Tag:Mike Leake
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

3 to watch: The 'No extra significance' edition

Some Reds try to play down their new-found rivalry with the Cardinals.

"There's no extra significance at all," Jay Bruce told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Oh yeah? Tell that to Brandon Phillips.

When the Reds' team plane landed in St. Louis on Thursday night, Phillips went straight to his Twitter account .

"Just landed in St. Louis! Sad face," he posted. "But these wins will make me happy!"

One hour later, he was at it again, saying he told teammates that the best thing to eat in St. Louis was Lunchables.

No extra significance?

How about those T-shirts they're selling in St. Louis , the ones that read "Mike Leake stole this shirt for me"?

Look, we know rivalries can be overblown. Most teams don't really hate each other as much as the fans would like them to. Players change teams. As Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters Thursday, it's not like the Reds have anything against Lance Berkman or Ryan Theriot.

Besides that, the Cardinals and Reds know better than most teams that head-to-head meetings often don't decide division titles. The Cardinals won 12 of 18 games against the Reds in 2010 -- including six of the final seven -- and the Reds still won the National League Central.

But please don't tell me that these games have "no extra significance."

On to 3 to watch.

1. As we mentioned in the last 3 to watch, the Indians and Royals are on top of the American League Central -- right now. And one scout who just finished watching the White Sox said they "look uninspired" and "look like they're still going through spring training." Perhaps they'll look more inspired this weekend in Detroit, starting with White Sox at Tigers, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park. Mark Buehrle (5-0 in his last eight starts against the Tigers) faces Justin Verlander (5-0 in his last five starts against the White Sox). It's the first Buehrle-Verlander matchup in more than three years, since an April 2008 meeting when the White Sox won, 13-2, in a game where Nick Swisher and Pudge Rodriguez were the two leadoff hitters.

2. Mike Leake won't be starting in this weekend's Reds-Cardinals series. Chris Carpenter will be. All he's done against the Reds is win each of his last 10 starts, dating back to 2006. Last year alone, Carpenter was 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Reds. He goes against Travis Wood in Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium. The Fox network even thought enough of the matchup to send its top crew (Guess the Yankees and Red Sox aren't playing this weekend). ESPN even noticed. "We haven't been on the Sunday night game in I don't know how long," Baker told the Enquirer.

3. Remember when John Lackey was the Angels' ace? Remember when it seemed like another black mark against Angels owner Arte Moreno that he allowed Lackey to leave as a free agent, the same winter the Angels tried but failed to trade for Roy Halladay? Now Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are a combined 9-0 with a 1.20 ERA, while Lackey carries a 9.82 ERA into his start in Red Sox at Angels, Sunday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium. That's not to say the Angels couldn't use more rotation depth. While Weaver and Haren are 9-0 (going into Haren's Friday night meeting with Jon Lester), the rest of the Angels pitchers are 3-7.

Posted on: July 18, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2010 8:45 pm
 

3 to watch: The Do we care? edition

Yankee fans cared very much about George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. Baseball fans everywhere have cared very much about Stephen Strasburg.

Now Alex Rodriguez is approaching 600 home runs.

Do you care?

There's been amazingly little A-Rod buzz, and from what I was told, there wasn't much reaction from the Yankee Stadium fans when Rodriguez hit his 598th home run Sunday against the Rays.

You'd think it would be a meaningful milestone. Only six players have hit 600 home runs, and A-Rod (who turns 35 on July 27) will be the youngest ever to get there -- unless it takes him more than a year to hit two more home runs.

So why is there no buzz?

Is it that Rodriguez admitted using steroids earlier in his career? Is it that the steroid era has made 600 home runs seem that much less significant? Are we waiting for him to approach Willie Mays (660 home runs), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), the numbers that earn A-Rod $6 million bonuses in his most recent contract? Do we just not like A-Rod?

Or maybe the buzz is suddenly going to appear Tuesday night, when A-Rod gets his first legitimate chance at reaching 600. He needs two more home runs, and he has hit two or more in a game 55 times in his career.

Not only that, but he has hit 67 career home runs against the Angels, by far the most he has hit against any opponent.

For the record, none of the six guys with 600 home runs hit Nos. 599 and 600 in the same game. Ruth came closest, hitting them on back-to-back days in St. Louis, in 1931.

A-Rod took nearly two weeks between 498 and 500, and also between 398 and 400.

So this countdown could take a while. But unless the buzz builds, this may be the only time it appears in 3 to watch:

1. Two years ago, when Ken Griffey Jr. reached 600 before a sparse crowd in Miami -- maybe there wasn't that much buzz then, either -- Rodriguez told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that it's always better to reach big milestones at home. Rodriguez has six chances to get to 600 on this homestand, starting with Angels at Yankees, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium . At least Rodriguez won't be facing Scott Kazmir, who has held him to four hits -- and no home runs -- in 29 career at-bats. Kazmir went on the disabled list Sunday, and the Angels told reporters that they plan to call up a starter from the minor leagues to pitch Tuesday. A-Rod is also homerless in 35 plate appearances against Wednesday starter Joel Pineiro. He has four homers in 19 at-bats against Jered Weaver, who won't pitch in this series.

2. The fans want to see Strasburg. The scouts, most likely, will instead head for Chicago, to watch potential trade targets Brett Myers and Ted Lilly face off, in Astros at Cubs, Wednesday afternoon (2:20 EDT) at Wrigley Field . In a pitching market that no longer includes Cliff Lee, Myers and Lilly could be two of the more attractive properties.

3. Nothing against Bronson Arroyo, who will be Strasburg's opponent in Nationals at Reds, Wednesday night (7:10 EDT) at Great American Ball Park , but wouldn't it have been more compelling if Strasburg was starting a day earlier, against fellow rookie Mike Leake, or a day later, against Edinson Volquez? Apparently ESPN didn't care, as yet another Strasburg start has been scheduled for national television. Can't say I blame them.



Posted on: June 4, 2010 10:28 am
Edited on: June 4, 2010 10:30 am
 

3 to watch: The Nationals league edition

Next week we'll ask whether Stephen Strasburg can transform the Nationals.

Today we're asking whether Strasburg can help change the image of the National League. Because right now, when a guy is struggling (or just plain lousy) in the American League, the common thought is that he might be better in the NL.

Or didn't you read about this week's Dontrelle Willis trade?

Willis has a career National League ERA of 3.78. He has a career American League ERA of 6.86. And instead of saying that his career went downhill after the 2007 trade that sent him from the Marlins to the Tigers -- and, in reality, had started to go downhill in his last two seasons in Florida -- the story when he was traded to the Diamondbacks this week was that maybe a change back to the NL would help.

Nice thought, except the National League scouts we talked to wanted nothing to do with Willis, not at the major-league minimum (which is all the Diamondbacks will be paying).

"I was really surprised that Detroit was fortunate enough to trade him," said one scout who watched Willis this season. "That's a great deal for Detroit, because they get a player [Billy Buckner] back.

"We'd take a chance on a pitcher, but not him. If my general manager would have called, I'd have said no. If he can get you five innings, then he's had a heck of a night. His command and control are just not very good."

In 22 career starts for the Tigers -- that's all they got for their $29 million -- Willis had just two games where he got an out in the seventh inning, and none where he finished seven innings. He averaged 5 1/3 innings a start this season.

Sounds perfect for a team with the worst bullpen in the majors (7.51 ERA).

"Is he going to start for them?" the scout asked. "Well, good for him. Whatever."

With that kind of report, how can we do anything but feature Willis' Diamondback debut in this weekend's 3 to watch:

1. Roy Halladay ended May with a perfect game. But if you take the whole month, Halladay's May ERA of 2.15 ranked just fourth among National League starters, behind Ubaldo Jimenez (0.78), Mat Latos (1.54) and Matt Cain (1.81). And in his first start since the perfect game, Halladay goes up against Latos, in Padres at Phillies, Friday night (7:05 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park . This is probably as good a time as any to remind you that since his perfect game, Mark Buehrle has won just five of his 24 starts. And since his perfect game, Dallas Braden is 0-3 in four starts, with a 4.13 ERA. If Halladay starts slipping, then maybe Armando Galarraga should thank Jim Joyce, after all.

2. The Diamondbacks sent out a mass e-mail on Thursday, filled with positive notes about how well their team is doing. That's a team that just finished an 0-9 road trip, a team that has lost 10 in a row, a team that got walked-off each of the last four games, a team that hasn't scored a run in 31 innings. Sounds like the kind of team that can turn Willis into a winner -- or at least pretend that he's winning. We'll see, when he faces Jhoulys Chacin, in Rockies at Diamondbacks, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Chase Field .

3. It really is too bad that the Nationals didn't have Strasburg debut this weekend, perhaps on Saturday night against fellow San Diego native Mike Leake (who already has four major-league wins and has helped his team into first place). Instead, they chose to hold him back for Tuesday, against a Pirates offense that might more closely resemble the International League lineups he has been carving up in Syracuse. Oh well. We'll make do with Luis Atilano on Saturday, and Craig Stammen, in Reds at Nationals, Sunday afternoon (1:35 EDT) at Nationals Park . Remember, it's the last game the Nationals will ever play (at least for now) without Strasburg on their roster.


Posted on: May 16, 2010 8:27 pm
 

3 to watch: The Ignoring the rivalry edition

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox, and you couldn't care less.

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox, and you can't believe that other network is showing them again.

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox, and just as a favor to you, we're not including them in this week's 3 to watch (although, if you must know, the second-place Yankees host the fourth-place Red Sox Monday and Tuesday, before hosting the first-place Rays Wednesday and Thursday):

1. One last Yankee-Red Sox reference: The Yankees lost their first eight meetings with the Red Sox last year, and in the end it meant nothing. So perhaps it means nothing that the Giants have lost their first six meetings with the Padres this year, scoring just eight runs in those six games. They haven't scored in two games against Tuesday night starter Mat Latos, and they've also lost twice to Clayton Richard, who starts in Giants at Padres, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Petco Park .

2. For all their early-season troubles, the Angels are 2 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West. They just swept three games from one of the teams ahead of them (the A's), and now they get a chance at the other one, in Angels at Rangers, Tuesday night (8:05 EDT) at Rangers Ballpark . Vladimir Guerrero always looked forward to these Angels-Rangers series when he played for the Angels. Now he gets a chance from the other side.

3. Jason Heyward was everyone's preseason pick for National League Rookie of the Year. Mike Leake was nobody's. Heyward has eight home runs and 28 RBIs, so he's got a real chance. Leake is 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA for the first-place Reds, so you've got to say he has a chance, too. All of which should make Reds at Braves, Thursday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Turner Field interesting.

At least as interesting as Yankees-Red Sox.

Posted on: April 9, 2010 1:52 pm
 

3 to watch

It's Opening Day in Detroit (and yes, in that city, it deserves upper-case). It's opening night in Miami (no upper-case there).

It's the first weekend of the baseball season (but please also watch the Masters on CBS).

And here's the season's first edition of 3 to watch:

1. All over, there are great matchups of opening day starters. Colleague Scott Miller is excited about Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke, Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. That's a good one, but I'm going with Chris Carpenter vs. Yovani Gallardo, Cardinals at Brewers, Saturday afternoon (3:10 EDT) at Miller Park . Why? Simple. Of all the games I saw last year, the best-pitched game was Carpenter vs. Gallardo, on Memorial Day at Miller Park. Gallardo carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Carpenter carried a perfect game into the seventh. It was scoreless into the 10th, when Bill Hall won it with a two-out single off Kyle McClellan.

2. The Mets began the season with Alex Cora in the leadoff spot, and Mike Jacobs in the cleanup spot. So yes, you could say that they miss Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Reyes hasn't played a game that counts since last May 20, but he's scheduled to return this weekend, and that makes Nationals at Mets, Saturday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Citi Field worth watching. In fact, if Reyes proves to be anything like the guy who led the National League in triples three times in four years, he'll actually make the Mets worth watching. And that's quite a task.

3. Stephen Strasburg pitches Sunday for Double-A Harrisburg (at Altoona, Pa.). Aroldis Chapman pitches Sunday for Triple-A Louisville (in Toledo, Ohio). And Mike Leake, who got nowhere near the money and nowhere near the hype, debuts in Cubs at Reds, Sunday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Great American Ballpark . Leake, who won the Reds' fifth-starter job in spring training, will be the first college pitcher to jump to the big leagues without stopping in the minors since Darren Dreifort in 1993. Like Strasburg, he grew up in the San Diego area (though they never faced each other in high school). He went on to Arizona State. He was the eighth pick overall (seven picks behind Strasburg), and signed for $2.27 million ($12.83 million behind Strasburg). Now he makes it to the big leagues, ahead of Strasburg.

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