MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/10/12
Thoughts & Theories
-With the focus in the AL Wild Card race centered around the Tigers, Orioles and Athletics, the Tampa Bay Rays are being lost in the shuffle. After sweeping the Blue Jays and getting back Evan Longoria from injury, Joe Maddon’s team should be viewed as a legitimate threat to claim one of the Junior Circuit’s two wild card slots. Matt Moore got the win on Thursday and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last five starts, lowering his ERA to a very good 3.73. Think Longoria doesn’t have a huge impact on this team? Think again. Tampa Bay has won 13 of the last 15 games Longoria has played in. Expect more victories going down the stretch.
-Let’s do a little blind player comparison: Player A has a 9-6 record with a 2.88 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and a 3.2 WAR. Player B has a 10-5 record with a 2.35 ERA. a 1.06 WHIP and a 4.4 WAR. It’s a pretty close decision, right? Player A is Clayton Kershaw and Player B is Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman, who is third in the majors in ERA after striking out 11 over six scoreless innings in the Nats’ 5-0 win over Houston. Even with Stephen Strasburg being shut down, a trio of Gio Gonzalez, Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson should be very good come playoff time.
-R.A. Dickey is doing and saying all the right things this season. After throwing a complete game and striking out 10 Marlins for his major league leading 15th win, he was more concerned with the team’s victory. ”That nine-game streak that was stopped today is more important than the 15 wins,” Dickey said, referring to New York’s home losing streak. Along with Zimmerman and the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, he’s one of the contenders for the NL Cy Young Award.
-Alex Rodriguez broke his hand on July 25. Since then the Yankees are a middling 7-7, but his replacement Eric Chavez is doing quite well in A-Rod’s absence. He’s 14/37 (.378) with four homers and nine RBI’s, none bigger than his long ball on Thursday to give New York a 4-3 win over Detroit.
-One major reason why Arizona is only four games out in the NL West is the play of offseason acquisition Jason Kubel. Kubel opened and closed the scoring on Thursday against Pittsburgh with two-run homers in a 6-3 win to salvage a split of the four-game series. Kubel is now third in the NL with 25 home runs and is second in the league with 77 RBI’s.
Weekend Series To Watch
Detroit @ Texas- The Tigers are in a three-way tie for the two Wild Card spots in the AL and head to the Metroplex after a four-game split this week with the Yankees. Justin Verlander goes for Detroit on Saturday, while Yu Darvish looks to get out of his slump on Sunday. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton are all swinging hot bats so it should be an interesting series.
Oakland @ Chicago- Yet another battle between a division leader and a team tied for the Wild Card lead. Former White Sox starter Brandon McCarthy comes off the DL on Friday to face Gavin Floyd, while Francisco Liriano gets a big start with his new team on Saturday. Sunday’s series finale will be televised on TBS and will feature Jarrod Parker and Chris Sale, two of the game’s top young arms. One player to watch is Yoenis Cespedes, who’s batting .402/.455/.630 since the All-Star Break.
Washington @Arizona- With the Diamondbacks fighting to stay in the race, facing Stephen Strasburg and Washington cannot be welcome news. Strasburg’s Friday opponent is Trevor Cahill, who leads the major leagues with a 61 percent ground ball rate. Edwin Jackson and Wade Miley is a really good Saturday matchup before Patrick Corbin closes the series out for the Snakes. Tonight is the first game of a six-game west coast trip for the Nationals that will also see them head to the NL West leading Giants.