Tag:Max Scherzer
Posted on: May 16, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:12 pm
 

On Deck: Something's gotta give

Giants
OD

By Matt Snyder


In a stat that may only interest me, Monday night features six games pitting teams against each other that have either won or lost at least two games, meaning even modest "streaks" are going to be broken. The Padres-Diamondbacks, for example, isn't overly exciting just because both teams have won two straight games. The Phillies-Cardinals game (Phils have dropped two straight, the Cardinals three) is a nice match, but not because of the modest losing streaks. The Yankees (lost five straight) and Rays (lost two straight) is a big series because they're the top two teams in the very tight AL East. There are, however, two pretty extreme "something's gotta give" examples -- one on each end of the spectrum.

STREAK-BREAKERS, WINNING EDITION: The Blue Jays have won five in a row. The only team with a longer current winning streak is the Tigers, their foe Monday night in Detroit. The Tigers bring in a seven-game winning streak that has brought them to within 3 1/2 games of the surprising Indians, who sport the best record in baseball. Taking the hill for the Tigers is Max Scherzer, who is 6-0 with a 3.20 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings thus far in 2011. He'll have the task of dealing with the hot-swinging Blue Jays' lineup, specifically Jose Bautista. Bautista is pretty clearly the best hitter in baseball right now, and it's not even close. He leads the majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, walks and home runs. His .368 batting average is tops in the AL and his 284 OPS-plus is insane. His three-homer game Sunday was yet another exclamation point. Toronto at Detroit, WATCH LIVE SCORING.

STREAK-BREAKERS, LOSING EDITION: The Mariners have lost six games in a row. Fortunately for them, they don't have the longest streak of futility in the majors at present, because the Twins have lost eight straight. Late Monday night, the two last-place teams will square off in Safeco Field, and the good news is someone has to win. Surprisingly enough, it's actually a good pitching matchup. Scott Baker (2-2, 3.71) was roughed up last time out, but had a 1.59 ERA in his previous four starts and is striking out batters at a pretty high rate. Michael Pineda (4-2, 2.84) has been much better, though. He's struck out 45 in his 44 1/3 innings as a rookie and looks every bit the future ace he was projected to be. Considering the two offenses are the lowest scoring in the AL, this one could be a quickie. Minnesota at Seattle, WATCH LIVE SCORING.

UNDERRATED PITCHING MATCHUP: At first glance, Carlos Zambrano vs. Homer Bailey isn't an elite duel. Bailey (2-0, 0.69) brings in a hot start and is still young enough to be reaching a ceiling many thought was that of a top-of-the-line ace earlier in his development. Zambrano (4-1, 4.35) is actually 4-0 on the road this season and has a really good track record against the Reds and in Great American Ball Park. He owns Scott Rolen (.229 OBP in 48 plate appearances) and has had good success against Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Zambrano's career line at GABP is 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 87 innings. Oh, he also has three home runs and an. 804 OPS in 39 career plate appearances at GABP. Chicago (NL) at Cincinnati, WATCH LIVE SCORING.

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Posted on: May 15, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: May 15, 2011 12:55 pm
 

On Deck: We're goin' sweepin'

Giants
OD

By Matt Snyder


As always on a Sunday, we've got a full slate of games. Standing out this time around are four possible sweeps, for varying reasons.

HOT GONZO: The Red Sox are looking to sweep their bitter rivals, and they're looking to do so in Yankee Stadium. A loss for the Yankees would be their fifth straight and a victory for the Red Sox would have them at .500 for the first time since the season began. Still, both large-market groups look up at the Rays -- who have gone 22-8 since a 1-8 start. Taking center stage for the Red Sox is first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. In fact, we may soon be talking about a historic month if he keeps up this pace. He's homered in four straight games (five HRs and nine RBI in those four) and take a look at his stat-line for the month: .345 average, eight home runs, 19 RBI, 1.198 OPS. That's in 13 games. Red Sox at Yankees, 8:05 p.m. ET.

CENTRAL SHOWDOWN: The Reds-Cardinals rivalry continues to gain steam after last season's dust up. The Reds have taken two straight in Cincy and have taken over first place in the Central by a half-game. A win Sunday would assure a sweep and keep them in first. Public Enemy No. 1 (for St. Louis, that is) Brandon Phillips came through with a huge game to help propel the Reds Saturday, and one of the Cardinals' most prominent members in last season's brawl, Chris Carpenter, gets the ball Sunday. Cardinals at Reds, 1:10 p.m. ET.

Tigers, Twins TAKE OPPOSITE PATHS: The longest winning streak and losing streak at present in the majors both reside in the AL Central. The Tigers run 6-0 Max Scherzer to the hill looking to extend their winning streak to eight games. Seeing Kyle Davies take the ball for the Royals means it's a pretty good bet. Royals at Tigers, 1:05 p.m. ET (nevermind, it's been postponed). On the flip-side, the Twins have lost seven in a row and are -- rather easily at this point -- the worst team in baseball. Injuries have been a problem, but that doesn't account for the dreadful underperformance. Brian Duensing gets the nod for the Twins, as they'll square off against Brandon Morrow and the Blue Jays -- who have won four straight. Blue Jays at Twins, 2:10 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 11:14 am
 

Pepper: Radar-gun manipulation

By Evan Brunell

BASEBALL TODAY: How big of a surprise has Freddy Garcia been for the Yankees? Will Max Scherzer remain unbeaten? Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

RADAR GUN SHENANIGANS: As pitch F/X takes hold across all of baseball, it's meant the decline of radar-gun manipulation, which used to be an asset to teams.

While radar guns still vary from stadium to stadium (the Angels and Rangers reportedly run a bit slow), it's become difficult for teams to jigger radar-gun readings on the scoreboard to their advantage.

Current Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers recalled situations in San Diego when the team would purposely reduce the velocity of Brad Penny's fastballs, causing the hurler to get upset that he wasn't throwing as hard as he thought. That made Penny -- with the Dodgers at the time -- start throwing harder, which in turn made his fastball elevate for the hitter's liking.

The pitch F/X system is automatic and feeds directly to the scoreboard, so the lack of a middleman cuts out shenanigans that could otherwise take place. However, some stadiums may still manipulate readings despite annual reminders from the league not to do so.

Radar-gun readings became an issue last week when Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman was registered as throwing 93-94 mph with his fastball. That led to much concern, with many wondering if Chapman was injured. He's back to 100-plus these days, so everything is fine, but one can't help but wonder if San Diego was gaming the system, given their current reputation as a stadium where radar-gun readings are low despite having switched over to the pitch F/X system. (Arizona Republic)

WHAT IT MEANS TO LEAD OFF: A leadoff man is responsible for getting on base. Period. Stolen bases can be a nice luxury, but too many teams act as if the flip's true. (New York Times)

THE STATE OF ELLSBURY: Jacoby Ellsbury is currently in the midst of a hot streak which has seen his return to the leadoff spot in the lineup. But it's still unclear what Ellsbury really is as a hitter. To stay as leadoff man, Ellsbury needs to get on base. (Boston Globe)

BACK TO O'MALLEY? Former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley could be back to the rescue, as he may be gearing up for an eventual run at taking the team back. A Dodgers executive revealed that O'Malley has lined up two "big time" investors if -- or when -- Frank McCourt sells the club. (KLAC 570 AM)

DEFENSIVE WHIZ: Alcides Escobar doesn't even have a month's tenure with the team but is already being discussed as the best defensive Royals shortstop in franchise history. (FOX Sports Kansas City)

SLOW GOING: Chris Snyder now has the ignominious lable of slowest runner in the game now that Bengie Molina has retired (brother Jose and Yadier are, somehow, faster). In fact, Snyder has never stolen a base in a game and should end up in second place by the end of the season behind Russ Nixon, a catcher in the 60s, for most plate appearances without a steal. (Wall Street Journal)

ADJUSTING: Corey Hart has only just returned to the lineup for the Brewers, and he's not pleased with where he is swing is despite collecting two hits in his return. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

LAWN CARE: Former major leaguer and current minor-league manager Delino DeShields knows what its like to have a heralded prospect with his son, Delino Jr., in the Astros system. Funny thing, though -- his former landscaper does, too. Cecil Newton saw his son, Cam, go No. 1 overall in the NFL draft Thursday night. (Dayton Daily News)

HOME RUN! Only in this day and age can you read a story written by a fan -- also a ball-catcher who has over 4,000 baseballs caught -- on how he caught someone's first major-league home run and what it was like to meet the player. That's what happened here, and it's a nice behind-the-scenes telling of what happens when you catch such an important ball. Of course, it helps when the batter, Mike Nickeas, is "genuinely awesome." (MLBlogs.com)

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Posted on: March 28, 2011 10:24 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/28: Orioles version

By Matt Snyder

3 UP

Luke Scott, Orioles. By the end of the second inning Scott had two home runs and seven RBI after a three-run bomb and a grand slam. Have a day, Luke!

Jake Fox, Orioles. He was outdone by Scott Monday, since Fox only mustered one home run and RBI -- but let's tip our collective hats to the spring Fox put together. He came in fighting for a roster spot, he left with 10 home runs in 73 at-bats, with a 1.137 OPS. Basically, he was the most feared slugger in the Grapefruit League.

Kila Ka'aihue, Royals. Though overshadowed by Fox, the Royals' first-sacker is having quite the spring of his own. Ka'aihue hit his seventh home run of the spring Monday and drove home three -- running that total to 20 RBI in 56 at-bats. He's hitting .411 with an amazing 1.351 OPS.

3 DOWN

Max Scherzer, Tigers. If the Orioles' hitters went that bonkers, someone had to bear the brunt of it, and it was Scherzer. He was dismantled. The ugly line: 2 1/3 innings, nine hits, 11 earned runs, three home runs (see above for the Baltimore culprits). He was already having a rough spring, but now the ERA sits at 10.38. On the bright side, last season Scherzer had a 6.23 ERA and he went on to put up a 3.50 ERA in the regular season.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals. Only four guys crossed the plate, but Westbrook allowed 13 baserunners in 4 1/3 innings. That's a WHIP of 3.00 and he won't always be able to strand so many runners -- especially with zero strikeouts.

Bud Norris, Astros. The Phillies -- sans Ryan Howard and, of course, Chase Utley -- had their way with Norris Monday. Six hits, four walks and a three-run Ben Francisco bomb doomed Norris, as he allowed six earned runs in five innings and saw the spring ERA balloon to 7.71. Much like Scherzer, however, Norris was brutal last spring and much better when the games actually mattered. Fortunately for the two, the slates wipe clean in just a few days. And fortunately for the rest of us, too, because we need some games that mean something.

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: February 24, 2011 3:49 pm
 

Honorary All-Grudzielanek team

Mark Grudzielanek played in 1,802 games over the course of 15 major-league seasons. He appeared in uniform for six different teams, making the NLCS twice -- once with the Cubs and once with the Cardinals. He hit .289 with over 2,000 hits and 946 runs scored. He earned one Gold Glove and made the All-Star team once. He was a good guy who always played hard and was generally liked by teammates. Basically, Grudzielanek had a quality major-league career, but won't be showing up on any all-time lists.

That is, unless you are looking squarely at that stupendous last name.

So, in light of his retirement announcement Wednesday, it only seems fitting to put together an All-Star team of the best names in baseball. We're looking for who will carry the torch on with Grudz's departure, so it's current players only. No real criteria, other than that the name just has to sound interesting or be really hard to spell -- or both. This is completely subjective, so there's definite room for argument.

Without further ado, here is the 25-man roster (we also listed all names we considered).

CATCHER: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox. And here's the team captain. There's no better name in baseball. Backup: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays. Also considered: Francisco Cervelli, Yankees; Taylor Teagarden, Rangers.

FIRST BASE: Pablo Sandoval, Giants. Bonus points for having an awesome nickname. Backup: Kila Ka'aihue, Royals. Also considered: Justin Smoak, Mariners

SECOND BASE: Chone Figgins, Mariners. Real slim pickings here. Nearly every name for a second basemen is bland or common. We'll go with Figgins because "Chone" is pronounced "Sean" or "Shaun" or "Shawn." Also considered: Robinson Cano, Yankees; Dan Uggla, Braves.

THIRD BASE: Kevin Kouzmanoff, A's. Also considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies.

SHORTSTOP:
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies. Alliteration gets him the nod here. Backup: Yuniesky Betancourt. Also considered: Marco Scutaro, Red Sox; Ryan Theriot, Cardinals.

LEFT FIELD: Scott Podsednik, Blue Jays. Also considered: Chris Coghlan, Marlins; Chris Denorfia, Padres; Ryan Langerhans, Mariners.

CENTER FIELD: Coco Crisp, A's. Another no-brainer. Second easiest pick on here after Saltalamacchia. Backup: Colby Rasmus, Cardinals. Also considered: Nyjer Morgan, Nationals; Rajai Davis, Blue Jays; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Denard Span, Twins; Ryan Spilborghs, Rockies.

RIGHT FIELD: Brennan Boesch, Tigers. Tough call here, but I'm a sucker for the alliteration. Plus, that's just a smooth combo. Props to his parents. Also considered: Jeff Francoeur, Royals; Nate Schierholtz, Giants; Nick Markakis, Orioles.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Milton Bradley, Mariners. Personal feelings aside, this was another obvious one.

STARTING ROTATION: CC Sabathia, Yankees; Max Scherzer, Tigers; Brian Matusz, Orioles; Marc Rzepczynski, Blue Jays; Justin Duchscherer, Orioles. CC gets the nod due to his first name being Carsten. Oh, and for losing the periods to his initials. The other four are pretty obvious with those last names. Grudz is surely proud. Also considered: Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Tim Lincecum, Giants; Madison Bumgarner, Giants; Gio Gonzalez, A's; Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals.

BULLPEN: Octavio Dotel, Blue Jays; Jeff Samardzija, Cubs; Fu-Te Ni, Tigers; Boof Bonser, Mets; Burke Badenhop, Marlins. All pretty obvious great names here, and I especially love "The Hopper," as the Marlins' announcers call Badenhop. Also considered: Brian Duensing, Twins; Joba Chamberlain, Yankees; Jeremy Affeldt, Giants; Jason Isringhausen, Mets.

SETUP: David Aardsma, Mariners. Based mostly on the fact that if you listed every major league player of all-time alphabetically, only Aardsma would come before the great Hank Aaron.

CLOSER: J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks. C'mon. He uses a double initial and his last name looks like an insult (though it's actually pronounced "puts," not "putts," for those in the dark).

MANAGER: Mike Scioscia, Angels. Maybe it's all mental at this point, but spelling that thing correctly still trips me up. Give me Grudzielanek any day. Also considered: Mike Quade, Cubs; Ned Yost, Royals; Manny Acta, Indians.

-- Matt Snyder

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Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:25 am
 

Bumgarner among those on Verducci Effect list

Madison Bumgarner Sports Illustrated 's Tom Verducci has come out with his Verducci Effect watch list for 2011 , led by San Francisco left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

The Verducci Effect states pitchers 25 and younger shouldn't increase their workload more than 30 innings from one year to the next. (In fairness to Verducci, he originally called it the "Year After Effect" because the year after the jump in innings there was a regression or injury).

Last year the 10 on the watch list finished with four pitchers who were hurt or regressed, two we about the same and four -- Mat Latos, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson and Max Scherzer had breakout years. Verducci notes it was "as strong a showing against the Verducci Effect since I started tracking it."

The 10 on his list for 2011, followed by their age and innings increase in 2010:
Madison Bumgarner, 21, 73
Alex Sanabia, 22, 66 1/3
Mat Latos, 23, 61 2/3
David Price, 25, 58 2/3
Brandon Beachy, 24, 57
Phil Hughes, 24, 46
Brett Cecil, 24, 41 1/3
Gio Gonzalez, 25, 41
Dillon Gee, 24, 40
Travis Wood, 23, 38 1/3
Ivan Nova, 23, 38 1/3

That's not to say all of these pitchers will struggle or get hurt next season -- pitchers are being watch more closely than ever -- but it is something to watch.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 17, 2010 9:36 pm
 

R.I.P. Tigers: Injuries play spoiler


As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions in October. Today: our penultimate entry, the Detroit Tigers.

It was a tale of two seasons in the Motor City in 2010: a first half that was better than expected, and a second half that was worse.

Attrition had a lot to do with it, as injuries thinned the ranks and left Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera exposed in the lineup. But the Tigers had a lot of young talent step up, and ended up feeling about as good as you can feel when you lead the division midway through the season and end up in third place with a .500 record.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Injuries. Bad ones, to important players, at critical times.

Brandon Inge broke his hand, Joel Zumaya his elbow and, most damaging, Magglio Ordonez broke his ankle on a slide into home plate on July 24 and never returned. Plus you had Carlos Guillen straining something twice a month and playing just 68 games. The injuries had a domino effect on the team, as roles changed and opponents started being able to pitch around Cabrera.

The offense and bullpen numbers were middle-of-the-pack, but the starting pitching was subpar, 11th in the AL in ERA.

Miguel Cabrera And this should probably more properly fall under what went right, but Armando Galarraga’s “perfect game that wasn’t” on June 2 ended up as more of a gut punch than a highlight. It was a good symbol of the Tigers’ season: No matter what they did, the breaks seemed to be against them.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Cabrera was tremendous, putting up a .328/.420/.622 line with 38 homers and 126 RBIs. His RBI  total, on-base percentage and  OPS+ of 179 were tops in the AL. If it were possible to do it all yourself, he certainly gave it a try. Ordonez, too, was having a big season, batting .303 before his injury.

Young hitting was in abundance, with two outfielders in the rookie of the year conversation. Austin Jackson batted .293, scored 103 runs, hit 34 doubles and play exciting defense. Brennan Boesch looked a heck of a lot better in the first half (.342 average) than the second (.163), but showed he’s got potential.

On the pitching side, Justin Verlander was an 18-game winner and an All-Star, Max Scherzer went 12-11 with a 3.50 ERA after arriving last winter from Arizona, and 22-year-old Rick Porcello weathered some growing pains and a trip to the minors and won five of his last six decisions.
 
HELP ON THE WAY

The Tigers farm system is considered thin at the top, but some very good signs arrived from Triple-A Toledo. Will Rhymes (pictured, below right) put himself in the picture for the starting job at second base by batting .304 in 54 games, and outfielder Casper Wells was tremendous 9.323/.364/.538) in a 36-game audition.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Tigers have some good core pieces and a lot of payroll flexibility, and a big part of what went wrong this year can be attributed to injuries. For those reasons, the Tigers are in a good position for 2011.

Will Rhymes SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Tigers have anywhere from $50 million to $70-plus million coming off the books, depending on how you do the accounting, so they’re in good position to address their needs.

The question is, how do they spend that money? They declined Ordonez’s pricey option, but could re-sign him for less. That would be a good start, but they could really use another middle-of-the-order threat.

As for the top free-agent bats, they’ve got room in the outfield for Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, but no place for Adrian Beltre now that they’ve made a multi-year offer to Inge (and Beltre is not likely to become a DH). Detroit could be an attractive option for Adam Dunn if he softens on his demand not to DH.

The Tigers are happy with the trio of Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello at the top of the rotation, and have said they want to convert Phil Coke to starting because they need a left-hander. But a veteran guy like Aaron Harang would fit nicely.

2011 PREDICTION

Look for the Tigers to be contenders next year, making for what should be an entertaining three-way battle with the Twins and White Sox in the Central.
Check out the other R.I.P. reports here.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 26, 2010 9:14 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2010 10:32 pm
 

Rays' slam breaks up no-hitter

You could almost hear the computer servers firing up at Elias Sports Bureau a few minutes ago, trying to figure out whether a no-hitter was broken up by a grand slam for the first time.

In Tampa, the Rays' Matt Garza and the Tigers' Max Scherzer took dueling no-hitters into the sixth inning. In the bottom of the inning, Ben Zobrist walked, Carl Crawford reached on catcher's interference and Evan Longoria walked to load the bases. With two outs and a full count, Jays designated hitter Matt Joyce homered to right field, breaking up the no-hit bid and putting the Rays up 4-0.

Garza allowed just a walk through seven. Follow the game on the CBSSports.com GameTracker here, and we'll let you know when we figure out whether this has ever happened before.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Garza finishes off the no-hitter, allowing just the one walk. It's the first no-hitter in Rays history and the fifth in the majors this season.

UPDATE: Baseball blog wezen-ball.com (reporting via Twitter ) has found another no-hitter broken up in the sixth by a grand slam. On July 23, 1990, Dickie Thon of the Phillies broke up a no-hit bid by Frank Viola of the Mets with a grand slam with one out. Viola did not have a shutout at the time, however, as the Phillies had scored on a groundout two batters earlier. Here is the box score and play-by-play of that game.

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