MLB News and Notes August 15

MLB News and Notes August 15

Chan's Money Arms: Week of August 11th
By DAVID CHAN

This column has produced a 23-8 record over the past seven weeks, proving that a little homework can go a long way when it comes to building baseball bankrolls.

Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox, Friday at Oakland

Floyd will be happy to hit the road after turning in a pair of brutal efforts in his last two starts, both at home. While he is just 4-4 away from U.S. Cellular Field this season, he has shown some positive signs lately, going undefeated in his last two road starts in Detroit and Minnesota. One of his best starts of the season came against Oakland, as he held them scoreless and gave up just three hits over 7 1/3 innings. This will be only his second career start against the A’s, so I question whether they have much of a scouting report leading into this game. Helping matters is the fact that Oakland owns just one win in August at the time of writing.

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Friday's streaking starting pitchers
COVERS.com

Streaking

Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins (3-0, 3.19)


Johnson has been solid since coming off the IR. He is 3-0 and has a 3.19 ERA in his past three starts and is 1-0 at Dolphin Stadium.

Johnson is undefeated in his last six and has led the Fish to a 6-0 mark in that span. He has also relinquished just three HRs in that period.

Florida is 12-2 in its last 14 against the Chicago Cubs and is 6-0 in its last six versus the Cubs in Florida.


Slumping

Tim Redding, Washington Nationals (8-7, 4.61)


Redding has two wins in his last 10 and is 1-2 in his last three with a lofty 10.29 ERA. He has also relinquished 16 earned runs and four HRs in his last 14 IP.

Redding is 1-1 in his last four at Nationals park and is 4-4 overall at home. He has also tossed more than 100 pitches in each of his last two starts and has a 7.20 ERA in one start this season against the lowly Colorado Rockies.

The Nationals are 20-45 in their last 65 overall and are 3-7 in their last 10 at Nationals Park.


Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets (10-8, 4.11)

Pelfrey has finally hit a rough patch. He has just two wins in his last five and is 1-2 in his last three with a shaky 7.63 ERA and 1.83 WHIP.

In his last three starts, Pelfrey has conceded 13 earned runs in 14 2/3 IP and has relinquished two HRs in that stretch. He is also just 4-3 on the road with a lofty 6.09 ERA and 1.83 WHIP.

The Mets are 0-4 in their last four against the NL Central and are 3-8 in their last 11 meetings in Pittsburgh.

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Scheduled to win down the MLB stretch
By JACOB WHEATLEY-SCHALLER

With only 45 days left in the regular season, a team’s schedule can have a significant effect on their playoff chances.

Over 162 games, things tend to even out (within your division, at least), but the same is not true for a 40-game sample. Here’s a look at each of the five division races that are still being contested, and how the schedule will effect how things play out.

Strength of schedule numbers were derived using Baseball Prospectus’ Adjusted Standings.

AL East

The Red Sox have a slight edge here, as 55% of their remaining games are at home. That number is only 45% for the Rays, and 46% for the Yankees. All three of these teams have difficult schedules, since they’ll play a lot of intradivision games in the best division in baseball.

The Rays have a brutal September schedule. After Sept. 1 they play 27 games in 27 days, with their only sub-.500 opponents coming in the last week of the season on the road in Baltimore and Detroit. There’s a good chance that the only thing at stake in that last week of September will be home-field and playoff seeding between Tampa and Boston; the Red Sox host the Indians and Yankees that week.

AL Central

The Twins don’t play particularly good teams down the stretch — two series each against the Mariners, Angels, and Royals — but the context of those games is going to be a challenge.

They play only 18 of their last 42 at the Metrodome and have just three off days from here on out. Minnesota has an 11-game West Coast trip beginning on August 21, and a 10-game road trip from 9/12-9/21.  Chicago has one extra off day, and is at home for 46% of their games as opposed to 43%, but their opponents are a bit more challenging.

The two teams square off in Minnesota for games No. 157-159.

NL East

The Phillies, Mets and Marlins all have similarly difficult remaining opponents.  Philadelphia gets to play the hapless Nationals the most times (nine, including the final weekend of the season), but they also have four-game series’ against both the Brewers and Cubs.

The Marlins have the disadvantage of having to play 18 of their last 40 on the road. Both the Phillies and Mets have 22 remaining home game against only 19 on the road. The Mets and Marlins have a series at Shea on the last weekend of the season, although it seems unlikely that both teams will still be in the hunt at that point.

NL Central

The Brewers host the Cubs on the last weekend of the season but, like in the AL East, that likely won’t be a win-or-go-home situation, as the loser will probably have the Wild Card to fall back on.

The Brewers have a slight advantage in that they have three more home games than Chicago. The Cardinals have a whopping seven off days down the stretch and they should have plenty of time to rest in October, too.

NL West

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks have the two easiest schedules of the remaining playoff teams, which isn’t surprising considering how weak their division is.

Arizona has 54% of their remaining games at home, while Los Angeles is on the road for 56% of their games. These two teams square off six times between August 29 and September 7.

After that, the Dodgers have to play 13 of their last 19 on the road, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, since their schedule is absurdly easy. They play six each against the Padres and Giants, and their other two series are against the Rockies and Pirates.

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MLB weekend cheat sheet
By MARC LAWRENCE

The pennant race is on and like the summer weather it’s heating up.

Other than the American League West, the other five divisions in MLB find the first and second place teams separated by no more than four games as we head in to action this weekend.

Let’s check in on four key matchups on this weekend’s card in this edition of the MLB Weekend Cheat Sheet. Remember, pitcher records are ‘team start’ results and team matchup records are those from within each series.

Enjoy the games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox


Most Recent Series Result: Blue Jays 8-2 last 10 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Red Sox 4-2 last 6 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Red Sox 10-0 home Sundays; Blue Jays 0-3 Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Burnett 5-0 1.98 ERA career; Marcum 4-0 2.88 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Beckett 2-6 5.45 ERA last 8 starts

Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers

Most Recent Series Result: Rays 5-3 last 8 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Rangers 13-9 last 19 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Rangers 7-1 on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Kazmir 6-0 1.95 ERA career; Shields 3-0 4.29 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Padilla 1-3 7.49 ERA career

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chicago Cubs at Florida Marlins


Most Recent Series Result: Marlins 12-2 last 14 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Marlins 6-0 last 6 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Cubs 14-5 Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Zambrano 6-0 2.51 ERA last 6 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: Lilly 0-3 5.19 ERA here career

Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers

Most Recent Series Result: Dodgers 13-7 last 20 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Dodgers 15-5 last 20 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Brewers 7-1 Saturdays

Best Arm in the Series: Penny 5-0 4.12 home career; Suppan 6-1 3.00 last 7 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: Sheets 1-3 4.81 here career

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TheSpread.com MLB Picks and Predictions For Friday August 15

It's officially the dog days of summer in baseball. Our team of writers and handicappers gathered three of their top picks for Friday's MLB action.

Tampa Bay Rays (73-47) at Texas Rangers (61-61)

The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball. In spite of their success, though, they have not been impressive in their recent series openers.

The AL East-leading Rays look for a rare win in a series opener when they begin a three-game set against the slumping Texas Rangers on Friday.

For Friday's opener, Texas is expected to activate Kevin Millwood (6-6, 5.40 ERA) from the disabled list.

In his last start on July 23 against the Chicago White Sox, Millwood left after 1 2-3 innings with a strained right groin and was placed on the DL three days later. The right-hander made a rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Sunday, and allowed two runs and five hits in four innings.

The 12-year veteran went 0-2 with a 8.78 ERA in his final three starts before going on the DL, and has not won since July 6 at Baltimore.

Millwood has not faced the Rays since Aug. 23, 2006, and is 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA in three career starts versus Tampa Bay.

Pick: Tampa Bay

Baltimore Orioles (58-62) at Detroit Tigers (59-62)

Detroit Tigers left-hander Nate Robertson looks to continue his success against the Baltimore Orioles as the teams begin a three-game series at Comerica Park on Friday night.

Robertson (7-8, 5.84 ERA) lost his first career start against the Orioles on April 19, 2005, but is since 4-0 with a 3.32 ERA in seven starts against them. In his only start against them this season on July 19, however, he was tagged for seven runs in a season-low 2 1-3 innings in a 11-10 loss in 10 innings.

The southpaw won for the first time in eight starts Sunday by yielding one run over 7 2-3 innings in a 6-1 victory over Oakland. Robertson was 0-2 with an 8.42 ERA over his previous seven outings.

Baltimore (58-62) is making its only trip this season to Comerica Park, where it was swept in a three-game set in its lone visit in 2007. The Orioles and Tigers split four games at Camden Yards from July 17-20.

Pick: Detroit 

Toronto Blue Jays (62-60) at Boston Red Sox (71-51)

There were plenty of concerns over what effect the trade of Manny Ramirez would have on the offense of the Boston Red Sox.

So far, they're making a convincing argument it's made their lineup even better.

The Red Sox, the major leagues' top-scoring team in August and winners of four straight, will get a stern test from Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday when the AL East rivals begin a three-game set at Fenway Park.

Halladay wasn't at his best in his latest outing, but he was also the victim of some shaky defense. He gave up four runs - one earned - and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to Cleveland on Saturday, throwing a career-high 130 pitches.

Pick: Toronto

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Brad Penny back on the disabled list

Right-hander is still bothered by a stiff shoulder, and his future with the team could be in question.

Put on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season, Brad Penny said Thursday that he felt the way he did when he started his first stint on the DL in mid-June because of tendinitis in his shoulder. Penny was rocked by Philadelphia for six runs in three innings Wednesday night, his second start since being activated last week.

"Everything's the same," Penny said.

Middle reliever Cory Wade also went on the DL because of stiffness in his shoulder, prompting the Dodgers to call up left-hander Eric Stults and right-hander Tanyon Sturtze from triple-A Las Vegas.

The Dodgers' opening day starter, Penny received a cortisone injection Thursday and will be shut down for the next five days. Manager Joe Torre said he was uncertain when Penny would be able to return.

Penny's first stretch on the disabled list lasted two months.

Torre said he didn't know who would replace Penny in the rotation. Because Penny's next turn falls Monday, which is an off-day, Torre said the spot could be skipped.

Penny, who is 6-9 with a 6.09 earned-run average, said he felt discomfort after his start in San Francisco on Friday, when he limited the Giants to a run over five innings but raised concerns because his fastball sat in the high 80s.

Asked why he took another turn in the rotation, Penny replied, "I want to pitch, you know. You get paid to pitch."

Penny's condition could cloud his future with the Dodgers, as his contract includes a $9.25-million club option for next season that could be bought out for $2 million.

Wade said he was told by the team's medical staff that there was no structural damage to his shoulder.

Stults was called up to the big leagues in June and was 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in six starts, among them a complete-game shutout of the Chicago White Sox on June 25.

Sturtze pitched out of the bullpen for Torre in New York from 2004-2006. He didn't make the Dodgers' major league roster out of spring training, but remained in the organization at Torre's insistence and was 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 18 games at Las Vegas.

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Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Los Angeles Angels at Cleveland (7:05 p.m. EDT). Cliff Lee (16-2, 2.45 ERA) tries to join Brandon Webb as the only 17-game winners when the Indians take on Jered Weaver (10-9, 4.51) and the Angels. Los Angeles has the best record in the major leagues.

STARS

- Lance Berkman, Astros, homered and drove in three runs in a 7-4 victory over the Giants.

- Dan Haren, Diamondbacks, gave up seven hits and struck out nine over eight innings in a 6-2 victory over the Rockies.

- Jake Peavey, Padres, gave up four hits and a run in seven innings, striking out eight in a 3-2 victory over the surging Brewers.

- Edgar Renteria, Tigers, hit a tiebreaking two-run double in a five-run eighth and Detroit avoided a four-game sweep with a 5-1 win over Toronto.

- David Ortiz, Red Sox, hit a three-run homer to highlight a nine-run second in Boston's 10-0 win over Texas for a three-game sweep.

- Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers, gave up two hits and run in seven innings, striking out seven in a 3-1 win over the Phillies.

NOT SO BLUE

The Dodgers have reason to feel chipper after a 3-1 win over Philadelphia. The Dodgers hadn't swept a four-game series since accomplishing the feat on the road against Arizona in July 2004, and hadn't done so in Los Angeles since June 1995 against the Giants. They won four straight over the Phillies in July 1962 during the inaugural season at Dodger Stadium.

KOTSAY GOES CYCLING

Mark Kotsay hit a seventh-inning double off Cubs reliever Bob Howry to become the first Braves player to hit for the cycle since 1987. Kotsay drove in a run with a second-inning triple, homered off Ted Lilly in the fourth and added a sixth-inning single off Lilly. The only other Atlanta player to hit for the cycle was Albert Hall on Sept. 23, 1987.

GONE, GONE, GONE AND GONE

Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Juan Uribe hit consecutive homers in the sixth inning Thursday to tie a major league record and the White Sox beat the Royals 9-2. Thome hit a two-out, three-run shot off Joel Peralta. Konerko followed with his 12th homer and Ramirez hit his 11th before Robinson Tejeda came on to pitch. Uribe, homerless in his 107 previous at-bats, greeted him with his fourth of the year.

STREAK OVER

Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler started his career by not allowing a run in 39 consecutive shutout innings - including the eighth Thursday - to tie a 59-year-old major league record for relievers set by Cleveland's Al Benton in 1949. Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton ended Ziegler's run with an RBI double in the ninth.

BACK OFF, MAN

White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch Thursday and has been plunked in his last six games, sending baseball historians scrambling to find a similar streak. Quentin is the only player since 1920 to be hit by a pitch in six straight games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Quentin, who leads the AL with 32 homers, has been plunked a major league-high 20 times this season.

PEAVED

Jake Peavey was, well, peaved when he heard a talk radio show opining that he was avoiding tough pitching matchups against the likes of CC Sabathia. So the reigning Cy Young winner promptly struck out eight and lowered his ERA to an NL-leading 2.61 in the Padres' 3-2 win over Ben Sheets and the Brewers. The win snapped Milwaukee's eight-game winning streak.

GIANT PAIN

Lance Berkman's two-run homer spurred Houston to a 7-4 win over San Francisco, the Astros' eighth consecutive win. Houston has won 16 of 20 after the four-game sweep. Berkman's three RBIs gave him 942 for his career, tying him with Jose Cruz for third on the Astros' career list.

WORTH NOTING

Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the fifth. ... Colorado's Willy Taveras stole his 53rd base, tying Eric Young's single-season franchise record set in 1996. ... The Cubs swept the season series from Atlanta for the first time since the rivalry began in 1876. ... Boston scored 37 runs in its three-game sweep over Texas. The Red Sox had a nine-run inning Thursday and a 10-run inning Tuesday, and led 8-0 Wednesday.

HURT

Tampa Bay closer Troy Percival left the game against Oakland in the ninth inning after spraining his right knee while trying to field a sacrifice bunt. Percival, who leads the Rays with 27 saves, fielded Oakland's Mark Ellis sacrifice attempt and chased Ellis down to record the out near the first-base line. The 38-year-old reliever limped back to the mound as a team trainer rushed out to check on him. Percival wore a thick brace on his right leg and had to use crutches to get around the Rays' clubhouse after the game.

SPEAKING

"I didn't think about the streak until I started walking back on the mound. The first thought that popped in my head was, 'I can't believe that just happened with a runner on first,' but I guess the good thing it wasn't a cheap one. A whole bunch of things fell at once and so that way there's no pressure from this point on.'' - Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler on having his 39-inning shutout streak end. Ziegler had tied the major league single-season record for consecutive scoreless innings by a reliever set by Cleveland's Al Benton in 1949.

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Chicago (74-47) at Florida (63-59)

The red-hot Cubs send ace Carlos Zambrano (12-5, 3.22 ERA) to the hill at Dolphin Stadium to open a three-game series against the Marlins, who will counter with Josh Johnson (3-0, 3.19) in a battle of right-handers.

Chicago dumped Atlanta 11-7 Thursday night on the road to complete a three-game sweep. The Cubs outscored the Braves 29-9 in the series, and they’ve now won eight straight road games. They are also on runs of 13-3 overall and 6-0 with Zambrano starting a series opener.

Florida was shut out by St. Louis on Thursday, losing 3-0, and has dropped five of its last seven games overall. However, the Marlins are 6-0 in Johnson’s six starts this season, and they are 12-2 in the last 14 clashes with the Cubs overall, including 6-0 in the past six meetings in South Beach.

The Cubs had won three straight and five of six behind Zambrano before the right-hander got shelled Saturday against St. Louis. Zambrano allowed nine runs on 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings of a 12-3 home loss. In his six starts prior to that, Zambrano yielded just eight runs in 40 1/3 innings (1.79 ERA).

Florida has been perfect behind Johnson since his July 10 return to the rotation after Tommy John surgery. On Sunday at Shea Stadium, he allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings to notch his third straight winning decision in an 8-2 rout of the Mets.

Zambrano is 6-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 road starts this year, and he’s 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in eight career starts against Florida. Johnson is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two home starts this season, and he’s 0-1 with a bloated 8.53 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against Chicago.

The over for Chicago is on a 4-0 run and has cashed in eight straight road games, and it is also 4-0 in Zambrano’s last four starts and 10-3 in Johnson’s last 13 outings. Furthermore, the over is 17-8 in the last 25 meetings between these two teams and 7-2 in the last nine contests in Miami.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


Milwaukee (70-52) at L.A. Dodgers (62-59)

Southpaw Manny Para (9-5, 4.02 ERA) leads the streaking Brewers into a three-game weekend set against the equally hot Dodgers, who will start right-hander Chad Billingsley (11-9, 3.07).

Milwaukee finally cooled off after eight straight wins, losing 3-2 Thursday to complete a three-game series at San Diego. The Brewers are on runs of 6-1 against the N.L. West and 20-8 on the highway.

Los Angeles completed a four-game sweep of Philadelphia with a 3-1 home win Thursday night. The Dodgers are on surges of 6-2 overall, 11-3 at home (6-0 in their last six) and 7-1 against left-handed starters. In this rivalry, L.A. is 41-20 in the last 61 meetings overall and 20-8 against the Brew Crew in the past 28 battles at Dodger Stadium.

The Brewers had lost three in a row and six of seven behind Parra before earning a 5-4 home win Sunday against Washington. Parra allowed one run on six hits in seven innings, bouncing back from a string of five starts in which he’d allowed 20 earned runs in 31 1/3 innings (5.74 ERA).

The Dodgers have lost two straight behind Billingsley, including a 5-4 loss Sunday at San Francisco in which he allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings en route to his second straight no-decision.

Parra is 4-3 with a 5.00 ERA in 10 road starts this season, and he’s 0-0 with a 1.35 ERA in one career start against Los Angeles – a 6-4 home victory earlier this season. Billingsley is 7-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 13 home appearances (12 starts) this year, and he’s 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in three career appearances (one start) against Milwaukee.

The under is 8-2-2 in the Brewers’ last 12 games overall and 11-1-1 tear in their last 13 road tilts. For Los Angeles, the under is on streaks of 9-4-1 overall, 19-8-1 at Dodger Stadium and 11-5 in Billingsley’s last 16 starts.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. DODGERS and UNDER

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Tampa Bay closer Percival injured
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Tampa Bay closer Troy Percival left Thursday's game against Oakland in the ninth inning after spraining his right knee while trying to field a sacrifice bunt.

Percival, who leads the Rays with 27 saves, entered the game with a 5-4 lead but issued a leadoff walk to Jack Hannahan. Oakland's Mark Ellis then attempted a sacrifice bunt that Percival fielded cleanly. After chasing Ellis down to record the out near the first base line, the 38-year-old reliever limped back to the mound as a team trainer rushed out to check on him.

Percival then walked off the field with trainers and Grant Balfour replaced him. Balfour was unable to hold the lead and gave up a tying RBI single to Frank Thomas.

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Friday's MLB Research
By Indiancowboy

Angels vs. Cleveland

Weaver managed to win his last start despite having a 7.5 era, it was a 10-5 home win over the Yankees, he did help beat Cleveland earlier this year 3-2 at home, he usually doesn't lose back to back games, of course, he comes off a win so he could be in for a let down here considering he faces Lee who should be Cy Young this year with an underperforming Indians team and is still 16-2 and 6-0 at home with a 2.43 era, of course, note that the Angels have won some big games on the road including at Boston and at New York, so they are of great value usually as a dog of this margin, but Lee has been as solid as it comes, and has yet to lose at home, the juice is high and Lee has not faced the Angels this season, likely just staying away.

Toronto vs. Boston

Toronto is on the road at Boston now, they lost 1-5 yesterday to Detroit, Halladay had an odd start last time, he had a 1.35 era against Cleveland at home, I actually went against him and picked up the +230 dog price with Byrd, he gave up 10 hits, but lost just 2-4, he looks to bounce-back today and he likely will do so, he had a 1.04 era against Boston last game as he faced Lester and lost 0-1, he looks to rebound from that to, he faces Byrd who the Red Sox have seem improve a great deal the last couple of games as he is 4-0 of late with eras of 1.60, 0, 1.29 and 2, and he won several games on the road including the Angels, Yankees and the Twins, which is tough to do and shutout Detroit at home, so of course, Boston was interested, if anything a lean on the under here as Byrd shows up in his first game for the fans at Fenway and Halladay looks to avenge his last loss and the last 0-1 loss to Lester, likely a 2-4 ballgame of sorts.

Baltimore vs. Detroit

Chris Waters had a great start in his first go around against the Angels on the road winning 0-3, of course, in his next start he got pummeled by Texas at home losing 7-15, he is on the road now at Detroit, keep in mind though that Robertson desperately needed a good start in his last go around after 5 straight nonquality starts and he finally put up a good one against Oakland, Baltimore loves facing him as they shelled him for 7 runs in less than 3 innings, of course, Robertson dominated them last year with less than a 2.2 era going 2-0, but he has struggled this year, he does have a 4.1 era at home this year, far cry from his overall era of 5.84 this year. I just don't know if he has back to back quality starts in him and the question begs will Waters bounce-back or get shelled, a lean on the over here, but likely just staying away.

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