MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/17/12
Thoughts & Theories
-If you had to pick one pitcher to throw in that one game Wild Card playoff, there won’t be many better options right now than Tampa Bay’s David Price. He shut out a potent Angels offense over seven innings in the Rays’ 7-0 victory over Anaheim for his MLB leading 16th win. He sports a 2.39 ERA and set the tone for a crucial four-game weekend series with the Halos.
-Would you believe that Atlanta has won 15 straight games in which Kris Medlen has started? He’s only started four this year, but none were better than his complete-game, five-hit shutout of the Padres. ”He’s more than stated his case to be in the rotation from here on out,” Chipper Jones, who we’ll get to later, said. “The guy just wins ballgames. It’s awfully comforting as a player to know your guy is going to hold them to a minimum amount of runs.” Atlanta is in a good position to reach the postseason and Fredi Gonzalez would be hard-pressed to find four starters better than Medlen right now. ”He pounds the strike zone,” Gonzalez said. “Guys love to play behind him.”
-Boston has only been three games under .500 since the All-Star break, but the way the Red Sox players and the city of Boston has turned on Bobby Valentine you would think it was 30 games under .500 since the break. Many are calling for Valentine’s ouster after one season because of the team “underachieving” (though I believe it’s more caused by bad long-term investments like Carl Crawford and John Lackey, and the lack of starting pitching and bullpen depth) and Joel Sherman suggests that Jason Varitek take over as manager. He would certainly be popular with the players and fans and would continue the trend of popular former players with no managerial experience making for successful skippers. Robin Ventura has his White Sox in first place in the AL Central and Mike Matheny has his Cardinals within one game of the NL Wild Card.
-More Braves: I discussed the historical significance of Chipper Jones’ final season at age 40, so I’ll be brief today. What he’s doing is incredible. He smacked two more homers and his 2,700th career hit in a 6-0 win over San Diego on Thursday. He may not have many plate appearances this season but he’s still hitting .309/.382/.588 since the All-Star break when someone his age is supposed to wear down.
-Matt Harvey of the Mets took a no-hitter into the fifth and allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings in an 8-4 win over Cincinnati. Harvey struck out eight and drove in a pair of runs and should be the team’s Opening Day starter next season. Let’s face it. Johan Santana may never be the same the way he’s pitching and New York wants to turn the page on an era going on several seasons when they haven’t reached the postseason. Would that be a slight to Santana, who enters the final year of his contract next season? Of course, but the new Sandy Alderson Mets should put the focus on its new centerpiece asset and have Harvey step in as the ace. It would be a refreshing beginning to the 2013 season for the team.
Weekend Series To Watch
Pirates @ Cardinals- One game separates these two NL Central rivals from the final wild card spot going into this crucial weekend series. James McDonald has struggled of late and goes against Jake Westbrook on Friday. Erik Bedard and Lance Lynn pitch Saturday on Fox and Jaime Garcia returns from the DL to pitch on Sunday.
Rays @ Angels- The Angels are 2 1/2 games back of the Rays for the AL Wild Card and needs a big series at home. Check out these pitching matchups: James Shields vs Jered Weaver on Friday; Alex Cobb and C.J. Wilson on Saturday and Matt Moore vs Zack Greinke on Sunday. One hot bat to watch is B.J. Upton, who has four homers in the last week.
Dodgers @ Braves- Los Angeles barely holds the NL West lead and Atlanta holds an NL Wild Card spot, making this a potential playoff preview. Chris Capuano looks to continue his stellar season on Friday, Ben Sheets looks to do the same on Saturday and Chad Billingsley is the headliner on Sunday’s TBS telecast. One hot bat to watch is Hanley Ramirez, who has a .424 average with 11 RBI’s over the last week.
Orioles @ Tigers- Baltimore leads Detroit by one game for the final AL Wild Card spot as the two sides clash at Comerica and Justin Verlander takes the hill on the opener. Rookie Steve Johnson pitches for the O’s on Saturday against Rick Porcello and rookie Wei-Yin Chen battles Doug Fister on Sunday. Baltimore brings two hot bats to this series in Mark Reynolds and Manny Machado, who each have three homers over the last week.