Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jose Fernandez thus far

One of the most interesting stories in baseball this season is the Miami Marlins employing a twenty year old starting pitcher from Cuba who never pitched a game above A+ ball before this season. The Jose Fernandez story has been largely overlooked because of where the Marlins currently sit in the standings and the lack of national exposure the team gets. Now that we are nearing the halfway point in the season, how is Jose Fernandez doing?

The large answer is that he is doing just fine. That probably surprises some people who scoffed at the idea of putting the kid in the rotation at the start of the season. But it probably surprises a lot of people that the Marlins have played over .500 ball in June too. It is funny what happens when nobody is looking.

Jose Fernandez has now made fifteen starts. Seven of those have been no-decisions. That leaves his current record at 4-4, a rather nondescript number that may also lead to few probing into his season to shrug. Fernandez had a rough April and was 0-2 after that first month with an ERA of 4.50. I remember seeing some articles and tweets wondering if he should be sent to the minors. He was not sent down.

Since the end of April, Jose Fernandez has gone 4-2 and now things look a little better. He made five starts in May and went 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA. That was better. He has made five starts in June and has gone 2-1 with an ERA of 1.67. That was impressive. The progression shows in his WHIP for the three months too. In April, his WHIP was 1.292. In May it went down to 1.200. In June it is a microscopic 0.928. His overall ERA is down to 2.98 and his FIP is also impressive at 3.20. That is good pitching.

His home / road splits might make you think that his spacious home park is adding to those numbers and you may be right. In seven starts at home, he is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA and a .231 BABIP. On the road, he has pitched eight times and is 2-4 with an ERA of 4.12 and a BABIP of .281. But I think those numbers are skewed by two bad starts on the road in April that led to both of his losses that month.

If you look at his last two road starts, you will find that he pitched 13.1 innings and gave up only six hits and three runs. One of them was a fantastic start against the Cardinals in St. Louis, a tough place for any pitcher to go. His peripherals both home and away are very similar, so look for this home / road split to stabilize as the season goes along. and PitchF/X disagree with what types of pitches Fernandez throws. PitchF/X seems to indicate that he throws a curve 31.1% of the time and a slider only 0.4% of the time. Fangraphs has him throwing a curve 23.1% of the time and a slider at 8.3%. The two pitches are nearly the same speed according to both, so it is easy to see where the confusion comes in. So let's just say that Fernandez throws four and two-seam fastballs (mostly four), curves / sliders and a change-up. He may throw four pitches or he may throw five.

The important thing is that Fangraphs rates his curves at a negative value for the season and all other pitches in the positive category. PitchF/X gives positive ratings to all of his pitches. For all intents and purposes, it does not matter what Fernandez throws, he has been effective.

Currently, Jose Fernandez is averaging 94.7 MPH on his fastball. That is fourth highest in baseball among starters behind only Strasburg, Harvey and Samardzija. That is impressive. And if you look at his velocity graph, he does not go up and down from start to start. His fastball velocity from game to game is pretty darned near flat-line. That is impressive as well. He does not yet possess some of the vertical movement that those other big arms have on their fastballs, however.

Unless he hits a wall and goes through the dead-arm thing, I do not see a lot of regression in his future. His strand rate is normal. His overall BABIP makes sense considering the success and arsenal of his pitches. His line drive rate is a little high at 22%, but he allows slightly more ground balls than fly balls and his fly balls do not go over the fence at a very high rate. His homers per nine inning rate is 0.64 and that is pretty consistent both in his big home ballpark and on the road.

Not only do I think he is not a regression candidate, I believe he will get better. His walk rate of 3.4 walks per nine innings for the season has improved in June to 3.08. I believe that will go down even more as the season progresses.

Of course, all of this does not negate some of the other consternation caused by Miami's decision to install such a young pitcher in the rotation in the first place. His success thus far proves he was not rushed. But the other argument is why speed up his "clock" for a team that is obviously not going anywhere in the short term.

I understand the argument and the economics involved. But it is an argument I hate. Personnel decisions should not be based on economics but on putting the best product on the field. The Marlins obviously felt that doing so meant installing a twenty year old pitcher into the rotation and I applaud this. The argument extends further in that Fernandez will become too expensive too soon and thus the Marlins will have to trade him away too soon. I do not buy that argument either and I believe that if Fernandez continues his successful pitching, the Marlins will take care of him the same way they took care of Stanton.

Obviously both Fernandez and Stanton need complimentary pieces for the Marlins to start getting somewhere. And perhaps those pieces will come in time. But I, for one, am glad that both are in the bigs because they are exciting and fun to watch. How is the Jose Fernandez experiment going thus far? In keeping with the team's name, the experiment is going swimmingly.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: June 29, 2013

At least last night finished in the black for a change. At least for once, an extra-innings game went my way. At least the Game of the Day was correct for the second day in a row. Two blown saves cost me but I am sure that Matt Harvey is more ticked off about one of them than I am. Two position players pitched last night to show you how offensive the night was. There were 46 runs scored in the Indians - White Sox double-header alone. The funniest (in a sad way) pick of the day was picking the Dodgers and Chris Capuano to win. They lost 16-1, making that one of the most lop-sided incorrect picks of all time. Heh.

Saturday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Mets: I have a habit of picking against Dillon Gee and it has burned me in the past. And I fully realize that picking the Nats to win means taking a huge chance on Taylor Jordan as he makes his Major League debut. Jordan has been selected to the Futures Game, but if he pitches well, he will have other obligations. Excellent control numbers in the minors have led to the jump from Double-A to the big leagues for Jordan.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Braves: I have picked Tim Hudson over and over and he is 4-7. I am not saying this is all his fault. I am just saying the long-time ace is no longer a lock to win. Ian Kennedy is my pick instead.
  • The Cardinals over the Athletics: Freakin' Bartolo Colon. Heh. His win over the Cards yesterday knocked the Cards out of first place for the first time in a long time. The Cards have their big guy, Adam Wainwright on the bump. Will he be better than Jarrod Parker at home? That is the pick.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Felix Doubront is never a lock. But I like his chances better than Esmil Rogers. There are two good lineups here and the game will depend on which one clicks against the starting pitcher.
  • The Angels over the Astros: Josh Hamilton is starting to hit a little bit. Mike Trout is flying. But am I really picking Joe Blanton to win a game? I guess so. Jordan Lyles is pitching for the Astros.
  • The Indians over the White Sox: These two teams have to be exhausted. Both need big outings from their starters. Neither are predisposed to doing so. So, if I have to make a choice, I will go with Ubaldo Jimenez over Dylan Axelrod.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Yet another Major League debut, this time for Kyle Gibson, a somewhat highly rated pitching prospect for the Twins. He is 25 though, so his time might be now. But I cannot pick two debuts in one day. And yet, the other choice is Wade Davis of the Royals. Man. And it is totally freaking me out that I am picking all visiting teams to win. Not good.
  • The Rockies over the Giants: Matt Cain has pitched twelve times at Coors Field and is 6-3 there. So why am I picking against him? Part of the reason is that the Giants are slumping. Part of it is that Cain's ERA there is 4.50 meaning the Giants have to score five runs to win. I am going with Jorge De La Rosa.
  • The Padres over the Marlins: I am still zero for the season when picking for or against Eric Stults. He has me totally bent over backwards and unable to get up. But I have to pick him here because I think he will be better than Jacob Turner of the Marlins.
  • The Mariners over the Cubs: Aaron Harang's ERA is two runs lower at home than on the road. And it is totally weird that his ERA overall is 5.29 and yet his strikeout to walk ratio is 5.36. What strange numbers. Today will be his good day against a lineup for the Cubs that is not so hot. Jeff Samardzija is the victim of poor run support.
  • The Reds over the Rangers: Nick Tepesch confuses me. He had three horrid starts in a row and then he pitches well against the Cardinals. Whuh? I never think of Mike Leake as an effective pitcher, but he is 7-3. So I guess I will go with the Reds.
  • The Tigers over the Rays: Evan Longoria limped off the field. That is not good for the Rays. Chris Archer should not be able to keep up with Justin Verlander. But then again, Justin Verlander has not been able to keep up with Justin Verlander lately.
  • The Orioles over the Yankees: The Yankees look very, very sad right now. Or maybe that is just me at the development. They have had a nice run. They are not a playoff team this year. I do not like picking Zach Britton as he is pretty terrible. But the Yankees cannot score and David Phelps will have a good outing wasted.
  • The Dodgers over the Phillies: This is a good match-up of tough lefties. I think that Hyun-jin Ryu comes out ahead of Cliff Lee in the end.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: I do not even know who Donovan Hand is. So I looked him up. Meh. I will take Francisco Liriano in a heartbeat and the Pirates to continue their magical season.

Yesterday: 9-7
Week: 40-34
Month: 195-183
Season: 660-532
Games of the Day: 50-37

Friday, June 28, 2013

Matt Carpenter should be the NL All-Star second baseman

A high-powered engine is not all that useful without a good starter. And the St. Louis Cardinals are that high-powered engine and the starter is Matt Carpenter. Not only is he getting on base at a .396 pace that allows him to be the third highest run-scorer in baseball, but he has solidified a position that has been a Cardinal weakness for a decade. His consistent on-base skills are added to his strong fielding and base running skills to make him the best second baseman in the National League thus far this season.

The Cardinals have had difficulty finding a guy to play second base for years. It was so bad that Tony LaRussa resorted to bringing Skip Schumaker in from the outfield to play the position for a few years. Here is the position's OPS breakdown since 2004 starting with that season: .695, 703, .701, .667, .754, .746, .671, .712 and last year, .642. This year, the position is at .840. A big reason is Matt Carpenter.

And this does not appear to be a fluke either. At this point in the season, Carpenter has nearly the same number of plate appearances as he had all of last season. In fact, with 338 this year, he is only two plate appearances from last year's total of 340. In those 340 PAs last season, Carpenter walked 34 times. He has walked 34 times this season. In 2012, he had 22 doubles. This season, he has 21. Last year, he had six homers. This year he has six.

But in other areas, he is improved over a year ago. Last year, Matt Carpenter struck out 18.5% of the time. This year, he is only striking out 13.3%. He has always had good plate discipline and this season has only swung at 23.2% of pitches out of the strike zone, similar to last year. But a big difference is that he has always had a low swing and miss rate, but this year has taken it a step further and has only swung and missed 3.7% of the time, tied for sixth best in baseball.

Matt Carpenter has also been a line drive machine. Last year, he hit a lot of line drives, to the tune of 23.8% of his batted balls. This season, he is at an amazing 27.2%. He is fairly ground ball / fly ball neutral and so his high BABIP of .358 seems justified and in line with his .346 BABIP of last year. The thing I especially love about Carpenter is where his batted balls go. He has pulled the ball 58 times. He has hit the ball to center 62 times and he has hit the ball the opposite way 52 times. It is impossible to defense that kind of spray chart. And his batting average of over .360 on each of those directions also tells me that his BABIP is not a fluke and worthy of regression.

While Carpenter is a good base runner, he is not a base steal guy. He only has one. So that is his only small weakness as a lead-off batter. But his on-base skills more than make up for that lack. In other words, he is no Juan Pierre, but then again, he is no Juan Pierre.

The only thing holding Matt Carpenter back from the second base All-Star vote is that the Cardinals still bounce him back and forth a bit between second and third base. He has played 476+ innings at second and 167+ innings at third. That kind of thing is great for Fantasy Baseball players, but sort of takes him away from being considered a true second baseman. But for me, he has been one of the most valuable members of a very good baseball team and he would be my second base pick for the All Star Game.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: June 28, 2013

Another day, another round of disappointing picks. Oh yes, and another two extra inning games that did not go the way of the teams that were picked. Give Jeremy Hefner credit. He pitched a good game out in Coors Field. I just did not expect that. Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin provided just as good a shootout as predicted. Doug Fister and Jered Weaver was another great pitching duel. Both of those games were decided by bullpens. Neither were correct as picks. Is it me or was Phil Coke particularly born to lose extra inning games?

At least I correctly predicted the Yankees to lose as my Game of the Day. How far have the Yankees fallen when they are on the wrong side of a Game of the Day pick? The Yankees could have batted against Derek Holland for a hundred innings and would not have scored.

Here are Friday's picks:

  • The White Sox and Indians split a double-header: I am cheating a bit because I need a break here. I do not like either Indians' starter in this double dip and should pick a White Sox sweep. But the White Sox are bad. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the Indians' two starters. Yuck. Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago go for the White Sox.
  • The Orioles over the Yankees: The Orioles are no dummies. They see how pathetic the Yankees are against left-handed pitching and start T.J. McFarland. I really like David Phelps and how solidly he was coached over the years. But his stuff is just not good enough against a powerful lineup like the Orioles.
  • The Tigers over the Rays: The Tigers just had a bad series against the Angels and need a win. Thankfully, they have Max Scherzer on the mound. The only concern is that winning streaks are meant to end. Alex Colombe pitched well against the Yankees. But so does everyone.
  • The Marlins over the Padres: Probably a stupid pick. But I know that Ricky Nolasco would like to get out of Miami and a big outing would help his cause. Edinson Volquez has been much better this year than last though.
  • The Blue Jays over the Red Sox: I have not liked anything I have seen from Allen Webster as a starter for the Red Sox. Josh Johnson, on the other hand, is pitching much, much better.
  • The Mets over the Nationals: Matt Harvey is so good. The only question is if the Mets can score some runs against Ross Detwiler. Because if the Nats can match zeroes and the game goes to the bullpens, this pick is in big trouble.
  • The Braves over the Diamondbacks: Interesting game here. Julio Teheran has settled nicely into the Braves' rotation and faces the guy whose place he took in Randall Delgado. The Braves kept the right guy.
  • The Reds over the Rangers: Martin Perez has already beaten the Reds' rivals in the Cardinals. But Perez is a BABIP pitcher who does not strike out many. Sooner or later, those balls in play find holes. Johnny Cueto should be better.
  • The Angels over the Astros: Mike Trout is on an unbelievable tear right now. Jerome Williams has pitched well all season and Bud Norris is a guy the Angels can get to.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Perhaps my belief in James Shields has been over-inflated. Perhaps he is not the bomb I think he is. He has not been dominant like some of his days in a Rays uniform. But I like him here and like him better than P.J. Walter.
  • The Rockies over the Giants: Both teams have really struggled lately so this will be an interesting game. Barry Zito will either be decent or he will get bombed as there is no in between with him. Jhoulys Chacin seems to have a better chance to win.
  • The Cardinals over the Athletics: What Bartolo Colon is doing this season defies logic, and yet, there he is at 10-2. Shelby Miller has had trouble avoiding a crooked number inning. If he can do that, he has the stuff to shut down the A's completely.
  • The Mariners over the Cubs: Hisashi Iwakuma has struggled a bit in his last few outings and has not been quite as dominant. I like Travis Wood the same way I like David Phelps. Well-coached and disciplined. But Iwakuma is better when both are at their best.
  • The Dodgers over the Phillies: Chris Capuano is a hard guy to pick as a pitcher. But the Dodgers have more excitement with Yasiel Puig out there and the crowds are going crazy for him. I really don't think John Lannon will pitch well.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Pirates over the Brewers: I am not sure the Brewers could not have found somebody better in their minor league system than Johnny Hellweg to start this game in place of Marco Estrada. Hellweg has always walked a lot of batters and as he has risen in levels in the minors, the more his strikeouts go down. Gerrit Cole, on the other hand, is the bomb.

Yesterday: 4-5
Week: 31-27
Month: 186-176
Season: 651-525
Games of the Day: 49-37

Thursday, June 27, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: June 27, 2013

The good times of Tuesday night did not carry over into Wednesday and the picks went back into the funk they have been in for quite some time. It is depressing. Lance Lynn had one bad inning and gave up four runs. The Cardinals, who are averaging 4.97 runs per game could not overcome that? Nope, not even against Houston and the Game of the Day went down in flames again. There were two extra inning games. Of course both of them turned out with the incorrect team winning. Extra inning games are death around here. I will take the blame for stupid picks like the Yankees and the Marlins. But everything else? Nah.

There are only nine games on the schedule tonight after only four being played on Monday. The slackers. Heh. Here are Thursday's picks:

  • The Tigers over the Angels: I want to pick Jered Weaver here. But Doug Fister can match him. The Tigers are due for a win and they are at home. The bullpens will be involved but I do not know which way it will go.
  • The Cubs over the Brewers: Matt Garza has been great his last two outings, but they were against weak hitting teams. Before that, against good hitting teams, he got roughed up. Which category do the Brewers fall under? Depends on the night. The clincher for this pick is that Wily Peralta has not pitched well at all lately.
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: This is the best match-up of the month it seems. Stephen Strasburg against Patrick Corbin. Wow! This game should really be fun to watch. I pick it this way because Corbin is due for a loss and the Nats win if it becomes a bullpen game.
  • The Rockies over the Mets: Jeremy Hefner has been better lately. But he is pitching at Coors Field. That is not a good thing. Tyler Chatwood is 4-1 as improbable as that sounds. The pick is to the hometown Rockies.
  • The Indians over the Orioles: Johnson blew another save yesterday. Gosh, that has to hurt the Orioles. I have had great success over the past month picking Corey Kluber, so I am going to stick with him. Miguel Gonzalez makes that choice a little easier.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: I love Chien-Ming Wang. I always have. And seeing him pitch so well has been gratifying. But the non-rose-colored glasses view is that he depends on BABIP as he does not strike batters out. That means that a good team like the Red Sox can get some runs. The rest depends on how good Jon Lester is.
  • The Royals over the Twins: This pick depends on the faith I have--which is getting smaller--in Jeremy Guthrie. Samuel Deduno is sort of hit or miss and hard to gauge. I like the Royals' chances in this one.
  • The Dodgers over the Phillies: If Zack Greinke pitches a good game, the Dodgers win. It is that simple. Except it is not because sometimes Greinke burns out of pitch count by the fifth or sixth inning. Jonathan Pettibone can keep the Phillies in the game to win it late. This pick does not feel good either way.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Rangers over the Yankees: We know what to expect with Phil Hughes at Yankee Stadium. We just do. There will be homers. There will be fans booing. Derek Holland is a lefty. The Yankees do not do well against lefties. This seems like a lock. Which is my least favorite picking sentence.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 27-22
Month: 182-171
Season: 647-520
Games of the Day: 48-37

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Justin Maxwell dove into a face plant

Sing it with me now:

Justin Maxwell's silver hammer back to the DL was led.
Justin Maxwell's silver hammer just dove on his head.

The gif is from a redditor named knoll126 and from a tweet by @baseballreddit found here.

Two thoughts. First...ouch. Second, they should put some bubble wrap on this guy as he spends more time on the DL than most. 

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: June 26, 2013

Well that's better. Only four incorrect picks out of fifteen last night, so I had a much better day than I have had in a while. Of the four, the Phillies win stands out the most to me. I did not expect Jason Marquis to finally pitch like...well...Jason Marquis. Nor did I expect Kyle Kendrick to have that good a game. I did not expect the Yankees to win, though I did call it in e-mail thread of IIATMS writers. There I said that Hiroki Kuroda would last an inning more than Yu Darvish and the Yankees would have a chance in a bullpen game. I should have said that here.

Elsewhere, I was dead wrong on the Tigers. I did not think they would have such an ugly night. And I expected Bronson Arroyo to be much better than he was. But those were the only four picks that went wrong, so I am quite pleased for a change.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Blue Jays over the Rays: I am quite torn about this one. The Jays have gone from a winning streak to a losing streak. But they will have Jose Reyes back tonight. It all depends on R.A. Dickey and what kind of night he has. Roberto Hernandez will be who he is and give up four or so runs. If Dickey can be better than that, the Jays win.
  • The Twins over the Marlins: The Marlins have won six of their last ten, which is great for them. And since Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton have returned, things are better. But I prefer Scott Diamond over Tom Koehler when push comes to shove.
  • The Athletics over the Reds: Homer Bailey has been inconsistent and always seems to lose when I pick him. A.J. Griffin is much tougher at home than on the road. I am going with the A's on this one.
  • The Mariners over the Pirates: I am a little concerned about Felix Hernandez. His velocity is not there as it once was and he is a bit more beatable than before. But he is still the Mariners' best pitcher and gives them the best chance to win a game. On the other hand, Jeanmar Gomez is leading a charmed pitching life.
  • The Red Sox over the Rockies: The only question in this one is who John Lackey will yet at while on the mound. Other than that, I expect him to pitch a better game than Roy Oswalt will against the Red Sox lineup.
  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: Two of my favorite pitchers go in this one in Jordan Zimmermann and Wade Miley. The pick has to be Zimmermann as he has the superior stuff. However, if Miley is fine, he can win. So it is a tough call.
  • The Indians over the Orioles: Am I picking Scott Kazmir again? OoOo Yeaheeah. I hear Robert Plant singing in my ear, but that's the pick. Jason Hammel is coming off an injury and I never trust those scenarios anyway.
  • The Yankees over the Rangers: This pick is expecting Andy Pettitte to be a little tighter than he has been lately. If he is, the Yankees can take the game from Justin Grimm. If Pettitte is not sharp like his last three outings, this pick blows up.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: Jose Alvarez has been quite impressive since the Tigers called him up. It looks like he was ready for the prime time. Also leading to this pick was my total disbelief that Tommy Hanson's stuff has deteriorated so much.
  • The Braves over the Royals: The Royals just never seem to get past being the Royals, you know? They should have won yesterday, but did not. I do not think they will be in this game as Mike Minor should shut them down and Luis Mendoza is not a strikeout guy against a strikeout lineup.
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Both Yovani Gallardo and Scott Feldman are 6-6. What are the odds of that? Feldman would have a better record on a better team as he has been quite good. But picking against Gallardo at home is usually not a good idea.
  • The Mets over the White Sox: Oh, gosh, this is an ugly pick. John Danks is 1-4. Shaun Marcum is 0-9. What the heck do you do with that mess? Marcum has to win a game sooner or later. I have to keep picking him until he does.
  • The Padres over the Phillies: Yes, after eleven times, I am sick of picking Cole Hamels to win when he does not. Enough already. Of course, then he will win tonight. You watch. I like lefties against the Phillies lineup though and Robbie Erlin is that. Erlin has good control and whose strikeouts should come around starting tonight.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: This pick is simply a belief that Clayton Kershaw is a better pitcher right now than Tim Lincecum. On any given night, that could go wrong, but that is how the game has to be picked.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: This game seems so much like a lock, that it is downright frightening of how shocked I will be if the Cardinals lose. Lance Lynn is the bomb. Erik Bedard gives up bombs. That is the big difference in the game. They ought to put some bubble wrap around Justin Maxwell. Sheesh.

Yesterday: 11-4
Week: 20-14
Month: 175-163
Season: 640-512
Games of the Day: 48-36

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mike Torrez - A hero for and against the Yankees

I wrote a history piece for It's About the Money, Stupid about Mike Torrez, who won two World Series games for the Yankees in 1977 and then gave up the famous Bucky Dent homer pitching against them in the 163rd Game tiebreaker in 1978. Check it out with video.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: June 25, 2013

Closers. Everyone hates the statistic. Most believe that anyone can close. But they are the bane of my existence. It is fairly easy to predict which starting pitcher is going to be effective, or more effective than the other. But then the game gets into the eighth and ninth inning and all hell breaks loose. I should have been a game picker in the days of complete games. That would have been gravy.

There were only four games last night, and as such, a 2-2 record compared to a 3-1 record does not mean a whole lot. But 3-1 would have felt better. But Cliff Lee beating the Padres was also the Game of the Day. And he beat them just as predicted...for eight innings. And then he did not. His manager tried to get a complete game out of him. That did not work, so he panicked and brought in Jonathan Papelbon in the middle of the ninth instead of the beginning. That did not work either, thanks in part to a lazy play by his catcher. And the game blew up. And the pick blew up. Never go to bed on a three-run lead.

Tuesday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Diamondbacks: It is hard to believe that Gio Gonzalez has only won three games. His peripherals are impressive. The strikeouts are there. The WHIP is good. But three wins out of fifteen starts? This should turn around. Trevor Cahill, on the other hand, has earned most of his losses.
  • The Orioles over the Indians: Who would have thought that Chris Tillman would become the Orioles' most consistent winner as a starting pitcher? But he is 8-2. Justin Masterson is good too, but if Masterson has any flaw, it is the home run ball. The Orioles hit them prodigiously.
  • The Rangers over the Yankees: Yu Darvish has only pitched against the Yankees once in his career. But boy was it a doozy. His stuff is crazy. Hiroki Kuroda will need to be nearly perfect to win this one.  He won't be.
  • The Tigers over the Angels: This Angels' team took a big hit with that blown save the other day. Yeah, closers. Speaking of closers, the Tigers do not have one. But they should still win this one behind Rick Porcello and a bunch of runs off of C.J. Wilson.
  • The Red Sox over the Rockies: This will either be a close game not settled until late, or Ryan Dempster will finally have a good game and the Red Sox blow out Juan Nicasio. Either way, this feels like a Red Sox win.
  • The Marlins over the Twins: The Marlins have not been the roll over and die team of late. They have won their fair share of games the last two weeks. If Jose Fernandez can pitch well tonight, something he is certainly capable of doing, then the Fish could score some runs against Chick Keven Correia.
  • The Rays over the Blue Jays: Matt Moore was messed up for three games. Then the Yankees' putrid lineup fixed him back up. The Blue Jays will pay for it. And the Rays will score against Mark Buehrle.
  • The Braves over the Royals: Two of the most unpredictable teams right here. You never know from day to day what they will do. I like Kris Medlen better than I like Ervin Santana. Though Santana has had some good outings lately.
  • The White Sox over the Mets: Great match-up of Chris Sale against Zack Wheeler. I will take experience here over Wheeler in just his second big league start. David Wright is on fire though.
  • The Cardinals over the Astros: The Cards did not have a "happy flight" that its local media likes to promote. They just got swept by one Texas team and will try to take it out on the other. Jake Westbrook over Lucas Harrell, who seems to pitch every other night.
  • The Reds over the Athletics: I tried this pick either way and did not like the looks of either. So I will go with my first impression. Bronson Arroyo is having a good season. Tommy Milone has a good outing and a bad one. If he has a good one, this pick is dead.
  • The Padres over the Phillies: Jason Marquis is pitching like he has a beef against the world. He is a "battler" as they like to say. He is also 9-2. I will take those stats over Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies.
  • The Pirates over the Mariners: Jeff Locke has given up four earned runs over his last seven starts. Yeah, give me some of that. Joe Saunders is always capable of giving up four runs in every start. Yeah, he will have his occasional gem at home.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: If the Giants' starter in this one, Mike Kickham, pitches like he did in his debut, they will Kickham back to the minors quickly. Stephen Fife does not seem that great a pick either. But at least he has a better chance to do well.

And the Game of the Day
  • The Brewers over the Cubs: Kyle Lohse is going to go on a roll. It started with his last start and it will continue. You heard it here first, okay? Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson will be rolling in the Cubs' dough for three years. It will not be pretty.

Yesterday: 2-2
Week: 9-10
Month: 164-159
Season: 629-508
Games of the Day: 47-36

Monday, June 24, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: June 24, 2013

Sunday was another disappointing day. Adam Wainwright lost because the Cardinals did not score. The Marlins beat Matt Cain and company. The Pirates scored seven runs in the ninth and tenth innings to beat the Angels. What the heck, right? Oh well, at least the Game of the Day was correct for a change.

There are only four games on the schedule today on what is one of the slowest baseball days of the season. And all four look hellacious to pick. Here are Monday's picks and you will see what I mean:

  • The Orioles over the Indians: I do not want to pick against either team here. The Orioles just got trounced in Toronto and will be home looking for bear. But Zach Britton is pitching. Ubaldo Jimenez has regained some of his stuff but still has his wild innings. The final pick here is that Ubaldo has a bad day, Britton has a good day and the Orioles hit some bombs.
  • The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: It is another battle of the Ays. Toronto has won eleven in a row, right? That has to break some time. But that is a heck of a streak to pick against. And Esmil Rogers has been very good too. I rag a lot on Jeremy Hellickson, but he has been better of late. The Rays are at home. The streak has to end some time. It is becoming critical mass.
  • The Dodgers over the Giants: Which pitcher will come out sharper? Hyun-jin Ryu or Madison Bumgarner? Both have had a few ups and downs this season. Bumgarner is the better pitcher over the long haul. Neither team is hitting well. The Dodgers are at home. That is the final tiebreaker.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Phillies over the Padres: The Padres have been playing great baseball and Eric Stults is more than capable of shutting down the Phillies. But the pick has to go with Cliff Lee who is 9-2 and has been getting the wins that he did not get last year. Having Chase Utley back helps the Phillies too.
Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 708
Month: 162-157
Season: 627-506
Games of the Day: 47-35

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Freddy Galvis kicks teammate where the sun don't shine

When I get up in the morning, I like to go to and watch the walk-off highlights. Now I know my friend, Mike Bates (@commnman) hates the term, "walk-off," so I know I am already in trouble. But the events are about as close to a sudden death situation as baseball gets. The walk-off homer is about as exciting as it gets for a home team. A team's player hits a homer that wins the game and the visiting team walks sadly off the field and the player who hit the homer pumps his fists, rounds third, throws his helmet and gets mobbed at home plate.

These events get a little passe after a while. There is a lot of jumping, the teams all huddle around the hero and there is whooping and hollering. They usually throw water at the guy or try to rip his shirt off. And the post-game interview usually involves shaving cream. If you have seen one, you have seen them all. The best ever was Prince Fielder's in Milwaukee where he landed on home plate and all his players fell over. But mostly, they are all the same.

Well, yesterday, Kevin Frandsen hit a walk-off homer for the Phillies, and all of the above elements were in there. But there was an added bonus. The video showed Freddy Galvis kicking his teammate where the sun does not shine. Galvis did not do it once. He did it twice. I will try to embed the video. If that does not work, see this link to watch it.

So Galvis could be forgiven for his enthusiasm. But what the heck was he thinking? Sheesh. The second one connected in such a way that junk might have been involved. Ouch. Next time, Freddy, just pat the guy on the back, okay?

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: June 23, 2013

This Game of the Day thing is driving me crazy. To refresh your memory, the Game of the Day is not the most exciting game each day. Rather, it is the one pick I feel to be a lock. Now, in my mind, these picks should never be wrong. But that has never been the case. Back in 2011, the Game of the Day was correct 62.5% of the time. Last year it was 61.5%. The percentage was still higher than the regular picks, but not spectacular. This year has been a disaster. It started well at 22-8 at one point. But now, after a run that has been 24-27 since then (that's right, a losing record for 51 days), this year's tally is 56.8 percent, right around where the rest of the picks are.

Take yesterday for example. The Game of the Day was the Cardinals over the Rangers. Martin Perez was pitching for the Rangers. His career record to that point was 1-5 with a 5.48 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. The Cardinals are one of the best offenses in the game. Easy right? Nope. The Cardinals could only manage two runs on seven hits. Amazing.

Sunday's picks:

  • The Twins over the Indians: I am not feeling Carlos Carrasco in this one. Oh no! Does that make this another Martin Perez pick? Have I learned nothing? Only that I will not make this the Game of the Day pick. Mike Pelfrey with the win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: The Orioles riled up Jose Bautista, and that is never a good thing. Josh Johnson looked dominating his last time out. Yahoo says that Freddy Garcia is starting. says TBO. Either way, it is not good.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: I am feeling Ross Detwiler today. Yeah, the odds are against me here. But Jorge De La Rosa is good, but not unbeatable and I have done well with Detwiler when I have picked him.
  • The Mets over the Phillies: This should be a lock. Game of the Day, right? Just that I said it should be a lock makes me not want to do it. But gosh, Matt Harvey versus John Lannon? Come on, now, right?
  • The Yankees over the Bay Rays: I need this game to make my weekly prediction over at It's About the Money, Stupid, to be correct. Besides that, either Ivan Nova or Chris Archer has an equal shot at winning the game or being awful. So take the home team.
  • The Brewers over the Braves: I am sick of picking the Braves and them getting shut out. They have an entire lineup of two-outcome players. Not well constructed on offense. It reminds me of last year's Yankees. Plus, I have never been a Paul Maholm fan. Not that I am a big fan of Alfredo Figaro Figaro Figaro. But he did win his last time out.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: The White Sox have beaten the Royals all weekend. But I think that James Shields stops the bleeding with a big outing. Besides, I am not in favor of picking Dylan Axelrod on any kind of regular basis.
  • The Cubs over the Astros: Jeff Samardzija should shine in this one. He has such great stuff. But then again, Jordan Lyles has gone 4-1 since joining the team. So who knows.
  • The Angels over the Pirates: I made fun of Charlie Morton the last time he pitched and he poured salt on my wounds. Did you get it? Anyway, I am still picking against him. But that means I am picking Joe Blanton to win. Egads me.
  • The Giants over the Marlins: Matt Cain is 5-3 with seven no-decisions. So, he is only winning 33% of his starts. That's not right. He should be the Marlins, especially with Nathan Eovaldi getting the start for the Fish.
  • The Reds over the Diamondbacks: This series has been epic. Yesterday's game featured double blown saves. How do you pick a game like that? Well, having Mat Latos go against Randall Delgado is one way you break the ice.
  • The Padres over the Dodgers: Pay no attention to Chris Capuano's last start. That was against the Yankees and they make all mediocre pitchers look sublime. The better pick here is Andrew Cashner. Would someone like to volunteer to teach Hanley Ramirez how to button a shirt?
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Jarrod Parker has been on a roll lately and I have picked against hime every time. So now I will pick him and he will tank, right? The Mariners start Jeremy Bonderman, whose success has confounded everyone, including me. This is not real, is it?
  • The Cardinals over the Rangers: Adam Wainwright should get back to ace-ness in this one after a not-so-ace-like start last time out. Nick Tepesch does not fill me with goosebumps. This is another series that has been terrific.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Tigers over the Red Sox: Hey, Justin Verlander? How does it feel to be the second best pitcher on your team? I think the bum (hehehe) still beats the Red Sox and the Tigers score three or four off of Felix Doubront.

Yesterday: 8-7
Last week: 55-46
Month: 155-149
Season: 618-498
Games of the Day: 46-35