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Adam Wainwright with the near no-no
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright is more than a year recovered from his Tommy John surgery, and he is back to his pre-TJS form. Wainwright threw 7.1 no-hit innings yesterday, and finished with a complete game, two-hit shutout vs the Rockies. Wainwright walked one and struck out 7, inducing 31 foul balls while throwing 120 pitches. He is now 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and an incredible 55-4 strikeout to walk rate in 58.2 innings this season. He has given up two runs or less in five of his eight starts this season.
One quick note about this game. On Friday night, I did not realize Shelby Miller gave up a leadoff hit and then set down 27 Rockies in a row. Combined with Wainwright's 22 straight batters before the 8th inning single by Nolan Arenado, the two starters set down 49 Rockies in a row. Pretty amazing.
Is Stephen Strasburg an ace?
I was listening to the Nationals-Cubs game on the radio yesterday, catching the 5th inning of the game while driving to my nephews birthday party. Up to that point, Strasburg was dominant, giving up just one hit and striking out 7 in 4 innings of work. He gave up a couple of hard hit balls to the first two batters, one a line drive out to center, and a Luis Valbuena double, but he was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. The next batter, Wellington Castillo, hit a ground ball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and reached on a Zimmerman sixth throwing error. Strasburg then walked the next batter, 8th hole hitter Darwin Barney, and gave up a two run double to pitcher Edwin Jackson. Most ace starters would have got out of that inning after the error, but Strasburg melted down and gave up four unearned runs afterward. Manager Davey Johnson commented after the game saying that "he's too good a pitcher to let adversity behind him let him down."
An ace starting pitcher would have got out of that inning facing the 8th hole hitter, but Strasburg let the error affect hs mental state on the mound. How will he handle giving up a few runs in a playoff game?
One other question: at what point will the Nationals decide to move Zimmerman to first base if he continues to make this many throwing errors?
James Loney hits a mammoth home run
Where did this power come from? The readers over at True Blue LA were commenting that he has changed his stance and looks more crouched at the plate this season, and I totally agree. Loney went 1-4 with the HR and 2 RBI, raising his triple slash line to a surprising .371-.426-.533 with 2 HRs, 15 runs, 19 RBI and an 11-10 K-BB rate in 10 at bats. I hope he does well in Tampa.
In some fantasy rankings coming into the season, Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was ranked behind teammate Matt Cain, and for good reason. But this season, Bumgarner has been the Giants best starter, and I would not argue if you said he was the ace of the Giants staff. It would be a good argument for sure.
Bumgarner dominated the Braves on Saturday, limited them to just one run on four hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts. He is now 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, and a 54-13 K-BB rate in 53.2 innings of work. He has given up two runs or less in seven of his eight starts thus far.
Is it me or is something not right with Mets starter Jonathan Niese. I know he has been known to be inconsistent from start to start, but he had a very solid 2012 campaign, and now this? Yesterday, Niese lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up 8 runs on 8 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout and two home runs allowed. The loss moved his record to 2-4 with a 5.93 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and a 21-22 K-BB rate in 41 innings. His strikeouts per nine has dropped from 7.33 K/9 to 4.61 K/9, and his walks per nine have jumped from 2.32 BB/9 to 4.83 BB/9. There is only one positive to take away from a review from his player page at FanGraphs: his ground ball rate has increased to 55% this season.
Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata took advantage of his start on Saturday, going 4-5 with a home run, a double, 3 runs and 3 RBI. The former outfield prospect has not lived up to his potential, as he hits a ton of ground balls. With Starling Marte in left field, Andrew McCutchen in center and Garret Jones in right field, Tabata is nothing more than a fourth outfielder. He could be a more useful fantasy asset on another team.
Reds outfielder Jay Bruce is a streaky hitter, and he might be in the beginning stages of a hot streak. He went 3-5 with a home run, two doubles, two runs and two RBI yesterday in the Reds 13-7 win over the Brewers. Bruce is now hitting .258-.307-.406 with 3 HRs, 21 runs, 20 RBI and 51 strikeouts in 155 at bats. He has been a disappointment to this point in the season, but is capable of a few double digit home run months, so ride him out.
Without looking, Brewers shortstop Jean Segura has to be one of the top fantasy shortstops thus far in 2013. He went 4-5 with a HR, 3 runs, an RBI and a stolen base in the Brewers 13-7 loss to the Reds. He is now hitting .352-.396-.578 with 6 HRs, 20 runs, 15 RBI and 9 stolen bases, and for me, has been one of the real surprises to the 2013 season.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer is one of the more consistent hitters in the game, and I was wrong for being down on him over the last few years. Mauer went 3-4 with a walk, a double, 3 runs and an RBI in the Twins comeback win over the Orioles yesterday. He is now hitting .333-.409-.485 with 2 HRs, 22 runs and 13 RBI this season. He will never hit 20+ home runs again, but he will hit .300-.320 with 80+ runs and 80+ RBI, and that is very valuable. I just wish I was on him a few years ago.
Back in spring training, there was talk that the Rangers wanted to move Ian Kinsler to first base or outfield to make room for top prospect Jurickson Profar. Kinsler, apparently did not want to move, and is having a great year at the plate as a result. He is hitting .321-.381-.541 with 7 HRs, 21 runs, 20 RBI and 3 stolen bases thus far.
Padres closer Huston Street came on to preserve a one run Padres lead in the ninth inning last night, and proceed to serve up a game winning two-run home run to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. Street blew just his first save of the season, but he has not been right this season either. He is now 0-2 with 8 saves, a 4.91 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, and a 10-5 K-BB rate in 14.2 innings. More importantly, he has already given up five home runs in those 14+ innings. According to FanGraphs PitchFX pitch velocity, Street's 87.8 mph fastball isn't getting by too many hitters right now. I imagine his job is safe for now, but you have to think a few more poor performances like this, and Luke Gregerson will likely see some save chances.
New Red Sox closer Junichi Tazawa entered the ninth inning of a tie game and gave up a game-winning home run to Blue Jays DH Adam Lind. Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey will attempt to throw early this week to see how his bicep injury responds.
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