Posted on: August 28, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2011 9:03 pm
Of all the pitchers who have ever made 90 or more career starts for the Yankees, A.J. Burnett has the worst ERA (4.82).
Of all the pitchers who have ever started 11 or more games in a season for the Yankees, Phil Hughes has the seventh highest ERA (6.46).
Good thing the Yankees don't really need to beat the first-place Red Sox this week, with Hughes and Burnett starting two of the three games.
Oh, they'll tell you that they do. They'll talk about the importance of winning the American League East, and of home-field advantage in the playoffs.
But the real importance of this week, and the real importance of every other week until the playoffs begin, is for the Yankees to figure out which of their shaky starting pitchers they can possibly hope to rely on in October. Boston is a good place to try to start figuring, in part because the Red Sox may be the team the Yankees eventually need to beat, and also because in 12 games against the Red Sox this season (10 of them losses), Yankee starters have a 7.54 ERA.
At the moment, Burnett would seem the least reliable, given his 11.91 ERA and 1.142 opponents OPS (Jose Bautista leads all major-league hitters at 1.092) in August.
In fact, with manager Joe Girardi once again promising that the Yankees will go from a six-man rotation to a five-man rotation after the series in Boston, Burnett is the leading candidate to be dropped.
The Yankees would like to think that Hughes is less of a concern, given that in five straight appearances heading into last week, he had a 2.08 ERA. Then Hughes was awful against the light-hitting A's (2 2/3 innings, six runs), and followed it up with the strange comment, "Hopefully I won't face the A's again for a while."
Instead, his next start is against the Red Sox, who lead the majors in scoring.
Hughes should know that; in three appearances against Boston this year, he has a 16.20 ERA.
Even when Hughes had good numbers, scouts weren't overly impressed.
"He was better," said one scout who watched him in a good performance. "But that's not the same Phil Hughes from when he was really good."
Hughes starts Wednesday night. Burnett, 0-4 with an 8.71 ERA in eight starts for the Yankees against the Red Sox, starts Thursday.
So the Yankees might want to win the first game of the series, behind ace CC Sabathia, on Tuesday.
And that, if nothing else, will make this feel just like a Yankee playoff series.
On to 3 to Watch:
1. The Diamondbacks ended the weekend with a four-game lead in the National League West (their biggest yet), which means they're guaranteed to enter September -- and next weekend's big series in San Francisco -- in first place. First, they'll play three games against the Rockies -- the team that was supposed to be challenging the Giants -- beginning with Rockies at Diamondbacks, Monday night (9:40 ET) at Chase Field. Monday's game also features Alex White, one of the two pitchers the Rockies got in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.
2. At this point, it's probably worth pointing out that Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in his four starts against the Red Sox this year, and also that his 4.95 ERA in August is easily his highest for any month this year. But there's no doubt that the Yankees trust Sabathia about 10 times more than they trust any of their other starters, so they'll expect him to win, in Yankees at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Sabathia faces the unreliable John Lackey, with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester going against Hughes and Burnett the next two nights.
3. The Yankees talk about home-field advantage, and it's true that they're 41-26 at Yankee Stadium this year. But that's nothing compared to the Brewers, who have a 50-16 home record, with 17 wins in their last 19 games. That record has helped the Brewers turn the National League Central into a runaway, and has greatly diminished the importance of this week's series against second-place St. Louis. The Brewer record for home wins in a season is 54, and they could get close in the series that ends with Cardinals at Brewers, Thursday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Miller Park. Yovani Gallardo, who is 9-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 home starts, will be on the mound for the Brewers. One more thing about the Brewers: Despite playing in the smallest market in the majors, they'll sell their 3 miilionth ticket sometime this week.
Posted on: July 2, 2010 10:28 am
The folks at Cool Standings put the numbers in their computer and gave the Brewers a 4.1 percent chance of making the playoffs this year. The computers at Baseball Prospectus said no, that's not true; by their reckoning, it's actually a 2.4 percent chance.
Sometime soon, very soon, the computers -- and the humans -- at Miller Park will need to decide whether they believe those numbers. They'll need to decide whether the Brewers have any realistic chance to get back into the race, and what it means if they don't.
And if not, they need to decide whether this month is the time to trade Prince Fielder.
Two things seem clear about Fielder and the Brewers: First, that the team has very little chance of signing him long-term (probably less than 4.1 or 2.4 percent), which means he's headed for free agency after the 2011 season. Second, that while trading Fielder might be the best long-term decision, it's unlikely (less than 4.1 or 2.4 percent) to make the Brewers better this year.
So that brings us to the Brewers series this weekend in St. Louis, which might just have greater impact than any early-July series should. Brewers decision-makers are scheduled to meet next week in Milwaukee, and a few wins (or a few losses) in the Cardinals series could easily influence their thoughts.
Yes, it's true, the Reds are actually in first place in the National League Central. But the Cardinals remain the division powerhouse (Cool Standings and Baseball Prospectus both still give them the best chance at winning the Central, and so do we).
The Brewers are still seven games back of the Cardinals, even after Thursday's 4-1 win in the series opener. But they don't need to catch them this weekend. They do need to give their front office and ulta-competitive owner a sense that this season can still be saved.
Fielder seems to be doing his part, with nine home runs in the last 19 games (including one Thursday night).
It may be that the Brewers don't trade Fielder even if they're out of it. General manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week that he believes the winter is a better time to trade a position player. The Brewers, who have drawn big crowds ever since their 2008 trip to the playoffs, can't afford to be seen by their fans as giving up too early on 2010 (and perhaps on 2011, as well).
Still, a few wins (or a few losses) now could tip the balance. Especially this weekend.
On to 3 to watch:
1. After Stephen Strasburg lost to the Braves on Monday night, winning pitcher Tim Hudson said that opposing hitters and pitchers naturally gear up for games against the phenom. "Everybody he pitches against is going to come up with their best at-bats, and every pitcher is going to try to throw a shutout," Hudson said. So what should we expect from R.A. Dickey, in Mets at Nationals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 EDT) at Nationals Park ?
2. The Mariners, like the Brewers, keep wondering whether they have any chance to get back in the race (Cool Standings says 0.2 percent for them). But Cliff Lee, unlike Fielder, is going to be a free agent at the end of this year. But where, and when? Perhaps we'll know more after Lee's next scheduled start, in Mariners at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Comerica Park .
3. One reason the Brewers might have a chance is that their starting rotation is miles better than what it was last year. The starters have a combined 3.73 ERA since May 25, and they've been even better (3.07 ERA) over the last 16 games. And 24-year-old Yovani Gallardo (8-1, 2.04 ERA since the middle of April) is emerging as the ace they always believed he could be. Gallardo gets a big assignment, in Brewers at Cardinals, Sunday afternoon (2:15 EDT) at Busch Stadium , with Adam Wainwright starting for St. Louis.
Posted on: April 9, 2010 1:52 pm
It's Opening Day in Detroit (and yes, in that city, it deserves upper-case). It's opening night in Miami (no upper-case there).
It's the first weekend of the baseball season (but please also watch the Masters on CBS).
And here's the season's first edition of 3 to watch:
1. All over, there are great matchups of opening day starters. Colleague Scott Miller is excited about Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke, Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. That's a good one, but I'm going with Chris Carpenter vs. Yovani Gallardo, Cardinals at Brewers, Saturday afternoon (3:10 EDT) at Miller Park . Why? Simple. Of all the games I saw last year, the best-pitched game was Carpenter vs. Gallardo, on Memorial Day at Miller Park. Gallardo carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Carpenter carried a perfect game into the seventh. It was scoreless into the 10th, when Bill Hall won it with a two-out single off Kyle McClellan.
2. The Mets began the season with Alex Cora in the leadoff spot, and Mike Jacobs in the cleanup spot. So yes, you could say that they miss Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Reyes hasn't played a game that counts since last May 20, but he's scheduled to return this weekend, and that makes Nationals at Mets, Saturday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Citi Field worth watching. In fact, if Reyes proves to be anything like the guy who led the National League in triples three times in four years, he'll actually make the Mets worth watching. And that's quite a task.
3. Stephen Strasburg pitches Sunday for Double-A Harrisburg (at Altoona, Pa.). Aroldis Chapman pitches Sunday for Triple-A Louisville (in Toledo, Ohio). And Mike Leake, who got nowhere near the money and nowhere near the hype, debuts in Cubs at Reds, Sunday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Great American Ballpark . Leake, who won the Reds' fifth-starter job in spring training, will be the first college pitcher to jump to the big leagues without stopping in the minors since Darren Dreifort in 1993. Like Strasburg, he grew up in the San Diego area (though they never faced each other in high school). He went on to Arizona State. He was the eighth pick overall (seven picks behind Strasburg), and signed for $2.27 million ($12.83 million behind Strasburg). Now he makes it to the big leagues, ahead of Strasburg.
Posted on: February 17, 2009 6:21 pm
PHOENIX -- When it comes to his weight, Prince Fielder won't talk numbers.
"I don't like scales," Fielder said this morning in Brewers camp.
That's fine. The actual numbers don't matter. The big thing is that Fielder knows he allowed himself to get too heavy last season ("Yeah, clearly"), and that he looks considerably better this spring.
Not only that, but with the Brewers' encouragement, Fielder now agrees that his weight is an issue he needs to take more care of.
"Unfortunately, I can get huge," he said.
Fielder said he's still a vegetarian, but that he ate better over the winter. He said he likes where his weight is now (whatever that is), and that he wants to keep it the same through the season.
"That's the key, just staying on it," he said. "The Brewers want to make sure I'm healthy. They're making an investment in me. They have a right to be interested in it."
Fielder signed a two-year, $18 million contract in late January.
Also today in Brewers camp, manager Ken Macha announced who his opening day starter wouldn't be.
Yes, you read that right. Macha didn't announce who will start for Milwaukee on opening day. But he announced that Yovani Gallardo almost certainly won't get that start.
Macha said he doesn't want to put extra pressure on Gallardo, who won't turn 23 for another 10 days, and has only 134 1/3 career innings.
"I'd much rather have this guy go out and start in the middle, maybe No. 2," Macha said. "I don't want him going out there thinking he has to throw a shutout every game, facing (Tim) Lincecum, (Jake) Peavy, (Carlos) Zambrano."