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Tag:CC Sabathia
Posted on: July 31, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 5:26 pm
 

3 to Watch: The rich don't get richer edition

The Yankees always get what they want, right?

The Yankees and Red Sox get everything. The rich get richer.

Except when they don't.

In a week where the Nationals briefly acted as buyers (sending minor leaguers to the Reds for bench player Jonny Gomes), and where the Indians and the Pirates were both buyers, the Yankees were . . . silent?

And the Red Sox were . . . not silent, but they didn't really get what they wanted.

That's not to say that the Yankees are in trouble, or that the Red Sox are. That's not to say that the Yankees have suddenly become cheap, or that the Red Sox have, either.

Just don't say they always get what they want, or even what they need.

The Red Sox came closer, with their deadline-beating three-team deal for Erik Bedard. Bedard was awful in his Friday night showcase, but he was very good earlier in the season.

But with Monday's news about Clay Buchholz -- CSN New England reported that he has a stress fracture in his back, and could be out for the year -- the Sox were more determined to add a starter than the Yankees were. In fact, CSNNE's Sean McAdam wrote, the Sox actually wanted to add two starters, and settled for one possibly healthy one (Bedard).

The Yankees were much more content to stick with what they have. But should they have been.

The Red Sox are at least solid atop their rotation, with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. The Yankees can rely on CC Sabathia.

And . . .

That's it, really. The Yankees can rely on CC Sabathia.

They don't have a true No. 2. They have Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon as amazing surprises. They have A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes as amazing enigmas. They have Ivan Nova and perhaps Manuel Banuelos as talented but really untested kids.

But who starts Game 2?

Now you understand why Cliff Lee's decision to sign with the Phillies last December was so potentially devastating to the Yankees.

They were left taking a chance that a top starter would be available on the July market. They were left trying to decide if Ubaldo Jimenez or Hiroki Kuroda (who, in the end, refused to consider any trade) would fit.

"If those are the two guys, I would live with what I have," one rival scout said in the middle of last week. "And then hope that A.J. pitches better, which he probably won't."

Did the Yankees go wrong at the deadline? Only if they don't win.

Check back at the end of September, or sometime in October.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Sabathia pitched like a true ace in July (with a 0.92 ERA in five starts). Now that they passed up on trading for help, they sure as heck need him to pitch like an ace the rest of the way, starting in Yankees at White Sox, Monday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox have every bit as big a need for Jake Peavy to pitch well, and more than that for him to stay healthy. The White Sox traded away Edwin Jackson, which gave them bullpen help (in Jason Frasor) and some payroll relief, but it left them with little rotation protection, in case the fragile Peavy gets hurt again.

2. The Tigers' acquisition of Doug Fister understandably got far less attention than the Indians' trade for Jimenez. But Fister serves almost as important a role for the Tigers as Jimenez does for the Indians. The Tigers are 4-16 when they've used a fifth starter, which means that even if Fister is decent, starting in Rangers at Tigers, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park, he'll be a huge improvement. The Rangers explored adding a starter, too, but settled for making significant bullpen upgrades with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.

3. The Indians announced Monday that Jimenez won't make his Cleveland debut until Friday in Texas. But Bedard will make his Boston debut a night earlier, in Indians at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. That series, between one of the American League's true powers and a team that wants to be thought of the same way, sure became a lot more interesting with what the Indians did Saturday night. By Thursday, the Red Sox should know for sure about Buchholz, and maybe Thursday's game will give them some idea whether Bedard will really help.




Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 6:11 am
 

3 to Watch: The streaking Rangers edition

Since 1996, the Yankees have five World Series titles and no 11-game winning streaks.

The Rangers just won 11 in a row for the second straight year.

Since 2003, four teams have had a 12-game winning streak. Three of those four didn't make the playoffs, and the fourth didn't make the World Series.

Winning streaks make you look like you're the best team in baseball. All too often, the long season proves that you're not.

Winning streaks feel like they ought to be important. History shows that all too often, they're not.

So what does all this mean for the Rangers, who have swept the Orioles, A's and Mariners for their 11 straight wins?

Nothing, except that Texas has once again taken command of the American League West race, and has a chance to open up an even bigger gap with three games against the Angels this week in Anaheim.

With the Mariners' collapse -- they've lost nine straight, scoring just 11 runs total -- and with the A's continuing struggles, the Angels are the lone remaining challenger to Texas. And even the Angels have now fallen four games behind.

The Angels are supposed to be the Rangers' opposites. The Rangers are third in the league in runs, while the Angels are fourth from the bottom. The Angels are second in the league in pitching, while the Rangers are . . . moving up.

In fact, if there's anything to take from the 11 straight games they've won, it's that the Rangers' pitching has been outstanding. The team ERA through the 11-game streak is an impressive 2.09 (although maybe the three weak opponents had something to do with that).

Last year, the Rangers' 11-game winning streak came in June, and it was quickly followed by the Cliff Lee trade that turned Texas into a World Series team for the first time. It's hard to know whether this streak will be followed by any kind of impact trade -- or if the Rangers even need that kind of impact deal this year.

All we really know is this: If the Rangers win Tuesday, they'll be the first team since the 2006 Red Sox to win 12 in a row. If they win Tuesday and Wednesday, they'll be the first team since the 2002 A's to win more than 12 in a row (the A's won 20).

And whether the streak ends at 11, 12 or more, we also know that history tells us it's not as important as it seems.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. There's still no game-changer like Lee on the July trade market, but the market did get a lot more interesting with the news that the Rockies would listen on Ubaldo Jimenez. The asking price is admittedly huge -- according to the reliable Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Rockies wanted Manuel Banuelos, Delin Betances, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero from the Yankees -- but at least there is an asking price. Most likely, Jimenez will make his next scheduled start, in Braves at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field, but you never know. It's a safer bet that scouts will congregate in Denver, where Derek Lowe is scheduled to start for the Braves a night before Jimenez is scheduled for the Rockies.

2. Rangers manager Ron Washington chose Jered Weaver to start the All-Star Game, but he also agreed to Angels manager Mike Scioscia's request that Weaver pitch only one inning. That enabled Weaver to start Saturday in Oakland (where he won for the 12th time this year), and it also set up Weaver to start against fellow All-Star C.J. Wilson in Rangers at Angels, Thursday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium.

3. I'm still not sure who baseball's best pitcher is -- Verlander? Halladay? Felix? I do know that CC Sabathia is baseball's winningest pitcher (he's 14-4, with wins in each of his last seven starts), and that he's also baseball's hottest pitcher (5-0, 0.45 in his last five starts, with nine walks and 50 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings, with a .449 OPS against). I also know that Sabathia has an All-Star matchup coming up, in Yankees at Rays, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. And I know that this is the last game of what the Rays saw as a critical 10-game stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox. By Thursday, the Rays figure to have a better idea of whether a run at the playoffs is realistic.


Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 12:15 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Trout (and Jeter) edition

The day the Yankees first brought Derek Jeter to the big leagues, the New York Times handled the news with three lines attached to the bottom of the game story.

"It is Derek Jeter to the rescue, or so the Yankees hope," Tom Friend wrote that day. "With nearly the entire infield in the infirmary, the Yankees need someone with energetic legs, and their best candidate was Jeter, who was batting .354 at Class AAA Columbus."

Jeter was 20 years old. Baseball America ranked him as the fourth best prospect in baseball (behind Alex Rodriguez, Ruben Rivera and Chipper Jones), but there were no daily internet chats about what day the Yankees would call him up.

There were no daily internet chats about anything in May 1995. But there were no daily water cooler debates about top prospects back then, either.

The world has changed in the course of Jeter's 19-year career, to the point where on the same day that Jeter will be going for 3,000 hits, a significant portion of the baseball world will still be buzzing about the Angels' decision to call up 19-year-old Mike Trout.

Like Jeter, Trout will make his big-league debut against the Mariners, tonight in Anaheim. Like Jeter, whose arrival was speeded by injuries to Tony Fernandez, Dave Silvestri and Pat Kelly, Trout is coming to the big leagues now because someone got hurt (in this case, Peter Bourjos).

Who knows if this is the start of another 3,000-hit career?

What we do know is that Trout was the second biggest name in the minor leagues (there's some debate over whether he or Washington's Bryce Harper is the best prospect, but Harper is definitely better known). And we know that if you want to get 3,000 hits, it helps to get the first one when you're young.

Jeter was 20, as was George Brett. Pete Rose and Paul Molitor were 21. Tony Gwynn and Craig Biggio were 22.

Now Trout arrives at 19, as the youngest player in the major leagues. He was one year old when Jeter signed with the Yankees. He was three when Jeter debuted in the big leagues, and now he's given Jeter a 2,998-hit head start.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Jeter batted ninth in his debut at the Kingdome, going 0-for-5 against Mariner pitchers Rafael Carmona, Jeff Nelson and Bobby Ayala, in a game Rich Amaral won for the M's with a 12th-inning walkoff home run off Scott Bankhead. Trout will debut in Mariners at Angels, Friday night (10:05 ET) and Angel Stadium, with 22-year-old Blake Beavan starting for Seattle. Beavan is just up from the minor leagues himself; he allowed just three hits in seven innings to beat the Padres last Sunday in his debut.

2. It's hard to know exactly how big this weekend's "National League East showdown" in Philadelphia really is. Yes, the Phillies' NL East lead over the second-place Braves is down to just 2 1/2 games, heading into the weekend. But with the Braves holding a five-game lead in the wild-card race, the Phils are actually up a comfortable 7 1/2 games on a playoff spot. It could be that the Phils and Braves this September will be like the Yankees and Rays last September, where they'll only be playing for playoff seeding. What we do know is that there's a great pitching matchup, in Braves at Phillies, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Citizens Bank Park. Tommy Hanson, who many feel should be on the All-Star team, faces Cliff Lee, who is on the All-Star team.

3. Jeter enters the weekend needing just two hits for 3,000, so the first game to watch is probably Yankees-Rays on Friday night. And if he doesn't get two hits Friday, the second game to watch is Yankees-Rays on Saturday. But let's say he just gets one hit in those two games combined, so that we can focus on Rays at Yankees, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. And even if the Jeter celebration comes Friday or Saturday, Sunday's game is worth watching, with All-Star James Shields facing could-have-been All-Star CC Sabathia.



Posted on: June 16, 2011 9:49 pm
 

3 to Watch: The watch CC hit edition

Maybe I'm weird, but I love watching American League pitchers hit.

Read that carefully, because I didn't say I love watching American League pitchers strike out. Or ground weakly back to the mound.

I love it when they hit . . . which doesn't happen often.

But if I could name one highlight from 14-plus years of interleague play, it might be CC Sabathia's 440-foot home run at Dodger Stadium in 2008.

So if there's one thing I'm looking forward to this weekend, as interleague play resumes, it's watching Sabathia hit at Wrigley Field.

I know, he's done it before, going 0-for-2 with a sacrifice when he was pitching for the Brewers. I know, Sabathia has come to the plate 101 times in the big leagues (about half of them during his half-season in the National League), plus five more times in the postseason.

And I know, American League managers fear these interleague road games, worrying that a pitcher could get hurt while hitting or running the bases (as the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang did in (also in 2008).

But just as I loved talking to Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson about his hitting, I love the idea of Sabathia swinging for the fences Sunday night at Wrigley.

No AL pitcher has hit a home run since 2009, when Josh Beckett homered in Philadelphia and Mark Buehrle hit one in Milwaukee.

In the 14-plus years of interleague play, American League pitchers have hit 16 home runs (none by a Yankee). Only Sabathia and Beckett have hit more than one, with two apiece.

Sabathia owns a .258 batting average in his 97 career at-bats, which means he has a higher career batting average than Dan Uggla . . . or Andruw Jones . . . or B.J. Upton.

And with three career home runs (he hit one in the National League with the Brewers), Sabathia has more than Francisco Cervelli or Chris Getz.

Anyway, there was a point this week where we all wondered if this weekend's Wrigley highlight would be the Yankee shortstop getting to 3,000 hits. Now, the highlight I'm looking for is Sabathia's 26th career hit -- but only if it's his fourth career home run.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. We interrupt all this talk of pitchers hitting to talk about a matchup of two pitchers who were traded for each other: Edwin Jackson, who went to the White Sox, and Daniel Hudson, who went to the Diamondbacks. They meet up in White Sox at Diamondbacks, Friday night (9:40 ET) at Chase Field. So far, since the trade, Jackson is 8-7 with a .383 ERA in 24 starts. Hudson is 14-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 25 starts. It's more one-sided than that, because Jackson is making $8.35 million and a free agent after this year. Hudson is making $419,000 and isn't even arbitration-eligible for another year. Oh, and Hudson is a .214 hitter. Jackson's career average is .147.

2. If Sabathia is the most successful AL pitcher at the plate, Justin Verlander is the least. In five years' worth of at-bats with the Tigers, Verlander is 0-for-16, with 10 strikeouts (although he does have five successful sacrifice bunts). He has never walked or been hit by a pitch, so his OPS is a perfect .000. Jon Lester is just behind him at 0-for-15, but Lester had a walk and a sacrifice fly last year. Verlander gets another chance at the plate in Tigers at Rockies, Sunday afternoon (3:10 ET) at Coors Field. He also gets another chance at the mound, which means he gets another chance to prove he's now the best pitcher in baseball -- which means a little more than his lack of success with the bat.

3. I probably shouldn't be getting your (or my) hopes up about watching Sabathia hit. He started two games in National League parks last year, and went 1-for-5 (a single), with three strikeouts. The year before, he went 1-for-4 (also a single). So no guarantees when he starts against Randy Wells in Yankees at Cubs, Sunday night (8:05 ET) at Wrigley Field.

Posted on: June 16, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Something to remember: C.J. Wilson loves to hit

This week at Yankee Stadium, C.J. Wilson hit more home runs than he allowed.

Might be worth remembering come November.

First, because Wilson might be the top free-agent pitcher available when this season ends (and he certainly didn't hurt his status by holding the Yankees to two runs in eight innings). Second, because the Rangers' left-hander really seemed to enjoy that home run he hit -- even if it was in batting practice.

This guy loves to hit.

"I saw Rick Ankiel before '01 [when Ankiel was a pitcher], and I thought I brought a lot of the same stuff to the table," Wilson said. "I never wanted to pitch until I got drafted."

Does that mean Wilson will want to sign with a National League team, so he could at least hit a few times a game?

You're going to have to draw your own conclusions on that one, because he wouldn't go there.

"I'm not going to answer that question," Wilson said.

He would answer a question about pitching under National League rules, which he won't get to do this weekend against the Braves -- his next start is Tuesday at home against the Astros -- but will get to do on June 28 in Houston.

"It's fun, and it's easier pitching in the National League," Wilson said. "You've got the pitcher hitting, and you've got the eighth-place hitter. We've put lineups out there with Mitch Moreland hitting eighth. C'mon, Mitch Moreland can hit a ball 500 feet.

"This is the way the game started, with pitchers hitting. It's more fun. If I got 50-60 at-bats during a season, that'd be great."

Instead, Wilson has five at-bats in his career, plus one against the Giants in the World Series. He's still looking for his first hit.

But he did hit that home run -- a second-deck home run -- in batting practice on Tuesday.

"It's OK, but it's 318 down the line," Wilson said. "It's easy to hit a home run here -- really easy, extremely easy."

But the Yankees, who lead the majors with 103 home runs (and have hit 62 in 40 home games), didn't reach the seats against Wilson. He became just the third opposing pitcher in the new Yankee Stadium history (since 2009) to go eight innings without allowing a home run.

Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee each did it twice.

One more thing to remember come November: Wilson isn't a big fan of the Yankee Stadium mound.

"It's terrible," he said earlier this week. "It's like clay and silt."

Oh, and one last thing to remember: CC Sabathia loves hitting, too. He loved the National League. And when it was the American League Yankees who made by far the biggest offer when Sabathia was a free agent in the winter of 2008-09, Sabathia went to the league where he couldn't hit regularly.


Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 10:49 am
 

3 to Watch: The CC sees the Indians edition

CC Sabathia won't pitch against the Indians this weekend, so the Yankees left-hander will have plenty of time to go see his ex-teammates.

If he can find any.

It hasn't even been three years since the July 2008 trade that sent Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee to start off the latest Indians rebuilding project. But the lineup from Sabathia's final Cleveland start includes just two players (Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo) who are still with the Indians now.

The current lineup, which has the Indians (barely) holding on to first place in the American League Central, features two players (Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta) who were acquired in the Sabathia trade, another (Carlos Santana) who was acquired in the Casey Blake trade three weeks later, and another who (Asdrubal Cabrera) was acquired in a deal two years earlier when the Indians traded the guy who just became the Marlins hitting coach (Eduardo Perez).

"They seem to be able to trade everyone and start over," Sabathia said this week. "That's what they did when they traded for Cliff [Lee] and Grady [Sizemore]."

He's right. Sabathia was 21 years old and in his second year with the Indians when Cleveland traded Bartolo Colon to Montreal for Lee, Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens. That trade built the Indians team that lost to the Red Sox in the 2007 American League Championship Series.

Four years later, Colon is Sabathia's teammate in New York, and the Indians have rebuilt again, with the trades of Sabathia, Lee, Blake and Victor Martinez playing big parts in it. And while it's hard to believe they can hang on to win the AL Central -- their lead over the fast-charging Tigers is down to one game, heading into the weekend -- the young players acquired in those deals have inspired renewed hope for the future.

One part-time Indians fan now pitching for the Yankees is inspired.

"I was excited [earlier this year], and I am excited," Sabathia said. "It's a really good team."

It's an Indians team that needs a few wins, after a 4-11 stretch that has seen Cleveland's division lead drop from seven games down to one.

Sabathia wouldn't go so far as hoping the Indians win this weekend, but after they leave town Monday, you can bet he'll be pulling for them again -- even if all his old friends are gone.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Carlos Zambrano created a stir last week, when he said the Cubs were "playing like a Triple-A team." But scouts who have watched the Cubs recently say Zambrano had truth as his defense. The Cubs have been awful of late, even if Zambrano (2.03 ERA over his last four starts) hasn't. Zambrano has actually outpitched Roy Halladay (3.41) in that span, but Halladay's Phillies won all four of his start, while Zambrano's Cubs won only two of his. Now they meet, in Cubs at Phillies, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. You think Sabathia has a hard time finding ex-teammates who are still in Cleveland? How about Colon? The last time he pitched for the Indians, his manager was Charlie Manuel, his closer was Bob Wickman, and the Indians lineup featured Ellis Burks, Jim Thome and Travis Fryman. Oh, and Frank Robinson was in the other dugout, managing the Expos. Colon has faced the Indians eight times since (going 4-3 with a no-decision), and will again in Indians at Yankees, Saturday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium.

3. If Cardinals-Cubs is the old rivalry in the National League Central, and Cardinals-Reds is the "new rivalry," then what do we call Cardinals-Brewers? They're in first and second place, respectively, they have some history, and they meet this weekend. The matchups even work out, with Zack Greinke facing Chris Carpenter in Cardinals at Brewers, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Miller Park. Greinke has some history with the Cardinals, too. He faced them six times in the I-70 interleague rivalry with the Royals, and hasn't lost to them in four appearances since 2005.


Posted on: May 12, 2011 6:52 pm
 

3 to watch: The Verlander edition

Ryan Braun remembers Justin Verlander's first no-hitter. He was there.

So no, Braun wasn't surprised to see Verlander throw a second no-hitter last Saturday in Toronto. And no, Braun won't be surprised if some day Verlander throws another one.

"Any starting pitcher who is throwing 100 [mph] in the eighth inning or the ninth inning should put himself in position to throw a no-hitter sometime," Braun said this week. "As far as dominant stuff goes, he's as good as any pitcher I've ever seen."

Braun saw Verlander's first no-hitter, in June 2007, but he didn't play in the game. He was in his first weeks in the major leagues, and Brewers manager Ned Yost gave him that night off.

Yost now manages the Royals, which means he'll see Verlander again on Friday night, in the Tiger right-hander's first start since no-hitting the Blue Jays.

Verlander has great history against the Royals, including throwing his first big-league shutout in Kansas City in 2006. He's 10-2 in 16 career starts against the Royals, with a 2.58 ERA.

He's never thrown a no-hitter against them. Not yet.

"On his good days, he's at the top of the league stuff-wise," said Craig Counsell, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Verlander's first no-hitter. "And he's able to maintain that special velocity through the game."

Despite his success against the Royals, this Kansas City team may not be the most likely opponent if you're looking for another Verlander no-hitter. Current Royals players have hit a combined .312 against Verlander, with Billy Butler one of Verlander's toughest opponents at .406 (13-for-32).

And how did Verlander do in his first start after his first no-hitter?

Not bad. He beat the Phillies, 7-4, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings. But there was no real no-hit threat, as Verlander allowed a second-inning single to Abraham Nunez.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The American League Central could be getting interesting, now that the Tigers have won eight of their last nine and the White Sox have won four of their last five. The Tigers are now just percentage points behind the second-place Royals, going into the series that will begin with Verlander against Luke Hochevar in Royals at Tigers, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park.

2. The last time the Red Sox sent Josh Beckett to the mound against the Yankees, they were 1-7 and it already felt like must-win time. Things aren't as desperate now. Then again, the Sox just lost two in a row in Toronto, John Lackey gave up nine runs, and once again Boston is three games under .500. And they're in New York. So yeah, maybe it is must win, especially when Beckett takes the mound against CC Sabathia for Red Sox at Yankees, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Yankee Stadium.


3. It's Cardinals-Reds time again, so that means it's time for more interesting tweets from Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, right? As of late Thursday afternoon, there hadn't been any, but we'll keep watching, all the way through Cardinals at Reds, Sunday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Great American Ball Park. As of now, the Cardinals are still saying that Sunday's game is the last one that ailing manager Tony La Russa will definitely miss, but stay tuned on that, too. Meanwhile, acting manager Joe Pettini did his part to play down the importance of this series, saying Thursday, "It's early in the year, so it's just another series."


Posted on: May 5, 2011 7:43 pm
 

3 to watch: The play the percentages edition

You might think this is the worst time to face Andre Ethier.

R.A. Dickey thinks it's the best time.

"The percentages are in your favor the more games his streak goes on," the Mets knuckleballer said. "I'd rather he had a 50-game streak. You think, this is going to end sometime."

It's hard to know whether it will end this weekend, and not just because an inflamed elbow kept Ethier out of the Dodgers' Wednesday game against the Cubs, and has his status in some doubt for this weekend's series against the Mets.

What we do know is that Ethier has a .147 career average against the Mets, easily his lowest against any National League opponent.

We also know that Ethier's hitting streak is at 29 games, which gives the next couple of games extra significance. The longest hitting streak in Dodger history is 31, by Willie Davis in 1969.

Davis' 30th and 31st games came against . . . the Mets. His streak ended in the next series, in San Diego against the Padres.

If Ethier gets a hit Friday, he could tie Davis with another hit on Saturday night. While Ethier has bad career numbers against the Mets, he has great numbers (12-for-29, with six home runs) against Chris Young, the Mets' Saturday night starter.

"I'll just pencil him in for a hit," Young said with a smile.

Young said he met Ethier last year in the Dodger Stadium weight room, when Young was with the Padres.

"He came up and asked how I was doing," said Young, who was coming back from an injury. "He's first and foremost a nice guy, a great player, who has a ton of success off me.

"I had to apologize to him, because by getting hurt I cost him some hits."

If Ethier can carry his streak until Sunday, he'll face Dickey.

By then, the percentages may be in his favor.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Giants and Rockies have played some fascinating games the last couple of years. And any matchup of Matt Cain and Ubaldo Jimenez is interesting, even if Cain gave up six runs the last time he faced Colorado and Jimenez has a 7.20 ERA. It'll be Cain and Jimenez, in Rockies at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park.

2. Young can joke about his lack of success against Ethier, but his first four starts for the Mets have been no joke. He's just 1-0 (losing two potential wins to blown saves), but he has a 1.88 ERA and has allowed just 12 hits in 24 innings (with a .146 opponents batting average). Young faces Jon Garland in Dodgers at Mets, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field.

3. Rangers fans probably don't need many reminders that their team went to the World Series last year, for the first time in its history. But having the Yankees in town for the first time since the American League Championship Series can't hurt. This hasn't been the best of times for either team, as both the Rangers and Yankees had their first three-game losing streak of the season. It's still a big-time series, and maybe the most interesting pitching matchup of the series will be CC Sabathia against Alexi Ogando, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (2:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark.

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