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Tag:Padres
Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:05 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:06 am
 

3 to watch: The Comeback edition

Chris Young returns to the Padres rotation Saturday. Andy Pettitte returns to the Yankees rotation Sunday.

The Padres fell out of first place Thursday. The Yankees fell out of first place Wednesday.

Yes, there's a difference. Of course there is.

The Yankees, according to the computers at coolstandings.com, are a 97.3 percent lock to make the playoffs. The Padres, the computers say, are basically 50-50.

But the computer here at 3 to watch says Pettitte's return could have just as big an impact on this coming postseason -- probably more -- than Young's.

Young might help the Padres get into the playoffs. Pettitte could well be the difference in whether the Yankees win once they're there.

The Padres rotation, 7-14 with a 5.33 ERA over the club's last 25 games, could use a boost. But unless Young drives in some runs (he's a .139 career hitter, with 10 RBI in 190 at-bats), it may not be enough to matter.

The Yankees are in a bit of a slump at the plate, too, scoring just 34 runs in their last 10 games (eight of them losses). But the real issue that threatens their run at a second straight title is a rotation that features one great pitcher -- CC Sabathia -- and a ton of question marks.

Since Pettitte's last start, on July 18 against the Rays, the Yankee starters other than Sabathia have combined to go 22-20 with a 5.68 ERA.

Pettitte was having one of his best seasons when he went down with a groin injury. Besides that, he's the winningest postseason pitcher ever, with an 18-9 record and 3.90 ERA in 40 career starts. He won four of his five starts last postseason, and left the other one when it was tied 3-3 in the seventh inning.

There's no doubt the Yankees need him to be healthy, and need him to be strong. There's at least some doubt about how ready he is, which manager Joe Girardi acknowledged when he said that recently demoted Javier Vazquez would be ready to start Sunday if Pettitte can't.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Yes, the Braves still have six games remaining with the Phillies, who they now trail by three games in the National League East. That's good, if you think the Braves can catch the Phillies. It's bad, if you think they can't, because it means their schedule is tougher than those of the other wild-card contenders. And that makes it doubly important for the Braves to beat up on teams like the Mets, particularly with Tim Hudson on the mound against Dillon Gee, in Braves at Mets, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Citi Field .

2. Young hasn't started a big-league game since the second game of the season, and he spent the rest of the year dealing with a right shoulder that took forever to recover from the surgery he underwent in August 2009. He has worked two simulated games and three minor-league rehabilitation games over the last month, and now the Padres believe he's ready. They hope he's ready, because he'll be starting in Padres at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium , for a team that is out of playoff position for the first time since the middle of April.

3. Getting Pettitte back is crucial to the Yankees, whether they win the division or finish second and take the wild card. But the Yankees keep saying that winning the division matters, and in that case Pettitte's start in Yankees at Orioles, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Camden Yards takes on even more significance. The Yankees' four remaining head-to-head games with the Rays will be played next week at Yankee Stadium, but the rest of the teams' remaining schedules favor Tampa Bay. Besides that, the Yankees don't want to give the Red Sox (six games behind) any hope that they can make their six remaining head-to-head games with the Yankees more significant.

Posted on: September 15, 2010 2:07 pm
 

And in 2011, interleague play will help the . . .

As it turns out, no one is making the 2010 playoffs because of interleague play.

Two of the three American League teams that did the best against the National League (the Red Sox and White Sox) won't make the playoffs at all, and the third (the Rangers) was the dominant team in the AL West, in-league and out-of-league.

The only NL team that truly excelled in interleague was the Mets, and they're not making the playoffs, either.

Still, there's no doubt that the interleague system is flawed, and that every year, some teams get easier interleague schedules (and thus, easier overall schedules) than other teams in the same division (or other teams fighting for the same wild-card spot).

So, now that baseball has released the 2011 schedule, it's worth taking an early look at how interleague play may be flawed next year:

First off, there don't seem to be as many disparities as there were in the 2010 schedule, which had the Red Sox playing four of their six interleague series against playoff teams from the previous year, while the Rays played none of their six. As it turned out, the Red Sox still outdid the Rays in interleague, 13-5 to 7-11.

Second, it appears that the 2011 schedule is somewhat truer to the original division vs. division concept. The rough matchups for 2011 have the AL East playing the NL Central, the AL Central playing the NL West and the AL West playing the NL East.

As always, those matchups don't hold up completely, both because of the desire to preserve geographical matchups (Yankees vs. Mets, Twins vs. Brewers, etc.) and because one league has 16 teams and the other has 14. So you still have out-of-the-blue series like Rockies at Yankees (while the Yankees play only three of the six NL Central teams). But there don't seem to be nearly as many of them.

So who comes off best and who comes off worst? It's subject to change, of course, because teams that make the playoffs this year may be bad next May and June, or vice versa, but here goes:

Toughest interleague schedule for an AL team: the Mariners, who play four of their six series against current NL playoff teams. They have their usual home-and-home with the Padres, and they're also one of the two AL West teams that will play both the Phillies and the Braves (the Rangers are the other).

Easiest interleague schedule for an AL team: the White Sox, who play none of their six series against current playoff teams (and only one, against the Rockies, against a team that even has a chance at making the playoffs this year).

Biggest disparity within an AL division: the East, where the Blue Jays (without a geographical rival) draw the top two teams in the NL East (Phillies and Braves) and the top two in the Central (Reds, Cardinals). Meanwhile, the Yankees and Rays avoid both the Phillies and Braves, and instead get rivalry series against the Mets and Marlins.

Toughest interleague schedule for an NL team: the Brewers, who will get three of the four AL playoff teams (Twins, Yankees, Rays), plus an extra series against the Twins.

Easiest interleague schedule for an NL team: the Nationals and Pirates, the only two teams who will avoid all four AL playoff teams. Not that it will help either team.

Biggest disparity within an NL division: the Central, where not only do the Brewers have four series against playoff teams while the Pirates have none, but at the top of the division the Reds get both the Yankees and Rays while the Cardinals get the Rays but miss the Yankees.

Unusual interleague series I'd most like to see: Padres at Red Sox, but only if the Padres haven't traded Adrian Gonzalez. Is he really that well suited to hitting at Fenway Park? Two others: Rangers at Braves, with Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and the others acquired in the Mark Teixeira trade finally get to Turner Field. Diamondbacks at Tigers, but only if Kirk Gibson hangs on as the Diamondbacks manager and then names Alan Trammell as his bench coach.

Interleague series I most want to avoid: Pirates at Indians. Have fun selling tickets for that one.
Posted on: September 12, 2010 8:51 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 9:05 pm
 

3 to watch: The Seeing the seeding edition

The players say it matters. The managers say it matters.

Ask Joe Maddon about the three games his Rays play against the Yankees this week, and the four games they play next week, and he'll tell you how important these games are. He'll tell you how great this is going to be.

"I definitely believe you're going to see playoff-like intensity in every one of those games," Maddon said. "I think you're going to see a very intense seven games. I do."

We don't.

They could be seven great games. They're definitely seven games that we wouldn't mind watching, especially the CC Sabathia-David Price matchup that kicks off the first series on Monday night.

"I want to see that, too," Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said. "When we have matchups like that, I become a fan."

It's a great matchup, between two teams that are separated by half a game now, and have been within 2 1/2 games of each other for 49 straight days. It's potentially a great series.

It's won't be playoff-intense, not the way Giants-Padres was playoff-intense, not the way Braves-Phillies next week may well be playoff-intense.

For playoff intensity, you need playoff pressure. And you only get playoff pressure if the loser goes home.

When the Yankees meet the Rays, the winner may well get to raise an American League East championship flag. The winner may well get home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The loser won't go home.

Instead, the loser becomes the wild card, with nearly as good a chance to hang the flag that matters on opening day next year. All they're really playing for is playoff seeding.

Baseball has had the wild-card system for 15 years, which means there have been 30 wild cards, and 30 teams that finished in first place in the same division as the wild card.

Twelve times, the division winner advanced further in October than the wild card did. Ten times, the wild card advanced further than the division winner. The other eight times, both the wild card and the division winner were eliminated in the first round.

So is there an advantage to finishing first? Maybe.

Is there a significant advantage? Definitely not.

In fact, with the AL East winner likely to face Texas in the first round, with Cliff Lee potentially going twice in a best-of-5 series, you could even argue that this year, the team that finishes second has the advantage.

In recent weeks, a few people have renewed the push for adding a second wild-card team in each league. The idea is that the two wild cards would have a play-in game (or a play-in series). Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated presented an excellent case last week.

In that system, Yankees-Rays would be huge. It still wouldn't be loser-goes-home, but at least it would be loser-is-at-a-big-disadvantage.

In that system, it might well be "playoff-intense."

In this system, it simply leads off this edition of 3 to watch:

1. No, we're not that excited about Yankees-Rays. But we are excited about Sabathia-Price, the pitching matchup in Yankees at Rays, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field . With Felix Hernandez allowing seven runs and losing to the Angels on Saturday night, we're even tempted to call this a Cy Young showdown. Sabathia would help his credentials with a 20th win. Price would help his with a win over the Yankees (especially since Hernandez has three of them). Sabathia is the seventh pitcher to go for a 20th win against a Tampa Bay team. Five of the first six succeeded. The one who didn’t? Sabathia, when he lost to Price last Oct. 2.

2. Through 143 games last year, the Twins were 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers. Through 143 games this year, the Twins are six games ahead of the White Sox. So are you ready to declare the American League Central race over? Not just yet, but it will be over if Chicago doesn't sweep the three-game series that opens with Twins at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field . The last time the Twins were swept in Chicago was in 2008, which is the same year that ended with a Twins-White Sox one-game playoff to decide the AL Central winner. The game-winning home run that night, of course, was hit by Jim Thome, then with the White Sox, now with the Twins.

3. Near the end of the Giants-Padres game Sunday, Giants announcer Mike Krukow asked partner Duane Kuiper who to root for when the Padres play the Rockies this week. Tough question, because the Giants begin the week percentage points behind the Padres, but just 1 1/2 games ahead of the third-place (and hard-charging) Rockies. It another fascinating series in baseball's most interesting division, with the team that just ended a 10-game losing streak meeting the team that now owns a 10-game winning streak. The Padres won't see Ubaldo Jimenez, but they will see Jason Hammel, who starts in Padres at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field . Hammel and Jimenez are the only pitchers who own three wins over the Padres this year, and if he wins Tuesday, Hammel could become just the seventh pitcher with at least four wins over a single opponent this season. The other six: Chris Carpenter (five wins vs. the Reds), Sabathia (four vs. the Orioles), Ryan Dempster (four vs. the Brewers), Chris Volstad (four vs. the Nationals), Roy Halladay (four vs. the Mets) and Price (four vs. the Blue Jays). Oh, and Kuiper's answer to Krukow: "I'm rooting for a 25-inning game."

Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:04 am
 

3 to watch: The Remember it's September edition

The big series in the National League West this weekend, as you may have heard, is taking place at Petco Park.

The Rockies are not there.

"That's great for the Rockies," ex-Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe said this week. "It takes the attention off them. I've been there when we were counted out. And I've got a ring to show for it."

If the Rockies keep stealing home and overcoming 5-0 deficits, they might grab the attention right back. And if they take advantage of this weekend's Giants-Padres series -- every day, one of the teams in front of them will lose every day -- the NL West could become the hottest three-team race in baseball.

"It's kind of crazy over there," Hawpe said.

The Rockies dumped Hawpe late last month, and now he could end up playing in the American League playoffs with the Rays, who signed him and have been giving him something of a tryout for a spot on the postseason roster. Meanwhile, he'll watch from afar as the Rockies try to do what they did in 2007 and 2009, moving from nearly out of the race at the start of September to a spot in the playoffs at the end of the month.

Three years ago, the Rockies went 21-8 in the final month, famously winning 21 out of 22 (including playoffs) in their run to the World Series. Last year, they were 20-11 after Aug. 31.

This year? They're off to a 7-2 start in September. They were seven games out of the division lead and 4 1/2 out of the wild-card lead when the month began; now they're 3 1/2 back in both races.

It's a typical Rockies September, just as it has so far been a typical Phillies September (7-2) and a typical Twins September (7-1).

On to 3 to watch, on a weekend with so many good matchups that we had to leave out the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce reunion (Friday night in Detroit), and the Cardinals-Braves series in Atlanta:

1. Hawpe also said he's pulling hard for Carlos Gonzalez to be the National League's Most Valuable Player, and for Ubaldo Jimenez to win the Cy Young Award. Jimenez will need a strong finish to win, but he'll get a chance at becoming the NL's first 19-game winner when he starts in Diamondbacks at Rockies, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . In four meetings with Arizona this year, Jimenez is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. In 11 games against the Diamondbacks (who originally signed him), Gonzalez is hitting .444 with five home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.500 OPS.

2. When the Yankees and Rangers met last month, it felt like an American League Championship Series preview. They meet again this weekend, but it feels like just another step for two teams anxious to answer their October question marks. The Yankees will be excited or frustrated after A.J. Burnett's start on Saturday, and the Rangers will be relieved or alarmed after they watch Cliff Lee's expected return to the rotation, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (3:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark . For all the worry about the Yankees rotation behind CC Sabathia, the Rangers don't have much chance if Lee isn't healthy, do they?

3. When Mat Latos had to miss his scheduled start for the Padres last Monday night, because of a stomach flu, it was seen as one more thing going wrong for a team in a tailspin. Instead, the Padres used their bullpen to beat the Dodgers that night (ending a 10-game losing streak), and Latos was able to come back and beat the Dodgers again on Tuesday. It also set up the Padres ace to face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in Giants at Padres, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park , in the final game of this weekend's four-game series (but not the final meeting between two teams that will play a three-game series in San Francisco on Oct. 1-3). Latos, who was signed by Giants manager Bruce Bochy's brother (a Padres scout), has allowed just three runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Giants this year (including two 1-0 wins). Lincecum has faced the Padres just once this season, and it didn't go well, as he was knocked out in the fourth inning of an 8-2 loss on Aug. 15. He has only four wins in 12 career starts against the Padres (his fewest against an NL West opponent), although his career ERA against San Diego is 2.16.
Posted on: September 5, 2010 10:31 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2010 9:18 am
 

3 to watch: The Saving the Padres edition

Last Friday, the Padres had a seven-game losing streak, and we told you that it was all right, because five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season.

Now the Padres have a 10-game losing streak. Any chance history can help?

Not really. Of the 350 teams that have made it to the postseason, only two had a 10-game losing streak. Those two were 1951 Giants (think Bobby Thomson) and the 1982 Braves (think . . . Joe Morgan?).

The Braves were in first place, 6 1/2 games ahead, when they slipped up against the Giants in the middle of August and went on a losing streak that lasted 11 games. They actually lost 15 of 16, going from 6 1/2 up to four games behind, before recovering. They won the division on the final day of the season, when Morgan's seventh-inning home run for the Giants eliminated the second-place Dodgers.

And who managed that Braves team? Joe Torre, whose Dodgers play in San Diego this week. So as the Dodgers try to extend the Padres' misery, Torre can explain to Bud Black that this crazy season can still be rescued.

On to 3 to watch, with a reminder that two of the big series this coming weekend actually begin on Thursday (Giants at Padres, Cardinals at Braves):

1. For all the fuss over Manny Ramirez, the most significant acquisition the White Sox made this summer may have been Edwin Jackson. In five starts for the Sox, Jackson is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA. Meanwhile, the guy he was traded for, Daniel Hudson, has gone 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts for the Diamondbacks. And the guy Jackson was traded for last winter, Max Scherzer, is 8-4 with a 1.90 ERA in his last 16 starts for the Tigers. We bring all this up because Jackson faces Scherzer, in White Sox at Tigers, Monday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park . This is a big week for the White Sox, because they need to stay close enough to the Twins to make next week's three-game showdown in Chicago meaningful.

2. It's not that long ago that the Padres' big Mat Latos question was how they would hold their 22-year-old ace within his innings limit. Now, with Latos scheduled to start in Dodgers at Padres, Monday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park , it's whether Latos can be the guy who stops this losing streak. Latos hasn't gone more than two starts without a win all season, and he's at two now, having taken a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies (while allowing just one run in seven innings) and again in a 5-2 loss to the Diamondbacks (while allowing just one run in six innings). Of course, before this losing streak began, the Padres hadn't lost more than three in a row all year.


3. Two Septembers ago, when the Rays went into Fenway Park with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox, we still weren't sure the Rays were that good. Heck, they still weren't sure they were that good. "If you want to be true with it, you say you want to be who [the Red Sox] are," Rays veteran Cliff Floyd said that week. You can bet no one on the Rays will be saying they want to be what the Red Sox are this week. You can also bet that we'll have some memories of 2008, especially when 2008 playoff hero David Price starts for Tampa Bay in Rays at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park .


Posted on: September 3, 2010 11:02 am
 

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

We circle them on the schedule. We ask about the matchups.

We even feature them in 3 to watch.

And then, right before our eyes, the most important series of the summer can fizzle out before they even begin.

And we wonder if they were ever as important as we made them out to be in the first place.

Reds vs. Cardinals?

Remember what happened last time?

Yeah, we remember. In that all-important series last month in Cincinnati, the Reds did all the talking (and some of the fighting), and the Cardinals did all the winning.

Important series, right?

Yeah, except that the Cardinals seem to have forgotten that cliché about how every game is important, about how it doesn't matter if you win the head-to-head meetings if you then lose against somebody else.

Since those three wins at Great American Ball Park, the Cards are 5-13. They've won just one series (against the Giants), and lost five others -- all to sub-.500 teams.

The Reds, meanwhile, have gone 14-4. They've lost just one series (against the Giants), and won five others -- two of them against winning teams.

So now, as the Reds and Cardinals meet again, the Reds come in with an eight-game lead.

There's still plenty to talk about, and perhaps Brandon Phillips will open the series by doing more talking.

There's Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto. There's Walt Jocketty and Scott Rolen coming back to St. Louis as likely NL Central conquerors. There's Tony La Russa vs. Dusty Baker, and who knows if that's the last time we'll see them go against each other.

And, if you think the Cardinals still have a chance to catch the Reds, there's the point that now this really is the most important series of the summer.

And that's why we're still featuring it in 3 to watch.

1. Five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had at least a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season. That's not a prediction that the Padres will make it, just a reminder that their current seven-game spin doesn't necessarily doom them to collapse. It does put huge pressure on them in the 10-game homestand that begins with Rockies at Padres, Friday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The first game would be an interesting one, anyway, because for the first time since May, the Padres are going away from their five-man rotation, in this case starting 25-year-old rookie Cory Luebke. For now, Luebke is only giving the other five starters an extra day of rest, but if he pitches well and ends the streak, manager Bud Black will have even more to think about in the days to come.

2. It's hard to blame the Cardinals' collapse on anyone in particular. You certainly can't blame Pujols, who has a 1.142 OPS over the 18 games. And as for the pitching, the Cards' team ERA over the last 18 games (4.15) is better than the Reds' team ERA (4.69) over the same span. But take a look at Adam Wainwright, who might have been the Cy Young leader after his Aug. 11 win in Cincinnati (which left him 17-6 with a 1.99 ERA). Wainwright is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three starts since, heading into Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium . Travis Wood, Wainwright's 23-year-old mound opponent, didn't face the Cardinals in the series in Cincinnati. In the three weeks since, he's 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.

3. The Yankees and Rays are both heading to the playoffs, but they say it's important to finish first in the American League East, in part because it means home-field advantage if the two teams meet in the American League Championship Series. In effect, there's the same kind of battle going on this weekend, in a series that ends with Rangers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET) at Target Field . The AL Central-leading Twins head into the series with a 1 1/2-game lead over the AL West-leading Rangers, which means that the Twins would have home-field advantage if these two teams met in the ALCS. The Twins have other things on their mind, with just a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place White Sox. The Rangers also have something else on their mind: Cliff Lee's back, which was sore enough that Lee had an injection this week in Texas. Lee's scheduled side session Saturday may be as important to them as any of the games they play this weekend.
Posted on: August 13, 2010 10:50 am
Edited on: August 13, 2010 10:55 am
 

3 to watch: The Beat S.D.? edition

In San Francisco, they hate the Dodgers. It's that simple. They hate Dodger Blue. They hate Tommy Lasorda.

In San Diego, they hate the Dodgers. No doubt about it. There's nothing they love to chant more than "Beat L.A.!"

But the Dodgers aren't going to be at AT&T Park this weekend. The Padres are.

The Dodgers aren't leading the Giants by 2 1/2 games in the National League West. The Padres are.

Who knows if Giants-Padres hatred is even possible. Maybe this is the weekend we find out.

Thank you, Jonathan Sanchez.

Sanchez is no Brandon Phillips, but he did "guarantee" that the Giants will sweep the Padres in these three games, and then go on to make the playoffs.

"We're going to play San Diego now and we're going to beat them three times," he said, after losing his last start, Sunday in Atlanta. "If we get to first place, we're not going to look back."

No, it's not exactly "little bitches" material. And he's no Joe Namath.

But it's better than everyone getting together and laughing about the Dodgers being nine games out.

Or is it?

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Padres know how good Sanchez can be, because he no-hit them last year. He hasn't beaten them in four meetings since, but two of those were 1-0 losses to Mat Latos earlier this season. Sanchez may be happy to know that he won't be facing Latos in Padres at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park . Clayton Richard, who has a 6.69 ERA over his last seven starts, will open the series for the Padres, with Latos facing Madison Bumgarner on Saturday, and Wade LeBlanc opposing Tim Lincecum on Sunday.

2. Now this is a rivalry, Cubs and Cardinals. Except that the Cardinals just got done fighting with the Reds, and the Cubs aren't a factor in the National League Central. And Carlos Zambrano, who starts in Cubs at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium , has done a lot more to anger Cubs fans than he has to upset Cardinal fans. Chris Carpenter, who played a big part in stirring up the Cardinals-Reds feelings, starts for St. Louis.

3. This is not a rivalry, Orioles and Rays. But with the O's seemingly revived under Buck Showalter, it'll be interesting to see whether they have any effect on the American League East race. Including this weekend, the Orioles have nine games remaining with Tampa Bay, six games left with the Red Sox, and six left with the Yankees. We may know more by the time 24-year-old Jake Arrieta faces 23-year-old Jeremy Hellickson, in Orioles at Rays, Sunday afternoon (1:40 ET) at Tropicana Field .



Posted on: August 1, 2010 9:23 pm
 

3 to watch: The Instant rewards? edition

Cliff Lee lost his first start for the Rangers. Dan Haren not only lost his Angels debut, but he was knocked out of the box by a line drive.

Roy Oswalt lost his first Phillies start.

Yeah, it's great to trade for a starting pitcher, isn't it?

You make the deal with hopes that it will go the way it did for Lee last year, when he won his first five starts for the Phillies, then took them all the way to the World Series. You remember that CC Sabathia went 11-2 down the stretch with the 2008 Brewers, and changed the story of a franchise by taking them to the playoffs.

You remember Doyle Alexander (9-0) with the 1987 Tigers. You don't remember Jarrod Washburn (1-3) with the 2009 Tigers.

A starting pitcher traded at midseason doesn't get that many chances to affect the pennant race. Lee made just 12 regular-season starts for the Phillies last year; even Sabathia, who was dealt before the All-Star break and famously pitched on three days' rest down the stretch in September, started only 17 regular-season games for the Brewers.

The best deals make a difference, but with so few starts, each one is precious.

Oswalt makes his second Phils start this Wednesday in Florida. Haren makes his third Angels start Wednesday in Baltimore. Lee, who lost to the Angels in Anaheim on Sunday, will face the A's this weekend in Oakland.

Meanwhile, three other teams show off new starters this week, as you'll see in 3 to watch:

1. The Cardinals no doubt would have rather had Oswalt, but the guy they got was Jake Westbrook, who has come back well from Tommy John surgery. Westbrook's first start will come in Astros at Cardinals, Monday night (8:15 ET) at Busch Stadium . Westbrook is a career American Leaguer. He was 6-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 27 interleague games against National League teams. His opponent Monday is Brett Myers, the guy a lot of teams would have liked to have traded for; the Astros instead signed him to a contract extension.

2. The Dodgers were seven games out of first place at the deadline, and 4 1/2 games behind in the wild-card race. But the Dodgers obviously still believe they can win, as they picked up four players in the last week, including starter Ted Lilly, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Lilly gets a tough assignment in his debut with his new team, facing Mat Latos in Padres at Dodgers, Tuesday night (10:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium .

3. Edwin Jackson keeps moving from team to team, impressing everyone with his stuff and his makeup, but never making enough of an impact that anyone decides he's indispensible. Will that change with the White Sox, his fifth team in an eight-year career? We'll find out, beginning with White Sox at Tigers, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park . One interesting note: Jackson lost his final two starts for the Tigers, both against the White Sox last September. One reason he did, according to a source, is that he was tipping his pitches then and the White Sox had picked it up. Jackson is an interesting deadline pickup, anyway, because his career ERA after the All-Star break is 5.09, more than half a run worse than his pre-break ERA of 4.47.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com