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MLB News and Notes June 17

MLB News and Notes June 17

Road Pitching
By Josh Jacobs

Tuesday’s lineup in the major leagues is indicative of what’s been taking place over the course of the season thus far. We’re talking about teams losing on the road in bunches with a direct correlation to pitching performances.

With the pickup of interleague play spilling over from the weekend only three starting pitchers planning to take the mound own winning records when designated as the visitors. Here’s a quick preview of these three pitchers and other news and notes that might be of interest.

Johan Santana (7-4, 2.85 ERA)

Johan Santana is scheduled to make his 15th start of the season at 10:05 p.m. EDT. His opponent will be an Angels club (42-28, +905) whose not only 21-16 at home but also in control of the best road record in both leagues (which isn’t important at the moment due to the home field advantage on Tuesday).

Santana, who’s coming off an impressive no decision outing on Jun. 16, will look to record his eighth win of the season. The southpaw star has held opposing batters to a low .229 BAA but has limped out of right-handed batting matchups with a .282 BAA. Sticking to what’s relevant in this matchup has Santana going 4-3 with a 2.80 ERA on the road this season. Giving up 2.1 runs per game in the eight starts away from Shea has given the Mets plenty of opportunity to strike while the iron is hot and 5.1 runs of support per start by the offense has helped Santana work for those four wins.

What could prove devastating for a slouching New York squad is the squandering attempt made inside the batters box. On the road, the Mets have struggled with a .250 BA. Only one player has registered a batting average above .300 (in a minimum of 99 plate appearances) and a .315 on base percentage has placed New York at 22nd worst in the majors.

Dating back to 2005 shows that Santana has been more then adequate on the road with a 27-13 record accompanied by a 3.09 ERA and a .221 BAA. Righty bats have been more then affected by the southpaw slinger’s ability to chalk up a .213 BAA with a blistering 576 strikeouts over the same three-year period. Then there’ the 9-4 record with a trend setting 2.24 ERA in Santana’s last 17 starts on the road during the month of June.

So minus the Mets’ on and off the field problems, Santana is in prime position to earn the win given his impressive resume when labeled as the visiting pitcher. In a quick closer for this showdown, Santana has pelted the Angels’ batting order for a .198 BAA in his last three head-to-head clashes.

Kyle Davies (2-0, 1.53 ERA)

With only three years experience at the major league level it should come as a surprise that Kansas City’s right-handed starter Kyle Davies would be a strong consideration for a road win in St. Louis. Just remember that this is a Cardinals team who’s gone 6-2 in their last eight, is 23-14 at home and ranks among the top-10 in batting average, runs scored, on base percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage.

As for Davies, his young career has been marred by terrible performances on the road. A 9-15 record with a 6.13 ERA and a .309 BAA is far from being classified as executing in winning fashion. In-fact a career record of 19-28 with a 5.97 ERA is a fine overall example of a slinger struggling to keep his head above water.

But for the here and now, Davies is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA on the road this season. That lone win was in a masterful performance inside Yankee Stadium. Davies was able to hold the Bronx Bombers to just one run on seven hits in 6.2 innings of work.

The biggest problem facing St. Louis in this contest is the lefty-righty matchup. With at least four dedicated left-handed hitters in the starting lineup, the Cards must combat a Royals’ starter who’s whiffed out lefty bats for a .184 BAA. Then again, conventional right-handed batters have manufactured an off the charts .393 BA against Davies.

There’s just not enough evidence to support a strong play on a Kansas City club playing 14 games under .500, is 4-14 in its last 18 road games and has gone 7-20 in its last 27 overall.

Scott Olsen (4-3, 3.27 ERA)

While Scott Olsen has been involved in five starts on the road this season, only one win with no losses has made its way into the record books. The good news for the Marlins is that their lefty slinger has been crafty against opponents with a rock bottom .209 BAA.

Olsen has only averaged 6.3 innings of work per start on the road and 15 walks issued in the five starts has provided opponents with too much opportunity to take advantage of. In those four no decision games, the Marlins have gone on to tally an average 2-2 record. And while Olsen is listed at the bottom tier for run support provided on Florida’s roster, the offense has still showed up at the park for 4.6 runs per start.

Backers on the Marlins this season should feel more comfortable that Seattle will be host in the series. The Mariners have stuck the joint up this season, particularly in last 41 games with an 11-30 ledger. Coming off a weekend in which the Ms where slaughtered by Washington in a three-game set (losing by a combined score of 18-10), Florida will attempt to carry over its 337 runs scored this season (sixth best in the MLB) into Seattle.

While most clubs have experienced sharp pitching production at home only to fade off in road games, the Mariners have been counter productive on all fronts. A 4.31 ERA at home isn’t far off from the club’s 4.64 overall ERA and only 13 saves throughout the year illustrate problems closing out contests or even getting to a point where the club has been ahead on the scoreboard. Seattle is a dreadful 2-14 at home when trailing from the seventh inning and is a dismal 4-33 overall when trailing from that same seventh.

Florida has had its own problems in the pitching depart but Olsen should be just enough to keep one of the lowest scoring teams in the league at bay. Just to compound the Mariners problems, the offense has been responsible for crossing the plate just 269 times, while making contact for a debilitating .249 BA.

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 17

Chan's money arms: Week of June 16th

It’s the start of another busy week on the diamond and here are five starters that could earn you some extra loot over the next four days.

Javier Vazquez, Chicago White Sox, Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh

This is an excellent spot for Vazquez to bounce back following a pair of rocky outings. He has given up 19 hits and nine earned runs over his last 11 1/3 innings and that’s more than enough to turn both the oddsmakers and the betting public against him on Tuesday. He’s back at home, where he is 4-1 in six starts this season, and also going up against a Pirates lineup that had a strong weekend in Baltimore, but still managed to lose the series. It’s a flat spot for the Pirates, and Vazquez should take advantage.

Kenny Rogers, Detroit Tigers, Tuesday at San Francisco

It’s time to get behind ‘the gambler’ again. He turned in some terrible early season numbers, but has since turned the corner. Over his last four starts he has given up a grand total of three earned runs, and most importantly, only one home run. He really had a tough time keeping the ball in the park earlier in the spring but a slight adjustment in his mechanics has made all the difference in the world. There’s little reason to think that he can’t keep building momentum against the Giants on Tuesday.

Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds, Wednesday vs. Los Angeles

I see this as a good spot to roll the dice with Bronson Arroyo. He finally has a solid start to build from after shutting out the Cardinals for six innings last Thursday. I don’t like to use the word ‘due’ too often, but you have to think Arroyo is going to start racking up some home victories. He owns just one in seven starts at the Great American Ballpark, despite the fact that the Reds are 21-14 at home. The Dodgers are going nowhere right now and Arroyo will make the most of this opportunity.

Joba Chamberlain, New York Yankees, Thursday vs. San Diego

After making two unimpressive starts at home against the Blue Jays and Royals respectively, Chamberlain was on point against the Astros in Houston on Friday. Now that he’s got three starts under his belt, I expect to see him settle down a bit. This Padres offense doesn’t scare me one bit, and it certainly won’t rattle Joba. This is a solid spot for him to earn his first win as a starter in front of the Yankee faithful. Look for something special out of the kid on Thursday.

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Tuesday's streaking starting pitchers

A look at some of the hottest and coldest pitchers taking the mound on Tuesday.


Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox (5-3, 3.43 ERA)

If you put your money on this Red Sox lefty, it seems the worst you’re going to come away with is a solid shot at a win.

Lester hasn’t given up more than four earned runs in any of his starts this season and when you play for the No. 3 hitting team in the majors, that makes for some profitable investments. Lester only has one loss in his last 11 starts and he ranks in the top 35 in baseball in starter money.

It was four trips to the mound ago he tossed his no-hitter and he’s been solid since with just seven runs and 22 hits against in three games (16 1/3 innings).

He faces another decent lefty, Jamie Moyer, and the Reds on Tuesday.

Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks (11-3, 2.73 ERA)

Webb ranks 15th in the money when it comes to betting starting pitchers, but he would be higher if he didn’t get so much respect from oddsmakers. Webb has been an underdog only once in his 14 starts this season.

He’ll be favored again against respectable righty Justin Duchscherer and the A’s, though he should make for a strong payday if the Diamondbacks win. Webb has given up just four earned runs over his past three starts and he didn’t surrender a walk or a home run in any of those outings.

The last time he faced Oakland (in 2006), Webb tossed a nine-inning gem that Arizona won 3-1.


Livan Hernandez, Minnesota Twins (6-4, 5.84 ERA)

As if Hernandez wasn’t pitching badly enough, now he has some off-field distractions to talk about while he tries to get his form back.

Hernandez has given up a whopping 30 runs in his last five starts, allowing at least five runs in all five outings. But it was after his most recent stinker, a 12-2 loss to Cleveland last week, that he became upset with some comments made about him.

Hernandez wasn’t happy about Tom Hamilton’s comments on his radio broadcast that Hernandez felt questioned his age as well as his receiving of the 1997 World Series MVP award. Hamilton said that Cleveland pitcher Chad Ogea had actually been voted MVP of that series but the Marlins pulled off the improbable Game 7 win and things changed.

Hernandez needs to worry less about broadcaster's opinions and more about his ERA. The ballooning runs he is allowing lately have helped over bettors cash in easily in his last five starts.

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 17

Baseball Today

New York Mets at Los Angeles Angels (10:05 p.m. EDT). The Mets play their first game under interim manager Jerry Manuel following the firing of Willie Randolph. Johan Santana (7-4, 2.85 ERA) takes the mound for New York against John Lackey (3-1, 1.83 ERA) in a matchup of aces.


- Ryan Howard, Phillies, homered twice and tripled to drive in four runs as Philadelphia beat Boston 8-2. It was Howard's second multihomer game in four nights.

- Carlos Beltran, Mets, homered twice in a 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

- Jair Jurrjens, Braves, pitched shutout ball for a career-high 7 2-3 innings to lead Atlanta over Colorado 7-1 at Coors Field. Jurrjens (7-3) leads all major league rookies in wins.

- John Bowker, Giants, hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning to lift San Francisco over Detroit 8-6.


The New York Mets fired manager Willie Randolph and two coaches following a 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Bench coach Jerry Manuel takes over on an interim basis for Randolph, who led the Mets to within one win of the 2006 World Series. He became the first big league manager to get fired this season. Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto also were dismissed. ... Stuck with the worst record in baseball, Seattle fired general manager Bill Bavasi. Vice president/associate general manager Lee Pelekoudas became interim GM. Bavasi was in his fifth season as general manager, only once turning out a club that finished with a winning record. That was last year when the Mariners won a surprising 88 games.


Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang is expected to be sidelined until at least September after injuring his foot running the bases. An examination in New York showed Wang partially tore a tendon and sprained his right foot Sunday during New York's 13-0 interleague win at Houston. He will be on crutches and wear a protective boot for a minimum of six weeks, the latest blow to the team's banged-up pitching staff.


Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed two runs and three hits over five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, his first game action since straining his rotator cuff last month. The Boston Red Sox right-hander dominated Lehigh Valley hitters for the first four innings, throwing just 39 pitches while facing the minimum 12 batters. The IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, then used three hits, a walk and a wild pitch to score two runs in the fifth. Matsuzaka faced 19 hitters, striking out five and throwing 47 of his 65 pitches for strikes. He's not sure when he'll return to the Red Sox, however.


Chipper Jones went 2-for-4 with a walk, raising his average a point to .403 in Atlanta's 7-1 victory at Colorado. Jones entered the game mired in a 2-for-15 slump.


With his team in huge trouble, Mariners manager John McLaren decided he's going to start tinkering. His first move: sliding Ichiro Suzuki back into right field. Suzuki was back in his corner outfield spot for the first time since the end of the 2006 season on Monday night when the Mariners, with the worst record in baseball, opened a three-game series against Florida. ``It feels like going to my yard,'' Suzuki said through a translator after Seattle's 6-1 loss. ``They came to me about it and said, 'Let's do this for the future.''' Suzuki switched to center field last year when the Mariners signed Jose Guillen as a free agent. Suzuki played 155 games in center last season and all 69 this year before Monday night.


Philadelphia's Cole Hamels (7-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings of an 8-2 victory over Boston. Since consecutive poor outings last month, the left-hander has a 1.50 ERA in his past three starts. ... Mets closer Billy Wagner earned his second save in two days after blowing three straight chances.


The Mariners lost 6-1 to Florida for their eighth straight defeat at home, the team's longest home losing streak in nearly 12 years. ... Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (1-7) hasn't won in 13 starts since April 8 against Atlanta.


Andrew Miller allowed one run and six hits over seven innings for Florida in a 6-1 victory at Seattle. The left-hander matched the longest outing of his career and won for the first time in his past five starts. ... San Francisco beat Detroit 8-6 for its first interleague win in seven tries this year. The Tigers had their season-best six-game winning streak stopped.


Marcus Thames homered twice and drove in three runs for Detroit in an 8-6 loss at Seattle. Thames connected for the fourth consecutive game.


``My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century. They need to grow up and join the 21st century.'' - Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, complaining that the NL plays without a designated hitter. New York pitcher Chien-Ming Wang injured his foot running the bases Sunday in an interleague game at Houston and is expected to be sidelined until at least September.

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 17


Boston (44-29) at Philadelphia (42-30)

Two southpaws are set to square off at Citizens Bank Park, as Jon Lester (5-3, 3.43 ERA) toes the slab for the Red Sox against Jamie Moyer (7-3, 4.12) and the Phillies in the second game of a three-game series.

Philadelphia pounded out an 8-2 victory on Monday to halt a modest two game losing skid while improving to 22-13 at Citizens Bank this year, including 9-2 in the last 11. The Phillies are on a 15-6 run overall and they’re 20-6 in their last 26 Tuesday games, but they’re only 6-12 in their last 18 against American League East foes.

Despite Monday’s defeat, Boston continues to sport impressive hot streaks of 12-5 overall, 46-11 in interleague play, 21-7 in interleague road games and 24-5 against the N.L. East. Also, the Sox are 10-3 in their last 13 meetings with the Phillies, including 5-2 at Citizens Bank.

Lester, who has a no-hitter to his credit this season, is 3-1 with a no-decision in his last five starts, having won the last two. On Thursday against Baltimore, he allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings in a 9-2 home rout. He’s gone at least six innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his last nine outings, with Boston going 6-3 during that stretch. Going back further, the Red Sox are on a 20-8 run when Lester starts and they’re 5-0 in his last five interleague outings.

Lester, who is set to make his first career start against Philadelphia, is 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA in seven road starts this year, and the Red Sox have lost three of his last four road starts, with Lester going 0-1 with three no-decisions.

The ageless Moyer has been red-hot for the past month, going 5-0 with a no-decision, and the Phils won all six games. On Thursday at Florida, he threw eight shutout innings, allowing two hits and just one walk in a 3-0 victory. He has a 2.70 ERA in the last six games, yielding just 12 runs in 40 innings.

Moyer is 3-2 with a rather high 5.53 ERA in seven home starts this season, though the Phils are 16-4 in his last 20 games as a home chalk. He’s also only 6-11 with a 6.69 ERA in 22 career appearances (20 starts) against Boston, having spent 16 years in the American League – including part of one with the Sox.

The under is 13-6-2 in Lester’s last 21 starts overall, but the over is 6-2 in Moyer’s last eight overall and 5-0 in his last five as a home chalk.

Last night’s game barely hurdled the posted total, making the over is 10-4 in the last 14 series meetings between these teams, including 5-1 in the last six clashes. That said, for Boston, the under is on runs of 29-10-2 as an interleague pup, 17-6-2 in the second game of a series and 5-2-1 against left-handers. The under is also on streaks for Philly of 11-3 overall and 4-1 at home.


Chicago Cubs (45-25) at Tampa Bay (40-29)

The Cubs will send right-hander Ryan Dempster (8-2, 2.81 ERA) to the hill to open a three-game interleague series against the Rays, who will counter with ace lefty Scott Kazmir (6-2, 1.74) at Tropicana Field.

Chicago was idle on Monday after winning two of three in a weekend interleague series at Toronto, dropping the opener but winning the next two, including Sunday’s 7-4 victory. The Cubs have won six of their last seven games, but they remain below .500 on the highway at 16-17. Also, despite the success in Toronto, Lou Pineilla’s club is still just 4-11 in its last 15 interleague road contests versus winning teams.

Tampa Bay took two of three in an interleague home series against Miami over the weekend, winning the first two games before getting blown out 9-3 on Sunday. The Rays have followed an 8-2 streak by going just 5-7 in their last 12. However, they’re 22-4 in their last 26 home games, including 5-1 in the last six, and 20-6 in their last 26 as a home chalk. One negative: Tampa’s ongoing 6-21 slide against the N.L. Central.

The Cubs are 6-1 in Dempster’s last seven outings, with the right-hander going 4-1 with two no-decisions. On Wednesday against Atlanta, he went the distance, giving up two runs on just four hits in a 7-2 home rout. Dempster has thrown at least six innings in 11 of his 14 starts this year.

Both of Dempster’s losses have come away from Wrigley Field, where he’s 0-2 despite a 2.59 ERA in five starts. Also, he’s 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA in seven career starts against Tampa.

Kazmir had won six straight decisions while posting a 0.88 ERA, before being dealt his second loss of the year last Wednesday. In that contest at the Los Angeles Angels, he gave up three runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, falling 4-2.

Kazmir is 4-0 with a minuscule 0.35 ERA at Tropicana this season, giving up just one run in 26 innings. Tuesday’s outing will mark his first against the Cubs.

The under is 5-1 in Dempster’s last six starts, 6-2 in his last eight on the road, 8-1-1 in Kazmir’s last 10 on field turf and 4-1 in Kazmir’s last five home starts.

The over for Chicago is on streaks of 6-1 after a day off, 5-1-1 against lefties and 4-1 in series openers, but the under is 36-17-5 in the last 58 on the road, 6-0-1 in the last seven against winning teams, 8-2-1 in the last 11 interleague road games and 15-5-1 in the last 21 on Tuesday.

The over for Tampa is on runs of 6-1-1 after an off day, 4-1-1 in series openers and 14-5-2 in interleague play, but the under is 12-4-1 in the team’s last 17 overall, 7-2-1 in its last 10 as a favorite and 20-7-1 in the last 28 at Tropicana Field.


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Re: MLB News and Notes June 17

Digging into fly ball/ground ball ratios

Stats don’t mean anything if you don’t know how to understand them. A basketball team that averages 103 points per game on the road might appear impressive, but not if they allow 110 per game. A pitcher who averages 11 strikeouts per nine innings might stand out as dominant, but if he also averages nine walks per nine innings, his ERA would probably be closer to five than 2.50.

One angle that causes many to scratch their heads with major league pitchers is ground ball to fly ball ratio. On the one hand, it gives you an idea what type of stuff the guy throws. A fastball pitcher like Curt Schilling is known as a flyball pitcher, working the zone, throwing strikes and challenging guys. Yes, he will give up long fly outs – or homers. A guy like Ching-Ming Wang of the Yankees is a ground ball pitcher because he has a biting sinker that dies as it approaches the plate.

It doesn’t mean that one style of pitching is better than the other. Schilling, for instance, led the league in home runs allowed one season, but also led the league in wins. What’s important for handicappers to take away from ground ball/fly ball pitchers is where they are pitching and who they are facing.

The Red Sox, for instance, are a patient offensive team with a philosophy of drawing walks. They can give ground ball pitchers fits by laying off sinkers and drawing free passes. They did this in the ALCS last October against Cleveland ace Fausto Carmona. A more free swinging team, like Kansas City or Florida, would be more likely to struggle.

The other factor is the ball park. Fly ball pitchers can have it made in parks with huge outfields, like Shea Stadium, Oakland or San Diego. They can then turn around and give up a lot of home runs when they go to small parks, like in Philly, Cincy, Minnesota, and Wrigley Field.

I used this in a game recently where the Marlins played the Phillies: “The Marlins have hit right-handers much harder at home than lefties. They should be able to tee off on the overrated Brett Myers. He has a 7.15 ERA on the road this year and he has yet to win when he takes to opponent soil. Many will think that he has turned the corner after the last two starts, allowing just four earned runs in 15.1 innings of work, but we're not buying it. In those games he allowed 21 fly balls to only five groundballs.

“Despite 21 shots in the air he did not give up a single home run. Major League averages state that 10 percent of fly balls end up going over the fence, so he was a bit lucky in those starts. He is also coming off his highest back to back pitch counts of the season throwing 232 pitches the past two outings. While he was a starter earlier in his career he worked out of the bullpen last season, he may not be fully acclimated to high pitch counts. Based on his ERA thus far that could be a problem.

“Florida’s Ricky Nolasco has held seven of his last nine opponents to three earned runs or less. He has also faced some of the toughest lineups in the league as of late with his last five starts coming against Atlanta, New York, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Arizona. His last outing against the Phillies was a good one as he held the Phils to just two earned runs in 6.2 innings of work. There is value here with the Marlins as a home underdog and we will take advantage.” Myers was terrible again, giving up five runs in five innings. The Marlins led 3-0 in the first on the way to a win as a home dog.

Fenway Park is a small place, but a young Red Sox righty is 6-foot-6 Justin Masterson, who is slinging the ball behind that large frame with a devastating sinker. When they played the Mariners I noted, “The Red Sox send young Justin Masterson to the hill in Fenway Park. He has been impressive in his first three starts. By producing a very high groundball to fly ball ratio, it is very important in this building. He has been fortunate to have all of his four starts thus far be at home and he takes on a Seattle offense that has struggled all season to hit right-handed starters.

“Seattle counters with big free agent signing Eric Bedard. The veteran lefty has been very inconsistent for the Mariners especially as of late where only two of his last five starts were considered quality. He has really struggled as of late on the road where in his last two starts he has gone just 6.1 innings while allowing 15 earned runs. He faced the Red Sox less than two weeks ago in Seattle and he shut them out through seven innings. But with Boston getting another quick look at him we expect the Sox bats to fare much better this time around. The Red Sox are on a 42-11 streak as home favorites in Fenway and they are 17-5 hosting the Mariners. With Seattle getting their first look at Masterson we expect the youngster to match Bedard every step of the way. That leaves the far better offense and home field advantage in our favor. Cheap price to play the best team in baseball on their own turf.” Masterson allowed one run as the Sox won again at home.

One final aspect to take into account with ground ball pitchers is infield defense. A pitcher like Masterson or Wang can get ground balls, but that is no good if he has lousy fielding at shortstop or second base behind him. With fly ball pitchers, especially in big parks, you want to see how their outfield defense is. Do they have speed? Or some lumbering left fielder, like Barry Bonds or Matt Stairs? A slow outfield with a fly ball pitcher on the hill is a bad mix. Understand pitching styles and how to incorporate into handicapping each game.


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