Stock Watch: Timmy makes a comeback, All-Star Lynn goes the other way
Robinson Cano belies his record with runners in scoring position and Mat Latos begins to justify a trade, joining the resurgent Lincecum in the Bull Market.
|Cano has 20 home runs to go with 46 RBI. (US Presswire)|
1. Robinson Cano , New York Yankees 2B
It's a wonder why anyone is pitching to him at this point. Cano has homered in nine of 14 games and now has 20 home runs, not a bad total for someone who had one homer through May 5. With a .310 batting average and 46 RBI to go along with his homer total, Cano clearly earned his starting All-Star spot and could even be an MVP candidate (although like the last time Cano was in the running, Josh Hamilton is going to be tough to beat).
While Cano is having a terrific year, he has struggled with runners in scoring position. John Harper of the New York Daily News recently asked the question: "Has anyone ever had a better year while hitting .176 with runners in scoring position?" My answer: Probably not, unless, we are talking about pitchers. Cano, oddly enough, is actually hitting with descending success as the situation becomes more vital. He's at .331 with the bases empty, .287 with runners on, .176 with runners in scoring position, .152 with RISP and two outs and .077 with the bases loaded.
Doesn't matter. He's still one of the game's very best players.
2. Tim Lincecum , San Francisco Giants SP
Lincecum appeared to be on the verge of being pulled from the Giants' rotation, or at least having to take a break, when he came through with two performances that are more reminiscent of the real Lincecum. He beat the A's 5-4 after struggling early (and nearly being pulled) then shut down the Dodgers 3-0 to improve to a still-uncharacteristic 3-8.
Lincecum's ERA is still a rather high 5.60, but at least he appears to be on the right path after two positive steps last week. It isn't certain what the key was for Lincecum, but it's likely Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was smart to stick with Lincecum, will now stick with Hector Sanchez as Lincecum's catcher (Sanchez caught Lincecum's last two games) rather than go back to the vaunted, beloved Buster Posey , who set the record for NL All-Star votes.
More importantly, Lincecum seems to be rounding into shape after coming to camp at less than his optimal weight. Lincecum, a pitcher who'd worked intensely for years to overcome his small stature and frame, upon arriving in camp seemed to suggest he spent the first half of the winter eating delicious In-N-Out Burgers and the second half dieting, accounting for a weight loss and possibly even diminished arm strength. He seems back on track now. Hold the onions.
3. Mat Latos , Cincinnati Reds SP
Latos making the Stock Watch probably isn't going to make up for the All-Star snubs ( Johnny Cueto , Brandon Phillips ) felt by the Reds. But hey, it's a start.
Latos threw two straight complete-game victories this week, beating the Brewers 3-1 and the Giants 2-1 to improve his record to 7-2 with a 4.41 ERA. Latos' resurgence is a big help in a tight NL Central. It also should make the Reds feel better about a trade that always looked like a big gamble.
Latos is a talented pitcher, but folks had to wonder how much PETCO Park was helping him in San Diego. Meanwhile, the Reds gave up three highly-regarded young players in addition to veteran starter Edinson Volzquez to get Latos: catcher Yasmani Grandal, first baseman Yonder Alonso and reliever Brad Boxberger. Grandal homered shortly after being called up this week, so Latos' biggest week to date was well-timed.
He seems to be fulfilling his promise a pitcher. Now if he can just find that missing "t" ...
1. Melvin Upton , Tampa Bay Rays CF
It's been a rough year for brothers all around baseball, as both Weeks brothers have struggled, and the ultra-talented Uptons also have had their moments. Justin Upton didn't play up to his ability until a terrific June, but now his older brother B.J. has hit the skids.
B.J. Upton is 3 for his last 41 (all singles) with 17 strikeouts, dropping his average to .240. With the Rays searching for runs, this isn't helping.
2. Cliff Lee , Philadelphia Phillies SP
The poster boy for the argument that wins don't accurately measure a starting pitcher, Lee, in one of the shocking stats of the year, still has zero victories. Of course, most of that is the fault of the injury-depleted and often poor-performing Phillies. But in his last couple starts, Lee actually hasn't deserved a win.
The underperformance around him might finally be catching up to Lee because he's allowed 16 hits and 11 runs (all earned) over 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts, dropping his record to 0-5 with the two lossses this week and raising his ERA to 4.13, which doesn't reflect how he pitched early. In one of this week's games, Brooks Conrad just destroyed Lee. A plus: at least it wasn't Lee's own teammates who were hurting him for a change.
3. Lance Lynn , St. Louis Cardinals SP
Lynn made one of the first Stock Watches, possibly leading to his controversial All-Star selection Sunday (he finished fourth in the players vote). He hasn't been very All-Star worthy lately, however.
There were complaints over his selection, as Lynn's 3.62 ERA is much higher than the marks of Cueto (2.26) and Zack Greinke (2.82). But some of the vote came in before his third straight rough start. An ERA that was once 2.42 has ballooned after three bad games, making the pick look questionable when compared to the others. In his two starts this week alone, Lynn allowed 16 hits and 12 runs in 10 1/3 innings.
Stock Watch will choose to (mostly) recall the early Lynn. Just as apparently the players who voted for him did, too.