Tagged: Pitching

Red Sox eliminate hungry Rays

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. 

Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Four

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.

-Tim Williams

Meet Michael Wacha; near no-no in the ‘Burgh

The St. Louis Cardinals held off the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh in large part to Michael Wacha’s near no-hitter and Matt Holliday’s 2 run blast. This is Wacha’s first postseason start and this 6’6″ rookie is making quite a name for himself in Major League Baseball.  Wacha was a first round pick (19th overall) out of Texas A&M in the 2012 draft. A pick which the Cardinals received from the Los Angeles Angels for the signing of Albert Pujols.

Wacha

Wacha, 22, made 11 appearances in 2012, making it all the way to AA Springfield. 2 of his 11 appearances were starts and his 2012 statistics looked a little like this..

2012: 21 innings pitched, 4 walks, 2 earned runs and a whopping 40 strikeouts with an ERA of 0.86.

This gave plenty of reason for Cardinal fans to be excited about their young arm and he continued his success this season at AAA Memphis in 15 starts posting an ERA of 2.65, 73 K’s and 19 walks in 85 innings.

St. Louis had brought Wacha up a few times this season and he made 15 appearances, 9 for starts for the red birds and just keeps dealing. He’s averaging a K per inning and his ERA sat at a nice 2.78 by the years end. His 15th MLB appearance was probably the most notable of his career almost no hitting the Washington Nationals… Up until today, facing elimination against the Pirates and at PNC Park, he picked up where he left off. Wacha carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning up until third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit a pitch into the seats, bringing Pittsburgh a run closer to tying the game. Ultimately the Pirates fell short in what was quite a pitchers duel between Wacha and Charlie Morton.

 

The series will go to a very exciting game 5 which will be played in St. Louis on Wednesday 10/9. The winner will play either the Dodgers or Braves in the NLCS.

-Tim Williams

Game 1: Pirates Vs. Cardinals NLDS

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.

-Tim Williams 

 

 

 

Back to the Youth

A big part of baseball for me is watching young talented prospects develop and learn the game through the minor leagues. Some develop into some of the best hitters and pitchers, some settle into bench roles or middle relief and others don’t meet expectations or fizzle out. Baseball is grueling, brutal and one of the toughest sports to play. Despite some people thinking it’s like watching grass grow.

Everyone has their favorite little all stars that are prime to brake out and i’m sure many of you lurk the top 100 baseball prospects list year to year like I do. Here’s a list of guys that are having themselves a strong season as they try to make a name in baseball.

Peter O’Brien, C, New York Yankees – Originally drafted by the Rockies in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. Peter chose not to sign and attend the University of Miami. The following year in the 2012 draft, the Yankees drafted him in the 2nd round, 94th overall and he signed with the bombers. He’s a 6’3 righty catcher with power. He’s down in single A Charleston and tearing the covers off baseballs. He’s hitting a slash line of .333/.404/.640 with 11 homeruns and 41 RBI’s in 51 games. What’s also impressive is that he clubbed 22 doubles in that time.

Max Muncy, 1b, Oakland Athletics – Max was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 41st round of the 2009 draft coming out of high school. He chose not to sign and attend Baylor instead. Then in the 2012 draft, Max was selected in the 5th round by the Oakland A’s. Not an overly large first baseman, being only 6 foot but this kid has some power. There is one thing that sticks out to me from his rookie season last year at single A Burlington and this year at high A Stockton. In roughly about the same amount of games, in 2012 he hit 20 doubles and 4 HR’s. This season he’s translated that swing in a big way, hitting 9 doubles and a whopping 18 HR’s. Couple that with his .303/.422/.539 slash line and 61 RBI’s. But perhaps his best feature is the fact that he has more walks than strikeouts, 47:46 which is huge for a developing young ball player. Keeping my eye on this kid.

Anthony Ranaudo, P, Boston Red Sox – The first rounder from 2010 is making heads turn again. He struggled in 2012 with the Portland Sea Dogs posting a 6.69 ERA and basically walked everybody. This season he’s back at AA Portland and it seems that he’s adjusted quite nice. In 12 starts, Ranaudo posted a 2.12 ERA, only allowed 41 hits in 67 innings with a K:BB of 76:21. Looks like Boston has an ace in the making here and this dude is 6’7″. SIX SEVEN!

Rafael Montero, P, New York Mets – This kid amazes me. I think the Mets really have something in this arm. He hails from the Dominican Republic and signed with the Mets in 2010. What intrigues me is that he’s only walked 43 in 271.2 innings in his minor league career. In AA Binghamton, Montero posted a 2.43 ERA with a WHIP of .915 and a nice 9.7 K per 9. There is a reason why the Mets called him up to AAA Las Vegas and in 2 starts he’s pitched quite well. Don’t expect the Mets to call him to the majors just yet because of his innings but who knows, it’s baseball.

montero-gnats-closeup

-Tim Williams

@ItsTimWilliams

Great Scott! A Look Back on the Signing of Kyle Lohse.

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.

kyle lohse 2

 

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.

Kyle Lohse

 

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.

-Tim Williams

 

Spring Fever: Pittsburgh Pirates

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.

Marte

Gaby Sanchezacquired 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.

Wandy

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?

-Tim Williams

@ItsTimWilliams

Youth Movement: Prospects I’m excited to see in 2013

Fresh off a thrilling 2012 season, we are about a few weeks into spring training. Perhaps no ballplayer is as thrilled to be in Arizona or Florida than a young kid looking to better their career and showcase their talents. I love seeing the raw talent that these guys have and to watch them grow and learn right in front of your eyes. Some go on to the bigs and do great things, while some completely fizzle out. That’s what the minors are there for, right? Aside from the few top standouts like Jurickson Profar, Dylan Bundy, Gerrit Cole or Oscar Taveras, here’s some prospects I’m looking forward to see in 2013 leaving me Fully Torqued.

Jackie Bradley, CF – Boston Red Sox picked Bradley in the 1st round 40th pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft out of the University of South Carolina. In his first full season, Jackie topped out at AA Portland. Between high-A and AA, Bradley hit .315/.430/.482 with 42 doubles, 9 HR, 63 RBI’s, 24 steals in 124 games. Importantly is that he can take a walk, 87 last year. He’s not overly powerful but some of those doubles could turn into HR’s. It appears he doesn’t need much more time in the minors and will be with the Red Sox perhaps by the years end. It’s been said that he will be the guy to replace Jacoby Ellsbury after the season.

Archie Bradley, SP – I love this kid. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Bradley with the 7th overall pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft right out of high school. Big frame on this kid (6’4″/225lbs). He was a quarterback in high school and some say that he probably has the highest ceiling in the Diamondbacks organization. I believe it. He’s a work in progress as he has to adjust to the game a bit more. In 27 starts at single-A last season, Archie went 12-6 and owned a 3.84 ERA with 152 K’s in 136 innings. He needs to work a bit on his control, walking an alarming 84 batters. He keeps the ball in the park though and will likely start at high A ball this season.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B – The Houston Astros nailed in on the head nabbing Singleton from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade. In a full year (131 games) at AA Corpus Christi, Jonathan hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 HR’s and 79 RBI’s. He struck out an average of once per game but still walked 88 times. He is no doubt the franchise piece for the Astros for years to come at first base. If he hadn’t been caught with pot and being suspended 50 games, he might of seen the majors sooner. There is no need to rush him and I could see him winning the starting gig as soon as opening day 2014.

singleton

Jedd Gyorko, 2B – Perhaps the most underrated prospect on this small list. He owns a career  .319/.385/.529 line in the minors and after crushing the ball in AAA last season, he doesn’t really have much left to prove. I’m hoping Jedd wins the second base job in San Diego and he sure deserves it. His defense is improving, as he was a third baseman by trade. But we know for now that Chase Headley isn’t going anywhere. Don’t expect him to hit that career minor league slash line he owns, but I can see him flirting around .280 in the majors. He doesn’t walk as much as I’d like but he’s still a fun player to watch.

There’s plenty of great young talent in baseball and this is only 4 of them. Check out MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list for 2013. It’s quite beautiful.  Thanks for reading Fully Torqued.

-Tim Williams

Twitter: @ItsTimWilliams