MLB News and Notes July 20
MLB News and Notes July 20
Sunday Night Baseball
This contest begins at 6:05 p.m. EDT due to ESPN highlighting their ESPY’s show.
With the first half of the MLB season now behind us, its time for the stretch run. Or at least sort of. Of course the true stretch run will be coming in a few months but this is where teams begin to position themselves for that final kick to the playoffs.
Speaking of playoffs, we have two teams that fully expect to be playing in October. As of Friday afternoon, both of these teams were on top of their respective divisions. As they begin this three game series in Los Angeles, the Angels and Red Sox have the two best records in the American League. The Halos have a fairly comfortable six game lead in the A.L. West over Oakland. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are clinging to a half game lead in the A.L. East thanks in part to Tampa Bay’s seven game losing streak leading up to the All Star break. On Sunday night, ESPN brings us a match up of one of the best pitchers in the American League vs. possibly the hottest pitcher in the American League.
The Angels All-Star hurler Joe Saunders steps to the hill on Sunday night with a 12-5 record. Those 12 wins give him the second most wins by a starting pitcher in the Majors sitting one win behind Arizona’s Brandon Webb. Saunders has definitely been a pleasant surprise for L.A. this year. The Angels expected him to be a solid starter in the rotation, but they definitely were not looking at him as an All Star caliber pitcher. Coming into the season Saunders had just 15 career wins and a 4.71 lifetime ERA in his three seasons in the big leagues. This year the lefty sits at 12-5 with an ERA of just 3.07. He has been eating up both right handed and left handed hitters over his last 10 outings. Lefties hit just .235 against him while right handed bats are trolling along at just .238 vs. Saunders. He has been a cash cow for bettors as his money numbers are among the top 15 in the Majors this year at +$740.
Saunders should be extremely well rested for this start as he has thrown just 12 pitches in the last 10 days. His last start was back on July 8th in Texas where he threw a complete game six hitter but lost 3-2. He was slated to start again last Sunday, however his wife gave birth to their first child on Saturday night so he did not make his scheduled turn. He threw one inning in the All Star game throwing just 12 pitches on Tuesday for his latest action.
As good as Saunders has been this year, perhaps the hottest pitcher in baseball will be his opposition on Sunday night. Veteran knuckle baller Tim Wakefield has been extraordinary his last nine outings. He has allowed just 15 earned runs in his last nine starts for an ERA of just over 2.00. Over his last 10 starts, he has been embarrassing opposing hitters with regularity. Left handed clubbers have hit just .208 vs. Wakefield while righties have not faired much better at .223. He has pitched at least seven innings in eight of his last nine starts giving some relief to the BoSox bullpen. His most recent start on July 12th might have been his best. Wakefield allowed just one run on only two hits in his 12-1 win over Baltimore last Saturday. He didn’t allow a base runner in the final 13 batters he faced prompting Boston manager Terry Francona to say it might be the best he’s ever seen Wakefield pitch.
With both starters clipping along at a run stopping pace you can probably expect this game to be lower scoring. The Angels have been an “under” team all season as over 61% of their games in 2008 have slipped below the posted total. Before Friday’s series opener, the Angels over/under record is 34-54-7 favoring the “under”. In fact, only two teams in MLB have fewer “overs” than the Angels and those are the Yankees and Braves. Despite being the second best hitting team in the Majors at .280, the Sox have also struggled to push games over the total. Starting this huge series, Boston stood at 42-45-10 favoring the “under”.
This one will be interesting. The Angels are by far the best road team in the Majors with a record of 31-18. The problem is, this one is in L.A. where they are “just” 26-20. Boston, on the other hand, has been lights out at home with a record of 36-11. Their road record has left a lot to be desired, however at 21-29. Something has to give when two of the best teams in baseball square off on ESPN Sunday night.
Re: MLB News and Notes July 20
Sunday's streaking and slumping starting pitchers
Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets (8-6, 3.64)
The Mets are one of the hottest teams in MLB and Pelfrey is a major reason for their success. The right-hander is 3-0 with a remarkable 0.41 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in his last three outings and is undefeated in his last nine overall starts.
Pelfrey has registered six straight wins with back-to-back shutouts over the Colorado Rockies and the San Francisco Giants. He is also 4-4 on the road this season and 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two career starts against the Cincinnati Reds.
New York is 7-0 in Pelfrey’s past seven and is 7-3 in its last 10 overall against the Reds.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (7-9, 4.15)
Verlander has been lights out since starting the season with a mere two victories in 12 starts. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.0 WHIP in his past three starts and has not relinquished more than two earned runs in a contest since a June 6 loss to the Indians.
Verlander has lost just two of his last 10 contests and is a 2-0 in his last three starts outside the Motor City. He is also 1-0 with a solid 2.03 ERA in one career start against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Tigers are 6-1 in Verlander’s last seven against the AL East. Detroit is also 6-1 in its last seven against the Orioles.
Brian Bannister, Kansas City Royals (7-8, 5.24)
Bannister is winless in his last three starts, posting a lofty 9.92 ERA and 1.78 WHIP and has also relinquished 18 earned runs and eight walks in 15.4 IP.
The righty is 2-5 on the road with an 8.14 ERA, including a recent 11-2 loss in Tampa Bay in which he relinquished six earned runs in just five IP. He is 0-1 with 12.00 ERA in his last three starts against the Chicago White Sox.
The Royals are 1-6 in Bannister’s last seven road outings and are 14-43 in their last 57 trips to the Windy City.
Vincente Padilla, Texas Rangers (3-10, 4.47)
Padilla has conceded 15 earned runs in 8.2 IP in his last two starts. He is 0-2 in that period with a 6.62 ERA and 1.75 WHIP.
Padilla is 3-3 on the road with a 4.00 ERA and is coming off an 11-4 setback to Baltimore in which he relinquished eight ERs in 2.2 IP. The right-hander has also surrendered eight HRs in his last seven outings.
The Rangers, 5-11 in their last 16 games versus the Minnesota Twins, are 2-7 in their last nine trips to the Metrodome
Re: MLB News and Notes July 20
Sunday's best MLB bets
Oakland at N.Y. Yankees (-150, 8)
After squandering multiple opportunities before being gifted a victory, the New York Yankees may have to make the most of limited chances Sunday when they face Justin Duchscherer in a bid to sweep a three-game series from the Oakland Athletics.
The Yankees (52-45) stranded 21 baserunners and went 3-for-18 with men in scoring position Saturday, but still eked out a 12-inning, 4-3 victory - their season-best sixth straight home win - in 12 innings. Jose Molina was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing home Derek Jeter with the winning run.
"It feels good because we won the game, but it hurts,'' Molina said.
By comparison, New York had gone 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Friday's 7-1 win.
Duchscherer (10-5, 1.82 ERA) has been pitching at a high level for nearly two months, allowing two runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts - compiling a 7-2 record with a 1.44 ERA in that span. The right-hander, who allowed one run in one inning during Tuesday's All-Star game, failed to get a decision last Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels despite limiting them to two runs in 7 2-3 innings. Oakland lost the game 4-3.
Duchscherer won his first-ever start against the Yankees on June 11, yielding one run in seven innings of an 8-4 victory. He is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in eight total appearances versus New York, spanning 15 innings.
N.Y. Mets at Cincinnati (-130, 9)
Volquez allowed three runs only once in his first 15 starts, but had done so in three consecutive outings prior to his last start. He shut down the Milwaukee Brewers on July 12, giving up two runs - one earned - in seven innings while striking out 10 in the Reds' 8-2 win.
"I think it was one of the great nights for me," Volquez told the Reds' official Web site. "All my pitches were there."
Volquez hasn't faced the Mets yet in his first season in the NL.
His mound opponent isn't an All-Star, but Mike Pelfrey (8-6, 3.64) has pitched like one over the last month. Pelfrey lost six straight starts earlier this season, but he's won the last six times he's taken the hill.
Pelfrey has been especially good in his three starts during July, when he's gone 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA. He hasn't allowed a run in his last two outings, and went eight innings in the Mets' 7-0 win over Colorado last Sunday, with the Shea Stadium crowd chanting his name as he worked out of a jam in the eighth.