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Tag:Dontrelle Willis
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:43 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 4:30 am
 

Injury roundup: Wright, Posey, Trout and more

By Dayn Perry

David WrightInjury news and notes from Wednesday's camps ... 

  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker missed Wednesday's contest with back tightness. As a precautionary measure, he's likely to sit out the next two to three games. [CBS Pittsburgh]

  • While Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is able to take part in some low-level baseball activities, he still has no idea when he'll return to game action or even face live pitching after suffering multiple concussions.

    "It's still a progression," he said. "We have steps that we're taking, and it's a pretty systematic approach so I don't just go do everything I want every day. My doctor lays out a plan every day, and we kind of go by that. I'm definitely better than I was four months ago, so that's good. It's never as fast as you want, but we're getting there." [Baltimore Sun

  • Boston lefty Andrew Miller, who's in the mix for a spot in the rotation, won't be traveling with the team on Thursday because of slight stiffness in his throwing elbow. [WEEI]

PROJECTED LINEUPS AND ROTATIONS


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Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:32 am
 

Dontrelle Willis signs with Phillies



By Matt Snyder


The once-relevant Dontrelle Willis has gotten another shot -- this time on a team with a great pitching staff. The 29-year-old left-hander has signed with the Phillies, CBSSports.com Jon Heyman is reporting. The signing is pending a physical.

Willis won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003 and was the runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2005, but he regressed in 2006, fell apart in 2007 and hasn't been able to do much of anything since. He was even demoted all the way to Class A at one point. Last season, he started 13 games for the Reds, going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

With the Big Three, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick in Philly, don't expect the artist formerly known as D-Train to see the rotation anytime soon.

List of MLB free agents

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Rookie award may not predict future success

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.

Rookie of the Year
Miller
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
Read>>
Related links

No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel may end up being the best players of the 2010 rookie class, but it wouldn't be a real shock if they don't.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.

 

2006-2010 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2010 Neftali Feliz 2.3 5.0 Buster Posey 3.1 4.4
2009 Andrew Bailey  3.9 7.2  Chris Coghlan 2.1 2.8
2008 Evan Longoria  3.8 24.1 Geovany Soto 4.1 10.1
2007 Dustin Pedroia  4.3 24.3 Ryan Braun  1.5 21.8
2006 Justin Verlander  3.7 27.2 Hanley Ramirez  5.2 29.3

Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.

Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.

Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.



2001-2005 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2005 Huston Street 3.2 10.7 Ryan Howard 2.4 23.1
2004 Bobby Crosby 1.4 5.0 Jason Bay  2.2 19.7
2003  Angel Berroa 4.0 3.3 Dontrelle Willis 3.7 13.0
2002 Eric Hinske  4.0 10.3 Jason Jennings 1.7 7.4
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 7.6 54.5 Albert Pujols 6.9 88.7

Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.

Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. 

Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.

 

1996-2000 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki 1.5 4.0 Rafael Furcal 3.6 33.1
1999 Carlos Beltran  4.4 60.8 Scott Williamson  2.7 8.2
1998  Ben Grieve 2.5 6.7 Kerry Wood 3.7 24.9
1997 Nomar Garciaparra  5.9 42.5  Scott Rolen 4.5 66.2
1996 Derek Jeter 2.6 70.4  Todd Hollandsworth 1.3 6.5

Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.

Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.

Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.



1991-1996 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
1995 Marty Cordova 3.0 6.4 Hideo Nomo 4.5 50.6
1994  Bob Hamelin 2.5 2.4 Raul Mondesi  2.2 27.2
1993  Tim Salmon 5.2 37.6  Mike Piazza 7.0 59.1 
1992 Pat Listach  4.5 3.9  Eric Karros 0.3 9.0
1991  Chuck Knoblauch 2.3 41.2 Jeff Bagwell 4.7 79.9

Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation. 

Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.

Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:28 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Cincinnati Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83, 3rd place, 17 games back
Manager: Dusty Baker
Best hitter: Joey Votto -- .309/.416/.531 with 29 HR, 103 RBI
Best pitcher:Johnny Cueto -- 9-5, 24 GS, 156 IP, 2.31 ERA, 104 K, 47 BB

Coming off the 2010 National League Central title with pretty much the same team intact, the Reds were expected to challenge for the title again. However, the team could never quite get consistent starting pitching and were on the outside looking in by the All-Star break, close enough not to become sellers at the deadline and ultimately irrelevant for the last two months of the season.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Cueto took a step forward in his development and Votto showed he was anything but a one-hit wonder, while Brandon Phillips played at an All-Star level. Other than that, most every other Cincinnati Red took a step back from their 2010 performance. Bronson Arroyo and Drew Stubbs set dubious marks -- Arroyo allowing 46 homers and Stubbs striking out 205 times. Opening-day starter Edinson Volquez was twice demoted to the minors and third baseman Scott Rolen was limited to just 65 games. Lefty Travis Wood struggled in his second year and right-hander Homer Bailey has yet to find consistency. The team's gaping holes at shortstop and left field were magnified and its rotation wasn't as deep as promised in the spring. In all, disappointment was all around in 2011 as Cincinnati was unable to defend its crown.

2012 AUDIT

The Reds need to follow the lead of the Brewers, who decided to go for it in 2011 instead of worrying what would happen when Prince Fielder left. The Reds still have two more years of Votto, they need to take advantage of that and try to win before Votto goes to greener pastures, not fret about what's going to happen in two years. The Reds still need some help at the top of their rotation, a right-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup and to make a decision about left field and shortstop.

FREE AGENTS

CL Francisco Cordero (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
2B Brandon Phillips (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Edgar Renteria
LHP Dontrelle Willis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sell high on first baseman Yonder Alonso. In his first extensive big-league action, the 2008 first-rounder was impressive, hitting .330/.398/.545, displaying a keen understanding of the strike zone. That said, the Reds struggled to find places to play him, considering he's a first baseman and the guy they have there is one of the game's best players. Alonso played 16 games in left field, and aside from a rough weekend in Wrigley Field, didn't embarrass himself. He also played a game at third base without a single ball coming his way. In the end, he's a first baseman. That's where he'll thrive and that's where some team could certainly use him -- just not the Reds. See what you can get for Alonso in a package or straight up. At 24, he's young for a major leaguer, but old for a prospect. His highest value is this offseason.
  • Make a play for a true ace. Yes, Cueto has the potential to be an ace and he looked at times to be an ace this season. However, the Brewers could have said the same thing about Yovani Gallardo after last season. Be bold and bolster the top of the rotation. The Reds were second in the National League in runs scored and fifth in OPS -- there's enough offense to win if the pitching is sound. Sure up the rotation and by default you sure up the bullpen. The Brewers thought bold and they didn't have half the farm system the Reds have. You can send some combination Alonso, Billy Hamilton and one of the two catchers -- Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal -- away in a deal or two for true front-of-the-rotation help.
  • Pick up Phillips' option, but don't sign him to the long-term deal he's seeking. Phillips will win his third Gold Glove this year and is as good as anyone defensively. He also hit .300/.353/.457. However, he'll be looking for a Dan Uggla-like deal (five years, $62 million), and that's just not something the Reds can afford, especially at non-premium position like second base. He adjusted well to the leadoff role late in the season, hitting .350/.417/.573 in 39 games (38 starts) at the top of the order, but he's still a career .322 OBP guy and his .353 on-base percentage this season was a career-best by .021, aided by a career-best .322 BABIP. Bottom line is he's the best second baseman in the National League, but that comes at a price -- and a price the Reds won't be able to afford past this season.
  • Speaking of not overpaying a specific position, the team vastly overpaid for closer Cordero after the 2007 season, giving him a four-year, $46 million deal plus a $12 million club option for 2012. There's no reason to pick that option up, even though the team has reportedly been talking about an extension with Cordero. Any extension would likely be two years for more than the $12 million he'd make by just picking up the option for next year, but would include a yearly pay cut. Again, that's a move big market teams can afford, but the Reds cannot. Even with likely deferred payments (much like last season's Arroyo extension), Cordero is too costly. He's done his job well in his time in Cincinnati, solidifying a bullpen that had been in tatters before his arrival, but it's too much to pay for a closer. Follow the lead of the Rays and Diamondbacks who were able to rebuild bullpens for less than $12 million based on scrap parts. It's risky, but no more risky (and less expensive) than paying inflated prices for relievers.
  • The team held on to Hernandez even when other teams were desperate for catching. That means either nobody was that desperate for catching, or Hernandez and his agents already told the team he would not accept arbitration -- or both. If the Reds can offer Hernandez arbitration without danger of him accepting it, they'd likely receive two draft picks if Hernandez qualifies as a Type A free agent. With Ryan Hanigan signed through 2013 at a team-friendly rate and Mesoraco left with nothing left to prove in the minors, it's time to move on from Hernandez, who has been productive in his time in Cincinnati. They also have Grandal waiting in the wings, plus Tucker Barnhart, who won the Minor League Gold Glove at catcher.
  • If the Reds are going to go young at shortstop with Zack Cozart and in left field with Chris Heisey, they need to commit to it -- no messing around with another veteran shortstop that will just take up playing time, like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera. In left, Heisey needs to play and play more, even against left-hander, even though he struggled against them. Juan Francisco has improved at third base and should be the first choice if Rolen isn't healthy.
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Posted on: September 13, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 9:06 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rays streak to win, Francisco bombs

Zobrist

By Evan Brunell

B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist, Rays: Zobrist (pictured) helped propel the Rays to three games behind Boston for the wild card, ripping a double and driving in three. His three-hit night lifted his overall line to .274/.356/,464, strong numbers anywhere but especially powerful from a second baseman, notwithstanding that Zobrist can also fill in elsewhere in a pinch, making him tremendously valuable. Upton, meanwhile, doubled twice and received two jwalks, setting a franchise record by reaching in nine straight appearances. He struck out in the eighth to snap the streak.

Juan Francisco, Reds:  Francisco hammered a 502-foot home run off of the Cubs' Rodrigo Lopez, the first time a ball has ever been hit completely out of the park over the right-field bleachers, landing on the southern sidewalk of Mehring Way. It's the second-longest ever hit at the park, second to Adam Dunn's 535-footer in 2004 off of the Dodgers' Jose Lima, which went out over the bullpen and bounced into the river, technically into another state as the river belongs to Kentucky. Oh, the rest of game? Francisco went 2-for-4 as the third baseman in a 12-8 loss.


Brett Myers, Astros:
Myers stupified his former team of Philadelphia, who were also returning ex-Astros in Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. While Oswalt got roughed up, Myers went eight strong, allowing just one run while walking one and striking out four. A nice debut season last year with Myers earned him an extension, but he's regressed this year. He's come around as of late and has a 4.52 ERA on the season and is a prime candidate to be traded this offseason.



Dontrelle Willis, Reds: The D-Train had walked at least five batters in three straight starts coming into Monday's game. He paid for it against the Cubs, lasting just 3 1/3 innings as he was teed off for eight runs, walking three and whiffing zero. It was a massive dose of reality for the lefty, who had enjoyed a brief run of success mixed in with luck. His ERA is all the way up to 5.04 after coming in with a 4.10 ERA at the beginning of the month.

John Danks, White Sox: It was a bad night in a season of disappointment for Danks, who has been consistently good the last three seasons, but seemed like he could break out this season. Instead, he's regressed. After Monday's stinker, his ERA is now 4.36, the highest since his rookie season of 2007 when he had an unsightly 5.50 ERA. Danks gave up eight runs, seven earned, in five inningsm walking three and striking out five, allowing two home runs to the Tigers, who won their 10th straight. "I don't know if there is hotter team out there right now," Danks told the Associated Press. "It's embarrassing but at the same time you have to realize how good they're playing."

Mike Trout, Angels:  Trout had been making noise lately, riding a hot streak into more playing time and optimism. But he's still just 20, and his bat has cooled as of late. The sky is the limit for Trout, but he was exposed on Monday night by striking out three times in four hitless trips to the plate, dropping his overall line to .220/.282/.420 in an even 100 at-bats. Trout may or may not start the season with the Angels, but he will absolutely be a rock in that lineup for years to come. This night is just the early struggles of a blossoming star.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: July 24, 2011 11:45 am
 

On Deck: Halladay squares off against Stauffer

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

StaufferHalladayBEST MATCHUP
: Tim Stauffer and Roy Halladay battle each other on the hill in Sunday's best matchup, which features the only two pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs heading up against each other. The Phillies ace you know plenty about, with Halladay registering a 2.57 ERA. Just another day at the office. Stauffer, meanwhile, is a former first-round pick gone bust who suddenly is delivering on his promise. While his success has been aided by Petco Park somewhat, a 2.83 ERA is impressive no matter where you pitch, and his defense-independent ERA (xFIP) is a stable 3.28. Padres vs. Phillies, 1:35 p.m. ET

White SoxIndiansCENTRAL RACE: The Indians are clinging to second place in the AL Central, just one game behind the Tigers. While Indians have predictably fallen off since their hot start, at this point they should be able to stay in the race barring a monumental collapse. Calling up second baseman Jason Kipnis should help the team move past the losses of Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore on offense. Justin Masterson will take the mound with a 2.64 ERA. One interesting subplot is to watch how many fastballs Masterson tosses -- 103 of 104 pitches his last time out against the Twins were all fastballs. The ChiSox, meanwhile, are 4 1/2 out of first and have an opportunity to narrow the gap with Edwin Jackson on the hill White Sox vs. Indians, 1:05 p.m. ET

WillisSTAYING IN THE HUNT: Atlanta needs to win to stay in the division hunt, as a four-game winning streak by the Phillies has their lead up to five games. While Atlanta remains in the driver's seat for the wild card, it's too early for the Braves to pack in the division title chase, especially if they can import a bat at the trade deadline. Cincy, meanwhile, is four games out of a winnable NL Central and will send resurgent Dontrelle Willis to the mound to oppose Brandon Beachy. Willis will get to face Dan Uggla for the first time since the left-hander was traded to Detroit before the 2008 season. Braves vs. Reds 8:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 10, 2011 12:56 pm
 

On Deck: D-Train pulls back into majors


By Evan Brunell


ShieldsSabathiaBEST MATCHUP: A great matchup is on tap at Yankee Stadium to cap off the first half, with Cy Young Award contenders CC Sabathia and James Shields squaring off in a battle. A victory would push the Rays to within three for second place over the Yanks, and there's no better pitcher this year for the Rays than Shields to get it done. Owner of a consecutive three-complete game streak in the past month, Shields boasts a 2.47 ERA, much to Sabathia's chagrin, who has a 2.90 mark. Not many pitchers can beat that, but Shields can. Sabathia, with 12 wins, can become the first AL pitcher in six years to have 13 prior to the break if he can pull off a win. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

WillisWELCOME BACK, D-TRAIN: It's been a long road back for Willis who is now 29 years old, with his Rookie of the Year award back in 2003 at age 21 a distant memory after posting a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts and helping the Marlins to a World Series title. Just two years later, he won the Cy Young Award with a 22-10 record and pristine 2.63 ERA in 34 starts, registering seven complete games and five shutouts. Those are numbers that would make Roy Halladay jealous. And yet, starting in 2007 at age 25, Willis ran a streak of pitching for the Marlins, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Giants (only the minors for S.F.), pitching to the tune of a 5.81 ERA in 328 2/3 innings. Career over? Not quite. The lefty makes his 2011 debut for the Reds today after staging a comeback not many thought would happen in Triple-A. Whether you're a Reds fan or not, everyone needs more D-Train in their life, and he's finally back. He's opposing Randy Wolf of the Brewers. Reds vs. Brewers, 2:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

MarinersAngelsDIVISION CHASE: The Mariners are slip-sliding their way out of the postseason chase thanks to an anemic offense (what else is new?) but still have an outside shot, just 6 1/2 games behind Texas and 5 1/2 behind Los Angeles. Seattle certainly will go into Sunday's game against the Angels expecting to win with 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez on the mound (3.22 ERA, 134/42 K/BB, 137 IP). Slight problem, though: The Angels have their own big dog going today in Dan Haren (2.65 ERA, 107/18 K/BB, 125 2/3 IP). It's another pitching duel in a day set up for quite a few low-scoring games. Mariners at Angels, 3:35 p.m. ET (Watch live)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com