It’s Monday and I’m writing this report from the FSTA Conference in San Francisco. Don’t believe any of the reports of late night gallivanting… OK, maybe you can believe some of them. Regardless how many Vodka and Red Bull’s I pulled back on last night, there’s still plenty going on in the world of baseball that deserves my, and your, attention.
When does a demotion to the minor leagues mean a guy has gained value? When that player is a pitcher who is relieving but being looked at to join the starting rotation. That’s the situation with Andrew Cashner. A middle reliever for the Padres, he’s been sent down to stretch out his arm as the club has made the decision that they need a starter who isn’t 39 years old (have you seen some of the garbage that the Padres have been running out there this year?). Cashner was hitting 100 mph in his first start of the year against the Brewers (he lasted just 2.1 innings), and he could be back by the end of the month.
R.A. Dickey has been amazing since the start of the 2010 season. In that time Dickey has taken the hill 72 times leading to a 2.97 ERA for the Mets. How impressive is that number? Among NL hurlers who have tossed 400-innings since the start of the ’10 season, Dickey’s ERA is the 6th best mark in the NL – sixth. That mark is even lower this year at 2.44 as Dickey’s knuckler is simply nearly unhittable right now. Dickey has won nine games on the year including each of his last seven decisions and he’s picked up a win in each of his last four games. In those four contests he’s gone at least seven innings each time, has allowed a total of one run, and he’s working on a 24.2 inning scoreless streak. Most amazing of all? How about the fact that he’s racked up at least eight Ks in each of his last five outings and 78 in 81 innings on the year. Knuckle ballers just aren’t supposed to be able to do that. Truly impressed am I.
Felix Hernandez (back) will take the hill Tuesday for the Mariners after missing his last turn though the rotation. After allowing nine runs in his last two outings, an at least 10 hits in three of his last five starts, King Felix has the look of a guy who has been struggling with health for a while. Still, he has 81 Ks in 81.2 innings, and his 3.42 ERA and 1.26 WHIP aren’t awful by any means given his recent slump.
Daisuke Matsuzaka won 18 games with a 2.90 ERA. Since then, he’s been worse than replacement level, just look at the numbers: 16-16, 5.08 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.73 K/BB. He’s back with the Red Sox, and he did have eight Ks in five innings, but he’s got a ton of proving to do before I’d suggest anyone in a 10 or 12 team mixed league looked his way.
Kevin Millwood combined with five other Mariners pitchers to toss the 10th combined no-hitter in big league history last Friday. Why didn’t Millwood finish the game? He injured his groin making warmup tosses before the 7th inning. Good news out of Seattle in that Millwood might be able to make his next start an it’s also not likely that he will need a stint on the DL. Somehow Millwood has allowed a total of six earned runs in his last six outings. I smell a sell high opportunity here – don’t you?
Chris Sale lowered his ERA to 2.05 after eight shutout innings Saturday. He also lowered his WHIP to 0.92 for the Pale Hoes. Everyone knows how great he has been this year, but he’s been out of control of late. In his last five starts, all wins, Sale has allowed four runs. He’s also walked just seven batters while punching out 43 batters in 36.2 innings. Oh yeah, he’s also gone at least seven innings in 4-straight outings. All of this just makes that soap opera week with him being hurt, being demoted to the pen, being named the closer, and then being placed back in the rotation even more vexing. Here’s an interesting question to ponder – could a starting pitcher be sent to the bullpen and then win the Cy Young award in the same season? If Sale keeps up this pace we just might find out.
By Ray Flowers