We have spent so much of this season talking about how great the pitching has been across the league. Well, unfortunately for a few of them, yesterday wasn't the day they were hoping for.
In Denver, Ubaldo Jimenez had what was easily his worst start of the season to this point, giving up 6 earned runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision. He did still strike out 7 in that time, but it seemed like he was not getting nearly the swing-and-misses that he has been getting in his other starts so far this year.
The Rockies offense did manage to bail him out though, as they touched up Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon for 3 earned on 2 homeruns in the 9th. Papelbon has clearly been looking a lot more vulnerable this season, as he has posted a 3.64 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP so far. I don't think he really has any shot of losing his job, but I'm wondering if there is something else that is wrong with Jonathan.
My thoughts about Cliff Lee, Stephen Strasburg, and some other NL pitchers after the jump...
Cliff Lee threw another complete game, allowing only 1 earned run and striking out 9 batters. Clearly, the Mariners are getting everything they had hoped for out of their offseason acquisition, but the question at this point is how much longer will he remain in Seattle?
Stephen Strasburg was a tough-luck loser last night, as he allowed only 1 earned run over 6 innings. But the Nationals' offense wasted his 9 strikeout performance by not being able to score any runs off of Brian Bannister and the Royals' bullpen yesterday. Strasburg did throw 95 pitches in this start, so I'm guessing he could be pushed to 100 pitches in one of his next starts. He draws the Braves for his next start, and the game is on ESPN on Monday.
R.A. Dickey won his 6th consecutive start for the Mets yesterday. I watched most of this game, and something interesting they mentioned about Dickey was the fact that he throws his knuckleball with more velocity than most other knuckleballers. He also throws a 2-seam in the low 80s (so says Rick Sutcliffe anyway), and I'm wondering if this success he has seen could be sustained throughout the season.
John Axford recorded his 6th save of the season for the Brewers yesterday, and threw another 22 pitches today to get through his inning of work. Ray wrote yesterday about the fact that Trevor Hoffman could return to the closer's role soon, and for him I hope he does. This is clearly not how anyone wanted to see him finish off his career, and he needs to get back in that role to finish up the season.
Aaron Heilman was in line for a save in yesterday's game against the Yankees, but coughed up the 1 run lead he was handed despite not allowing a hit. He walked 3, and gave up a sac fly to Alex Rodriguez. It appears that he is being given the opportunity to be the closer (at least for the moment), but if he keeps putting up efforts like that, it won't be for long. I'd look elsewhere unless you are really desperate for saves.