Tag:Clayton Kershaw
Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:03 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kershaw fires gem, Trumbo walks off

Kershaw

By Evan Brunell

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: All of a sudden, Clayton Kershaw is making the NL Cy Young Award race one to watch, as Roy Halladay may not have as firm a grip on the award as might have otherwise been thought. After pumping six strikeouts past the Brewers in eight innings, the lefty lowered his ERA to 2.60 after yet another scoreless outing. Those six strikeouts inched him to one shy of 200 whiffs on the season. Let's compare Kershaw to Halladay, starting with the youngster first: 15-5 in 183 2/3 IP, 2.60 ERA, 199 K, 46 BB. Halladay has a 15-5 record in 184 2/3 IP with a 2.53 ERA, 177 K and 23 BB. I'd still take Halladay, but it's close enough that this is a race.

Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays: The ex-Cardinal didn't get his tenure in Toronto off to a fast start, but if Thursday is any indication of what he can put together on a regular bases, the Blue Jays will be quite pleased. Rasmus went 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBI, chipping in three runs as Toronto downed Oakland. It was the center fielder's fifth multi-hit game with Toronto, and his first with three hits. His bat must be heating up in the power department, because it's the second straight game he's driven a home run, sending his total from 13 to 15 in two days, and he's totaled eight RBI in his last three games.

Mark Trumbo, Angels: And just like that, the Angels snapped their five-game losing streak, stopped Texas from winning seven straight and closed the AL West deficit to a still-imposing six games. How did that happen? At the hands of Mark Trumbo, who delivered a two-run walk-off home run off of Mike Adams in the bottom of the ninth to turn a dispiriting 1-0 loss into a wild 4-0 victory. This was a game L.A. desperately needed, especially given that the Rangers run had come off of the bat of Mike Napoli with a homer. Trumbo had one other hit in the game, but his OBP is still under .300 for the year.



Phil Humber, White Sox: Phil Humber received a nasty scare on Thursday when a Kosuke Fukudome liner found the area just above his right eye, sending Humber sprawling on the mound. He was able to get up right away, though, and lobbied to stay in the game. The ChiSox weren't having any of it, so the righty left the game having pitched just 1 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, no walks or runs and punching out three. "I told them I was good, I felt like I could still pitch and wanted to be out there," Humber told the Chicago Tribune. "But at the same time, they got a job to do and take every precaution that there wasn’t anything serious going on.”

Travis Hafner, Indians:  After a three-hit game against the Red Sox on Aug. 4, Hafner was enjoying a .300/.386/.491 season. That was a step below his .347/.428/.567 line on July 7, but it was inevitable for Hafner to come back to earth. Well, that three-hit day didn't stave off the decline. While Hafner's still stayed reasonably productive, that line continues to drop, and now after striking out three times in five plate appearances on Thursday when he went hitless with an intentional walk, Hafner is at .288/.368/.461. He also struck out to end the sixth with the bases loaded and two runs already in. The Indians still won the game 4-2, but Hafner could have broke it open.

Trevor Cahill, Athletics: Last season, Trevor Cahill was an All-Star and received Cy Young Award votes. He wasn't named to the All-Star team this season, although that wasn't indicative of a bad season, as his 3.92 ERA was still solid. Well, it was. A seven-run outburst by tje Blue Jays knocked Cahill out of the game after 5 1/3 innings, sending his ERA skittering up to 4.17. Cahill allowed nine hits and two walks, while striking out two. Cahill has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde (mostly Jekyll) pitcher since the beginning of June, with a 5.83 ERA to show for it.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 1:29 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rollins bashes two home runs

Rollins
By Evan Brunell

UPJimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins was a wrecking ball, contributing three hits, two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI to the 9-1 thrashing of the Cubs. His homers came from both sides of the plate and boosted his season line to .277/.344/.410, which is solid. It was the second time he had done that in his career. Rollins is an impending free agent, but if he continues to hit like this, won't have much difficulty getting good contract terms with the Phillies. Even though Rollins isn't the MVP of old, he's still a solid shortstop and there aren't many out there.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw's dominating performances are getting a bit repetitive, the true sign of an Ace. And he's only 23. He twirled eight shutout innings, striking out 12 and giving out zero free passes in a 1-0 victory over the Giants. He's driven his ERA and WHIP down to a career-best 2.88 and 1.02, respectively, throwing 137 2/3 innings and punching out 155. Did I mention he was left-handed? It's going to be fun watching him in the coming years.

Travis Snider, Blue Jays: Snider has been on a tear since returning from the minor leagues, racking up a .357 batting average and 11 extra-base hits. On Wednesday, he was 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI, defeating the Mariners 11-6. It was his second five-RBI game in 13 games and if he can keep this up, will start delivering on the promise he's always had.



DownRicky Nolasco, Marlins: Nolasco got murdered by the Padres -- the Padres -- by giving up nine earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. This happened with San Diego putting up a four- and nine-spot in the first two innings, respectively. Burke Badenhop absorbed part of the brunt after that but then settled down to go 2 2/3, with two other relievers also adding two innings apiece. The only home run of the game was hit by Will Venable to lead off the game against Nolasco, who saw his ERA spike to 4.08. "You could’ve brought [Bob] Feller back and Tom Seaver back and [the Padres] probably would’ve done them just as well," Marlins manager Jack McKeon told reporters, via MLB.com.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: Soriano went 0-for-3 against the Phillies. A fairly unremarkable night and perhaps not quite deserving of this call-out, but it just furthered a 1-for-21 slump he's been in for the second half. It's part of a larger trend with his batting average at .249 now, over 20 percentage points lower than it was earlier in the season. He's hit 14 home runs on the year, a solid number, but nowhere near the power binge he was enjoying and his contract looks as onerous as ever.

Sergio Santos, White Sox: The White Sox were up 1-0 entering the eighth, but Jeff Francouer doubled home a run off of Jesse Crain, the run counting against Matt Thornton. Chris Sale went three innings, faltering with two outs to go in the bottom 11th by issuing a walk and single. Closer Sergio Santos came in and promptly issued a wild pitch, allowing Gordon to score from third. Well, that'll do it.

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 12:16 pm
 

On Deck: Dueling out west

OD

By Matt Snyder


With six day games -- including several of pretty solid intrigue -- we'll hit you with On Deck early on this Wednesday. Why? Well, we aim to please. It is a full slate, as usual on a Wednesday, as there are nine night games. The last one of the night is one of the most exciting matchups, too. Let's dive in.

Follow all game action on CBSSports.com's live scoreboard

Pair of aces: How does Clayton Kershaw (10-4, 2.88) vs. Tim Lincecum (8-7, 2.99) sound? Pretty awesome, right? Because that's happening Wednesday afternoon. Kershaw's Dodgers are 14-1/2 games behind Lincecum's first-place Giants in the NL West, but Kershaw has owned the offensively challenged Giants in his career. The major-league leader in strikeouts is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings against the defending champs. The Giants have a new toy in infielder Jeff Keppinger and have added prospect Brandon Belt to their punchless lineup in hopes to get things kickstarted, but Kershaw's a tall order. Then again, two-time Cy Young Award winner Lincecum is likewise a tall order for the Dodgers. Don't expect this one to last long, unless it goes 0-0 or 1-1 to extras. Oh, and did I mention that whole Dodgers-Giants rivalry? This is a must-watch. L.A. Dodgers at San Francisco, 3:45 p.m. ET.

Haren's tough task: While the afternoon game out west is a must-watch, so is the last game of the night. The Texas Rangers have opened up a five-game lead in the AL West on the strength of a 12-game winning streak. They had some huge offensive games early in the streak, but the pitching is doing the heavy lifting at this juncture. The Rangers have only allowed two runs in the past six games, which include four shutouts. Toeing the slab late Wednesday night is Derek Holland (8-4, 4.32), who just happens to have thrown a complete-game shutout in each of his last two outings. So the Angels need to find a way to scratch across some runs against one of the hottest pitchers -- and pitching staffs, for that matter -- in baseball, meanwhile cool off one of the best hitting teams in baseball. Dan Haren (10-6, 2.75) certainly has the ability to do so for the Angels. He's looking to stop the Rangers' 12-game winning streak and the Angels' three-game losing streak. Texas at L.A. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET.

More pitching:
The most underrated pitching matchup of the day just happens to include the first-place Pirates, who are catching the eye of the nation. Did you know the Pirates haven't had a winning season in 18 years? Of course, you did, but we aren't gonig to let you forget it if they continue to play like this. Tuesday, the Pirates got a 1-0 win in Cincinnati. Wednesday, one of the most -- if not the most -- surprising starters in the league takes the hill for the Bucs. Jeff Karstens (8-4, 2.34) ranks third in ERA in the NL among qualifiers, trailing only a pair of All-Stars in Ryan Vogelsong and Jair Jurrjens. Karstens has been lights-out since the beginning of June, though, as he's 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA in that time. His counterpart Wednesday, Johnny Cueto (5-3, 2.01), is no slouch either. The Reds need a win to avoid a sweep and falling six games back in the NL Central. Of note: Karstens has a pretty bad career history against the Reds, though the Pirates are 7-1 against the Reds this season. Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 12:35 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Kershaw fine with Halladay as starter

By Matt Snyder

PHOENIX - Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw is making his first All-Star appearance Tuesday. He's only 23, but he had a case to be the starter for the NL -- though he was likely third on the totem poll after NL starter Roy Halladay and Jair Jurrjens of the Braves. CBSSports.com had the chance to ask Kershaw if he was disappointed and if being the starter at the All-Star Game is a goal for the future.



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Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 8:26 pm
 

On Deck: Looking out West

OD

By Matt Snyder


Thursday afternoon had one matinee, while the Pirates and Phillies both have the day off. That leaves us with 13 games for the night. Let's take a trip out West for three storylines.

Kershaw looks to stop two streaks: The Dodgers are in an absolute tailspin, having lost five in a row and seven of their last eight. The good news for the Dodgers is that staff ace, All-Star and MLB strikeout leader Clayton Kershaw (8-4, 3.23) takes the mound Thursday night. He's going to have his hands full, too, because he's facing the Mets away from Citi Field. The Mets are 26-20 on the road, including winning three in a row and seven of their last eight. The only loss was against Justin Verlander, so it can be pretty easily forgiven. In those seven wins, the least amount of runs they've scored is five. They've even gone the last three with Jose Reyes. Dillon Gee (8-2, 3.47) is the Mets' starter. New York (NL) at Los Angeles (NL), 10:10 p.m. ET. Follow Live Gametracker

Texas taking off? The Rangers got off to a scorching hot start this season but have been pretty mediocre since. Each time it feels like the defending AL champs are going to take off, they scuffle for a short stretch. They recently lost two of three to the Marlins but are now coming off a sweep of the Orioles and begin a four-game series against the A's Thursday night. This could be the perfect opportunity to go into the All-Star break with some serious momentum. They'll square off against a former teammate, Rich Harden, for the first time since he departed. Harden was on the disabled list all season until making a quality start and picking up the victory July 1 against the Diamondbacks. It will be interesting to see which Harden shows up, because he can be dominant. Derek Holland (6-4, 5.10) gets the nod for the Rangers. Oakland at Texas, 8:05 p.m. ET. Follow Live Gametracker

Weaver's All-Star tuneup? Angels' starting pitcher Jered Weaver is probably the front-runner to be the American League starter in the All-Star Game next Tuesday, and Thursday evening he'll make his final start before the break. The Angels have fallen a game back of the Rangers in the AL West, so they'll once again need Weaver to step up. The odds are pretty good that he will, as Weaver is locked in again, just like he was in April. Also, he's facing a Mariners team that has scored either zero or one run 22 times this season. Doug Fister (3-9, 3.02) gets the task of matching pitches with Weaver. Seattle at Los Angeles (AL), 10:05 p.m. ET. Follow Live Gametracker

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Introducing your 2011 NL West All-Star team

By Evan Brunell

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central
For a number of years, the NL West has been fairly balanced. Every team except the Rockies has a division title in the past five years, and the Rockies advanced to the World Series as a wild-card team back in 2007. That balance is clearly seen in the representatives of the NL West All-Star team, which you can see below.

MonteroC Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: Poor Buster Posey. He had this on lockdown until... well, no need to rehash it, but he's out for the year. Montero's a great consolation prize. He has ripped 10 home runs and has a .275/.346/.468 mark. Montero was actually in a close race with Chris Iannetta of Colorado for this gig, but Montero outstrips Iannetta in caught stealing, nabbing 12 of 37 baserunners.

Helton1B Todd Helton, Rockies: It's quite the renaissance year for the aging first baseman who was once known for his ability to hit for average and power while drawing walks. Now, it's just average and home-run power, but it's plenty enough to outpace any other first baseman in the division -- although, with all due respect to Helton, that says much more about first basemen in the division than it does Helton. Anyway, he's cranking to the tune of a .315/.394/.481 mark, with much of his power coming from an affinity for doubles.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Chase Headley SD 3B
2 Justin Upton ARI RF
3 Troy Tulowitzki COL SS
4 Matt Kemp LAD DH
5 Chris Young ARI CF
6 Carlos Gonzalez COL LF
7 Miguel Montero ARI C
8 Todd Helton COL 1B
9 Kelly Johnson ARI 2B
Johnson2B Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks: What, you'd prefer Aaron Miles? In a case of having to take the best option, Johnson edges Miles despite the latter hitting .320 and Johnson a meager .217. So why does Johnson get the edge? Because he's a better fielder and boasts more power, and he has also swiped eight bases to Miles' three. That's how someone hitting .217/.298/.431 can post a higher Wins Above Replacement mark (1.5) than Miles at .320/.339/.377, who has a 1.0 WAR. (It should be noted that Johnson has about 100 more plate appearances, but even adding those 100 PA would probably not be enough to bump Johnson.)

Headley3B Chase Headley, Padres: Not usually a name you see at the top of leaderboards, but Headley is enjoying a career year -- and is taking advantage of injuries to notable third basemen in the game to put his name in the conversation. Due to playing in cavernous Petco Park, his slugging percentage this season is a meager .404, but it's an impressive .465 on the road. His value comes from taking a walk, which is why he leads off this All-Star team despite just eight stolen bases. He boasts a .302 batting average along with a .392 OBP. If Pablo Sandoval hadn't missed so much time due to injury, he probably would have claimed this spot.

TulowitzkiSS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: What is there left to say about Tulo, who right now can lay claim to being the best shortstop in the game? While he hasn't performed up to snuff compared to his last two seasons, he's still plenty valuable and easily the best shortstop in the division, hitting to the tune of a .271/.339/.495 line and 37 extra bases. Oh, and he can pick it on defense.

GonzalezLF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: CarGo hasn't hit as well as his awe-inspiring 2010, but he can be forgiven for that as he set impossibly high standards. Colorado will take a .296/.363/.497 line, and so will we to honor him with the left-field starting job on the NL West All-Star team. He still has a remarkable home/away split, but no other left fielder truly threatened for this spot.

YoungCF Chris Young, Diamondbacks: Let's get this out of the way first. For those wondering where Matt Kemp is, hold your horses. We'll get to him in a minute. Young snags the center field job thanks to his strong defense and a power display that we haven't seen from him since 2007, when he slammed 32 home runs. He has exactly half that total (16) in 88 games so far, so he stands a shot of cracking the 30 HR barrier. He's currently hitting .255/.324/.478.

UptonRF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Anyone else think Kevin Towers is relieved he didn't trade the 23-year-old in the offseason? Upton's walk rate is less than last season but not out of whack with the league, and he is striking out much less. That increased contact has lifted his batting average to .295 (.377 OBP, .502 slugging percentage), the second-highest of his career. (He hit .300 in 2009.) He's hammered 14 homers on the year, just three off his 2010 total.

KempDH Matt Kemp, Dodgers: And here Kemp is, occupying the DH spot. Yes, the DH doesn't exist in the NL West, but regardless of what team, league or stadium holds the All-Star Game, the DH is used. So there. Kemp earns this spot with a season that's already given him a 20 HR, 20 SB season -- and with three more home runs, he'll reach 25/25. So yeah, he'll definitely hit 30/30 this year, and 40/40 is not out of the question if he hits a hot streak. He DH's with a .324/.408/.603 line because the dude simply cannot field and needs to be moved to left soon.

KershawSP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in the entire game, never mind one of the best lefties or youngsters. One of the best, period. The 23-year-old has already tossed 122 2/3 innings on the season and posted a 3.23 ERA. That ERA would actually be the highest of his full seasons in the majors. But his third year actually boasts stronger peripherals, leading to a 2.66 xFIP that is currently a career best. He has punched out 138 and walked just 33.

RomoRP Sergio Romo, Giants: Romo or Mike Adams was a very, very difficult choice to make. So why did Romo get the spot over Adams? Simple: K/BB numbers. Romo has punched out 12.87 batters per nine innings and walked 1.26, good enough for a 2.20 ERA and 1.65 xFIP in 28 2/3 innings. Adams actually beats the ERA (1.35) and innings-pitched (40), but his K.9 is 9.23 and BB/9 at 1.13, with an xFIP of 2.59.

BellCL Health Bell, Padres: Bell won't be a Padre for much longer, I'm guessing, so better get him on here while we still can. He has had quite an impressive career so far as a closer, and this year is no exception. He has 26 saves, but his strikeout numbers are way down and would actually be a career-worst. Who knows why, but he's not having trouble getting by as his 2.55 ERA and 3.78 xFIP indicate.

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