Tag Archive | "Whip"

Now is the time for Kansas City Royals’ Duffy

After missing much of the year recovering from Tommy John surgery, it appears that Danny Duffy is ready to claim a spot in the Kansas City Royals’ rotation for the rest of this season and possibly next season as well.

DannyDuffy

Duffy, who has replaced the struggling Wade Davis in the starting rotation, shut down the Twins in his latest start. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits and no runs, while striking out seven. Perhaps the most important stat from that start, however, was that Duffy did not allow a walk. It was the first start in his career that he didn’t issue a free pass.

The knock on Duffy has always been his lack of control. And pitchers that come back from Tommy John surgery tend to struggle finding a feel for the strike zone initially. In his only other two starts this season, Duffy walked two batters in 3.2 innings and three batters in 6 innings.

In Duffy’s three years pitching in the majors, he has a walk rate of 4.5/9. While the walks tend to pile up for the talented southpaw, he has always shown strike out potential, with a strike out rate of 8.0/9 for his career.

Duffy was drafted in the third round of the 2007 draft and coming into the 2011 season, he was ranked as the 68th best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. So the potential has always been there.

The 6-foot-3 lefty spent six years in the minor leagues, earning 30-16 record, with an impressive 2.88 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. His minor league K/9 is 10.6 and his BB/9 is 3.0, considerably less than his 4.5 mark in the majors.

Duffy debuted in 2011, starting 20 games and finishing with a 4-8 record and a 5.64 ERA. He showed improvement in 2012 before his injury. He started six games and recorded a 3.90 ERA.

While the Tommy John injury delayed his development, Duffy appears to be back on track. He has a chance to show that he is a big part of the Royals’ future. If he can finish this season strong and continue to improve with his control, he should lock up a spot in next year’s starting five and perhaps beyond.

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What Went Wrong In Kansas City Royals Sweep?

A hot start after the All Star break had Royals fans dreaming of the postseason. The problem was that the Tigers and Indians matched the Royals’ early success after the midway point. Now, the luster of that hot streak has faded and the Royals have dropped five straight games, including a sweep at the hands of the lowly White Sox. So what happened in the three-game series against the Chicago south-siders? Here is a look at what went wrong:

JustinMaxwell

John Danks continues mastery of Royals
Danks shut out Kansas City over eight innings in the series opener (a 2-0 White Sox win). He scattered seven hits and struck out two Royals. Danks has really struggled this year, with a 2-10 record entering his start against the Royals. But the blue and white of the Royals was a welcome sight for the veteran left-hander. Danks improved to 6-0 in his career against Kansas City over 13 starts. His ERA in those 13 starts is 2.47 and his WHIP is 1.17.

The Royals bats went silent
In the three game series, the Royals scored a total of five runs, with a high of three runs in the series finale. Justin Maxwell‘s double in the opener was the only extra base hit in the series for the Royals, who posted an OPS of .465. Kansas City had a three-game total of 20 hits and hit for a terrible .198 average with 23 strikeouts. They also squandered scoring opportunities, leaving 18 on base.

Good starts were wasted
The Royals starters were solid in the series, but ended up recording a loss in two of the three games. Ervin Santana opened the three-game set with a good performance. He scattered four hits over six impressive innings of two-run ball. Jeremy Guthrie had one bad inning in game two, when he allowed a Dayan Viciedo grand slam as part of a five-run frame. Shields allowed three earned runs over seven innings, with eight strikeouts in a no-decision, before Luke Hochevar gave up a game-winning home run to Conor Gillaspie in the 12th inning.

Addison Reed notches a tri-fecta
In three tight wins, Reed slammed the door on the Royals, with three saves in three games. The talented young closer allowed one hit and one walk over his three flawless innings and struck out three Royals. The three straight saves give Reed 34 on the season on a team with only 52 wins.

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I Guess it is Time To Start Paying Attention to the Pirates

PittsburghPirates

The Pirates are a team that tend to just go away. They play well the first half of the season, getting Pittsburgh fans excited they may make the playoffs, or at least hit the .500 mark, and they end up imploding in the second half like no other team. It’s come to the point where I don’t really pay attention to them in the standings. If they are in first and the Cardinals are second, it means the Cardinals are in first. If the Reds are in first, the Pirates are 2 games back and the Cardinals are 3 games back, it means the Cardinals are in second place and just 3 games back.

But I don’t necessarily look at past seasons for this. Regardless of what has happened in the past, the Pirates this year are a team playing over their heads. Players who have struggled in the past don’t all just suddenly become good, do they?

Well the Pirates have a few cases where this seems to be case.

Francisco Liriano – Career era: 4.20. Career WHIP: 1.34. Career FIP: 3.63.

Prior seasons:

2012: era: 5.34, WHIP: 1.47, FIP: 4.34

2011: era: 5.09, WHIP: 1.49, FIP: 4.54

2009: era: 5.80, WHIP: 1.55, FIP: 4.87

Compare all of that to 2013: era: 2.68, WHIP: 1.20, FIP: 2.81

 

A.J. Burnett – Career era: 4.00. Career WHIP: 1.32. Career FIP: 3.90

Prior seasons:

2011: era: 5.15, WHIP:1.43, FIP: 4.77

2010: era: 5.26, WHIP: 1.51, FIP: 4.83

Compare that to 2013: era: 3.18, WHIP: 1.25, FIP: 2.86.

 

Russell Martin – Career slash: .259/.352/.399, wRC+: 104

Prior seasons:

2012: .211/.311/.403, wRC+: 96, WAR: 2.0

2011: .237/.324/.408, wRC+:100, WAR: 2.8

Compare that to 2013: .252/.352/.407, wRC+: 117, WAR: 4.0

 

So several players on The Pirates are definitely playing over their heads. But if you look at their advanced stats, especially FIP for both Liriano and Burnett, you can see they aren’t just getting lucky. Which doesn’t mean they still can’t regress greatly. But for now, being the middle of August, it may be best to assume they won’t regress. For some reason, a few players on The Pirates who have not been very good for quite a while, have become good.

So why are The Pirates so good? Some articles have chronicled why the Pirates are playing so well.

The only problem is, The Pirates have not really been playing that well. If you look deeper, even going by the generous assumption that none of these players are going to regress from just having a fluke season, The Pirates are not better than The Cardinals and possibly not even The Reds.

In many ways, The Pirates are what The Orioles were last year. A team that’s squeaking out wins. That’s much less a skill and more just luck. The Cardinals run differential is +140. That’s the best in the National League and second best in all of baseball behind The Tigers. The Pirates run differential  is +42. That’s worse than The Reds +87. The Pirates have only scored 478 runs this year, compared to The Cardinals 595 and The Reds 533. The Pirates RS/G is 3.93 compared to The Cardinals 4.67 and The Reds 4.19.

So The Pirates can’t score runs. But they can prevent runs. Their Runs Against is 436, which for all of the talk about their rotation and amazing bullpen versus the chatter about The Cardinals problems with keeping starting pitcher healthy, The Cardinals Runs Against is a very comparable 455.

So what do The Pirates do well? They win 1-run games. This year in 1-run games, their record is 23-18. Compared to The Cardinals at 15-14 and The Reds at 19-19.

The only thing The Pirates have going for them is a weak schedule the rest of the year. They have series gainst bottom feeding teams like The Giants, The Cubs and The Brewers. Besides The Cardinals, The Rangers and several series against The Reds, they don’t have it too bad. The Cardinals however have a similarly easy schedule. They too have several games with The Reds and the extremely tough Braves, but have some pretty weak teams like The Mariners and Cubs to beat up on too.

Per Fangraphs, The Cardinals are projected to have a better record and a better run differential the rest of the year. Per ESPN, The Cardinals still have a higher percentage of making the playoffs than The Pirates (though both teams are projected over 90% to make it).

But The Pirates need two things to happen for the rest of this season: 1) all of the players playing over their heads to continue to do so. There is zero room for any of them to regress to who they were before this season. And 2) The Pirates continue to win 1-run games against teams that score more runs than them. In other words, they need to keep getting very lucky.

There are still 38 games left to go. The Cardinals are 1 game behind The Pirates as of Tuesday morning. That is a lot of games remaining for those things to happen to go just right for The Pirates. So maybe for the first time, it’s time for me to acknowledge The Pirates. But only to an extent, as I expect The Cardinals to be on top of the standings for the NL Central come October 1st.

So like the title states, it is time to start paying attention to The Pirates.

A little.

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What to do with Wade Davis?

When the Royals made a splash this off-season by acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays, they figured they were getting two above average Major League pitchers that would solidify their rotation right away.

Shields and Davis

Shields has been as advertised, but Davis has quite frankly been terrible.

Davis’ ERA is approaching 6.00 (5.92) and his record has dropped to 4-8. In 97.1 innings pitched, Wade sports a 1.80 WHIP.

It’s not that Davis isn’t talented enough to be an effective starter. He posted respectable numbers in two seasons as a starter with the Rays. In 2010, he started 29 games and went 12-10 with a 4.07 ERA. In 2011, Davis also started 29 games, with a 4.45 ERA and an 11-10 record.

When you compare the numbers from those two seasons as a starter, there are a few alarming trends. Most notably, Davis’ hits per nine and walks per nine are way up. This season, Davis is allowing a whopping 12.2 hits per nine and 4.1 walks per nine.

Davis spent all of 2012 as a reliever for the Rays, and was great. In 54 appearances, Davis was 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA and a career-high 11.1 K/9.

So the question for the Royals becomes, do you leave Davis in the rotation and hope for the best, or do you make a switch and move him into a bullpen that is already very deep?

It’s not an easy question to answer. He has proven that he can be an effective reliever and with the Royals needing to make a move in the standings, they may not be able to stomach many more of his bad starts.

The Royals have two good candidates to take Davis’ spot in the rotation in rehabbing starters Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino. Duffy is further along in his rehab than Paulino, but whenever they are ready they could challenge for Davis’ starting gig.

Both Duffy and Paulino still have hurdles they need to climb before returning to the majors, but once they return it would make sense to move Davis back into the bullpen.

Until they return though, Davis has an opportunity to turn around his season and make a case that he still belongs in the rotation.

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Should there be a third Royals All-Star?

For the first time in a decade, the Royals have more than one player named to the All-Star team. Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez are the first duo to earn the honors since Mike MacDougal and Mike Sweeney in 2003.

GregHolland2

While Kansas City fans will enjoy watching Gordon and Perez in the Midsummer Classic, the Royals very easily could have had three All-Stars and some might argue they should. The third potential All-Star is closer Greg Holland, who has been lights out in the ninth inning pretty much all season.

Holland’s stats this year have been impressive.  He is 22 of 24 in save opportunities. He sports a whopping 15.4 K/9 with 60 strikeouts in 35.0 innings, good for a tie for first in strikeouts among American League closers. His 22 saves place him fifth in the league. He has converted his past 15 save opportunities and hasn’t blown a save since May 6. And right now, Holland is red hot. In an outstanding start to July, Holland has yet to give up a run in five chances. He has given up two hits over that time, while striking out 10 in five innings.

So, now that we’ve analyzed Holland’s numbers, the question becomes who does he replace on the team. The relievers selected to the American League squad are Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, Jesse Crain and Brett Cecil.

Holland has a better ERA and WHIP than Rivera. Crain and Cecil are middle relievers who are having excellent seasons. Nathan is having arguably the best season among all American League closers and with the game in New York, Rivera is deserving of his spot in his final season. That leaves Perkins.

Perkins has had a very good year and AL manager Jim Leyland took notice, especially after Perkins has notched four saves this year against Leyland’s Tigers. But if you compare Holland with Perkins, it seems the Royals hurler may have been the better pick. Holland has a better ERA, more strikeouts and more saves. Both have blown only two save opportunities and Perkins has a slightly better WHIP. It may be splitting hairs, because Perkins has had a great year and it’s not always exclusively about the numbers (Leyland has seen Perkins more than Holland this year).

However, Holland has an excellent case for being the third member of the Royals in New York City next week.

Holland isn’t dwelling on his omission from the roster.

“It just didn’t happen,” Holland told the Kansas City Star. “There were a lot of guys who didn’t make it who were deserving too. So you’ve just got to move on. I thought I was deserving of consideration, and I imagine I got some. It’s tough to pick a team. That’s part of it.”

He still could be selected to the team should Leyland need to make an injury replacement. But, if not, Holland will enjoy the days off and hope he can continue his torrid July pace.

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Santana settling in with Royals

This year has been tough on Royals starting pitchers and Tuesday night was a prime example. Ervin Santana pitched a seven inning gem, but after an eighth inning bullpen meltdown, Kansas City lost 4-3 to the Indians. Another hard-luck no-decision for a Royals starter.

ErvinSantana

James Shields‘ struggle to earn a win has been well documented. His last win came on April 30, despite a 2.72 ERA for the season.

Santana’s ERA is actually better than Shields’ at 2.64 and he has also found it difficult to earn wins (he’s 5-5 on the season). Both pitchers have received little run support, with the Royals averaging 3.33 runs per game in Shields’ starts and 3.46 in Santana’s starts.

When you look at the numbers, however, both have pitched extremely well. While the Shields trade this off-season drew all the headlines, the acquisition of Santana has been just as vital for the Royals success this year.The Royals acquired Santana in an October 31, 2012 trade with the Angels in exchange for minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander from the Dominican Republic has been a workhorse for the Royals all season. In every one of his 14 starts this year, Santana pitched at least six innings. Slotted in the second spot in the Kansas City rotation, Santana has delivered sparkling numbers this season.

Santana’s 2.64 ERA is the fifth best in the American League, as is his 0.98 WHIP. Santana got off to a great start to the season, going 3-1 in April despite losing his first outing.

May was a rough month for Santana as he lost four straight games during one stretch. He had trouble with the home run ball giving up four homers in a start against the Angels on May 23 and three homers against the Cardinals on May 28. His record dropped to 3-5 at the end of May and his ERA jumped to 3.33.

But that bad stretch was short-lived as Santana has been dominant in June. In four June starts, Santana has allowed just three runs and brought his record back to 5-5.

In eight seasons with the Angels, Santana was 96-80, with a 4.33 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. His best year was 2008 when he was an All Star selection and went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA.

Santana had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2012 with the Angels, going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while allowing a career worst 39 home runs. But the Royals believed in his talent and so far this season he is rewarding the confidence that the organization showed him.

Santana’s hits per nine innings are down from his time with the Angels and his strikeout to walk rate is up to a career-best 5.13 after it was just 2.18 in 2012.

It has been a bit of an up and down year for Santana, but if he can build on his stellar June, and has a bit more luck, the wins will come.

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Early returns on the Shields trade

This off-season, the Royals wanted to shake things up and they were willing to ship off their top prospect to do so.

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Desperate for proven Major League pitching, Kansas City swung a deal for two quality big league arms. On December 9 of last year, the Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed on a deal that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City in exchange for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.

Shields and Davis immediately earned a spot in this year’s Royals starting rotation–Shields as the ace and Davis as the third/fourth starter.

Meanwhile, all four players acquired by Tampa Bay would start the 2013 season in the minors.

For Kansas City, this was a win-now move. They believed they had the talent to compete in the AL Central this year and some reliable starting pitching could put them over the top. The Rays, on the other hand, had enough starting pitching and talent on the big league team that they could let the four players acquired in the deal develop in the minors.

It is never too early to examine a big trade like this so let’s dig in and examine how the trade has worked out so far for both teams.

The Royals Righties

Shields has pitched like an ace, though he doesn’t have the record to show for it. After 11 starts, the big right-hander is 2-6 with a sparkling 2.96 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. The Royals haven’t scored many runs for Shields, giving him only 3.39 runs per start and the team is just 3-8 overall in his starts.

On Monday, against a good Cardinals lineup, Shields gave up six runs over six innings, the first time all season he allowed more than four runs.

His numbers this season are consistent with those he compiled in Tampa Bay and his H/9, K/9, HR/9, ERA and WHIP are all better this year than the seven he spent with the Rays.

The only glaring difference is the win-loss record. In seven years with the Rays, Shields pitched to an 87-73 record. The Rays were a much more competitive team than the Royals are this year. As a means of comparison, the Rays gave Shields 4.57 runs of support per game in 2012.

Wade Davis has struggled so far this year, with a 5.71 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP. His record is 3-4 and the Royals are 6-4 in his starts. His numbers are considerably worse than Shields’, yet he has one more win, largely because he is backed by 5.22 runs per game from the offense.

Davis’ numbers are cause for concern for Royals’ fans. As compared to his four years with the Rays, his hits/9 innings has jumped from 8.6 to 12.6. His HR/9 and BB/9 have also increased considerably and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is significantly lower.

Struggling with his control, Davis has walked at least two batters in his last seven starts.

The Rays’ Haul

Wil Myers, the #4 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, is starting to heat up at Triple-A Durham.

Myers started off the season relatively slowly, but in his past six games he is sporting a .393 average with 5 homeruns, 15 RBI, and a crazy 1.034 slugging percentage.

On Tuesday, Myers blasted two two-run homers, to help the Durham Bulls to a come-from behind win.

Overall, the highly-touted outfielder has a .266 average with 9 HR, 40 RBI and a .346 OBP and .473 slugging percentage.

Given his recent power surge, he may get a call-up from the Rays as soon as the Super Two deadline passes in mid-June.

Jake Odorizzi was recently promoted to the MLB club by the Rays. He started two games and ended up with two no-decisions.

On May 20 against Toronto, Odorizzi pitched five innings, allowing three runs and recording six strikeouts. On Monday against Miami he had a rougher outing, lasting only four innings, giving up six runs while striking out two.

The Rays sent Odorizzi back down to the minors on Wednesday. At Triple-A Durham, Odorizzi, Baseball America’s #92 prospect, has a 4-0 record with an ERA of 3.83 in eight starts. He has 47 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.

Mike Montgomery, a first-round pick by the Royals in the 2008 draft, has battled injuries early this season and, as a result, has made only three starts for Durham. The talented southpaw is 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA in 13.2 innings.
Patrick Leonard currently plays for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League. The infielder is batting .174 with just one homerun and 15 RBI in 43 games.

The Aftermath

There is no question that the Royals gave up an incredible amount of talent in this deal. Myers is one of the top hitting prospects in baseball. Odorizzi and Montgomery have considerable upside, which has left the Rays stacked with young pitching.

The Royals on the other hand are really struggling. The thinking was that the infusion of starting pitching would turn around a middling franchise. They expected the overhauled pitching staff to produce results immediately. They felt the AL Central or one of the two Wild Card spots was there for the taking. However, that optimism has quickly taken a turn for the worse. Kansas City is now 21-29 and has lost eight straight games.

It is still early in the season and things can quickly change for better or worse. The real effects of this trade may not sort out until a couple of years down the line. But the Royals believed this trade would bring instant results and, at this point, that just hasn’t been the case.

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Triple Play: Chris Sale, Lance Berkman, Brandon McCarthy

Welcome to this week’s Triple Play. This week, we examine an ace lefty, a couple of Giant pitchers who are anything but, a pitcher rebounding nicely from a horrific injury, and more. Here we go:

San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum works against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 20, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Who’s Hot?

Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Sale has been breezing through opposing lineups. Since getting rocked for eight earned runs against Cleveland on April 13, Sale has allowed a total on seven earned runs in his next six starts. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a run in 23 innings. The Angels are certainly tired of facing him. In Sale’s past two starts (both against the punchless Halos), Sale shut them down for 16 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and four walks, while punching out 19. For the season, the lanky lefty is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA and a glowing 0.92 WHIP. That puts him on pace to win 20 games with 240-plus strikeouts, and a 4-to-a strikeout-to-walk ratio – all numbers are pure gold for fantasy owners. His Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP) ratio is 3.19, which indicates that a small regression may be on the way, but it would be unreasonable to expect Sale to continue his current pace. Make no mistake, though. Sale is a stud, and you should be ready to pay accordingly if you’re looking to deal for him in your fantasy league.

Who’s Not?

Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

It’s safe to say that whatever magic spell that turned Vogelsong into such an effective pitcher in 2011-12 has expired and he has turned back into a pumpkin. Simply put, Vogelsong has been terrible. How terrible, you ask? In eight starts, he has allowed an NL-worst 37 earned runs – that’s more than half the earned runs he allowed the entire 2012 season in 190 innings. He currently sports an ERA over 8 and a 2.67 WHIP. Stats like that will kill an entire fantasy pitching staff. But manager Bruce Bochy is going to stick with Vogelsong for the time being. You should not. The rest of the NL West is a muddled mess, so the first-place Giants don’t seem to believe finding a replacement is a priority. You should, however, if you’re stuck with Vogelsong on your fantasy team. You’d be better off with a middle reliever who isn’t single-handedly destroying your ERA and WHIP categories. A middle reliever might also vulture the occasional win or save.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .121 avg, .319 OPS
Player B: .123 avg, .319 OPS

Player A is actually the collective batting average and OPS for the Seattle Mariners’ shortstops so far this season. Player B represents the same stats for National League pitchers. NBC Sports HardballTalk reported this hilariously eye-popping stat a few days ago. Upon closer review, Seattle’s Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino have combined for 1 homer (plus 11 RBI, two steals, and 12 runs scored). Meanwhile, the following NL pitchers have homered: Clayton Kershaw, Wade Miley, Tim Hudson, Gio Gonzalez, Jeff Samardzjia, and Eric Stults. All of this leads me to ask: how much longer are the Mariners going to wait to call up Nick Franklin? He’s hitting .328/.451/.509 with 4 homers, 17 RBI, 5 steals and 26 runs scored at Triple-A Tacoma. Talk about an instant upgrade. This should be a no-brainer. Come on, Jack Zduriencik. Fantasy owners are waiting, rather impatiently.

Player A: .210/.258/.347, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 17 runs, 1 SB
Player B: .293/.416/.455, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 18 runs, 0 SB

Player A is Josh Hamilton. Player B is Lance Berkman, the man the Texas Rangers signed to replace Hamilton after his defection to Los Angeles. Thanks to the DH, the Big Puma has been able to avoid playing the field – thus keeping his legs healthier than during his injury-plagued 2012 – and focus on hitting. At 37, Berkman remains a terrific hitter. His OPS+ of 130 ranks second on the team (to Mitch Moreland), and he is on pace to hit close to .300 and drive in 80 runs. Hamilton, meanwhile, is on pace for 46 RBI and an average below the Mendoza Line. Advantage: Texas. Fantasy-wise, Berkman was most likely had in your league at a bargain-basement price or a late round due to his injuries last season. He is on pace for around 15 homers and 75 runs scored in addition to those 80 RBI. Hamilton is on pace to hit just 19 home runs this season, plus 65 runs scored and a handful of stolen bases. After clubbing a career-high 43 long balls in 2012, fantasy owners no doubt paid big bucks to land Hamilton on their team. Barring a huge turnaround, he’s going to leave owners and Angel fans wishing they had picked up the Berkman instead.

Random Thoughts

  • After Baltimore closer Jim Johnson saw his team record of 35 consecutive saves snapped last week, he really imploded in spectacular fashion Saturday against the Rays: six batters faced, three hits, two walks, FIVE earned runs, one out. Yeesh.
  • Raise your hand if you predicted that the Rockies would be supplying the Yankees with a consistent supply of infielders this season (first Chris Nelson, then Reid Brignac over the weekend). Notice I left the word “quality” out of the previous sentence.
  • And yet, the Yankees keep winning. How long before the New York media starts touting Vernon Wells as an MVP candidate?
  • Tony Cingrani made six starts, pitching 33 innings with a 41-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.02 WHIP. Mike Leake has made eight starts with a 34-to-13 K-to-BB ratio and a 1.49 WHIP. Naturally, it’s Cingrani being sent to the minors to make room for Johnny Cueto instead of Leake. Brilliant move, Cincinnati.
  • Wainwright Walk Watch: The Cardinals’ ace pitched 37 innings this season before issuing his first walk. So far this season, he has walked six batters while striking out 71. Among NL starters who have tossed at least 50 innings, only Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann (9) has walked fewer than 10 batters.
  • Conversely, Boston’s Ryan Dempster walked six Minnesota batters in less than five innings Saturday. Guess that little glove shake before he throws the ball doesn’t fool the umpires any more than it does the hitters.
  • Did you see Tim Lincecum lose his balance and fall off the mound while winding up Saturday night against the Rockies? It resulted in the runner on first being balked to second, then the runner came around to score on a single by Tyler Chatwood (the opposing pitcher). A train wreck of an inning – and a perfect summation of Lincecum’s career the past few years.
  • It’s not yet Memorial Day, but it might be time to stick a fork (phork?) in the Phillies. Getting a runner to third ONCE against a salad tosser like Bronson Arroyo? That’s ugly. I would suggest that Philly unload their veterans and rebuild, but outside of Cliff Lee, who would want them?
  • It appears that Braves lefty specialist Eric O’Flaherty is going to join teammate Jonny Venters in elbow-surgery land soon. Last one in the Atlanta bullpen, please turn out the lights.
  • What a great sight Saturday night, watching Brandon McCarthy spin a complete-game, three-hit shutout of the Marlins. Although it’s his first win of the season, McCarthy has been pitching pretty well this season. His 37-to-8 K-to-BB ratio is stellar, and his FIP rating of 3.74 indicates that he has been better than the results show. Focus on that if you’re thinking of picking him up in your fantasy league. In any case, Saturday night had to be extra satisfying for McCarthy, even if it was against the worst team in baseball. After that horrifying skull fracture last September, I’ll bet he doesn’t care who his opponent is, as long as he is out there able to play in good health. Here’s to continued success for him. Baseball is better with guys like McCarthy on the field.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Royals May 17th Weekend Preview

JamesShields2
The Royals wrap up their California road trip this weekend with a three game series with Oakland.  With the Tigers getting their series with the red hot Rangers off to a humiliating start, this could be a great chance for the Royals to close the one game lead in the American League Central.  Here are the matchups by the numbers.

The A’s are coming off of a losing series against the Rangers.  They were out scored in that series by only a single run.  In 42 games, the A’s have scored 199 runs for an average of close to 5 runs a game.  Strangely enough, the number of runs scored against the A’s is an identical 199.  If the Royals can contain Oakland’s offense this weekend they are sure to like where they sit in the rankings come Monday morning.

Friday:

James Shields gets the start for the Royals.  Shields took the loss in his last game against the Yankees and a no decision against the White Sox.  Both were tough losses for the Royals as Shields only allowed 2 runs to New York and none at all to the Sox.  Shields has struck out close to a batter an inning and owns a 0.97 WHIP.  Look for Big Game James to keep the Oakland offense in check on Friday night.

The A’s will send Jarrod Parker to the hill on Friday to face Shields.  Parker has been pretty terrible thus far.  His only wins so far this year have only come when his team has provided great run support behind him such as his 10-6 win against the Angles.  His ERA is approaching 7 and has been allowing close to 2 base runners an inning.  If Parker turns this around on Friday it will be surprising.

Saturday:

Ervin Santana will start for the Royals.  Santana is coming off of a disappointing game against the Yankees giving up 8 hits, 2 of which were home runs.  The long ball can at times be Santana’s biggest weakness and as mentioned before, the A’s can hit.  Fortunately, the Coliseum is a pitcher friendly park and should help Santana keep in on the field.

Santana will face off against Tommy Milone.  Milone has been pretty hit or miss so far this year.  His ERA is a deceiving 3.71.  He has surrendered 13 earned runs in his last 5 starts, however in two of those starts he shut his opponents down completely.  The Royals hope they get the Tommy Milone that gives up an earned run per inning and not the Tommy Milone that gives up none at all.

Sunday:

Luis Mendoza gets the start on Sunday.  Mendoza has had a rough year so far.  Unlike Santana, his troubles extend past giving up home runs.  Mendoza has given up lots of hits as well as the occasional walk and he has yet to pitch past the 6th inning.  The Royals are going to have to provide Mendoza with a lot of run support to keep this game in control.

Run support could be hard to come by though as A.J. Griffin will be starting for the A’s on Sunday.  Griffin posted a 3.06 ERA last year and has looked sharp so far.  His 3.48 ERA this year is somewhat bloated thanks to one horrendous start against the Red Sox where he gave up 7 runs in 4 innings.  The Royals will have to try to get to Griffin early for the finale of the series.

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To Start Or To Relieve: Wade Davis

James Shields was the “big name” in the Shields/Wade Davis trade, but the success or failure of the trade hinges on Davis. Shields is the Kansas City Royals’ ace, but he’s a free agent after the 2014 season. Whether he pitches well or not, it’s likely he’s gone after two years. However, Davis is under team control until 2016. The Royals believe Shields will improve the team now. As for Davis, the Royals believe he will develop into a two or three starter and be a part of the starting rotation the next few seasons.

wadedavis2013springtraining

This spring, the Royals plan to give Davis every chance to make the starting rotation as their 3-4-5 starter. From 2009-2011, Davis started 64 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. But last year, Davis stayed in the bullpen, appearing in 54 games. During Spring Training, the Rays gave Davis a shot as their fifth starter, but he lost out to Jeff Niemann. And when Niemann went down with a broken ankle, the Rays promoted Alex Cobb to the starting rotation, leaving Davis in the bullpen.

So is Davis a better starter, or a better reliever? Let’s see what the stats say:

Year ERA G GS IP ER WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2009 3.72 6 6 36.1 15 1.266 8.2 0.5 3.2 8.9 2.77
2010 4.07 29 29 168.0 76 1.351 8.8 1.3 3.3 6.1 1.82
2011 4.45 29 29 184.0 91 1.375 9.3 1.1 3.1 5.1 1.67
2012 2.43 54 0 70.1 19 1.095 6.1 0.6 3.7 11.1 3.00
4 Yrs 3.94 118 64 458.2 201 1.315 8.6 1.1 3.3 6.7 2.04
162 Game Avg. 3.94 44 24 171 75 1.315 8.6 1.1 3.3 6.7 2.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2013.

Davis prefers a starting role, but his stats say he’s a better reliever. He had a much lower ERA, and over nine innings gave up fewer hits and struck out more batters. However, he did walk more batters over nine innings, which isn’t good if you’re a reliever. And with the Rays talented starting rotation last year, Davis stayed in the bullpen.

But how does Davis as a starter compare to the 2012 Royals starting rotation? Here’s the stats of the top five Royals starters:

Rk ERA G GS IP ER WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1 Bruce Chen* 5.07 34 34 191.2 108 1.367 10.1 1.5 2.2 6.6 2.98
2 Luke Hochevar 5.73 32 32 185.1 118 1.419 9.8 1.3 3.0 7.0 2.36
3 Luis Mendoza 4.23 30 25 166.0 78 1.416 9.5 0.8 3.2 5.6 1.76
4 Jeremy Guthrie 3.16 14 14 91.0 32 1.132 8.3 0.9 1.9 5.5 2.95
5 Will Smith* 5.32 16 16 89.2 53 1.606 11.1 1.2 3.3 5.9 1.79
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2013.

If you take Davis’ worst year, 2011, he had a better ERA than the Royals rotation, save Jeremy Guthrie and Luis Mendoza. The Royals rotation had more SO/9 than the 2011 Davis and except for Mendoza and Will Smith, the Royals rotation had a better BB/9 ratio than the 2011 Davis. If Davis was in the Royals starting rotation last year, he would likely be the number three starter behind Guthrie and Mendoza.

So what does this mean? Well, Davis is a good middle of the rotation starter, but is a better reliever. If Bruce Chen and Mendoza regress, Luke Hochevar pitches like Luke Hochevar and Davis pitches like he did in 2010, he’ll be in the starting rotation. But if Chen, Mendoza or Hochevar have a great Spring Training, Davis might end up in the bullpen.

But that’s not likely, despite what happens this spring. The Royals will give Davis every opportunity to make the starting rotation, just to show the Shields/Davis trade wasn’t a bust like some Royals fans and pundits think it is. If Shields and Davis are starters, the trade doesn’t look bad. The team got two quality starters to improve their rotation. But if Shields is a starter and Davis is a reliever, then the trade looks like the Royals got an ace for only two years and another bullpen arm in an already strong bullpen. Not bad, but not that good either.

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