New York Yankees (Sabathia 6-8, 3.95) at New York Mets (Verrett 3-6, 4.12) 7:10pm ET on ESPN
It’s the dawn of a new era for the New York Yankees, one in which the Bronx Bombers were sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline. The Yankees over the past week traded away two-thirds of their vaunted bullpen Cerberus, sending Aroldis Chapman to the NL Central-leading Cubs and Andrew Miller to the AL Central-leading Indians. Having raised the white flag on 2016, the Yankees appear to be on their way to missing the postseason for the fourth time in five years, and could be headed for their first sub-.500 season since the days of Melido Perez, Danny Tartabull, and Mel Hall. Hats off... Read More
St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez 10-6, 2.87) vs. Miami Marlins (Koehler 8-8, 4.18) 1:10pm ET on TBS Despite Adam Wainwright’s claim, based on seniority and body of work, to the mantle of staff ace, Carlos Martinez has emerged as the Cardinals’ best starter. He leads the rotation in ERA, wins, and WHIP, has twice as many WAR (3.6) as any other member of the staff, and he’s on a hot streak, with a 1.76 ERA over his last 10 starts. His most recent start was a bit of dud, as he lasted just 5 innings, and gave up 5 hits and 4 walks, but managed to hold the Mets to a pair runs on the way to a 3-2 win.
Washington Nationals (Ross 7-4, 3.49) vs. San Francisco Giants (Peavy 5-9, 5.42) 4:05pm ET on FS1 Joe Ross went on the DL on July 3 with shoulder inflammation, after suffering through a pair of rough outings that saw his ERA balloon from 3.11 to 3.49, as he gave up 8 runs on 20 hits and a walk over 11 ⅓ innings. In his final start before going on the DL, the velocity on his sinker had fallen from a season high of 93.4 to 91.8, reported MASN. In a single-A rehab stint on the 24th, he pitched 3 scoreless innings, striking out 3. The Yankees were reportedly interested in picking him in a trade for Aroldis Chapman, but that ain’t happening, as... Read More
Thursday in Major League Baseball, John Lackey pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball, and Dexter Fowler doubled and scored twice to lead the Cubs over the White Sox 3-1; the Red Sox’ first baseman Hanley Ramirez’s throwing error in the bottom of the 9th allowed two runners to scamper home with a 2-1 walk-off win for the Angels; Trevor Roark went 7, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks to give the Nationals a 4-2 victory over the Giants; after going nearly a year without blowing a save, Jeurys Familia imploded for the second night in a row, surrendering the winning run on a wild pitch in the 9th as the Rockies beat the Mets 2-1; Hernan Perez’s 2-run... Read More
Yesterday in Major League Baseball, Stephen Strasburg spun a gem, holding the Indians scoreless for 7 innings, en route to a 4-1 Nationals win; a total of 9 Fish scored at least 1 run, including starter Adam Conley, as the Marlins bested the Phillies 11-1; Brett Wallace, homered, scored twice, and drove in a pair to power the Padres’ 8-4 victory over the Blue Jays; Miguel Cabrera’s towering shot in the 9th came down on top of the short right field wall in Fenway and bounced into the bullpen for a tie-breaking homer to give the Tigers a 4-3 win against the Red Sox; Evan Longoria did the heavy lifting in the Rays’ 3-1 defeat of the Dodgers, going 3-for-4 with a... Read More
White Sox (Ranaudo 1-0, 17.18) at Chicago Cubs (Hammel 9-5, 3.35) 8pm ET on ESPN
In his last game, while still with the Rangers, on May 10, Anthony Ranaudo joined an exclusive group of pitchers – including Sandy Koufax, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, Mitch Williams and Dontrelle Willis – by becoming just the 9th man in MLB history to give up 5 earned runs on 5+ walks and 0 hits. The appearance started well enough, as he came in to face the White Sox with men on second and third, just 1 out and 4 runs already across the dish, as he promptly retired the next two batters to stop the bleeding. In the 4th, however, he went flyout, walk, walk, flyout,... Read More
Detroit Tigers (Verlander 9-6, 3.74) at Boston Red Sox (Pomeranz 8-7, 2.83) 7pm ET on ESPN
At 33, it’s unlikely Justin Verlander will ever contend for a Cy Young Award or win 20 games, again, but he is, once again, one of the better pitchers in the game, engaged to Kate Upton, and making $28 million this season. He’s been brilliant over his last four starts, going 27 2/3 with a 1.63 ERA, but the Tigers could only parlay that into two wins. The Tigers lost a tough one on Sunday, scoring 3 in the top of the 9th to tie it, only to lose on a Melky Cabrera walkoff single in the bottom half of the inning to fall to 51-48,... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Hendricks 9-6, 2.27) at Chicago White Sox (Shields 4-12, 4.99) 7pm ET on ESPN
Kyle Hendricks' Cinderella season just keeps on rolling. In his last four appearances (3 starts and once in relief), Hendricks has allowed just 1 run, and it was unearned despite 13 strikeouts. Hendricks has benefited from a .254 batting average on balls in play this season, part of a larger trend that most Cubs pitchers are enjoying, as the team as a whole is at .259, which would be the lowest such figure in more than 40 years.
James Shields appears to be pulling out of his nosedive. A so-so tenure in San Diego ended with a bang as he... Read More
San Francisco Giants (Cueto 13-2, 2.64) vs. New York Yankees (Eovaldi 8-6, 4.93) 1:05pm ET on TBS and YES Johnny Cueto’s 3-month sojourn to the American League netted him a World Series ring, but little else, as he spent most of his time with the Royals trying to find the strike zone, while simultaneously jeopardizing his value on the free agency market. But now, safely back in the NL, Cueto is pitching as well as ever, leading the league in wins, complete games, innings pitched, and in the top 10 in WAR, WHIP, strikeouts and shutouts, as his K rate has returned to his pre-KC levels and his homers are at a career low. Cueto took the loss as the starting... Read More
San Francisco Giants (Samardzija 9-5, 4.05) vs. New York Yankees (Nova 7-5, 4.92) 4:15pm ET on FS1 & YES Following a complete game 5-1 victory over the Rays on June 17, Jeff Samardzija was looking like the steal of the 2015-16 free agent season. But since running his record to 8-4 with a 3.14 ERA, the Shark has lost his bite, throwing 27 ⅓ innings over 5 starts with a 7.16 ERA, a stretch during which he’s struck out just 19 while walking 11, and given up 7 homers. What happened? His four-seamer has been steadily drifting down into the heart of the strike zone, according to the McCovey Chronicles. If the diagnosis is correct, the young man may need some rest,... Read More
Monday, July 25: Soccer on ESPN2: Manchester United travels halfway around the world to Beijing to play Manchester City as part of the International Champions Cup. (8am ET Monday, ESPN2) MLB on ESPN: Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers head to Fenway Park to face David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox. (7pm ET Monday, ESPN)
Tuesday, July 26: MLB on ESPN: Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs head across town to meet Adam Eaton and the Chicago White Sox. (7pm ET Tuesday, ESPN)
Wednesday, July 27: Soccer on ESPN2: Paris SG plays Real Madrid, followed by AC Milan vs. Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup. (7:30pm & 9:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN2)
While the GOP was wrapping up its convention, Justin Turner had a pair of homers and 5 RBI in the Dodgers’ 6-3 win over the Nationals; the Orioles defeated the Yankees 4-1 behind Chris Tillman’s 7 innings of 1-run ball, during which he fanned 7; Ichiro Suzuki is now just four hits shy of 3,000 after hitting a pair of singles in the Marlins’ 9-3 victory over the Phillies; Matt Joyce homered and had 4 RBI to power the Pirates past the Brewers 5-3; Dustin “Laser Show” Pedroia had 5 of Boston’s 17 hits in their 13-2 beatdown of the Twins; the Cardinals scored 4 in the 8th to tie the Padres, and then Aledmys Diaz gave St. Louis a 6-5 walk-off win... Read More
Yesterday in Major League Baseball, Anthony DeSclafani held the Braves to 2 runs on 8 hits over 8 innings as the Red won 6-3; Max Kepler’s solo shot in the 9th broke a 1-1 tie, and Eddie Rosario’s 2-run homer put the game out of reach in the Twins 4-1 victory over the Tigers, who wasted a great start by Justin Verlander; The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo hit 2 home runs, and Kyle Hendricks pitched 6 ⅓ shutout innings to lead the Cubs past the Mets 6-2; the Indians erupted for 3 homers and 7 runs in the 5th en route to an 11-4 beatdown of the Royals; the Cardinals swept the Padres in a day-night doubleheader, winning 4-2 behind Carlos Martinez’s 7-inning, 2-run... Read More
New York Mets (Syndergaard 9-4, 2.56) at Chicago Cubs (Arrieta 12-4, 2.68) 7pm ET on ESPN
The increased workload finally caught up with All Star sophomore Noah Syndergaard, as the Norse God of Strikeouts pulled himself, citing fatigue, from his last start after going just 4 2/3 innings, having given up 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. His fastball that day was more than 3 MPH off his season high from May 31. Even worse than that start was his showing against the Nats two weeks earlier when he got tagged for 5 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings. He used the All Star break to get some rest, finally throwing long toss on... Read More
New York Mets (Matz 7-5, 3.38) at Chicago Cubs (Lester 9-4, 3.01) 7pm ET on ESPN
Steven Matz has fallen on mediocre times since winning seven consecutive starts earlier in the year, going 0-4 with a 4.47 ERA over 8 starts since May 31. In the first part of the season, he allowed just 3 home runs, issued 9 walks and a had a BABIP of .291 in 49 ⅔ innings, but then served up 7 home runs, 14 walks and a .343 BABIP in 46 ⅓ – it’s been a total system failure. Since hitting bottom on June 24 against Atlanta (4 ⅓ IP, 9 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 0 SO), he’s been leaning more heavily on his curve... Read More
On Monday, Giancarlo Stanton laid waste to the competition at the Home Run Derby, needing just 13 ½ minutes to launch 61 bombs that traveled approximately 27,187 feet. Before this year, only twice had someone hit 20 or more home runs in a single round of the Derby, Stanton did twice in a night, hitting 24 in the first, 17 in the second, and 20 in the third – nobody else hit more than 16 in any round. Stanton hit more home runs on Monday than Yoenis Cespedes hit in winning back-to-back derbies in 2014 and 2015. All of this is to say that Stanton hit a lot of home runs.
American League (Sale 14-3, 3.38) vs. National League (Cueto 13-1, 2.47) 8M ET on FOX
If there’s a theme to the 2016 All Star Game, it’s Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cubs general manager who acquired 9 of the 17 players named as starters, including the entire Cubs infield, two-thirds of the Red Sox outfield, and guys ranging in age from 22 to 40. In all, seven Cubbies made the NL team, and 6 from Boston will represent the AL, the most in each league.
Another theme, one all too common in baseball, is pitchers who are injured or in need of rest. Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Danny Salazar, Noah Syndergaard, Marco Estrada, Wade Davis and Craig Kimbrel are all... Read More
Last year, Todd Frazier, then of the Cincinnati Reds, became just the second player to win the Home Run Derby in his home park, besting Joc Pederson in the final round 15-14. This year Frazier is with the White Sox, but he’s eager to defend his title, against a field seeded by their number of home runs (all stats through June 7):
Trumbo has 9 more homers than Seager in the 4 fewer at bats – No sane person would trade Seager for two Trumbos if they were trying to win a World Series, but a Home Run Derby, Trumbo has to be the favorite.
Washington Nationals (Gonzalez 4-8, 4.79) New York Mets (Matz 7-4, 3.34) 1:10PM ET on TBS
Gio Gonzalez was about as good as anyone at the start of the year, posting a 1.42 ERA over four starts in April, with a WHIP below 1 and a SO/BB north of 3. In May, however, he had an ERA of 5.23, and June was even worse, 6.95. The steep climb in ERA has been driven largely by a steep climb in his BABIP, which has gone from .254 in April to .327 in May to .419 in June. His last start, Tuesday against the Brewers was marginally better, as he went 6, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, while K’ing 4.
New York Yankees (Sabathia 5-6, 3.48) at Cleveland Indians (Salazar 10-3, 2.36) 4:10pm ET on FS1 & SportsTime Ohio
CC Sabathia took a long road back from ineffective pitching, weight loss, bad knees and alcohol abuse to work his way back into the Yankees’ rotation, and for more than two months, he was the CC of old. After pitching 6 innings of 1-run ball against the Twins on June 16, Sabathia was 5-4 with a 2.20 ERA, thanks largely to having allowed just 2 home runs in 65 ⅓ innings. Since then, however, in three starts against the Rockies, Rangers, and White Sox, he’s gone 17 and a third, given up 23 hits – including 4 home runs – and posted an... Read More
Yesterday in baseball, Hector Santiago fanned 9 over 7 scoreless innings as the Angels topped the Rays 5-1; Adam Wainwright pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball, fanning 9, and Stephen Piscotty launched a 3-run shot to lead the Cardinals past the Pirates 5-1; Troy Tulowitzki’s 2-run single in the 8th were the final blow in the Blue Jays 5-4 win over the Tigers; Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley went a combined 4-for-7 and drove in or scored all the Yankees’ runs in their 5-4 defeat of the Indians; the Mets outslugged the Nationals 9-7 in a game that saw 8 balls leave the yard; the Twins took their frustrations out on the Rangers 10-1, behind Tyler Duffey’s 6 scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts,... Read More
Yesterday in baseball, Nick Castellanos was a triple short of the cycle, drove in 5 runs and scored a pair to lead the Tigers to an 11-2 pounding of the Indians; Freddie Galvis’ 2-run homer in the 8th was the decisive blow in the Phillies 4-3 victory over the Braves; Ervin Santana pitched a 2-hit shutout, striking out 8 and walking none as the Twins beat the A’s 4-0; Wilmer Flores hit a pair of solo homers in the Mets’ 4-2 win over the Marlins; Tucker Barnhart’s 3-run homer put the Reds up for good in their 5-3 defeat of the Cubs; Jonathan Schoop hit a 2-run double in the 12th to give the Orioles a 6-4 win over the Dodgers; Bryce Harper’s... Read More
Texas Rangers (Perez 7-4, 3.39) at Boston Red Sox (Wright 9-5, 2.42) 7pm ET on ESPN
Martin Perez has been extremely lucky thus far in 2016, managing to post an ERA of just 3.39, despite walking 3.8/9 IP versus just 4.4 SO/9 IP. Perez’s Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP), a calculation of how many runs you should be giving up based on your home runs, walks, HBP, and strikeouts, is 4.76. What’s his secret? Well it starts with inducing a Major League-leading 21 double plays, which will go a long way toward killing rallies and preventing runs. His previous high for DPs was just 13, and that was in 20 2/3 more innings. Case in point, in his last start, Friday against the Twins, he... Read More
Pittsburgh Pirates (Brault NA) at St. Louis Cardinals (Leake 5-6, 4.13) 8pm ET on ESPN
An already tough Pirates season took another big blow when promising starter Jameson Taillon was scratched from this game and put on the DL with a sore shoulder. In his place will be Steven Brault, a 24-year-old lefty who’ll be making his Major League debut. In 35 innings Brault has giving up 13 runs on 35 hits and 15 walks, while striking out 44, with a 2.57 ERA.
Mike Leake’s first six starts no doubt had Cardinals fans wondering why on Earth John Lackey was allowed to leave town. Through May 4, Leake was 0-3 with a 6.03 ERA. Mercifully he’s been much better since then, pitching... Read More
Colorado Rockies (Anderson 0-2, 2.66) at San Francisco Giants (Peavy 4-7, 5.33) 4pm ET on ESPN
Tyler Anderson made his big league debut on June 12 against the Padres, and in each of his four starts he has pitched at least 5 ⅔ innings (23 ⅔ total), surrendered a total of one homer, and struck out 24 while walking only 5. But in his first two starts, the offense failed him, scoring just 2 runs total, and in the other two games, the bullpen coughed up 10 runs. In his last start, Wednesday against the Blue Jays, he gave up 3 runs on 8 hits and 2 walk in 6 innings, while striking out 6, en route to a 5-3 loss.
Miami Marlins (Conley 4-5, 3.90) at Atlanta Braves (Wisler 3-7, 4.14) 8pm ET on ESPN
Adam Conley scuffled a bit coming out of the gate in 2016, compiling a 5.16 ERA over 19 ⅓ innings in his first 4 starts, his first start being cut short at 1 inning due to a rain delay. But on April 29, he had a no hitter through 7 and two-thirds, before giving way to the bullpen in a 6-3 win over the Brewers. That day kicked off an 11-start run in which he pitched 64 innings with 3.09 ERA, though his last start was a hot mess as he gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks despite striking out 9 in 4 and a third against Detroit.
Cincinnati Reds (Straily 4-5, 4.38) at Washington Nationals (Ross 7-4, 3.30) or Los Angeles Angels (Santiago 4-4, 5.27) at Boston Red Sox (Buchholz 3-8, 5.90) or Chicago Cubs (Arrieta 12-2, 2.10) at New York Mets (Colon 6-4, 2.86) 7:15pm ET on FOX
New York Yankees (Nova 5-5, 5.32) at San Diego Padres (Pomeranz 7-7, 2.76) 10:10pm ET on FS1
Ivan Nova has yet to recapture the magic of his rookie season of 2011, when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA. In the years since, he’s dealt with inflammation in his rotator cuff and triceps, as well as a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. Nova started 2016 in the bullpen, where he compiled a 5.14 ERA in 14 innings. Since moving to the rotation on May 9, he’s... Read More
Yesterday in baseball, the Yankees walked off on the Rangers for the second game in a row, this time with Chase Headley scampering home on a passed ball for a 2-1 victory; Avisail Garcia scored twice and drove in a run in the White Sox’ 6-5 win over the Twins; Kenta Maeda pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball, giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks, while fanning 6 to lead the Dodgers past the Brewers 8-1; Danny Espinosa hit a grand slam and a 3-run homer as the Nationals pounded the Reds 13-4; Carlos Carrasco led the Indians to their 13th win a row by striking 14 in 7 and a third, while surrendering just 1 run on 3 hits; the Mets rallied for 3 in the 7th, scoring... Read More
Last night in baseball, Matt Moore of the Rays handcuffed the Red Sox for 7 shutout innings, as he surrendered just 3 hits and 2 walks en route to a 4-0 win; Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr. all homered to power the Cubs past the Reds 9-2; Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-5 with 2 runs and 3 RBI to lead the Tigers past the Marlins 10-3; Aaron Sanchez allowed just 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks over 8 innings in the Blue Jays 5-3 defeat of the Rockies; Jose Altuve went 4-for-5 with a double, triple, 4 runs, and an RBI as the Astros overcame the Angels 10-4; the Orioles doubled up the Padres 12-6 as Manny Machado singled and doubled, scored twice and drove in... Read More
New York Mets (Verrett 3-4, 4.14) at Washington Nationals (Scherzer 8-5, 3.52) 7pm ET on ESPN2 Pity the poor spot starter for one of the very best rotations in baseball… Logan Verrett made a pair of starts in April, filling in for Jacob deGrom, and did great, pitching 12 innings of shutout ball while giving up just 9 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 10. It would be two weeks before he got another start, and it was a disaster, as the Rockies got to him for 7 runs on 10 hits and 3 walks in just 2 ⅔ innings, and his next start, on June 11 against the Brewers was only marginally better, as he posted 4 IP, 4 H, 5... Read More
Last night in baseball, the Cubs’ Kris Bryant became the first player in in at least a century to hit 3 homers and 2 doubles in a game, as he went 5-for-5 with 4 runs and 6 RBI – and he played 3B, RF and LF – to beat the Reds 11-8; the Dodgers climbed out of a 4-0 hole to defeat the Pirates 5-4, as Yasiel Puig drove in a pair and scored the go-ahead run in the 5th; Ben Revere went 4-for-5 with 3 runs and an RBI to lead the Nationals past the Mets and Noah Syndergaard by a score of 11-4; the 3-4-5 hitters for the Indians – Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli and Lonnie Chisenhall – went a combined 7-for-16 with 5 runs and 4 RBI... Read More
Houston Astros (McHugh 5-5, 4.70) at Los Angeles Angels (Shoemaker 3-8, 4.43) 10pm ET on ESPN & FOX Sports West
Collin McHugh has made a fairly nice recovery from his disastrous Opening Day start, when he faced seven Yankees, retiring just one of them, while giving up 6 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks and a catcher’s interference, culminating in a 135.00 ERA. Since then, he’s pitched 84 innings over 14 starts with a 4.18 ERA, and 4.16 SO/BB, and though his record is just 5-5, the Astros have been 9-6 in his starts. Considering that his BABIP is up 46 points over his career norm, he has in reality been about as good as in years past, when he finished 4th in... Read More
San Diego Padres (Pomeranz 6-7, 3.00) at Cincinnati Reds (Finnegan 3-5, 3.81) 4:10pm ET on FS1
After three seasons as a long reliever/spot starter, Drew Pomeranz is back to starting full time and making the most of it. His strikeout rate has jumped from 8.6/9IP last year to 10.7, and his hits have fallen from 7.4 to 6.3, enough to offset the spike in walks from 3.2 to 4.2. Stir in a 23-point drop in his BABIP, and you’ve got a man who’s enjoying himself, despite run support .7 below the league average. The party may be wrapping up, however, as over his last three starts, Pomeranza has posted 16 IP, 20 H, 11 R, 7 BB, 19 SO, 4 HR.
Last night in baseball, Marcus Semien’s 3-run homer in the 2nd inning off Tim Lincecum was the big blow in the A’s 5-4 win over the Angels; Joe Panik hit a bases-loaded triple, and Mac Williamson had an RBI single and a solo homer to power the Giants past the Pirates 5-3; Cameron Maybin motored home on Steve Cishek’s wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th to give the Tigers a 5-4 walkoff win against the Mariners; the Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez went 4-for-4 with 3 runs, and Freddy Galvis tripled and homered for a total of 5 RBI to vanquish the Twins 7-3; Xander Bogaerts drove in Mookie Betts to give the Red Sox an 8-7 walkoff win in 10 innings over the White Sox; Adonis Garcia’s 2-run blast... Read More
Last night in baseball, the Marlins’ Adam Conley pitched 8 shutout innings, giving up just 4 hits and a walk, while K’ing 4 en route to a 3-0 blanking of the Braves; Starlin Castro launched a solo shot in the 9th to give the Yankees a 9-8 walkoff win over the Rockies; Mets starter Noah Syndergaard had to leave the game with discomfort in his right elbow, but not before pitching 6 innings and getting the win in a 4-3 triumph over the Royals; Lance McCullers gave up 1 run in 5 ⅔ innings, and Jose Altuve homered to lead the Astros past the Angels 3-2; the Cardinals did the impossible, handing Jake Arrieta the loss and sweeping the Cubs with a 7-2 victory; Scooter Gennett went 3-for-5 with a... Read More
Last night in Major League Baseball Jake Lamb’s 2-run homer in the first inning proved to be the difference in the Diamondbacks’ 3-1 win over the Phillies; Jeff Locke and the Pirates bullpen outdueled Giants starter Madison Bumgarner for a 1-0 victory; the Red Sox failed to plate a run in the 9th after loading the bases with nobody out, and then fell in the 10th by a score of 3-1 as the White Sox scored a pair on a Jose Abreu double; Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Juan Uribe all homered as the Indians beat the Rays 7-4; Justin Upton’s walkoff homer in the 12th gave the Tigers an 8-7 win over the Mariners; Mark Reynolds hit a pair of solo homers... Read More
Washington Nationals (Strasburg 10-0, 2.90) at Chicago Cubs (Kershaw 10-1, 1.58) 10pm ET on ESPN
This is about as good a pitching matchup as one can ask for.
Stephen Strasburg, once one of the most ballyhooed pitching prospects of his generation, looks to finally be living up to the promise after six seasons of tantalizing talent interrupted by injuries and innings limits. In addition to being the last undefeated starter in the Majors, he’s 3rd in strikeouts (118), 2nd in SO/9IP (11.4), 4th in SO/BB 4.92, 7th in innings pitched (93), and in no start has he allowed more than 4 runs. On Wednesday, he had one of the better starts of the year against the vaunted Cubbies, holding them to just... Read More
Texas Rangers (Ramos 1-3, 4.88) at St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez 7-5, 3.46) 4:15pm ET on FS1
It should tell you something about the health of the Rangers’ rotation that spot starter Cesar Ramos is already making his fifth start of the season, just two short of his career high. But regardless of the role, Ramos has been bad this year, as his home run rate of 1.7/9IP has been more than double his career norm of .7 coming into the season, his strikeouts have fallen, his walks have spiked… His last start was his worst of 2016, as he lasted just 3 ⅔ innings against the A’s, giving up 8 runs on 8 hits and 5 walks, while fanning just 1.
In baseball last night, Freddie Freeman went 3-for-4 with a homer, 2 runs, and 2 RBI as the Braves beat the Reds 7-2; Dae-Ho Lee had 2 hits, 1 run, and 3 RBI to lead the Mariners past the Rays 6-4; Edwin Encarnacion hit 2 of the Blue Jays’ 5 home runs in a 13-2 route of the Phillies; Tyler Wilson contained the best offense in baseball by pitching 8 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball, while striking out 6 against the Red Sox in a 5-1 Orioles victory; Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon pitched 7 ⅔, struck out 8, surrendered just 2 runs, had a hit and a run scored to lead the Mets past the Pirates 6-4; CC Sabathia’s renaissance continued, as the lefty gave up just 1 run in... Read More
Last night, the Marlins trailed the Padres 6-3 with two out in the 9th inning and a man on first, when Ichiro Suzuki stroked a double down the right field line, thereby taking the crown of Hit King, as he passed Pete Rose for the all-time record for hits in professional baseball at 4,257. Martin Prado would follow with a flyout to right to end the game; DJ LeMahieu singled, doubled and tripled, with 2 runs and 2 RBI in the Rockies 6-3 win over the Yankees; Clayton Kershaw K’ed 11 in 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits as the Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 3-2; Johnny Cueto struck out 9 over 7 innings of 1-run ball as the GIants dismantled the Brewers 10-1; Jayson Werth’s 2-out single in... Read More
Baltimore Orioles (Gausman 0-3, 3.45) at Boston Red Sox (Wright 7-4, 2.09) 7pm ET on ESPN2
What to make of Gausman, probably the best winless starter in all of baseball? He pitched 8 shutout innings against the Yankees in a game the O’s won 1-0, and has five other quality starts, four of which Baltimore has won. But he himself? Zero wins, despite a 3.45 ERA, 3.60 SO/BB ratio, and a 1.217 WHIP. Does he give up too many homers? Sure, 1.5/9IP is too many, but not so many that he deserves to be 0-3. On Monday against Toronto he lasted 6 ⅓ innings, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits a 2 walks, while fanning 4 in a 4-3 loss.
For all their offensive firepower, the Boston Red Sox... Read More
Last night Max Scherzer dominated the Cubs for 7 innings, striking out 11 and walking none, while giving up just 1 run on 2 hits, as the Nationals won 4-1; Odubel Herrera homered and drove in 3 runs as the Phillies blanked the Blue Jays 7-0 as revenge for the 1993 World Series; Tyler Holt drew a walk in the 9th inning to force in the deciding run in the Reds’ 9-8 win over the Braves; Adam Eaton went 4-for-5, including a walkoff single in the 12th inning of the White Sox’ 10-9 defeat of the Tigers; Whit Merrifield’s solo shot in the 4th was the difference in the Royals’ 2-1 win over the Indians; the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 3-2 behind Zack Greinke’s 7 inning, 2-run performance; Trevor Plouffe’s... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Hendricks 4-5, 2.90) at Washington Nationals (Scherzer 7-4, 3.57) 7pm ET on ESPN
Kyle Hendricks is maybe the Cubs worst starter, with the fewest wins, lowest winning percentage, highest ERA, fewest WAR… But he’d be no worse than the #3 starter on most teams in the Majors, thanks to his 2.90 ERA, 3.80 SO/BB, and his .5 HR/9IP. His last start was Tuesday against the Phillies, as he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks over 5 innings, while striking out 6 in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies. Following last night’s 13-2 pounding of the Braves, the Cubs still possess the best record in all of baseball at 43-18, and are in first place, 9 games ahead of the Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals (Leake 4-4, 4.22) at Pittsburgh Pirates (NIese 6-2, 3.93) 5pm ET on ESPN
After a rocky beginning to his Cardinals career during which his ERA ballooned to 6.03 over six starts, Mike Leake has seen that figure trend steadily downward over his last five starts. Part of the newfound success is a drop in his BABIP, but he’s also seen his SO/BB ratio spike from 2.4 over the first six games to 4 over the next five games. He most recently held the Brewers to 2 runs over 6 innings, during which he K’ed 4 and walked just 1.
Not unlike Lamb, Niese’s first six starts with his new team were well short of awesome, but over his last five starts... Read More
Los Angeles Dodgers (Kazmir 5-3, 4.46) at San Francisco Giants (Samardzija 7-4, 3.33) or St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez 6-5, 3.76) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Liriano 4-5, 5.25) or Detroit Tigers (Verlander 5-5, 3.97) at New York Yankees (Tanaka 3-1, 2.76) 7:15pm ET on FOX
Cleveland Indians (Bauer 4-2, 3.88) at Los Angeles Angels (Shoemaker 3-7, 5.40) 10:05pm ET on FS1
After being a serviceable #5 starter for the Indians last year – despite leading the AL in walks – Trevor Bauer got bumped from the rotation in spring training, the odd man out following the promotions of Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson. While Tomlin’s been great, Anderson has not, and so, after a few weeks in the pen, Bauer moved back to the rotation,... Read More
In the world of baseball last night, we saw Prince Fielder and Rougned Odor hit solo homers to help power the Rangers past the Astros 5-3; the DJ LeMahieu doubled and homered, and drove in 3 runs as the Rockies beat the Pirates 11-5; Brett Gardner went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored as the Yankees swept the Angels with a 6-3 win; the Orioles’ Chris Davis homered in the 7th to tie the game and then hit a sac fly in the 9th to drive in the winning run of a 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays; Bengie Molina’s bases-loaded single in the 8th was the difference in the Cardinals’ 3-2 win over the Reds; Melky Cabrera’s 2-run double in the first gave the White Sox a lead they would... Read More
The world of baseball gifted us with John Lackey dominating the Phillies for 7 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits, and striking out 8, while walking none in an 8-1 Cubs win; Josh Donaldson went 3-for-4, and his 3-run homer was the big blow in the Blue Jays 7-2 win over the Tigers; Julio Teheran served up a pair of solo homers to San Diego’s Wil Myers, but that was about it, as he K’ed over 8 innings, in a 4-2 Braves victory; Corey Dickerson hit a pair of solo shots to power the Rays to a 6-3 win over the Diamondbacks; the Angels out-homered the Yankees 4 to 3, but the Yankees outscored the Angels 12-6; Chris Tillman scattered 8 hits over 7 ⅓ shutout innings, and fanned... Read More
In baseball last night, the Pirates took both games of their doubleheader with the Mets by a score of 3-1, with Jonathon Niese pitching 7 shutout innings in the first game, and Juan Nicasio striking out 7 over 5 innings of 1-run ball in the nightcap; KC’s Yordano Ventura drilled Baltimore’s Manny Machado with a fastball, sparking a bench-clearing brawl in the midst of the Orioles 9-1 pounding of the Royals; Carlos Beltran and Starlin Castro each homered in the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Angels; Jerad Eickhoff held the Cubs in check for 7 innings, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks, while fanning 8, in a 3-2 Phillies win; Ian Kinsler scored the tying run in the 9th and then had a walkoff single in... Read More
New York Mets (deGrom 3-1, 2.62) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Nicasio 4-4, 4.75) 7:40pm ET on ESPN2
Over his last five starts, Jacob deGrom has pitched 32 ⅓ innings, striking out 31 and walking 11, while giving up 25 hits and posting a 3.06 ERA, and for his efforts, he’s taken a no-decision each time, with the Mets going 2-3 in those games. The losses were by scores of 4-3, 3-2, and most recently, 2-1, in a game against the White Sox in which deGrom whiffed 10 over 7 innings, and allowed just 1 run, on a solo homer. Man, that has got to be frustrating…
Juan Nicasio’s return to the starting rotation is offering diminishing returns following a promising beginning. In his first five start, Nicasio threw 27 innings... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Lester 6-3, 2.29) at Philadelphia Phillies (Morgan 1-4, 7.07) 7pm ET on ESPN2
Jon Lester pitched his best game as a Cub in his last outing, going the distance (after giving up a homer on his second pitch of the game), allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, while striking out 10 and walking none against the Dodgers. Was it a weak Dodgers lineup that saw Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Utley taking the day off? One that featured just three guys with an OPS north of .665? Yeah, but it’s an offense still good enough to power a second-place team.
Adam Morgan is in the midst of a brutal four-game losing streak, during which he’s pitched 19 ⅔ innings, given up 21... Read More
San Francisco Giants (Peavy 2-5, 6.34) at St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez 5-5, 3.69) 8pm ET on ESPN
Just days after his 35th birthday, Jake Peavy finds himself slogging through what is shaping up to be the worst season of his 15-year career: He’s got an ERA 1.4 runs higher than ever before, his second-worst strikeout and home run rates, a career-high WHIP, and he’s on pace for a career high in losses, dovetailing nicely with his career-low winning percentage. All that said, he’s pitched well in 3 of his last four starts, most recently pitching 7 shutout innings, giving up just a hit, against the Braves en route to a 4-0 win. Yeah, the Braves have the worst offense in the bigs, but... Read More
Tampa Bay Rays (Andriese 3-0, 2.36) at Minnesota Twins (Santana 1-4, 4.12) 4pm ET on FS1 & FOX Sports North
Matt Andriese is enjoying a fine season thus far, thanks largely to a BABIP of .228 and a home run rate of just .26 per 9 innings, despite his K rate being a paltry 5.2 per 9. On Monday he allowed 2 runs over 7 innings, while striking out just 3, but settling for a no decision in a game the Rays lost 6-2 to the Royals. If he doesn’t start missing more bats, the law of averages is gonna catch up with him real fast.
As an average pitcher on a bad team, Ervin Santana is... Read More
On Thursday, Madison Bumgarner struck out 11 batters across 7 ⅔ innings and hit a 2-run homer to lead the Giants past the Braves 6-0; Zack Greinke struck out 11 over 7 innings of shutout ball (but hit no homers), as the Diamondbacks bested the Astros 3-0; the Cubs’ Javier Baez went 2-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBI in a 7-2 win over the Dodgers; Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones each hit a pair of home runs, and the Orioles hit 7 total, as they pounded the Red Sox 12-7; Brewers starter Chase Anderson struck out 6, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits and a walk to beat the Phillies 4-1; the Indians rallied from down a run in the... Read More
Los Angeles Dodgers (Bolsinger 1-1, 4.50) at Chicago Cubs (Lester 5-3, 2.48) 8pm ET on ESPN
Mike Bolsinger was a solid presence in the back of LA’s rotation last year, pitching 109 ⅓ innings with a 3.91 ERA, and subsequently was slated to be the Dodgers’ fifth starter this year, but instead opened the season in the minors, rehabbing from a strained oblique. He’s made just two starts this year, the first one a spot start that earned him a quick trip back to the minors, as he gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, striking out just 2, in 4 ⅓ innings in an 8-1 loss to the Angels. Undaunted, he returned on May 24, faring much better: 5 ⅔ IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1... Read More
Los Angeles Dodgers (Kazmir 4-3, 4.84) at Chicago Cubs (Arrieta 9-0, 1.72), 8pm ET on ESPN Scott Kazmir’s strikeout rate of 9.4 is the highest it’s been since 2008 (though SO rates have risen all across baseball in that time), but his walk rate has climbed this year, as have his home runs. But he spun a gem in his last outing, against the Reds, striking out 12 over 6 innings, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks.
Jake Arrieta is tied for the Major League lead in wins and winning percentage, as he’s one of the last three starters to be undefeated. Dating back to July 30, 2015, the Cubs are 22-0 when Arrieta takes the ball, with Arrieta himself going 19-0, and an... Read More
St. Louis Cardinals (Wainwright 4-3, 5.77) at Washington Nationals (Gonzalez 3-2, 2.87) Adam Wainwright’s ERA has been trending downward over his last 7 starts after cresting at 8.27. Since then, he’s posted a 4.79 ERA over 41 ⅓ innings – still not great, but serviceable. In his last start he gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings, helping the Cards to a 4-3 win over the Cubs.
Gio Gonzalez saw his ERA jump a full run after his last start, during which the Mets pounded him for 7 runs on 10 hits, 3 of them home runs, though he had 7 strikeouts and 0 walks. It’s likely to be an aberration, as he’d only given 3 homers in his previous 48 ⅓ innings.
On Thursday, baseball fans bore witness as the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole gave up just 1 run over 5 innings, struck out 5, and went 2-for-3 with a 3-run homer to defeat the Diamondbacks 8-3; Jose Fernandez of the Marlins K’ed 12 in 7 innings, giving up 1 run on 6 hits and a walk for a 9-1 win over the Rays; the Blue Jays’ JA Happ went 7, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks as the Yankees wasted a good start by CC Sabathia, falling 3-1; the Nationals bested the Cardinals 2-1, thanks to 7 strong innings from Joe Ross and a solo shot from Bryce Harper; Rockies starter Jon Gray ended Jackie Bradley Jr’s hitting streak at 29 games, and held the Red Sox to... Read More
Hometown hero Steven Matz threw 8 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 7 Nationals in a 2-0 win; Odubel Herrera struck the big blow with a 3-run homer to power the Phillies past the Tigers 8-5; MIguel Sano’s 2-run bomb was the difference in the Twins’ 7-5 win over the Royals; the Cubs outslugged the Cardinals 9-8 with Kris Bryant hitting a homer, scoring 2 runs and driving in 3 more; every Ranger drove in at least one run as Texas pounded the Angels 15-9; Corey Kluber went 7 ⅓, scattering 7 hits a walk for just 1 run, while whiffing 9 White Sox for a 4-3 Indians win; Brandon Crawford hit a walkoff single in the 10 for a 4-3 Giants win over... Read More
In baseball last night, Jake Odorizzi pitched 5 innings of shutout ball, giving up just 2 hits and 3 walks, while K’ing 7 as the Rays beat the Marlins 4-3; Jorge Soler went 2-for-3 with a homer, 2 runs, 3 RBI and a pair of walks as the Cubs pounded the Cardinals 12-3; the Yankees blanked the Blue Jays behind Nathan Eovaldi’s 6-inning, 5-strikeout performance, and Carlos Beltran’s upper decker; Matt Harvey’s woes continued, as the Mets’ one-time ace got touched for 5 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings, while the Nationals Stephen Strasburg K’ed 11 over 6 ⅔ for a 7-4 win; the Pirates beat up on the Diamondbacks 12-1, as Gregory Polanco went 3-for-5 with a homer and 5 RBI; the Red Sox beat the Rockies 8-3,... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Hammel 5-1, 2.31) at St. Louis Cardinals (Wacha 2-4, 4.03) 7pm ET on ESPN
Jason Hammel continues to do a pretty decent imitation of teammate Jake Arrieta, right down to their beards, but in his last start, Hammer got slapped around a bit, as he fell victim to the longball. In 6 innings against the Brewers he surrendered 4 runs on 5 hits, including 2 homers, while walking 4 and striking out 7 in 5-3 loss.
Michael Wacha has been suffering mightily from a batting average on ball in play of .340, 60 points above his career average coming into the season. Couple that with a slightly elevated walk rate and some bad defense, and suddenly a 2015 All Star finds his stat line looking very average.... Read More
Los Angeles Angels (Tropeano 2-2, 3.30) *at Texas Rangers *(Holland 3-3, 5.63), 8pm ET on FS1
Nick Tropeano’s last start was likely his best of 2016, as he went 7 innings, scattering 7 hits and 2 walks, while giving up just 1 run and striking out 4 in an 8-1 win over the Dodgers. It was the first time this season that Tropeano’s gotten into the 7th, to say nothing of finishing it. With Garrett Richards on the DL, and the Angels’ bullpen having worked the second-most innings in the AL, L.A. is gonna need Tropeano to continue pitching deeper into games. The Angels had been on pace to be the worst team in franchise history until a recent hot streak during which they won 6 of 7, thanks largely... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Hendricks 2-3, 3.51) at San Francisco Giants (Bumgarner 5-2, 2.45) 8pm ET on ESPN
The Cubs have been so good this year that Kyle Hendricks is their starter with the worst record and the highest ERA, and yet he’s having an OK year. He’s yet to give up more than 4 runs in any one start, he’s a got a 4.1 SO/BB ratio, a 1.05 WHIP, he’s only given up 2 homers in 41 innings… he’s given the Cbs at least a chance in every game he’s started. Not surprisingly, the three games in which he’s given up 4 runs have all been Cubs losses, and in each of those he’s given up hits in bunches or been bitten by shaky defense or a wild pitch… His last... Read More
On Thursday, Americans bore witness as the Mariners topped the Orioles 7-2 behind Nathan Karns’ 5-inning, 1-run performance, and Adam Lind’s 3-run homer in the 6th; Junior Guerra held the Cubs to 3 runs over 7 innings, and struck out 11, as the Brewers won 5-3; Gregory Polanco’s 2-run homer in the 2nd gave Pirates’ starter Jeff Locke a 5-0 lead that was more than enough, as he went 7 and gave up just 2 runs for a 8-2 win over the Braves; the Nationals beat up on the Mets 9-1, as Washington’s Stephen Strasburg K’ed 10 in 6 innings, while New York’s Matt Harvey imploded, surrendering 9 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in 2 ⅔ innings; Carlos Santana went 2-for-4... Read More
Jeremy Hellickson pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball on just 5 hits and a walks, as the Phillies beat the Marlins 4-2; the Tigers defeated the Twins 6-3, behind Justin Verlander, who K’ed 10 over 7 ⅓ innings, notching career strikeout 2,000; the Red Sox and Royals split a doubleheader, with Eric Hosmer’s 2-run bomb powering a 3-2 Royals win, and solo shots from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts kickstarting a 5-2 win for Boston; Gio Gonzalez held the Mets to 1 run on 5 hits and a walk over 6 ⅓, and Bryce Harper walked 4 times as the Nationals won 7-1; the A’s defeated the Rangers 8-1, with 3B Danny Valencia going 3-for-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI; Matt Wieters went 3-for-4, with a homer, a... Read More
Boston Red Sox (Porcello 6-1, 3.11) at Kansas City Royals (Ventura 3-2, 4.62) 7pm ET on ESPN
Rick Porcello has been dealing, pitching so consistently well that in his worst start he gave up 4 runs in 7 innings, and still got the win. Porcello’s success has been the result of outstanding control of the strike zone coupled with a little bit of luck. His strike-to-walk ratio of 4.60 is a career high, and among the league leaders, while his batting average on balls in play is just .254, which isn’t crazy-pants low, but far from his career norm of .314. In his last start against the A’s he went 6 ⅔ IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, which isn’t great, but will get the W more... Read More
St. Louis Cardinals (Leake 1-3, 5.10) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Wood 1-3, 4.58) 8pm ET on ESPN
John Lackey had a very good 215 for the Cardinals, and then signed with the Cubs for $32 million over two years. The Cardinals tried to replace him with Mike Leake, signing him to a 5-year deal worth about $80 million. Whoops. Over his first 6 starts, Leake gave up more than a hit an inning, including 6 homers, leading to a 6.03 ERA and an 0-3 record. But on Tuesday, against the Angels, proud owners of the third-worst record in baseball, Leake got his mojo back: 8 IP, 6 IP, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO. Overall, Leake’s peripherals – strikeouts, WHIP, homers… are about in line with his career norms, there’s... Read More
Houston Astros (McHugh 4-3, 5.50) Boston Red Sox (Buchholz 2-3, 5.90) 1:05pm ET on FS1
Colin McHugh is just one of many guys on the Houston Astros who’ve been a disappointment in 2016. After finishing 4th in 2014’s AL Rookie of the Year voting, and then 8th in 2015’s Cy Young balloting, McHugh is giving up 12.6 hits per 9 innings pitched, and seen his ERA jump a run and a half, while his strikeouts continue to fall ever so slightly. But who cares? He’s 4-3! His last start was perhaps his best of the year, as he went 7, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 5. Also, if you throw out his first start of 2016, against the Yankees, his numbers would... Read More
David Price of the Red Sox went 6 ⅔, striking out 12 while giving up just 1 run on 6 hits and a walk, and Boston scored in double digits for the fourth game in a row, beating the Astros 11-1; Clayton Kershaw shutout the Mets, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, while striking out 13, as the Dodgers won 5-0; Matt Holliday went 3-for-4 with 3 runs, 3 RBI and a homer to lead the Cardinals to a 12-10 victory over the Angels; Chase Headley got his first extra-base hit of 2016, a 2-run homer, to help the Yankees beat the Royals 7-3; the Orioles overcame a 5-run deficit to beat the Tigers 7-5 for their 5th straight win; Cameron Rupp ripped a 3-run double in the... Read More
Last night, in this crazy little thing called Major League Baseball, Max Scherzer struck out 20 Tigers to tie the record for a 9-inning game, as the Nats beat Detroit 3-2; Noah “Thor” Syndergaard hit 2 homers, driving in all 4 of the Mets runs, and he pitched 8 innings, giving up just 2 runs, and striking out 6, as the Mets beat the Dodgers 4-2; the Padres twice smote the mighty Cubs 7-4 and then 1-0; Mark Trumbo twice went yard, as the Orioles pounded the Twins 9-2; future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre drove in what proved to be the winning run,5 as the Rangers bested the White Sox 6-5; Marwin Gonzalez hit a 2-run homer in the 16th to give the Astros a 6-5 walk-off win over the Indians;... Read More
Kansas City Royals (Ventura 2-2, 4.65) New York Yankees (Pineda 1-3, 5.73) 7pm ET on ESPN (out-of-market only)
To put it simply, Yordano Ventura has had a devil of a time finding the plate this season. In just 31 innings pitched, covering 6 starts, Ventura has already walked 25 batters, more than any other pitcher in all of Major League baseball. After walking 3.3 per 9 innings over the first two full seasons of his career, Ventura’s walk rate has jumped to 7.3 – to put that number into historical context, only one pitcher in more than a century of baseball has done worse over the course of a full season, Tommy Byrne of the 1949 Yankees, who walked 8.22 per 9, on his way to going 15-7 for the... Read More
Detroit Tigers (Sanchez 3-3, 5.87) at Washington Nationals (Strasburg 5-0, 2.36) 7pm ET on ESPN
Anibal Sanchez had his best start of 2016 on Wednesday, going 7 innings against the Indians, striking out 7 and giving up all the runs in a game the Tigers lost 4-0. That was his best game, thus far. Sanchez is striking out 9.7 per 9 innings, but he’s also walking 5.6 per 9, and giving up 9.4 hits per 9, which, not surprisingly, leads to a lot of runs. And while the “Quality Start” – 6 or more innings, 3 or fewer earned runs – is kind of a garbage stat, the fact that Sanchez doesn’t have a single one is pretty damning.
The Tigers last night lost their sixth game in a row,... Read More
Boston Red Sox (Wright 2-3, 1.67) at New York Yankees (Severino 0-4, 6.31), 8pm ET on ESPN At 31 years of age, Steve Wright is enjoying what may prove to be a breakout season. The knuckleballer’s made five starts, going at least 6 innings every time, and finds himself with a 1.67 ERA. While the movement on his pitch has led to a lot of walks (15) and hit batsmen (3), it’s also made it tough to tee off on him, as he’s kept batters to just .278 home runs and 6.124 hits per 9 innings. Yeah, knuckleballers can be frustratingly streaky, but right now he’s got the hot hand, and even if his ERA jumped a full 2 runs – entirely possible, he’ll still be a valuable front-of-the-rotation guy... Read More
Texas Rangers (Griffin 3-0, 2.32) at Detroit Tigers (Pelfrey 0-4, 5.68), 1pm ET on FS1 AJ Griffin enjoyed a solid first full season in the big league in 2013, going 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA. Yeah, he gave up a league-leading 36 homers, but he’d pitched 200 innings with a pretty good SO/BB ratio of 3.17. And then he needed Tommy John surgery, and ended up needing two years to recover, during which time he got cut by the A’s, the only organization he’d ever known. As luck would have it, the Rangers found themselves in desperate need of pitching after the injury to Yu Darvish, and signed Griffin to be their fifth starter. Now he’s undefeated, his home run rate is way down, and with it his ERA… it’s... Read More
The Cards blanked the Phillies behind 7 brilliant innings from Jaime Garcia, who surrendered 0 runs on just 2 hits and 0 walks while striking out 5, needing just 82 pitches to do it; Michael Brantley and Mike Napoli each drove in 3 runs to lead the Indians past the Tigers 9-4; the Yankees wasted 8 shutout innings from Masahiro Tanaka, losing 1-0 to the Orioles on a 10th-inning walk-off sac fly; Edwin Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with a homer and 6 RBI as the Blue Jays pounded the Rangers 12-2; Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce each had a homer and 3 RBI for the Reds, who beat the Brewers 9-5; Christian Yelich hit a 2-run homer and starter Adam Conley went 5 ⅔ IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB,... Read More
America celebrated Star Wars Day on Wednesday by watching as the Reds launched 4 homers off Jake Peavy to best the Giants 7-4; Jon Lester miraculously remained unscathed through 5 ⅔ innings despite giving up 8 hits and 2 walks, as the Cubbies beat the Pirates 6-2; the Mets hit 4 homers and hometown hero Steven Matz pitched 7 ⅔ innings of 2-hit shutout ball with 8 K’s for an 8-0 win over the Braves; Mike Trout homered and had 2 hits and 2 RBI as the Angels beat the Brewers 7-3; the Nationals pounded the Royals 13-2, behind a 4-for-5 night from Daniel Murphy, who also scored 4 runs and had 3 RBI; the Mariners survived a bad outing from King Felix (4 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 1... Read More
Boston Red Sox (Buchholz 0-3, 6.51) Chicago White Sox (Rodon 1-3, 4.33) 8pm ET on ESPN
Clay Buchholz has made 5 starts for the Boston Red Sox in 2016 and won none of them. Among the 105 pitchers who’ve qualified for the ERA title, Buchholz ranks 102 with a 6.51 ERA. His 1.59 WHIP ranks 95th. His 1.46 SO/BB ratio is 100th. He has made just one start that could be considered “good,” as he went 6 ⅔ scoreless innings against the Blue Jays, but even in that game his peripherals left something to be desired, as he surrendered 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out just 2, and he didn’t have a single 1-2-3- inning, surviving unscathed thanks to 4 double plays, the most in a single game... Read More
On Tuesday in America, the Cubbies roughed up Pirates starter Gerrit Cole for 6 runs in 4 ⅔ innings, on their way to a 7-2 win; Nomar Mazara’s 8th-inning homer was the difference in the Rangers 2-1 win over the Blue Jays; The Giants’ Johnny Cueto got touched for 6 in the 3rd, but Brandon Crawford bailed him out with a homer and 4 RBI, en route to a 9-6 win over the Reds; Bartolo Colon continued to defy Father Time with a 7 K’s in 8 shutout innings against the Braves, as the Mets won 2-1; Mike Trout went 4-for-5 with a homer and 3 RBI, but it was all for nought, as the Brewers beat the Angels 8-5; heralded Twins rookie Jose Berrios notched his first big league... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Hammel 3-0, 0.75) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Cole 2-2, 2.78) 7pm ET on ESPN
Jason Hammel is having himself quite a 2016. In each of his 4 starts, he’s gone 6 innings, allowing only 2 runs total, for a National League low 0.75 ERA. His last start, against Cincinnati, was his best, as he gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks in 6 scoreless innings, while striking out 7. Hammel has given up a beefy 3.4 walks per 9, but has minimized the damage by giving up just 6 hits per 9, while not surrendering a single home run. Historically, Hammel has been far better in the first half of the season than in the second, and since 2011, April has been by far his best month, so... Read More
New York Yankees (Eovaldi 1-2, 4.38) at Boston Red Sox (Price 3-0, 5.76) 8pm ET on ESPN
Nathan Eovaldi had a rough 2016 debut, but has been getting progressively better. In his last start he managed to throw 7 shutout innings of 2-hit ball while striking out 6 Rangers en route to a 3-1 win. Though his strikeouts have gone down slightly since his first two starts, Eovaldi has been issuing far fewer walks, while also keeping the ball in the park – in each of his first two starts he coughed up a pair of gopher balls, but none since. If he can maintain a 5.6 KO/BB ratio (he can’t) while keeping his homers in check and averaging 6 IP, he’ll be very valuable to the pitching poor Bombers.... Read More
On Wednesday, Brandon Belt had 5 RBIs as the Giants out-slugged the Padres 13-9 to complete a 3-game sweep; Jeremy Hellickson threw 7 innings of shutout ball to lead the Phillies past the Nats 3-0; Jose Quintana struck out 10 over 6 innings as the White Sox blanked the Blue Jays 4-0; Dustin Pedroia put on a Laser Show in Boston, hitting a solo homer and a grand slam as the Red Sox beat the Braves 9-4; JD and Victor Martinez (no relation) each hit a 3-run bomb to power the Tigers past the A’s 9-4; Neil Walker hit his 9th homer of 2016 and Matt Harvey had his best start of the year, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings as the Mets bested the Reds 5-2; Joey Rickard’s... Read More
New York Yankees (Sabathia 1-1, 5.28) at Texas Rangers (Perez 0-2, 4.50) 8pm ET on ESPN
At the end of the 2012 season CC Sabathia seemed like a good bet for the Hall of Fame. Just 31, he was 191-102, with a 125 ERA+, and a career WAR of 54, but the next three seasons saw him go 23-27 with an ERA+ of 83 and just 1 WAR, as he lost and gained back 40 pounds, had surgery on his elbow and knee, and left the team a day before the 2015 Wild Card game to get much needed treatment for alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, 2016 has not been much kinder the big lefty, as he’s failed to get out of the 5th inning in each of his last two starts,... Read More
St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez 3-0, 2.70) at Arizona Diamondbacks (Miller 0-1, 8.59) 9:40pm ET on ESPN
Carlos Martinez will take to the hill tonight for the Cardinals, coming off his best start of the season: a 7-inning, 1-run effort against the vaunted Cubbies in a 5-3 St. Louis win. Martinez was brilliant in 2015, going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA in 179 ⅔ innings while striking out 9.2 per 9IP, but had his season cut short by a shoulder strain in late September, putting a slight kink in the Cards’ playoff rotation. The injury wasn’t deemed serious enough to require surgery, so it’s good that rest appears to have been enough. Still, there may be slight cause for concern, as Martinez’s strikeouts are way down – a career low... Read More
New York Yankees (Eovaldi 0-2, 6.11) at Texas Rangers (Hamels 3-0, 2.52), 8pm ET on ESPN Nathan Eovaldi enjoyed a breakout season of sorts in 2015, his first in the American League, going 14-3 despite an ERA of 4.20. This year he has, by some measures, been far better, with his K/9 rate up from 7.1 per 9 to 11.2, and his walk rate nearly cut in half, down to 1.5 per 9 – however, he’s already given 4 homers in just 17 ⅔ innings, triple his rate from last year. The homers have been painful, leading to 7 of the 9 runs he surrendered in his first two starts. In his most recent start he kept the ball in the yard, striking out 7 over 6... Read More
Boston Red Sox (Buchholz 0-1, 5.74) at Houston Astros (Fiers 1-1, 6.48), 4:05pm ET Saturday on FS1
In his second start in the bigs, Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter. He then had a couple of seasons pitching kinda meh… Then, in 2010, he made the All-Star team and finished 6th in the CY Young balloting. This was followed by an injury-plagued season in 2011; another meh… season in 2012; another All-Star selection in 2013, a season that was tainted with rumors of ball doctoring before it was cut short by injury; 2014 saw him pitch more than 110 innings for just the third time, but it also saw him post a 5.34 ERA, worst in the American League among qualifiers. And 2015 was another not bad, but injury-shortened year... Read More
Thursday night saw the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta throw his second no-hitter in as many seasons, and his teammates pounded out 18 hits in a 16-0 drubbing of the Reds; Clayton Kershaw unveiled a new pitch, a 46-mph Eephus, as he scattered 10 hits over 8 innings in a 2-1 win over the Braves; Robinson Cano capped a 3-for-5 night with a 10th-inning 3-run homer for a 10-7 Mariners defeat of the Indians; Bryce Harper’s solo shot was the Nats' lone run in a 5-1 loss to the Marlins; the Red Sox’ high-priced free agent David Price got lit up again, surrendering 8 runs in 3 2/3, setting the stage for a 12-8 loss to the Rays; Ricky Nolasco pitched 6 ⅓ innings of 1-run ball with 7 K’s, and the... Read More
Detroit Tigers (Pelfrey 0-2, 2.79) at Kansas City Royals (Volquez 2-0, 2.04) 7:15pm on FS1
Mike Pelfrey is having one weird start to his season: his 2.79 ERA suggest that his 0-2 record is a matter of tough luck, but the truth is that his low ERA is the result of exceptionally good luck. Pelfrey has allowed 12 hits and 7 walks in just 9 ⅔ innings, and has struck out just 6 – his WHIP is 1.10 higher than his SO/BB ratio. Even in his last start, which the Tigers lost 1-0, he was the beneficiary of unusual luck, allowing just 1 run, despite giving up 5 hits and 6 walks in 6 innings. Only by the grace of three double plays did he survive as long as... Read More
Detroit Tigers (Zimmerman 2-0, 0.00) at Kansas City Royals (Kennedy 2-0, 0.66) 7pm ET on ESPN
Zimmerman is coming off his worst start of 2016, 6 innings of shutout ball during which he gave up 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4, leading the Tigers to a 7-4 win over the Pirates. At 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, Zimmerman is having himself quite a time, but it goes without saying that this level of success is unsustainable. He’s striking out fewer than 5 per 9 innings pitched, and his BABIP is a freakishly low .205 – pitchers cannot consistently convert batted balls into outs at that rate.
Ian Kennedy was signed by the Royals in the off-season to help replace 2015’s late-season rental Johnny Cueto, who departed... Read More
Chicago Cubs (Lackey 2-0, 5.68) at St. Louis Cardinals (Leake 0-1, 6.97) 8pm ET on ESPN & FOX Sports Midwest
It’s a Battle of the Exes, as former Cubs starter John Lackey faces his old teammates, the St. Louis Cardinals. Lackey has a beefy 5.68 ERA thus far, but thanks to the kind of run support one can only hope for from the Cubbies, he’s 2-0. In his first outing, he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits – including 2 homers – but got the win in a 14-9 fireworks display with the Arizona Diamondbacks. More recently, on Wednesday, he pitched 6 ⅔ strong innings against the Cincinnati Reds, allowing just 2 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, with 7 strikeouts, while keeping the ball in the yard.... Read More
San Francisco Giants (Samardzija 1-0, 3.38) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Maeda 1-0, 0.00) 8pm ET Sunday on ESPN (Available to Best of Live TV subscribers)
Despite having led American League pitchers in hits, home runs and earned runs allowed, Jeff Samardzija was signed in the offseason to help the Giants make their even-year march to the World Series, and so far he’s been pretty OK – far better than last year, anyway. On Monday, he led the Giants to a 7-2 win over the Rockies, pitching eight innings, and giving up just two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five – he even hit a double. His walk rate has ballooned a touch so far, but his K’s are up and homers are down and his... Read More
Atlanta Braves (Norris 0-2, 6.00) at Miami Marlins (Koehler 0-1, 2.84) 7:10pm ET on FS1
Now with his fourth team in four seasons, Bud Norris officially qualifies as a journeyman starter and, thus far in 2016, he’s pitched like one. Norris got lit up on Monday as the Nationals pounded out nine hits in just five innings and scored five times, setting the stage for a 6-4 Nats win. Norris had one solid season in 2014: in a year when he plunked a league-high 14 guys – a third of his career total – and had a BABIP about 30 points below his career norm. Whether that 15-8 season was a product of pitching aggressively inside, dumb luck, or a combination of both, we may never know.
Last night the Tigers’ Nick Castellanos hit a two-run double and a two-run homer to lead Detroit to a 7-4 victory over the Pirates; Vince Velasquez spun himself a gem: three-hit shutout with 16 K’s as the Phillies beat the Padres 3-0; The Twinkies fell to 0-9 as the Pale Hose outpaced them 3-1; the Braves, too, remained under-feated at 0-9, as the Nats’ Bryce Harper hit a grand slam and Stephen Strasburg went seven-and-two-thirds with seven strikeouts; the Indians Danny Salazar pitched six innings of three-hit shutout ball en route to a 6-0 win over Tampa; Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals came within a single of no-hitting the Brew Crew as St. Louis won 7-0; The Rockies again pounded the Giants, 11-6 this time, as four Rockies had multiple... Read More
Wednesday night was rich with the bounty of America’s favorite pastime:
The Orioles earned their first loss of the season, falling 4-2 to the Red Sox; The Mets and Marlins had another 2-1 pitchers' duel, this time with the New Yorkers coming out on top; Dae-Ho Lee hit a 10th-inning walk-off pinch-hit home run to lift the Mariners over the Rangers 4-2; The Phillies' Jerad Eickhoff pitched 7 innings of scoreless 4-hit ball to beat the Padres 2-1; Carlos Carrasco shut down the Rays, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a walk over 8 innings while striking out 8; Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s grand slam was the decisive blow in a 7-3 Tigers win over the Pirates; JA Happ threw 6 innings of 1-run ball as the Jays beat the... Read More
Marlins Miami vs. New York Mets (7pm ET Monday, ESPN)
On Sunday, the Miami Marlins fell to 1-3 following a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Washington Nationals. Marlins' starter Tom Koehler had been cruising, giving up just one run through the first six innings, but in the bottom of the seventh, he was chased by a Anthony Rendon single and gave way to reliever Chris Narveson, who promptly loaded the bases before turning the ball over to Edwin Jackson. Moments later Jayson Werth hit a run-scoring single and soon thereafter Clint Robinson followed suit, staking the Nats to a 3-1 lead. The Marlins tried valiantly to mount a comeback against Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon as Yelich hit a solo shot and Martin Prado singled, but the rally... Read More
New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka 0-0, vs. Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander (8pm ET Sunday, ESPN)
Masahiro Tanaka pitched well enough to get a no-decision in his 2016 debut against the Astros on opening day, going five-and-two-thirds innings, giving up just two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four. Tanaka headed into the fifth nursing a 2-1 lead and quickly got past Jose Altuve and George Springer before giving up a long home run to right center by reigning Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa. A walk to the next batter, Colby Rasmus, was enough for Yankee manager Joe Girardi, who pulled Tanaka and turned it over to the pen. Three innings later, Correa and Rasmus were again making trouble for the Bombers as the... Read More
Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) vs. Cincinnati Reds (1-0) (7pm ET Wednesday, ESPN2) The Reds rallied in the 8th on Monday to defeat the Phillies 6-2, behind 6 strong innings from Raisel Iglesias, a 3-hit day for Zack Cozart and a tie-breaking bases-loaded single from Joey Votto. Iglesias left the game trailing 2-1, despite striking 7 and surrendering 6 hits and zero walks, but Cozar made it 2-2 in the 8th with a sac fly, and two batters later Votto singled to center off James Russell to make it 4-2. Hector Neris came on in relief and promptly hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch, which was followed by a Jay Bruce single that plated 2 more runs.
Aaron Nola gets the start for the Phillies, coming... Read More
Astros vs. Yankees (1pm ET Monday, ESPN) It’s a rematch of the 2015 AL Wild Card game where the upstart Houston Astros beat the mighty New York Yankees 3-0, behind six shutout innings from Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. An offense that was fifth in runs scored in the AL should be even better with full seasons from Rookie of The Year super-stud Carlos Correa, a return to form from mid-season acquisition Carlow Gomez, and the demotion to the bench of John Marisinick, who had a .665 OPS in 372 plate appearances. The bad news for the Bombers is Houston’s Opening Day starter is Keuchel, who shut the Yankees down three times last year, including the playoffs, spinning 22 scoreless innings during which he allowed just 12 hits and two... Read More
The 2016 Major League Baseball season kicks off with a showdown between a pair of division rivals, who were also the two winningest teams in all of baseball last year: the 100-62 St. Louis Cardinals and the 98-win Pittsburgh Pirates.
After an unfortunate defeat at the hands of the upstart Cubbies in the NLDS, the Cards had a frustrating off-season, losing free agent outfielder Jason Heyward and pitcher John Lackey to the very same Cubbies. The Cards look to replace Lackey with Mike Leake, who’s nine years younger and a little bit cheaper, but still likely a downgrade, and Heyward with Stephen Piscotty, who hopes to build on an impressive rookie year in which he posted a 129... Read More
Mets second basemen Daniel Murphy homered for the fourth game in a row this postseason, leading his team to a 4-1 victory and 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the Cubbies.
And so the Cubs find themselves in an 0-2 hole despite having sent their two best pitchers, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, to the hill in the first two games of the series, and now must turn the ball over to the perfectly cromulent Kyle Hendricks. In his previous playoff start, against St. Louis, Hendricks gave up just 4 hits and no walks while striking out 7—trouble was, it was over 4 2/3 innings, and three of the hits were homers. That said, the Cubs hung on to win,... Read More
Game 2 of the NLCS finds the Cubbies in a 1-0 hole, after the Mets won 4-2 behind a brilliant outing by Matt Harvey and more heroics from Daniel Murphy, who hit a home run in his third consecutive postseason game.
Sunday’s game features a rematch between Cubs ace Jake Arrieta and Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard, who faced each other on May 12, with Chicago coming out on top 6-1.
After spinning a 21-start run for the ages, Arrieta came crashing back to Earth in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, giving up 4 runs in 5 ⅔ innings, but St. Louis couldn’t capitalize, as the Cubs went on to win, 8-6. Despite his humanity being confirmed, Arrieta is still the best... Read More
It’s winner-take-all for the Mets and Dodgers tonight, with the victor going on to face the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.
Zack Greinke gets the start for the Dodgers, thanks to the heroic, season-saving, Game 4 efforts of Clayton Kershaw, who pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball with 8 strikeouts in 3-1 victory, in a performance that should at least temporarily quell the talk of him being a choke artist.
Greinke overcame a pair of second-inning solo homers in Game 2 to go 7 innings with 8 Ks, 0 walks and only 5 hits, leading the Dodgers to a 5-2 win. For all of Greinke’s greatness, though, game 2 will be best remembered for Chase Utley’s vicious takeout slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg and helped spark... Read More
Do-or-Die time has come to the National League Division Series, as both the Cubs and Mets are on the brink of heading to the LCS, while the Cardinals and Dodgers teeter on the brink of 9 AM tee times.
Cardinals at Cubs (4:37pm ET Tuesday, TBS) Cubs ace Jake Arrieta’s reign of terror finally came to end on Monday, as he gave up 4 runs in 5 ⅔ innings, but the Cards failed to take advantage, surrendering 6 home runs in an 8-6 loss to go down 2 games to 1 in this best-of-five series.
And so, with their season on the line, the Cardinals send John Lackey to the hill on three days' rest. Lackey was brilliant in his Game 1 start,... Read More
Dodgers at Mets (8:37pm ET, TBS) The Dodgers on Saturday rode Chase Utley’s dirty slide right through second base, Ruben Tejada’s right fibula and onto a 5-2 victory to even their series against the Mets at one game apiece.
Brett Anderson, who takes the ball for the Dodgers on Monday, was the very model of average in 2015, with a 10-9 record, 3.68 ERA, 1.3 WHiP and 2.52 SO/W ratio. Anderson has never in his career faced the Mets, but Curtis Granderson has a 1.128 in 13 plate appearances against him, and he’s held Michael Cuddyer to 1 hit in 12 at bats.
Celebrity pitcher Matt Harvey will get the start for the Mets, and will no doubt be tasked with avenging Tejada’s... Read More
Cubs at Cardinals (5:35pm ET Saturday, TBS) The Cardinals took control of their divisional series with a 4-0 win Friday over the Cubs in Game 1, behind a dominant performance from starter John Lackey. Tonight they’ll hand the ball over to Jaime Garcia.
Garcia finally appears to be healthy for the first time since 2011, though his 2015 debut was delayed by off-season shoulder surgery, and he missed 4-5 weeks in June/July. But overall he’s been solid, going 10-6 with a 2.43 ERA, thanks largely to an unsustainably low .270 BABIP and a career low .4 homers per 9. Garcia was lights-out at home this season, with a 1.70 ERA, with a 5.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Kyle Hendricks will be pitching for the Cubbies, coming... Read More
Some will look at tonight’s Cubs vs. Pirates game and grumble, with some justification, that the Wild Card system needs a tweak. The teams with the second- and third-best records in baseball are meeting in a one-game playoff, while lesser teams like the Mets and Rangers get a few extra days to rest and line up their rotations. Maybe it is time to do away with divisions and just seed the teams in each league.
But in the meantime, would you look at this pitching match-up?
At the age of 24, Gerrit Cole has established himself as the Pirates’ ace, and one of the best pitchers in the NL, finishing in the top ten in wins, ERA, WHiP, innings and strikeouts. And Cole was lights-out against the Cubs this year,... Read More
It went down to the wire for the Houston Astros, but they made it. In the midst of losing their final game of the season, the Astros got word that the Angels had lost to the Rangers, thereby sending Houston on to the Wild Card game in the Bronx.
The Astros will have presumptive AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel on the hill. Keuchel came into his own this year, leading the league in wins, shutouts, ERA+, and innings pitched, making him exactly the horse you want taking the ball in a must-win game.
Keuchel’s been lights out in two starts – one home, one away – against the Yankees, pitching 16 innings of scoreless ball, with 21 strikeouts and only 1... Read More
The Angels clawed their way back from the brink of extinction Saturday night, scoring 5 runs in the ninth inning against the Rangers to secure an improbable 11-10 victory and keep their playoff hopes alive. But for all of yesterday’s magic, the Angels find themselves back on the brink, and there’s plenty still at stake for the Rangers.
If the Angels lose, they go home. If the Astros beat the Diamondbacks, the Angels go home. If the Angels win, and the Astros lose, the two teams would meet Monday in Houston for a one-game tiebreaker to determine who wins the second Wild Card spot, and the right to play yet another do-or-die game, this one against the Yankees.
The Rangers, who have already secured... Read More
The Rangers clinched at least a Wild Card berth with their victory Thursday over the Angels, while the Angels are still fighting for their playoff lives. But don’t think for a moment that the Rangers lack any motivation, as they are one more win – or an Astros loss away – from clinching the AL West, and thereby sparing themselves the crapshoot that is the Wild Card.
The Angels and Twins both trail the Astros by one game in the fight for the final spot in the postseason and a date with the Yankees on Tuesday. The Angels play three more against Texas; the Twins face the AL Central champs, the Royals; and the Astros square off with the Diamondbacks.
The Boston Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention seemingly months ago, but have rolled into the Bronx determined to play spoiler, doing their best to stave off the Yankees’ all-but-inevitable clinching of a Wild Card berth. The Yankees have dropped three straight to the Sox and are eager to see them leave, but there’s one more game to be played.
It’s been another tough year for Yankee starter CC Sabathia, who has missed a handful of starts, conjured only occasional flashes of his former greatness and now finds himself needing a brace for his right knee, which is cranky after a couple decades of heavy-duty use.
On September 20 he managed to find that old magic, pitching 6 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball in leading the Bombers... Read More
Cardinals at Pirates (7pm ET Wednesday, ESPN) The Cards and the Pirates, owners of the two best records in baseball, were rained out on Tuesday, forcing them to play a Wednesday doubleheader with the NL Central title on the line. A Cardinals win in either game would clinch the division, and relegate the Pirates to the Wild Card.
The Redbirds are sending spot starter Tyler Lyons to face the Pirates’ Charlie Morton in the nightcap. Lyons, who’s made only 7 starts this year, was pressed into service on Friday, when St. Louis fireballer Carlos Martinez was pulled after only 6 pitches with a right shoulder strain prematurely ending his season. Lyons proved to be a savior, pitching 3 2/3 innings of 1-run ball, at one point striking out 5... Read More
Red Sox at Yankees (7pm ET Tuesday, ESPN) The passion still burns hot in the Boston-New York rivalry, but with the Sox headed toward a third last-place finish in four years, the stakes are decidedly lower. While Boston circles the drain, the Yankees appear destined for a one-game Wild Card playoff.
More important than a W for the Yankees are signs that starter Michael Pineda is ready to contribute in October. Over his last two starts, he’s only given up one run in 11 and 1/3 innings, while striking out 10 and walking just one. But his previous two starts he also lasted 11 and 1/3, yet saw him give up eight earned runs. Which Pineda will show up?
The Yankees as a team have been scuffling along for... Read More
More than just divisional rivals, the Cards and Bucs have the two best records in baseball, and, as such, the first two teams two clinch playoff berths. Monday’s showdown is the first of a three-game series that represents the Pirates' last best chance to wrest control of the NL Central, and relegate the Cards to the one-game Wild Card playoff round. It would be sweet revenge for their 2013 loss to St. Louis in the NLDS.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn has faded down the stretch, going 4-5 in his last 10 starts, while averaging less than 5 innings a game. In 49 innings he’s surrendered 56 hits and 27 walks, while striking out only 35. In three starts against Pittsburgh this year, he’s gone... Read More
With just over two weeks left in the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the playoff picture is largely settled, except where it’s not, and where it’s not, OH MAN is it not.
The intrigue begins in the AL East, where the Toronto Blue Jays hold a slim 3.5 game lead over the New York Yankees. A series sweep for the Yankees, whose recent surge includes taking two of three from the first-place Mets in last weekend’s interleague series, would put them back at the top of the division, and a sweep for the Jays would likely put the division out of reach for the Bombers.
Will Ferrell is known for pushing the limits. For him, nothing is out of reach and nothing is too ridiculous. His will-do attitude and his perfect mix between outrageous and sincere is what draws fans into each project he attaches his name to. Taking in account his work on SNL and movies like Blades of Glory and Anchorman (we’ll forget Anchorman 2 ever happened), it’s clear Ferrell is not afraid to make the journey from far past left field to home plate.
When I first heard Will Ferrell was going to play at the Major League Baseball Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona this year, I was sure it was a joke. That beautiful soft, doughy body going up against professional athletes? No way. But, as I found out it... Read More
There are four MLB games on Sling TV this weekm and all four of them have playoff implications.
There’s no tighter divisional race in baseball right now than the AL West, where the Houston Astros hold a slim 1.5 game lead over their intrastate rival Texas Rangers. With less than a month to go in the regular season, that’s close enough to make the Astros nervous even if the two teams weren’t scheduled to meet seven more times in 2015, but they are, including Tuesday’s game at 8pm ET on ESPN.
The Rangers are surging, coming off a 12-4 spanking of the Oakland A’s Sunday, where offensive leader... Read More
The Pirates and the Yankees haven’t had this much in common since 1960.
Here they are staring into September, and the view from the Bronx is very much like the view from Pittsburgh: Both teams are in second place in their divisions and both teams are clinging to a Wild Card spot.
This week’s games – like all the games that follow them (and all the ones that came before) – matter. It’s a long season. But the narratives that surround those games change with the standings.
Normally, the matchup between the Yankees and the Red Sox has its own meaning, and maybe it still... Read More
When MLB instituted the Wild Card, many baseball purists gasped and wagged fingers. It will diminish the excitement that’s earned from teams trying to win the pennant during six months of baseball and 162 games, they said.
In some ways – and in some cities – they might have a point. But don’t try to make that argument in Chicago or San Francisco right about now.
The Wild Card is presenting the Cubs and the Giants with both sides of what proponents of the expanded playoff system argue makes the system so great.
The Cubs are third in the extremely tough N.L. Central but, barring a... Read More
The Giants won their third World Series in five years in 2014 but entered this season with some serious questions as to whether they could do it again.
Who would replace Pablo Sandoval at third base? Who’s going to turn double plays with shortstop Brandon Crawford? Will former ace Tim Lincecum ever be the same? Will Matt Cain, for that matter? They even lost outfielder Hunter Pence at the start of the season.
The answers to some of these questions came in the form of third baseman Matt Duffy, second baseman Joe Panik, both of whom were unheralded prospects but have more than made up for the... Read More
Footage of the last championships for Kansas City and Pittsburgh is grainy enough to make anyone who remembers it feel very old.
The Pirates last won the World Series in 1979, led by Willie Stargell, and the Royals won in 1985, led by George Brett. Both players are in the Hall of Fame now, and the game has changed a great deal.
Since those last championships, many observers began to worry that large-market teams such as the Yankees, with their ever-thick wallet, had an unfair advantage in free agency. However, baseball’s leadership has made some adjustments to address the issue and, perhaps more importantly, small-market teams have... Read More
Part of the reason for the Yankees lack of movement before the deadline was their unwillingness to part with phenom Luis Severino, who is expected to make his major league debut Wednesday in the Bronx against the Red Sox. The Yankees are betting that he’s as much an answer to their starting pitching woes as Cole Hamels, David Price or... Read More
For the Mets to win the N.L. East, they’ll have to go through the Nationals. For the Yankees to win the A.L. East, they’ll have to fend off the Orioles (and also the Rays, Blue Jays and—yes—maybe even the Red Sox).
The Mets enter Monday’s contest with Washington two games behind, which sets up a series that could alter the division race. The Mets send ace Matt Harvey against Gio Gonzalez and the rest of the series, pitching-wise, will also be difficult for the Nationals to handle. It would be difficult for anyone to handle.
Hall of Famer John Smoltz recently said that the Mets' rotation is more talented... Read More
This team has been hit hard by injuries to ace Adam Wainwright and sluggers Matt Adams and Matt Holliday, among many others, and yet here they are nearing the All-Star break with the best record in baseball, 53-28, which is also good for the best record after 81 games since 1944.
The Cardinals play three times this week on Sling TV, twice against the division rival Chicago Cubs. Entering Monday’s games, St. Louis has an 8.5-game lead over Chicago in the N.L. Central.
The Cardinals lost Wainwright after just four starts but the pitching staff is talented... Read More
Fans of the Giants, Nationals, Mets and Cubs rejoice: you can watch your team twice this week on Sling TV. And with seven games on ESPN, here’s your guide for what to look for.
Best Pitching Matchup
On Friday, Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard faces the Dodgers’ two-time Cy Young-winner Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw has established himself as the one of the best pitchers of his generation—and some would argue the 27-year-old lefty is already an all-time great.
Syndergaard, 22, came over to the Mets from Toronto in the deal for R.A. Dickey. He has earned the nickname “Thor” in part because he’s 6-foot-6, 242 pounds. But also because of his 97-mph fastball that tops out in triple digits,... Read More
Entering the season, both the south and north sides of Chicago had reasons to be excited.
The White Sox spent a lot of money on free agent arms in starter Jeff Samardzija, closer David Robertson and setup man Zach Duke. They also bolstered the lineup with the bats of Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche. They even drafted a major-league ready arm in N.C. State’s Carlos Rodon.
The Cubs also spent big, reuniting Jon Lester and G.M. Theo Epstein to give them a World Series-tested ace. They added Miguel Montero behind the plate, and brought back free agent starter Jason Hammel after having packaged him with Samardzija in a deal... Read More
With the recent World Series success of the Giants and Cardinals, it would be easy to go with the National League. Those teams account for four of the past five World Series titles.
Then there’s the All-Star Game. Baseball nerds will point out that since the ill-fated tie in 2002, the A.L. has dominated, winning nine of 12.
But this week offers a good look at which league might be stronger. From Monday through Thursday, every team will play a two-game home-and-away interleague series (that’s four total games for those scoring at home) against the same opponent.
The A.L. East has worn the de facto label of the toughest division in baseball for many years and, from the top to the bottom, it is tough once again this year.
But is it the best? Some would eagerly say no but ask anyone in Boston or the Bronx and you could get a different answer.
For example, Wednesday’s game on ESPN between the Red Sox and Orioles. As of this writing, both teams are under .500, and in the cellar of the division. Yet they are still very much in the race, just 5.5 games off the lead.
This week’s other game on ESPN is Sunday’s contest... Read More
Some thought the slugger would never be the same after undergoing neck surgery last season. Those doubts, however, should have subsided during spring training when he used teammate Rougned Odor to do squats.
“I can feel both my arms. It feels good,” Fielder said. “That helps. That definitely helps when you’re hitting.”
Yes, feeling your arms indeed helps, and his numbers back up that crazy theory. Fielder is hitting .344, good for fourth in the American League, and also has five home runs and 23 RBI through the Texas Rangers first 38 games of the season.
There are several amazing pitchers taking the mound this week on Sling TV, but seeing the Metropolitans’ Matt Harvey smoke an inside fastball past hitters might not surprise you quite as much as a pitch the Tigers’ Alfredo Simon has hidden up his sleeve.
The Eephus pitch might sound like baseball’s equivalent of the Yeti or Big Foot because not many fans have ever actually seen it live in a game. But every few years a video will surface of the pitch freezing a batter for a strikeout on a toss that usually doesn’t register more than 60 m.p.h. or so.
Every game on Sling TV this week features preseason favorites for the World Series title.
The Washington Nationals and Boston Red spent a lot of money in the offseason to fortify their chances while St. Louis made some deft trades and the Yankees… well, the Yankees must think quite a bit of the team they already had because they didn’t go after any big names.
In fact, some pundits don’t consider the Yankees contenders at all. The A.L. East is loaded with talent, as always, and New York is relying on many aging stars and also have some serious question marks in the rotation.
Meanwhile, the Nats assembled one of the best pitching staffs in modern memory with the addition of Max Scherzer. But somehow they’ve gotten... Read More
It’s tempting to say that there are four teams playing this week on Sling TV who could win the World Series but there might really only be three.
There are certainly four cities that have that expectation but —- sorry, New York —- things don’t look so good in the Bronx despite what seems to be a renaissance for Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees travel to Detroit on Monday to face a Tigers team that is managing to find its way in what is increasingly seeming like the post-Justin Verlander era–and Detroit is doing it in part thanks to an off-season trade with New York. The Yankees sent starting pitcher Shane Greene to them as part of a three-team trade that landed Didi Gregorious in pinstripes.
The first week of the season is a tempting mirage. It’s easy to believe that whatever happened the first week is what will happen the rest of the season, good or bad.
Adrian Gonzalez might really hit 135 homers this year! And he’ll need to because Clayton Kershaw stinks!
Maybe there really is a fantasy league where someone dropped Kerhsaw, who had two rocky starts for the Dodgers while his teammate mashed homer after homer, but most sane people know that there is a lot of baseball to be played and that Kershaw is a special arm. An arm you only see every few generations.
This week, there are three other special arms to watch: the Yankees’ Michael Pineda, the Mariners’ Taijuan Walker, and the Cardinals’ Adam... Read More
The Cardinals have had so much success in recent years that the phrase “The Cardinal Way” is now a thing. It’s a thing most people had never heard of until a book by that name was published.
But there is no disputing the truth: the Cardinals really do have a “way.”
This provides important context for Sunday’s MLB season-opener, context that was not lost on whoever makes the schedule.
The Cubs have never had a “way,” unless you count disappointing fans decade after decade—until now. Sure, that may sound premature. The Cubs still haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and last made the playoffs in 2008.
But GM Theo Epstein has given Chicago fans more hope than they have ever had thanks to a heap... Read More