In what was an unconventional playoff game, the Boston Red Sox eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 3-1 in Tampa. Boston joins the Los Angeles Dodgers as 2 of the 4 teams to make it to the next round of the postseason. For Boston this is the first time they made it to the ALCS since 2008 and for the Dodgers its the first time they have moved on to the NLCS since 2009.
What makes this Red Sox victory so unconventional? Perhaps the fact that Rays skipper Joe Maddon used 9 pitchers in this game, setting a postseason record for most pitchers used in one game. This was no extra inning game either, this was your regular 9 inning affair. It was known that Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson would get a short leash. Hellickson threw a perfect 1st inning but in the 2nd he gave up a hit and walked 2 men with no outs leading to his exit. From there Maddon had put together an interesting carousel of pitchers including starter Matt Moore.
Boston starter Jake Peavy went 5 2/3 innings giving up 5 hits, 1 earned run and striking out 3. He did his job and the bullpen did theirs, including a wonderful performance by Craig Breslow who many Red Sox players say he was the game MVP for keeping the Sox in a close game having been down by 1. Red Sox turned in a small rally in the 7th and get the go ahead run off a wild pitch from Joel Peralta. Tazawa and Sox closer Uehara threw brilliantly as they have done all year to seal a spot in the ALCS for the Boston Red Sox.
There are a few notable things in this series. Boston took 8 walks and gave up zero in game 4 of the ALDS. The bullpen was excellent. Shane Victorino was hit 4 times tying a postseason record. Jacoby Ellsbury went 9 for 18 including 4 stolen bases and David Ortiz went 5 for 13 and clubbed 2 home runs. All the means to fend off a hungry Tampa Bay Rays ball club.
The Boston Red Sox will meet the winner of Fridays game 5 winner between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
Surely by now you have realized or heard by now that this is the first time the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the postseason since 1992. A lot of things has happened over the last 21 years in baseball but it’s finally time for baseball fans in the steel city to throw on their eye patches and root for their Pirates as they take on the division rivals and champion, the St. Louis Cardinals.
First the Pirates had to survive the one game playoff game against another division foe, the Cincinnati Reds to get the shot to move on and play the National League’s best record (97-65) St Louis Cardinals. Francisco Liriano spun a gem and Russel Martin smacked 2 home runs en route to a 6-2 victory over the Reds, the first postseason victory at PNC Park.
Starters: The St. Louis Cardinals closed out the regular season with 6 straight victories and are putting their ace, Adam Wainwright on the hill for game 1. The NL leader in Wins (19), will face the Pirates for the 4th time this season and owns a 3.00 ERA over the first 3 starts. The Pirates are throwing AJ Burnett on the mound who has faced the Cards 6 times this season, posting a 3.67 ERA. I give the Cardinals the starting pitching advantage in game 1 of the NLDS.
The two teams have faced each other 19 times this season, with the Pirates taking the booty 10 times. But the Red Birds have won the last 4 of their match-ups. Pittsburgh has displayed more power, hitting 14 more home runs than the Cards in their 19 games but give St. Louis the upper hand if you’re talking recent postseason experience. I do feel that if it is close late in the game, the Pirates can do a better job keeping the lead close with their bullpen arms.
Statistics really only go so far when it comes to October baseball. Who will be the hero? I think the St. Louis Cardinals will take Game 1 but mark my words, without Allen Craig I think the Pirates have a legitimate shot at taking the Cardinals down in the NLDS.
Get in the Delorean and strap on your seat belts, we’re going back in time! All the way back to March 25 of the year 2013. Okay so maybe not that long ago but on that day, Kyle Lohse finally found a job. With the Milwaukee Brewers, for 3 years and $33 million. Which I still think was a mistake on the part of General Manager Doug Melvin. Maybe the scorpion sting got to his head.
I’m going to be quite honest, I really didn’t see the Brewers to be the team signing Lohse. Sure they needed pitching but was it really worth it to sign a 34 year old to a 3 year contract and lose your first round pick in the upcoming draft? In 2012 the Brewers finished 3rd in the NL Central with a record of 83-79. Not too shabby, so I can see why they would think they have a shot to compete in the 2013 season. Respectfully Milwaukee has some nice pieces to build around but after losing Zack Greinke, having a bullpen that was struggling and a weak farm system, maybe it’s time to load up the system through the draft in the next few years. Lets face it, the NL Central has become a pretty competitive division as of late.
Don’t get me wrong, Kyle Lohse is a descent pitcher and coming off a great year but by signing him, Milwaukee forfeits their 1st round 28th overall pick to division rivals, St. Louis Cardinals. Their first pick in the 2013 draft came 54th overall which the Brewers drafted high school pitcher Devin Williams.
Push it to 88 MPH and travel forward to June and Lohse currently owns a 4.03 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 73.2 innings this season with a record of 2 and 6 through mid-June. The Brewers currently sit 4th in the NL Central with a record of 26-37, 15 games behind the team with the best record in baseball.. the St. Louis Cardinals.
Overall I think when the time came, Doug Melvin shouldn’t of made the offer to Lohse, kept the extra pick and went after an innings eater at a more affordable rate. Although baseball is unpredictable and who knows what can happen, but I just don’t see the Brewers contending for a little while.
There’s a few weeks until opening day when the Texas Rangers are set to face the Houston Astros. Having said that, we are still underway in the 2013 spring training season. For this article I’ll look at a couple players of the Pittsburgh Pirates and how they’re coming along this March as they look to finish above a .500 record. Something they haven’t accomplished in 20 years.
Perhaps my favorite player in camp this year and set to take over left field for the Pirates is Starling Marte. I got to see him a few times last season when AAA Indianapolis came to town. Starling is such an outstanding athlete and looks to showcase an impressive skill set in the majors. He got a taste of MLB pitching last season playing in 47 games. He’s a guy with plus speed, above average fielding and has some pop in his bat. He’ll need to polish it up a bit and try to cut down on the whiffs and be more consistent at the plate. But that comes with experience at this level. It’s reported that he has been working on tightening his game this offseason and this spring it looks to be paying off. Starling Marte is hitting .407 with 3 triples and 7 runs scored. Flashing a bit of speed with 3 stolen bases.
Gaby Sanchez, acquired last season from the Miami Marlins is off to a nice start. It’ll be crucial for him to regain his all-star form if the Pirates want to finish above .500 or make the playoffs. In 12 games this spring, Gaby is hitting .320 with 3 solo home runs and an even 2:2 BB/K ratio. Can he keep it up this season?
It looks like Pedro Alvarez has found his hammering power stroke last year hitting 30 HR’s last season. He’s now 26 years old and it seems pretty clear that he wont hit for average or take an ample amount of walks. But he’s got that thunder in his bat and can still work to improve his plate discipline. He’s hitting a measly .088 going 2 for 25 with 2 RBI’s in 10 games this spring.
Newly signed Russell Martin looks to take a major role with Pittsburgh. The Pirates wanted to find a seasoned vet to anchor their pitching staff. Looks like they found a pretty descent guy. Although daddy might have some achy knees this season catching the wild A.J Burnett and Francisco Liriano. Martin is hitting .176 with an OBP of .364 in 7 games. Pirates are probably taking it easy on him early on.
Mark Melancon looks to bounce back after a dreadful season with the Boston Red Sox. He’ll add to the bullpen and if he performs well, he may see some save chances if Jason Grilli struggles. He in fact does have some closer experience with the Astros. In 6 games he’s worked a 1.50 ERA, giving up a hit per inning and 1 ER off a home run. I think a move back to the National League was the best thing he could do. Nice fit with Pittsburgh.
Lefty Starter Wandy Rodriguez has tossed 5 innings and held batters to a .211 batting average. A fly by under the radar guy has a chance to turn in a good season and he’s having his best spring training yet so far.
Not that these numbers really matter as players look to get into the flow before the regular season and work on personal things to improve themselves. But it is always nice to check in on your favorite player or team. I do however think Pittsburgh will improve this year and will make it over the .500 hump for the first time in 2 decades. You’d think the baseball gods would throw them a bone, right?
So I sit here watching this incredible up and down World Baseball Classic game between USA and Canada. A game that has a feel like like a final game in a ALDS, but in the month of March. The United States at one point, decides to put Arizona Diamondback David Hernandez out to the mound. I can’t help but think about how underrated the guy is….
In my eyes, David Hernandez is one of the top relief pitchers in the game. A man who does his job quite like no other, bridging the gap from the 8th inning to the 9th beautifully. A handcuff to the aging J.J. Putz. In the past 2 seasons for the Dbacks, Hernandez compiled 48 holds which is a Major League 12th best. Not to mention a good honkin’ fastball and a nasty slider.
A former 16th round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft. 483rd overall to be exact. He came up as a starter, putting in good overall numbers in the minors. At 24 years old, he was called up by the Orioles making 19 starts and once out of the pen for a limp 5.42 ERA. Forward to December of 2010 and David Hernandez along with Kam Mickolio for slugger Mark Reynolds. Perhaps Arizona was on to something by trading for Hernandez, seeing how they had drafted him once previously but he didn’t sign. They had an obvious liking for the guy. The Diamondbacks strictly used him out of the bullpen in 2011 and 2012 and the move payed off. Proving that he is a trusty reliever and without a doubt a possible future closer for the Diamondbacks, replacing an aging and oft injured J.J. Putz. Between David and Heath Bell, he’ll likely get some save opportunities if Putz sees any DL time or needs a night off.
In fact, the four seasons he has pitched in the MLB he managed to lower his ERA, runs, hits given up, walks, WHIP, and HR’s allowed in each season. While increasing his strike out total in each season. In 2012 he stuck out an impressive 98 batters in 68.1 innings. Perhaps the most valuable part of David Hernandez to the Arizona Diamondbacks is that he is set to earn just over $3 Million for the next 2 seasons. Count on him to have another voluminous season.
Every team needs a hug once and a while, right? A series of breakups followed the 2012 season for the Texas Rangers which include Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara. While their hitting still remains pretty potent and good, it wont be the quite the same as a few years past. Texas will need to rely more on their pitching this season and to me, their starting pitching is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Okay, it’s not that bad but it has some loose ends. So maybe a late signing of Kyle Lohse wouldn’t be such a bad idea? It’s been reported that Martin Perez had been stuck by a line drive that fractured his left forearm. He wont be able to resume throwing for the next 4 weeks. Here’s how their rotation shakes out.
The obvious number one here is Yu Darvish. Followed by Matt Harrison and Derek Holland who try to repeat past successes. Even though the Rangers lost bullpen arms in Adams and Uehara to free agency, they plan to make Alexi Ogando a number four starter. Alexi has been successful in the past as a starter but really only has two fantastic pitches in his hard fastball and hard slider. He has thrown a changeup in the past, just not that often. Can he harness it this spring? I’d love to see him stick in the pen . Don’t forget Texas still has Colby Lewis who won’t be back until around mid-May recovering from a torn flexor tendon.
Now who will round out their rotation? Now with Perez out, possible in house candidates are Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, and spring training invitee Kyle McClellan. To me this just isn’t enough. Not if the boys in blue want to keep up with the much improved Los Angeles Angels and the young scrappy Division winning, Oakland Athletics.
Enter Kyle Lohse, who patiently waits by the phone for some team to call. He had a career year last year pitching to the tune of a 16-3 record, a 2.86 ERA, 143 K’s and only walking 38 in 211 innings with the Cardinals. If the Rangers can even sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal, chalk it up as a win. A veteran presence like Kyle’s will boast a thin starting pitching staff. An opportunity like this doesn’t just fall in your lap.
Kyle Lohse will have a better year than Ryan Dempster.
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