Tag Archives: Pitcher

A Preview of the Best Possible 2015 Interleague Pitching Matchups

Potential can’t-miss interleague pitching matchups in 2015

By Mike Tigas on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mike Tigas on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Five Statistical Facts about Pedro Martinez

A proper introduction for Pedro Martinez is difficult. Dominant throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, he was so good we often didn’t even acknowledge him by his last name. He was just Pedro to us. There’s a lot of statistics you should know about him and to start you off, here are five of them.

League Leader

Oh boy! Where to start with the categories Martinez was a league leader in? I’ll try to make this as simple as possible. He led the league in wins once, winning percentage three times, ERA five times, complete games once, shutouts once, strikeouts three times, and WHIP six times. There were other more Bill James-esque statistics he led in, but like I said I wanted to keep this as simple as I could.

ERA Below 2.00

Twice Martinez finished the season with an ERA below 2.00. He did this in 1997 while with the Montreal Expos and again in 2000 when he was with the Boston Red Sox. In that 1997 season, he also had a league leading 13 complete games. In 2000, he had a league leading 4 shutouts.

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Home Runs Allowed

Hitting a home run off of Martinez proved to be difficult. For instance, in 2003 he only allowed 0.3 home runs per 9 innings, 7 total in the 186.2 innings he pitched. His career totals came out to 0.8 home runs per 9 innings.

Postseason Pitching

Surprisingly, Martinez was an overwhelming average postseason pitcher. In 16 postseason games, 14 starts, Martinez was 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA. His numbers would have been a bit better if not for his stint with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 when in the World Series he was 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA when facing against the rival New York Yankees.

Cy Young Awards

How could you ever ignore the Cy Young Award when discussing Pedro? His career ended with him winning it three times and finishing second in the voting twice. Imagine how much more elite Martinez would have looked if he had five Cy Young Awards instead of a still amazing three.

San Francisco Giants Not Signing James Shields or Max Scherzer

The defending champion San Francisco Giants are no longer pursuing free agent pitcher James Shields. Additionally, they were apparently never interested in Max Scherzer in a realistic world.

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Max  Scherzer) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Max Scherzer) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The current rotation is shaping up to include Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, and Tim Lincecum. A great rotation if they were all in their prime, questions remain.

Bumgarner is the only sure-thing of the five following his memorable performance in the 2014 postseason. Even so, some have wondered if his arm can hold up with all of the extra innings he was asked to pitch so late into the year.

Peavy has had his struggles in recent seasons as has Cain, who suffered a season-ending injury. For the Tims, Hudson is probably pitching in his final season while Lincecum could have his last chance to make the starting rotation. We have seen the best and worst from Lincecum in the last few seasons, but as the team’s fifth starter how good does he really need to be?

By Bryce Edwards from San Jose, CA, USA (Matt  Cain  Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Bryce Edwards from San Jose, CA, USA (Matt Cain Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The more pressing need for the Giants is with their offense. Losing Pablo Sandoval and replacing him with Casey McGehee shows the poor direction they are headed. One player they may be after now is Tampa Bay Rays’ infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist who could play almost anywhere in San Francisco. The Giants are lacking all over the field with the exception of Buster Posey at catcher. Even the great Hunter Pence was not an elite player, better utilized as a locker room leader.

Repeating is hard under any circumstances. Even if they had signed Shields or traded for an equivalent-level pitcher, the Giants have to deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres within the division. Although they won the World Series last season, we need to remember if they had lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card game it would have never happened.

Five Statistical Facts about Randy Johnson

“The Big Unit” Randy Johnson was one of the most frightening pitchers during his time on a big league roster. Not only was his tall stature able to scare off a few hitters, his slider could too. Johnson put together a Hall of Fame career over 22 seasons with lots of statistics worth knowing. Here are five of them.

League Leader

Here’s a breakdown of some of the statistics Johnson was a league leader in throughout his career:

Wins: 1 time
Winning Percentage: 4 times
ERA: 4 times
Complete Games: 4 times
Innings Pitched: 2 times
Strikeouts: 9 times

More on some of these in a moment.

Strikeouts

When discussing Johnson, strikeouts is a big part of what he did. Ranking second to only Nolan Ryan in career strikeouts, Johnson had several seasons where he put up monster numbers in this category. In 14 of his 22 major league seasons, Johnson reached 200 strikeouts. Far more impressive, Johnson reached 300 strikeouts 5 times.

By SD Dirk on Flickr (Original version) User UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By SD Dirk on Flickr (Original version) User UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Learning about Control

Early on in his career Johnson was a lot wilder than he was during his prime. In 1990, 1991, and 1992 he led the league in walks with 120, 152, and 144. The next year he walked 99 and apparently because of this realized 100 walks in a season was not required. He settled down significantly and was able to find his control.

Cy Young Awards

Five times Johnson was awarded the Cy Young. No that’s not a typo or me reading it wrong. I have double-checked. Johnson won the Cy Young Award in 1995 with the Seattle Mariners then again in four consecutive seasons from 1999-2002 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Johnson also happened to finish second in the voting three additional times. Now, pick up your jaw.

Postseason Pitching

With the exception of the 2001 postseason, pitching in the playoffs was not Johnson’s specialty. In 19 games, 16 starts, he was 7-9 with a 3.50 ERA. In 2001 though, he was 5-1 with a 3.38 ERA in the NLDS, 1.13 ERA in the NLCS, and 1.04 ERA in the World Series. He also had two shutouts.

Fact: Dan Haren Has the Fifth Highest Strikeouts to Walk Ratio in History

The history of the strikeouts to walks ratio is a bit interesting. In the top 25 are names like Ricky Nolasco, Jon Lieber, and Scott Baker. The most surprising to crack the top five is Dan Haren.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Dan  Haren") [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Dan Haren”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Haren’s career strikeouts to walk ratio is currently at 4.07. This is something he has led the league in three times throughout his otherwise often overlooked career. Less to do with his high number of strikeouts, Haren knows how to avoid walking opposing batters. His 1.9 walks per 9 is the best among all active players.

Rarely does Haren come up in the conversation when discussing the best pitchers from the 2000s. Fair enough, Haren deserves some credit for mastering control of the strike zone.

Five Statistical Facts about Mike Mussina

One of baseball’s best winning pitchers from the 1990s and 2000s was Mike Mussina. Known as “Moose,” Mussina spent his entire career pitching for an American League East team; splitting time between the Baltimore Orioles and then the New York Yankees. He won lots, pitched well while doing it, and never quite reached the national attention he probably deserved. These are five statistical facts about the ultimate borderline Hall of Famer if there ever was one.

Wins

Mussina won 270 games in his career. He led the league once when in 1995 he had 19 for the Orioles. Each year it seemed as if Mussina would reach the coveted 20-win mark and often he came up just short. Finally in his last season back in 2008, Mussina won 20 games. Mussina was such a winner that each season other than his first in 1991 when he started 12 games he had an above .500 record. The one below .500 season, he was still 4-5 and had a 2.87 ERA.

No Cy Young Awards

The biggest thing keeping Mussina out of the Hall of Fame other than his lack of memorable moments might be the lack of Cy Young Award on his shelf. Mussina would come close on several occasions, particularly in 1999 when he finished second to Pedro Martinez. Unfortunately Martinez had a career year and nearly won the MVP Award in addition to the Cy Young. Mussina didn’t stand a chance.

By Aaron (ConspiracyofHappines) (Flickr) [CC BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Aaron (ConspiracyofHappines) (Flickr) [CC BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Gold Gloves: 6

Just try to bunt on Mussina–he dares you. In his 18 seasons at the big league level, Mussina was awarded the Gold Glove in 6 of them. Even in seasons where Mussina would commit an error or two he would make up for it by displaying incredible range. His ability to throw the ball then field it showed even more in his desire to win.

Postseason Pitching

Unfortunately Mussina is near the top of the list of the best players to never win a World Series. The year he came to the Yankees was the end of their era of winning. The year after he left them, they won their most recent World Series. His luck in the playoffs was a bit better when he was on the mound, going only 7-8, but with a 3.42 ERA. Mussina had some really good series and some rather bad ones. It balanced out in the worst way as he was never able to get his ring.

Hot Septembers

The best month for Mussina seemed to be September. His career record of 44-21 was not much better than other months however his 2.86 ERA along with 16 complete games is impossible to ignore. Of those 16 complete games, 7 were shutouts. Mussina also happened to give up the fewest amount of home runs this month and nearly finished with more strikeouts than any other page on the calendar.

San Diego Padres Re-Sign Josh Johnson with a Deal Full of Motivation

There was a time not too long ago when Josh Johnson was one of the most dangerous pitchers in baseball. Injuries, however, caught up to him and suddenly fans of the Miami Marlins began getting flashbacks of Josh Beckett.

Johnson left Florida before the 2013 season as part of the big trade between the Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. Along with Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and several others, Johnson headed to the Blue Jays for a very disappointing season as a team and even worse as an individual. Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in his one season with the Blue Jays before becoming a free agent.

By james_in_to on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By james_in_to on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The new place Johnson called home for the 2014 season was in San Diego with the Padres. Once again it was the injury bug that bit him as he failed to make a single appearance. Holding no grudge against him, the Padres decided to re-sign Johnson on a one-year deal worth $1 million.

Perhaps Johnson feels like he owes the Padres. Based on his track record, he could have possibly gotten more money elsewhere. This was still no guarantee and likely his decision was the best one he could make for himself.

The deal the Padres signed Johnson to is worth more than the clean-looking $1 million. Johnson will receive a bonus at several check points this season including $500,000 when he reaches five starts and $1 million more when he starts 10 games. This deal makes me believe the Padres are very hesitant about Johnson’s future and rightfully so. Only three of Johnson’s nine seasons on a big league roster have ended with him pitching in 30 games or more, meaning, he gets injured often. He has also only surpassed 200 innings once, doing so in 2009.

In the position the Padres are in, spending money and making every trade possible to get better, Johnson’s contract looks perfect.

It’s not even about him getting injured either. A poor performance could knock him out of the rotation thus leading to the team not having to pay him for his relief duties. Incentive-laden deals like this make sense and are the perfect way to motivate a guy like Johnson on the mend to perform at the top of his game.

Kris Medlen Signs with the Kansas City Royals on the Cheap

College debt, the outrageous price of the so-called affordable healthcare, and that monthly winter electric bill are just three of the financial woes a lot of us have to deal with.

Of course, you may be one of the smart ones who skipped college, rely on home remedies for health ailments, and you heat yourself by always being sick with a fever.

For pitcher Kris Medlen, a lifestyle like this is likely never in his future. Professional athletes make plenty, but in contrast the new contract he was given today by the Kansas City Royals was a cheap one.

Medlen will be earning $8.5 million over the next two seasons to pitch for the Royals. The low contract has less to do with his performance and much more to do with the fact that he missed the entire 2014 season due to an injury. Typically when there are questions about player’s performance in the immediate future, like missing an entire year, they won’t be getting overpaid in the least bit and in this case might make a little less than they should.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Medlen’s record since 2012 is 25-13. He also happens to have a minuscule ERA of 2.47 over the two seasons he played in. He has shown he can pitch well even when asked to take the mound for 30 starts in a season. However like Brett Anderson, who was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week, injuries are the reason why teams are hesitant to commit.

Prior to joining the Royals, Medlen had spent his career with the Atlanta Braves. In 2012, he actually finished 20th in the National League MVP voting with a 10-1 record and 1.57 ERA. Splitting the season as a starting pitcher and relief pitcher, he remained successful enough into 2013 to earn this two-year deal with Kansas City.

Since the Royals are likely to lose James Shield and are in some serious need of a top pitcher to replace him,  I like the Medlen-risk. He’s making such little money that they could easily go out and pay another arm to become the team’s number one starter while holding onto hope Medlen becomes a very good number two.

The best case scenario would be Medlen having another season like we know he can with double digit wins and an ERA hovering around 3.00. Based on the history of other players who have had Tommy John Surgery, the operation Medlen had last season, I have enough faith that he will be a big contributor to the defending American League Champion Royals in the next two seasons.

After that–the Royals may be glad it was only a two-year deal.

The One Thing the Phillies Need to Get in a Trade for Cole Hamels

Jimmy Rollins will be traded–eventually. It’s just a matter of the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers figuring out who else is involved.

At least I hope Rollins will be traded. It’s going to be really awkward if he isn’t and everyone has already said their farewells. Remember at the end of ‘Castaway’ when Tom Hanks is saved and his wife, Helen Hunt, has remarried because she assumed he was dead, but he isn’t and they have to hangout? It’s kind of like that.

Assuming everything is cleared up and Rollins goes to the Dodgers, it becomes official that the Phillies are finally ready to rebuild. A big part of this rebuilding phase could involve trading starting pitcher Cole Hamels. He’s young enough to get something of value in return and talented enough to hold a few desperate teams for ransom.

Blevine37 at the English language Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Blevine37 at the English language Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
If Hamels is traded, there is one thing the Phillies need to get in return. This one item is very specific. I want the Phillies to get something that will be at its peak value in 2018.

This rhetorical item can be one player or several of them. It can currently have no major league experience or it can have a season or two under its belt. It can pitch, hit, sing, or dance. All it needs to do is be able to be a big part of the team in 2018.

Why 2018?

I think three years of rebuilding is fair enough. This is a team in a big market with a television deal coming so they definitely have money to spend on free agents. A very bad 2015, a slightly better 2016, a finally approaching .500 2017, and then a 2018 season where the Phillies are once again healthy is an ideal and realistic scenario if they put the effort in.

I doubt the Phillies will be champions again in 2018. However I do strongly believe they could be a team competing for a wild card spot and ready to do it more strongly in 2019.

The 2018 season will be very important too as it will mark the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 World Series Championship. What better way to celebrate the 10-year anniversary than with a brand new team ready to make some good memories?

No matter where Hamels goes or what the Phillies get in return, they don’t need anything worthwhile until 2018. A major league ready player may be a waste, but at the same time it’s important they don’t just get prospects. Pitcher Joe Kelly of the Boston Red Sox is one player potentially involved in a trade for Hamels. At 26-years-old on opening day in 2015, he may be just the right age when throws the first ball of the 2018 Phillies season.

Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello Trade Completely Uneven Yet Perfect for Both Sides

Fans of the Boston Red Sox may cry foul over the deal, however, sending outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello is a perfect trade for both sides even if the Red Sox had to include a few minor league players to make it happen.

Let’s begin with the basics: the Red Sox needed pitching and had too many outfielders. The Tigers needed outfielders and may have had too much pitching. One could argue you can never have enough pitching, but what good is that when you have no run support either?

Clearly, the more desperate team of these two was the Red Sox. The Tigers could have done well holding onto Porcello and finding outfield help elsewhere so that’s a big reason why Boston may look like they lost this trade if only ever so slightly.

Continuing with the theme of who won and who lost, at first glance it may seem like the Tigers won this trade by forfeit. Cespedes is a potential home run champion and plays a decent outfield.

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Yoenis Cespedes) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Yoenis Cespedes) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Meanwhile Porcello has had one very good season when in 2014 he was 15-13 with a career low 3.43 ERA. Keep in mind, in 6 major league seasons he has a 4.30 ERA and has never struck out more than 150 batters in a season.

Although not something you should really consider when making a trade, this one does help the Tigers far greater than it does the Red Sox. With Cespedes hitting in the middle of that order, they suddenly look a lot more threatening. The rest of the American League Central has been busy this offseason and finally the Tigers have joined the fray after looking a bit lost prior.

Whatever Porcello ends up doing with the Red Sox, this was still a necessary trade to make. He has plenty of the P-word, potential, and may thrive in Boston if he learns to pitch appropriately at Fenway Park. Not that I believe a pitcher should change who they are depending on the stadium they are in. I just think there is a bit of a learning curve and for as young and talented as he is, I believe with patience Porcello can achieve a lot more with the Red Sox than he did with the Tigers.

Rick Porcello

Like any good trade this one filled a necessity for both organizations. The Tigers got some much-needed power and the Red Sox now have a starting pitcher with experience. Along with recently acquired Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Red Sox are in the process of completely rebuilding their rotation from nearly nothing even if it is a bit half-assed.

Only a day after losing out on Jon Lester, the Red Sox are ready to replace Plan-A with Plan-B. In the long-term this may prove to be more effective. Lester only pitches once every fifth day while Porcello and Miley will get 2 out of those 5 starts. The thought process here is to ask, will Porcello and Miley win as many combined games as Lester based on how much less they will be paid? Had Lester signed with the Red Sox, there would have been much less room to fill the rest of the spots.

Not done yet, the Tigers replaced Porcello with Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are trading lots of their players so it seems almost a guarantee who will finish last in the National League Central.

Not finishing last in the American League East or American League Central are the Red Sox and Tigers for what they did today.