World Cup Previews
Our soccer writers, Brian Stultz and Will Jordan, are offering their thoughts on each of the groups for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, and you can find their analysis below:
I am still adjusting to my new schedule now that I am working a full time job again, so bear with me with the timing of the Roundups. I got home last night around 8:45 after visiting my mother, ate dinner and couldn't keep my eyes open to watch the Dodgers or Rangers-Kings game. I did wake up to watch some of the first overtime of the Rangers-Kings game, but went to bed before the second overtime.
Gregory Polanco collect five hits, game winning home run
Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco showed us, Pirates fans, and more importantly, the Pirates front office, that he has been ready for the big league for quite awhile. Last night, he went 5-7 with a game winning home run, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Pirates 8-6 win over the Marlins in 13 innings. He did something last night that has been done just two other times in the last 100 years:
A 5-hit game within first 4 career games: GREGORY POLANCO, 2014 Cecil Travis, 1933 Red Massey 1918 Nobody else in the last 100 years..!— High Heat Stats MLB (@HighHeatStats) June 14, 2014
Pretty amazing for the Pirates young outfielder. Polanco led off for the second time last night and reached base five times. He has yet to steal a base, but I imagine he will end the season with more stolen bases than home runs this season.
For more on Polanco, check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pirates fan site.
Blue Jays young starter Drew Hutchison bounced back after his worst start of the season to shut out the Orioles for seven innings last night. In his last start, Hutchison gave up 5 runs on 6 hits in 3 innings in a loss to the Cardinals, but last night he was dominant, limiting the Orioles to 6 hits, no walks and 3 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Blue Jays 4-0 win. Hutchison is now 5-4 on the season with a 3.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 70-23 strikeout to walk rate in 82 innings. He has given up one run or less in four of his last six starts,but he gave up five runs in each of the other two starts.
Coming into the season, the Dodgers had four outfielders for three spots, and some felt that the playing time would somehow work itself out. Well, there hasn't been many injuries in their outfield, as expected, so manager Don Mattingly has had to juggle the four outfielders in and out of the lineup most of the season. His decision to move Matt Kemp off center field for good has created more of a mess, in my opinion. It has certainly helped that Carl Crawford is on the disabled list at the present time, but when he returns, Kemp and Crawford will battle it out for playing time in left field.
Last night, Kemp went 2-4 with a home run and two RBI in the Dodgers 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks. Kemp has struggled at the plate at times this season, but he has begin to hit of late. He has hits in six of his last eight games, with multiple hits on four of those games, but he is not hitting for power. He is hitting .259-.325-.439 with 6 home runs, 30 runs scored, 21 RBI and 5 stolen bases thus far and is on pace for just 14 home runs and 12 stolen bases, a far cry from the guy who was a home run shy of a 40-40 season three years ago.
Here is another example of a pitcher I shied away from in Friday's Streamer Report because he was pitching on the road against an excellent Tigers lineup, but Twins starter Kyle Gibson proved me wrong last night. Gibson shut out the Tigers on 5 hits, 2 walks, and only 3 strikeouts, but he did induce 15 ground ball outs. Gibson is the boom or bust type of pitcher this season, as he either pitches great, usually at home, or gives up anywhere from 4-7 runs. Pitchers like Gibson are tough to own, but I would certainly not hesitate to grab him when he is pitching at home, as he is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA in six home starts this season.
Heading into his start on the road vs the Athletics, fantasy owners were smart to stay away from Yankees young starter David Phelps, as he was facing one of the better hitting teams in baseball. Well, Phelps did the unthinkable as he shut out the A's on 2 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts over 6.2 innings last night in the Yankees 7-0. Phelps out-dueled A's ace Sonny Gray to win his second game of the season, improving his record to 2-4 with a 4.32 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 50-25 strikeout to walk rate in 58.1 innings.
Speaking of pitching duels, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn out-pitched Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann in a game that saw just one run scored and five hits between the two teams. Lynn shut out the Nationals on 2 hits, no walks and 8 strikeouts in 8 innings in the Cardinals 1-0 win. Lynn moved his record to 7-4 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and a 77-31 strikeout to walk rate in 85.1 innings this season. Lynn has been pretty consistent this season, giving up two runs or less in 9 of his 14 starts. It remains to be seen whether he can stay away from his usual second half slump.
I wrote about Orioles young starter Kevin Gausman a few days ago, but he is still available in 98% of leagues right now, mainly due to uncertainty around whether he will be sent to AAA when Miguel Gonzalez returns from the disabled list. It is possible Gausman is sent to the bullpen for a bit, but he has shown us in his last two starts that he can be dominant as a starter.
ESPN's Buster Olney wrote about how important Gausman is to the Orioles chances in the AL East this morning, and here are a few quotes from his piece:
One evaluator who witnessed the outing says he kept coming back to one name: Justin Verlander.
"Because of the power," the evaluator said. "He's got a special arm."
After Gausman's start against the Athletics, Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss told MASN, "That guy, I got to home plate in my first at bat and I looked at (Nick) Hundley and I said, 'How can that guy be in Triple-A?' From what I understand he's had some command issues but the way he pitched, that was the best stuff we've seen all year.
That is some tremendous praise for the young starter, especially the Verlander comp. Let's hope it is the Verlander from a few seasons ago and not the 2014 Verlander.
Braves outfielder Jason Heyward left Friday night's game after being hit on the hand by a pitch from Angels starter C.J. Wilson in the first inning. X-rays were negative but he undergo further evaluation today. Let's hope he doesn't need a DL stint.
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