Tag:Jaime Garcia
Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

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

Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Pepper: @DatDudeBP leads MLB tweeters

By C. Trent Rosecrans



BASEBALL TODAY:
CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about Derek Jeter, but also notes these games against the Yankees are not just big for Jeter's chase of 3,000 but also vital for the Rays. There's also the Braves-Phillies series, but Danny points out why that may not be as big of a series.

TWITTER 140: Our own @JamesonFleming put together the sports world's top 140 Twitter users and the Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) comes in as baseball's best Twitter user.

Phillips didn't start using Twitter until this offseason, but has embraced the technology, holding contests for fans and also taking suggestions on restaurants and off-day activities. Earlier this season, a teen asked Phillips to come to his baseball game on a day the Reds were off, and Phillips stopped by. He also sent a pair fans to spring training and then another pair to San Francisco for the Reds' games at AT&T Park.

He has even won over some Cardinals fans, an amazing feat considering Cardinal nation's distaste for the Reds second baseman, who last year used not-so-nice words to describe Tony La Russa's club.

Florida's Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins) is fourth on the list and the second baseball player. Brewers closer John Axford (@JohnAxford) is the third MLB player in the Top 10.

LAST ONE THE TOUGHEST: George Brett told the Associated Press he thought the last hit would be the toughest for Derek Jeter in his quest for 3,000. Of course, Brett reached the mark with a four-hit game. Brett also said he wasn't sure how many more players would reach the milestone.

"Is that desire still going to be there when they're worth $250 million when they're 37 years old?" Brett said.

GOTTA BE THE SHOES: Jeter will be wearing special shoes for his 3,000th hit, and you can get a matching pair. Yahoo!'s Big League Stew has all the details on the details of the shoes.

JETER'S BALLS: One more Jeter entry -- a look at the special baseballs that MLB will use to try to track Jeter's 3,000th hit. [BizofBaseball.com]

CARDS LOCK UP GARCIA?: There are reports from the radio station partially owned by the Cardinals that say the team has reached a four-year deal with two option years with left-hander Jaime Garcia. The deal would cover all three arbitration years and one year of free agency for the 25-year-old Garcia. He's 8-3 this season with a 3.23 ERA and is 22-12 with a  3.07 ERA in his career. [MLB.com]

HARPER STILL TOPS: Baseball America released its Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, and the Nationals' Bryce Harper leads the list, followed by Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Rays' lefty Matt Moore.

ALL-STAR SWITCH: Royals right-hander Aaron Crow may have made the All-Star team as a reliever, but Kansas City manager Ned Yost sees the team's former first-rounder as a starter down the line, as soon as next spring. [MLB.com]

DOCTOR MAY NAME NAMES: Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States to treat athletes, and he may be pressed to give the names of athletes he treated and gave illegal drugs. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran of the Mets are among the players who have been treated by Galea in the past. [New York Times]

BORAS SPEAKS AT SABR: Super-agent Scott Boras talked of his love of baseball at the Society for American Baseball Research's annual conference on Thursday. Boras talked about his first superstar -- a cow on his family's farm. [Orange County Register]

SCHILLING TALKS PEDS: Former All-Star Curt Schilling went on a Philadelphia radio station Wednesday and said that no "team in the last 20 years that's won clean." Schilling said he thinks the recent decline in offensive numbers are because of MLB's testing policies. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

NO TAPE MEASURE NEEDED: Ever wonder how they calculate home-run distances so quickly? There's a chart, of course, but how is that chart made? Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has that story.

CRADLE OF MANAGERS: The Kansas City A's didn't produce a lot of wins, but they did produce their fair share of managers. Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Joe Morgan (not the Hall of Famer, but the former Red Sox manager), Dick Williams, Hank Bauer, Dick Howser and Tony La Russa all played for the A's in KC. Two of the game's more successful coaches, Dave Duncan and Charlie Lau, also played for the A's during their stint in Kansas City. [Joe Posnanski]

SLUGGER EMPATHY: Twins designated hitter Jim Thome said it wasn't his place to comment on Adam Dunn's struggles, but said he did empathize with the struggling Chicago DH. "As a guy who swings and misses and has struck out a ton, it's hard," Thome told the Chicago Tribune. "When you can have success and are blessed to play a long time and [then go through] those periods, it's tough."

NO STARS FOR ALL-STARS: Major League Baseball has added stars to the uniforms of All-Stars, but apparently the designations are purely optional, as the Cardinals' three All-Stars declined to take part to keep their uniforms uniform. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

STARLING UNDECIDED: The Royals took a gamble when they picked prep outfielder Bubba Starling with the fifth overall pick in last month's draft, as Starling is also a top-flight quarterback committed to Nebraska. Starling told the Kansas City Star he hasn't decided whether he's going to play football for Nebraska or sign with the Royals for millions of dollars. Starling said he's going to Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday and will work out with the team, but won't enroll in classes for the summer.

SAVES RECORD: You need more evidence they keep stats for everything? Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has set the record for most first-half saves by a rookie. Kimbrel's 27th save Thursday broke the record of 26 set by Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in 2006. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

LAWRIE PROGRESSING: Just before he was scheduled to be called up in May, Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie suffered a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. Lawrie began hitting off a tee earlier this week, and he's improving. The team doesn't expect him to be able to play in games until August. [MLB.com]

ROYAL SHAME: The Royals have once again taken the cheap route in their tribute to the Nergro Leagues, ditching the vintage uniforms. While there are many good signs for the Royals' future, this is a reminder that David Glass is still the owner. [Kansas City Star]

MYTHBUSTER: Scientists are using a lab at Washington State to measure some baseball physics. Among the findings, corked bats don't work, humidors do, and the balls from 2004 performed the same as a ball from the late 70s. [Popular Mechanics]

REMEMBERING BUDDIN: Former Red Sox shortstop Dan Buddin died last week. He's remembered mostly for not being very good -- he averaged 30 errors a year and didn't hit very well, either. A really good remembrance by FanGraphs.com's Alex Remington on the man Boston booed.

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

Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 7:18 pm
 

On Deck: Pujols back, not in lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


SUPERMAN'S BACK: Albert Pujols is back after missing a little more than two weeks with a broken bone in his wrist. He's not starting tonight, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him pinch-hit at some point. Pujols is 4 for 10 with two homers in his career against Reds starter Edinson Volquez. Reds left-fielder Jonny Gomes is 4 for 8 with two doubles in his career against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. However, the Reds' two-through-five hitters (Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce) have combined to hit just .179 (7 for 39) against the Cardinals left-hander. Reds at Cardinals, 7:09 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Ryan BraunBRAUN, TOO: Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun is back after missing two games with a strained left calf will miss his third game and will not be available to play at all Tuesday. Braun has a 22-game hitting streak that will resume when he does. It's too bad for the Brewers that Braun isn't playing tonight, as he is hitting .366/.418/.573 with three homers during the streak. Braun is 7 for 19 with two homers in his career against Diamondbacks starter Zach Duke. Duke is 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA in seven starts at Miller Park and the Brewers haven't lost back-to-back games at home this season. Diamondbacks at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Justin VerlanderDan HarenBEST MATCHUP: Justin Verlander may be the game's best pitcher right now and will look to prove it by becoming the first 12-game winner in baseball (although the Yankees' CC Sabathia will have a chance earlier in the night). Verlander is 11-3 with a 2.32 ERA and was 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA in June. He faces off against Dan Haren, who has four wins in his last six outings after suffering a seven-start winless streak. Haren was dominating in his last start, allowing just two hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Nationals, and is 8-5 with a 2.85 ERA this season. He's even better at home where he has just a 3-3 record, but a 2.12 ERA and opponents are batting .090 points lower against him at Angel Stadium than on the road. Tigers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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




Posted on: June 8, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Berkman breaks up no-hitter in Houston

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Bud Norris

Lance Berkman continues to break the hearts of Astros fans. While there hasn't been much to cheer about for the Astros this season, Bud Norris had a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings before Berkman broke it up with a homer to right.

Berkman deposited Norris' 3-1 pitch into the stands in right. Norris got Colby Rasmus to pop out to Clint Barmes to end the inning.

It was Berkman's fourth homer of the season against his old team. Berkman had a 3-0 pitch that looked like it was low called a ball, immediately before launching Norris' fastball into the stands.

Norris has walked four and struck out one in seven innings.

Three times Norris walked the leadoff batter of the inning, only to get a double play each time. 

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


Posted on: May 29, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: May 29, 2011 1:34 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Clutch Corey



By Matt Snyder

Corey Patterson, Blue Jays. Does it get any better than a five-hit game? It does if the fifth one was a walk-off home run in the 14th inning. Patterson went 5-7 with four runs scored and the provided the big blow in the Jays' extra-innings victory over the White Sox Saturday afternoon. Granted, he may have seen a pretty fat pitch with the great Jose Bautista (are we getting used to that yet, or does it still sound weird?) standing in the on-deck circle, but Patterson still had to deliver. He did, in a big way. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are still lingering in the AL East (3 1/2 games back).

Paul Maholm, Pirates. I could have included the entire Pirates team here, as the offense pounded 10 hits and four home runs en route to a 10-0 victory over the Cubs. Here's why I didn't, though: This was the least the offense could do for Maholm. He entered the game with a respectable 3.65 ERA and was just 1-7 because he was receiving an average of 1.42 runs in support per start. Talk about your bad fortune, and because of it, people who still judge pitchers solely on wins and losses -- and there are plenty of them -- would think he sucks. Throw that 3.65 ERA in 61 2/3 innings on high-powered offensive team and Maholm's a pretty solid pitcher. For comparison's sake, Max Scherzer is 6-2 with a 3.86 ERA. Jon Lester is 7-1 with a 3.36 ERA. Anyway, when Maholm got the support Saturday in Wrigley, he made it stand up. He needed only 91 pitches to slice through the Cubs' lineup, allowing only three hits, no walks and no runs. That ERA is now all the way down to 3.18. He deserves respect, so please ignore that unfair 2-7 record.

The Brewers' walk-off win. Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth Saturday afternoon. He brought a .328 batting average, five homers, 23 RBI and had a 1.110 OPS since May 8. He entered as a pinch-hitter for fellow catcher Wil Nieves. Oh, and Lucroy had zero sacrifice bunts in 423 career plate appearances. So when Ryan Braun broke for home (from third base) and Lucroy put down a suicide squeeze bunt to win the game, it was a thing of beauty. You don't often see a walk-off suicide squeeze, and you definitely don't often see a team take a risk like the Brewers took Saturday. Say the inexperienced bunter Lucroy pops it up? Double play, inning over. What if he whiffs? Braun is dead to rights at home and now a two-out hit is needed. A sacrifice fly, base hit or fielder's choice wins the game for the Brewers, but instead they won with a suicide squeeze from a dude who never bunts. No guts, no glory.




Tony La Russa, Cardinals. After Jaime Garcia allowed six runs in the first inning and one in the second, I was ready to list him here. Then he suffered and suffered and suffered some more in the fourth inning until La Russa finally, mercifully removed his man. At the end of the outing, Garcia had thrown 106 pitches in 3 1/3 innings, having allowed 11 hits, 11 earned runs and four walks. His ERA went from 1.93 to 3.28. I'd really like to understand the rationale for a manager to just leave his best pitcher out there as he's taking a beating like that. There's no reason to tire him out when the game's out of hand -- Garcia told reporters after the game he was cooked -- and now you have to worry about confidence issues heading into the next outing. There's just no reason to leave him hung out to dry like that in his first bad outing of the season.

Sean O'Sullivan, Royals. There was so much bad about this, it's hard to know where to begin. O'Sullivan gave up a whopping 15 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 10 runs. He allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs in the second inning to Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Endy Chavez. He walked two yet struck out only one. The cherry on top -- via SI.com's Joe Posnanski -- is that O'Sullivan became the first pitcher this season to cough up five home runs in a single game. It has now only happened 87 times in baseball history. That's pretty rare. For some perspective, teams like the Reds, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Braves have played more than 15,000 games. So, yeah, rough night for O'Sullivan.

Seattle fans/security. Four times -- FOUR! -- a fan ran onto the playing surface Saturday night in Safeco Field during the Yankees-Mariners game. The third one was stark naked. What an absolute embarrassment for the four morons who think they did something cool, but even more of one for the Mariners organization. I can see how one or even two could slip past the goalie. There are lots more fans than security personnel. But after being beaten twice, you gotta pull out the big guns and start lining up employees along every single section to make sure there are no more. Not only is a field intrusion a nuisance, but it's a severe risk to the players, coaches, managers and umpires. Who knows what these people running on the field are capable of? Lock it up, Safeco Field.

As for any fans who might think it's cool and/or funny to repeat the feat? It's not. If you disagree, you are a loser in major need of a life.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 6:02 pm
 

On Deck: Oswalt faces Garcia in 'rehab start'



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Roy OswaltROY RETURNS: Roy Oswalt's start is being labeled a "rehab start" even though it's in the big leagues and he'll be limited to 60-65 pitches, but the Phillies have to be glad he's back, even in a limited engagement. That said, Roy could've gotten a better draw in his return, facing St. Louis' Jaime Garcia, who may be pitching better than anyone else in the National League. Garcia is 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Oswalt left the team after April 26 after tornadoes hit his homes in Mississippi, but when he returned his lower back was still bothering him, so he went on the DL. Phillies at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET (Watch live)

WIN NEEDED: The Yankees have lost six games in a row and have created more off-the-field  headlines than on-field headlines of late. Jorge Posada, apparently, is sorry both on and off the field for his first month of the season. If you're the Yankees and you've lost six games in a row and are wrapping up a series against the division leaders, who else would you want on the mound other than Ivan Nova (3-3, 4.70 ERA)? Nova gave up eight runs and 10 hits against the Royals in his last start, so he should have no trouble against "Big Game" James Shields (4-1, 2.08) and the Rays, right? Well, Shields is 3-8 with a 4.91 ERA in his career against the Yankees, so there's that. Yankees at Rays, 6:40 p.m. ET (Watch live)

TwinsWIN NEEDED II: You think losing six games is bad? Try nine. That's where the Twins' are, losing their last nine games. Oh, and Felix Hernandez is on the mound with an extra day's rest. King Felix hasn't exactly been royal of late, but even at his worst, he's still an imposing figure on the mound. Meanwhile, Francisco Liriano left his last start after just three innings with flu-like symptoms which included trouble breathing and allowing four runs. But he's won his last three games against the Mariners, so there's that. Twins at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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: 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.

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

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