a five-time All-Star and finished in the top five of MVP voting four times. The Astros' career leaderboard is peppered with Berkman's name. He's first in OBP, second in slugging, fourth in batting average and second in OPS. Only Biggio, Bagwell and Jose Cruz played more games for the club. He ranks third in runs, fifth in hits, third in doubles, second in home runs and third in RBI.

Or, put more succinctly: Lance Berkman is one of the greatest Houston Astros of all time.

But things aren't exactly peachy now. Berkman was having the worst season of his career in 2010 -- still a 122 OPS-plus, by the way -- before being dealt to the Yankees. Now, Berkman is playing for Houston rival St. Louis.

As a Cardinal, he's back to his old mashing ways. He's Big Puma again, hitting .377 with a 1.173 OPS, six home runs, 15 RBI and 19 runs through 19 games. He leads the NL with a .725 slugging percentage.

The big start drew the ire of a Houston-area sportscaster, who suggested Berkman didn't work hard his "last few years" for the Astros and now he was back in shape. (Eye on Baseball )

Tuesday night, the Cardinals visit the Astros at Minute Maid Park for the start of a three-game series. Needless to say, Berkman isn't exactly looking forward to it.

"I'm not crazy about going back in there. I felt like I've kind of turned the page and part of me just wants to be done with it. But I know I'm going to have to go back in there and face a lot of questions."

"I guess it's inevitable. When I signed here, I knew we were going to go in there three times, so I'm ready to go and to get all the hoopla, if there is going to be any, out of the way." (stltoday.com )

For whatever it's worth, Berkman did note he's in better shape, though he pointed out it was because his knees are finally healthy again.

It's certainly going to be interesting to see what kind of reception he receives and how he plays.

BASEBALL TODAY: Will Andre Ethier extend his hitting streak tonight? Will Roy Oswalt and Aaron Harang remain unbeaten? C. Trent Rosecrans joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

FEAST OR FAMINE GUYS: When you think of guys who either hit home runs or strikeout -- the Rob Deer All-Stars, if you will -- the names Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn are among those who come to mind. Carlos Pena, too, though he has been only famine thus far in 2011. Who are the ultimate feast or famine guys in the young season this time around? Beyond the Box Score took a look at the guys who are striking out or collecting extra base hits at the highest percentage. At the top? Jorge Posada, Kevin Youkilis and then ... Reynolds.

Rangers ROTATION UPDATE: The Texas Rangers have gotten pretty good starting pitching this season, other than from Colby Lewis -- who certainly isn't going to be removed from the rotation. Thus, they're pretty close to having an embarrassment of riches. Brandon Webb threw two hitless innings at an extended spring training game Monday. Scott Feldman is slated to throw three innings in extended spring training Thursday, while Tommy Hunter is going to throw in an extended spring game Saturday. Collectively, the Rangers' starters have a 3.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 103 strikeouts to 43 walks. The one expected to lose his rotation spot when someone comes back from injury is Alexi Ogando -- the guy who is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA and astounding 0.79 WHIP. So are the Rangers going to remove him? Or Matt Harrison (3-1, 1.88, 0.94)? Or Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson or Lewis? It's quite a log-jam, once Webb, Hunter and Feldman return, particularly if Harrison and Ogando continue to throw the ball well. (Star-Telegram )

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FOR OZZIE: On the heels of a 1-10 stretch, the White Sox got a close win Monday night in Yankee Stadium. It had to partially lift a big weight off their collective chests. Still, Guillen had recently put a target squarely on his own back, by saying if anyone should get canned, it should be himself. It was a noble move by Guillen, playing shield for his hitting and pitching coaches. Regardless, general manager Kenny Williams has now said it wasn't necessary. "The coaching staff is not throwing the baseball and not hitting the baseball," Williams said. "They’re doing what they’ve always done." (Chicago Sun-Times )

Mariners FUTILITY: The always-solid Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times discusses how bad the Mariners' offense is, and why it's going to get even worse. In fact, he argues there's a legitimate shot they'll score even fewer than last season's record-low 513 runs.

JAPANESE CONNECTION: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki go back a long way. In fact, they first met in high school when Matsui committed a breach in bathing etiquette -- and Ichiro questioned him about it a decade later. Yes, seriously. There's a lot more in there about the relationship between the two, and it's definitely worth a read. (ESPN's West Coast Bias )

LA RUSSA IN OAKLAND: No, not Tony. His daughter, Bianca, has made the Raiders' cheerleading squad for the upcoming NFL season. (Shutdown Corner )

MANNY IN HIGH SCHOOL: Manny Ramirez hit .650 with 14 home runs in 22 games his senior year in high school. Oh, and check out this description of him in high school: "He was the shy, happy-go-lucky boy with the perfect swing who everyone knew was going to the major leagues. The boy who loved to hit more than anything else. The boy who worked harder than anyone else. The baby-faced boy who never drank anything stronger than the nonalcoholic Puerto Rican eggnog from the corner bodega he chugged to bulk up." The writer begs the question, which is the real Manny? An interesting quandry. (New York Times )

HEAT MAPS: NESN is using heat maps for Red Sox's broadcasts. I like the general idea, but there are a million possible variations. What would be best? Personally I'd want OPS by pitch location. (Baseball Analytics )

ATTENDANCE WOES: We're going to hear about this all season if things don't significantly pick up during the summer when the weather gets better. Yahoo! columnist Jeff Passan writes about how bad it looks for several teams and the league as a whole. A lot of numbers look really bad, but it's important to note the drop across the entire league through April 24 was only 1.77 percent. You could easily use the economy and some pretty awful weather to account for that. I'll stick with that for now. Let's revisit the topic in late July. Now, if you're down more than 20 percent (like the Rays and Mariners are), that's a problem. A big one.

A VISITOR'S TOUR OF WRIGLEY: page/COL">Rockies%3A+Blog%29" target="_blank">Troy Renck of the Denver Post took video to give fans a tour of the visitor's dugout at the historic Wrigley Field. Obviously I'd much rather experience things of this nature in person, but for now this'll do.

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Posted on: April 3, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Hitless Crawford dropped in batting order

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carl CrawfordBoston's $142 million man is apparently feeling a little pressure -- and that's before Carl Crawford has even played a game at Fenway Park.

Hitless in his first two games with the Red Sox, manager Terry Francona has dropped Crawford to seventh in the lineup for today's game against the Rangers.

"It's kind of obvious he's trying too hard," Francona told reporters (via the Boston Herald). "As soon as he gets on base and starts causing some havoc, the real Carl will come out. In the meantime, we'll take a little heat off him. I just want him to relax a little bit and play."

Crawford is 0 for 7 with a walk in the team's first two games. He's hitless in three career plate appearances against Sunday's starter, Matt Harrison, striking out twice against the Rangers' lefty.

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