MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/13/12
Thoughts & Theories
-Though the Dodgers have acquired some big names over the last few weeks, their success overall this season stems from surprising performances from numerous unexpected places. One of those unexpected stars has been Chris Capuano. After being signed from New York this past offseason as a veteran innings eater to replace the departed Hiroki Kuroda, Capuano has far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Capuano threw eight innings of two-hit shutout ball with 10 strikeouts in Los Angeles’ 5-0 win over Miami on Sunday. Capuano is now 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA and is eating so many innings that he’s ninth in the National League in that department.
-Why do the Reds still have the second best record in baseball even without its best player, Joey Votto? Three huge reasons were on display in Cincinnati’s 3-0 win over the Cubs on Sunday. Johnny Cueto, who has to be considered for the NL Cy Young award, threw eight shutout innings for his 15th win. That’s tied for first in the NL and his 2.45 ERA and his 161 2/3 innings pitched are both good for third place in the Senior Circuit.
The man who replaced him on Sunday, closer Aroldis Chapman, is mowing down hitters at a pretty incredible rate. He threw a clean ninth inning on Sunday with a strikeout to lower his ERA to 1.26. He has an astonishing 106 strikeouts and 14 walks in 57 innings. Chapman’s 16.74 strikeouts per nine innings is more than three k’s per nine better than second place Kenley Jansen.
Ryan Ludwick has emerged as the perfect fit for this Reds team as a platoon outfielder with power who’s perfectly suited for the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. His .266 batting average and .335 on base percentage is barely above his career averages, but the difference is his off the charts .555 slugging percentage. He hit his 21st homer of the season on Sunday in just 301 at bats, an average of a homer per every 14.3 at bats. Among players with at least 325 plate appearances, Ludwick trails just eight players in that department: Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Josh Willingham, David Ortiz and Ryan Braun. That places him among elite company in terms of power hitters this year, and the Reds should be commended for the move.
-If not for Jered Weaver, White Sox pitcher Chris Sale would be the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young award, and that includes Justin Verlander. Sale struck out 11 A’s on Sunday in a 7-3 win to improve his record to 14-3 with a 2.60 ERA. ”One thing he does great, he changes speeds tremendously,” Chicago Catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “One can be 95 (mph) and the next can get be 86. That’s why he gets a lot of groundballs. That’s why he gets a lot of popups because guys are constantly off balance because of his stuff and his ability to change speeds.” Sale is 7-2 with a 1.80 ERA at home this season and would be a formidable playoff ace.
Series To Watch- Beginning Monday
Rangers @ Yankees- The two best AL teams in terms of record begin a four game series this evening in New York. Ryan Dempster takes the hill for Texas tonight against David Phelps, who replaces the injured CC Sabathia in the starting rotation. Monday’s game will be on ESPN2 while Wednesday’s game will be on ESPN. Tuesday’s game will be on MLB Network.
Dodgers @ Pirates- Los Angeles trails Pittsburgh by 2.5 games for a Wild Card spot and San Francisco by one game in the NL West. The two playoff contenders begin a four game series this week at PNC Park Aaron Harang and Jeff Karstens pitching tonight. A worrisome stat for the Dodgers is that their 36 runs scored in August is fourth worst in baseball.
Nationals @ Giants- In a possible playoff preview, the hot hitting Giants host a Washington team that has won eight of nine. Gio Gonzalez faces Ryan Vogelsong on Monday, Jordan Zimmerman and Madison Bumgarner pitch on Tuesday and MLB Network will have Tim Lincecum and Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday.