I’m feeling like an AL-only report will be a good thing today, so I’ll spend most of my time discussing the Junior Circuit. Don’t worry if you are a fan of the NL, I’ll be sure to toss a couple of little diddy’s in there for you as well – don’t want anyone to call me an “ageist” or anything.
Alex Casilla has been sent back to Triple-A after the Twins activated Nick Punto. Casilla is hitting just .180 this season in 111 at-bats and hit just .222 in his most recent call-up (6-for-27). For a guy who hit .281 last season, the club didn’t show a lot of patience with Casilla this year.
Kelvim Escobar has made yet another recovery from arm issues, and after strong work in the minors he had a decent first start allowing two runs over five innings (he struck out five, though he did walk four). However, the team has reversed course with Escobar and will remove him from the starting rotation and add him to the bullpen because they claim he doesn’t have the stamina needed to be a starting pitcher at this point after he experienced some soreness in his shoulder after that lone start. “I went to see a doctor, and I didn’t have good range of motion, up and back,” Escobar said. “It doesn’t look like I can throw 80, 90 pitches. But I’m confident I can still help the team in the bullpen.” He will be held out of action for about a week at which time he will be worked into the bullpen mix. Escobar can be flat out dominating when he is on, so using him an inning every other day or so will certainly give the Angels a weapon out of the pen, something they can certainly use given that they are still without Scot Shields (knee) and Jose Arredondo who was sent back to the minors to work on his game. For those of you looking for some help in AL-only league, Matt Palmer will return to his role as a starting pitcher, a role that saw him go 5-0 with a 3.95 this season. Don’t go crazy to get Palmer though, he has a poor 1.59 K/BB mark this season, and his K/9 mark is also nothing more than average at 5.48 per nine.
Gavin Floyd has finally returned to being an effective hurler after some awful work to start the season. On Thursday Floyd tossed eight innings and allowed just one run to score. That’s five straight quality starts in a row for those of you keeping track at home.
I picked up Mike MacDougal off waivers this past weekend when it was announced that Joel Hanrahan was once again removed from the closers role. I was therefore very pleased to see Mike work three scoreless innings in back-to-back outings on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, he didn’t pick up a save in either outing because the game situation didn’t warrant it. Alas, the Nationals needed a “closer” on Thursday and they were forced to go with Joe Beimel because they didn’t want to run MacDougal out there yet again. Such is the way the breaks go sometimes.
David Ortiz hit an opposite field home run in his first at-bat on Thursday night off of CC Sabathia. That gives Ortiz three home runs in his last five games. Is he finally awaking from his early season slumber?
I spoke about Willy Taveras and his struggles at the plate yesterday in A Day in the Life. Just to update things, Taveras had another 0-for-outing on Thursday and he has now gone 0-for-20 in the month of June. There is no truth to the rumor that this run of futility will lead Dusty Baker to insert Willy T. into the cleanup role.
Jim Thome is finally hitting. Over the past four games Thome has gone deep three times with seven RBI to boost his numbers to 12 home runs and 39 RBI through 163 at-bats this season. Sure he is hitting only .258, but given that he is on pace to hit roughly 31 home runs while knocking in about 100 runs you cannot be too upset, especially since he hit just .245 last season. Are some of you shocked by his turnaround? If you are, you shouldn’t be. Thome is one of the most consistent home run hitting, RBI producers in big league history. Yes, I just wrote that line, and I can fully support the position with the following data points. (1) Thome has hit at least 30 home runs in the last 12-seasons that he has come to the plate at least 425 times. (2) Thome has knocked in at least 85 runs in each of the last 12-seasons that he has come to the plate at least 425 times. The only time in the past 13 years that Thome didn’t reach those plateaus was 2005 when he was limited to just 193 at-bats due to injury.
By Ray Flowers