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Tag:Clayton Kershaw
Posted on: July 3, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 10:59 am
 

Halladay, Weaver should start All-Star Game



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Perhaps the list of who won't be starting the All-Star Game is as impressive as who may start the game on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Because of the rule that pitchers who start on the Sunday before the game are ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game, Justin Verlander, James Shields, Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, CC Sabathia and Jon Lester won't be getting the nod to start the game. However, it should be noted that neither Sabathia nor Lester were selected to the team, perhaps with an eye toward the fact they wouldn't be able to pitch in the game.

With those pitchers eliminated from the competition, it's easier to pick the starters for next Tuesday's game. We'll continue the process of elimination to determine the starters for the All-Star Game.

National League

Without Hamels and Cain, there are six pitchers left to pick from. It's unlikely that Tim Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants would be headed to Phoenix if San Francisco manger Bruce Bochy wasn't making the picks, so cross them off the list. That leaves Roy Halladay, Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee.

I'd be surprised if Kershaw didn't start an All-Star Game in his career, but it's not this year. He's got the potential to be as good as anyone in the game, but he's allowed six earned runs in three of his last six starts, so he's out.

Cliff Lee had an unbelievable June, but take that away and he's 4-6 with a 4.23 ERA. He's out.

So it comes down to the two 11-game winners, Halladay and Jurrjens. Jurrjens leads in ERA at 1.89, while Halladay has a 2.44 ERA. Halladay has more strikeouts, 131 to 63 and also leads in WHIP (1.027 to 1.061). Either one would be a good pick, but expect Bochy to go with the veteran Halladay, and it's tough to argue picking Halladay for about anything. His track record gives him the edge.

American League

If Verlander and Shields were in this discussion, it would be a lot more difficult. So in the also-rans, we'll start with C.J. Wilson. Wilson is 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA, good numbers to be sure, but not elite. Like Bochy picking two of his starters (and 60 percent of his starting rotation), Rangers manager Ron Washington was looking out for one of his own players by picking him over Sabathia or Lester, so he's out of the discussion.

David Price is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA with 116 strikeouts, a good half-season to be sure, but not an All-Star starting pitcher.

Gio Gonzalez is that under-the-radar starter who has been lights-out this season, going 8-5 with a 2.31 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 109 innings. Gonzalez is fourth in the American League in ERA but his WHIP is an improved 1.235, which is decent but not in the Top 10 in the league.

Jered Weaver and Josh Beckett are both in the top three in both ERA and WHIP, with Weaver first in ERA (1.92) and third in WHIP (0.921) to Verlander (0.862). Beckett trails Weaver in ERA (2.12) and jumped ahead of him in WHIP (0.906) with Sunday's performance. If you're one of those people who puts value in pitcher's wins as a stat, Weaver leads all American Leaguers eligible to pitch in the game with 10 wins, while Beckett's pedestrian record of 6-3 belies what he's been able to do on the mound this season.

Weaver had a case to start last season season's game in Anaheim, but wasn't eligible because he'd started the Sunday before the game. He's scheduled to start on Thursday, putting him on track to start again on July 12, and he should get that chance.

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

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

Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 1:09 pm
 

On Deck: Halladay returns to Toronto

On Deck
By Evan Brunell

HalladayHOMECOMING: Roy Halladay apparently couldn't care less that he's about to step on the Blue Jays' mound for the first time wearing a different uniform. "I feel like it's any other start," Halladay told MLB.com. "It's been long enough for me where that's not really something that's in the forefront. Obviously it's the first time back, but I don't really anticipate anything different than any other road start." I'm guessing there's just a little bit of an emotional twinge in Halladay, but he's a robot who does nothing but get outs, so what do I know? He'll be opposed by Carlos Villanueva, an ex-Brewer who opened the year in the bullpen and impressed enough to get, and so far retain, a rotation spot. Phillies vs. Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET (Watch live)

KershawWeaverBEST MATCHUP: What a fantastic matchup slated for the Freeway Series in a rematch of a battle this past Sunday, when Kershaw outdueled Weaver with a six-hitter. Weaver was in line for his 10th win before L.A. rallied off closer Jordan Walden, but Kershaw's been the better pitcher this year. That may sound like heresey given Kershaw has a 2.93 ERA and Weaver 1.97, but if there's one thing you should learn from reading these pages, it's that ERA doesn't mean everything. Kershaw's peripherals are stronger than Weavers and he'll be going after his third straight complete game, which no Dodger has achieved in the last 11 years. Dodgers vs. Angels, 9:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

YankeesMetsSUBWAY BATTLE: The Yankees are trying to win the division and would love to buffer their lead over the Red Sox, currently at an all-too-tenuous 2 1/2 games. The Mets, meanwhile, would love to avoid dipping under .500 for the first time since last Saturday. The Mets are still lingering on the fringes of the wild card race, plus boast perhaps the most exciting player in the game today with Jose Reyes. The Yanks will have Bartolo Colon coming off the DL to continue his bizarrely successful year. Likewise, the Metropolitans will trot out Dillon Gee, also experiencing unforeseen success. Yankees vs. Mets, 4:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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

Posted on: June 26, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: June 26, 2011 4:18 pm
 

On Deck: Break out the brooms

OD

By Matt Snyder


It's Sunday, so we've got a full slate and several opportunities to see sweeps. Let's examine three of the more intriguing possibilities.

Break up the Bucs: The mighty Red Sox showed up to Pittsburgh with the best record in the American League, but the Pirates have more than held their own, as they've taken the first two games of the series. In all, the Red Sox have lost four straight and their hold on first place in the AL East, as the Yankees have a half-game lead. Meanwhile, the Pirates have won four in a row and are only three games out in the NL Central. Their fans are noticing, too, as there was a PNC Park record crowd on hand for Saturday night's victory over the Red Sox. Andrew Miller (0-0, 4.76) looks to halt the losing for the Red Sox while James McDonald (5-4, 4.86) takes the hill for the Pirates. The Pirates haven't swept an AL team since 2001 while the Red Sox haven't been swept by an NL team since 2002. Boston at Pittsburgh, 1:35 p.m. ET. Watch Live Scoring

Tribe hanging in: The Indians have continued their stumble this weekend, as they face a sweep at the hands of the Giants. Since roaring out to a 30-15 start, the Indians are just 10-20. Still, they have a percentage-point lead over the Tigers in the AL Central and can easily salvage the season by playing better baseball. Avoiding a sweep in San Fran would be a start. On the flip-side, the Giants have won four in a row and now hold a half-game lead in the NL West. The Indians send Fausto Carmona (4-9, 5.98) to the mound while the Giants send Madison Bumgarner (3-9, 4.06) in a matchup of thus-far disappointing starters. Cleveland at San Francisco, 8:05 p.m. ET. Watch Live Scoring

Battle for L.A.: For as bad as they've been at times, the Angels find themselves just two games out in the AL West. They'll be going for the sweep against the cross-town rival Dodgers Sunday in a brilliant pitching matchup. Jered Weaver (9-4, 2.01) faces off against Clayton Kershaw (7-3, 3.01) as the Angels go for the sweep. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are really reeling. They've gone 3-8 over the course of this 12-game homestand. Brace yourself for strikeouts in this one, too, as Weaver enters with 102 K on the season and Kershaw has 117 -- each ranking among the top 10 in the majors. Los Angeles (AL) at Los Angeles (NL), 4:10 p.m. ET. Watch Live Scoring

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 1:31 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Hudson pitches, hits way to victory

Hudson

By Evan Brunell

3 UpTim Hudson, Braves -- Tim Hudson was brilliant Monday in his second-best outing of the season, blanking the Blue Jays for eight innings and allowing just three baserunners on two hits and a walk. He punched out eight. Two of those baserunners came in the ninth inning, but closer Craig Kimbrel whiffed the heart of the Jays' order to finish the game off. But Hudson wasn't done. He also provided the margin of victory, taking Ricky Romero deep in the seventh inning for a two-run home run, which was the final score of the game. "It's hard to say there's anything better," Hudson told the Associated Press. "Obviously, you [nearly] throw a shutout and hit a homer, you win the game. It was fun, man, It was a lot of fun."

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- Kershaw did what Hudson couldn't, slamming the door for nine innings against the Tigers, punching out 11 and walking just one, allowing two hits. Kershaw tossed 112 pitches, 73 for strikes in utterly baffling the Tigers, who appeared to have no idea what to do. The strong lefty is one of the few pitchers in the game classified as a True Ace. Kershaw now boasts of a 3.01 ERA on the season in 107 2/3 innings, but can be even better. His ERAs in the two seasons previous were 2.91 and 2.79. Oh, and Kershaw also stroked a two-run single in the eighth.

Starlin Castro, Cubs -- The Cubs finally got on the board in the third inning after the White Sox staked a 3-0 lead on a two-run single by Starlin Castro, plating Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome. Castro came up in the sixth and ripped a 392-footer to left field to tie the game at three-all. Carlos Pena would follow later in the sixth with a three-run shot. That's a 2-for-4 night for Castro with a run scored, a home run and three RBI. He also swiped base, his ninth of the season. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the 21-year-old is going to be a superstar.


3 DownPadres bullpen -- Wade LeBlanc lasted just three innings, giving up three runs. But Cory Luebke, going into the seventh, had tossed three shutout innings to keep things honest in a game that had just been tied up in the top of the sixth inning. But in the bottom seventh, Luebke, Ernesto Frieri and Evan Scribner all imploded in a meltdown of the best bullpen in baseball. Luebke started the inning by walking Jacoby Ellsbury and seeing him erased at second base on a fielder's choice. Adrian Gonzalez tormented his former team by doubling in Dustin Pedroia, and that was it for Luebke. But Frieri would come in to get just one out, allow no hits and give up four runs. He did so by immediately inducing Kevin Youkilis into a flyout, then intentionally walking David Ortiz. J.D. Drew then walked to the load the bases, and then promptly hit two straight batters. Evan Scribner came in to continue the hilarity, giving up a pinch-hit, 2-run RBI single by Josh Reddick, with another single by Ellsbury loading the bases again. A walk, two-run single and bases-clearing double finished up the 10-run inning for the Red Sox, who were retired when Pat Neshek got Big Papi swinging.

Charlie Morton, Pirates -- That's the sound of regression. Morton is backsliding, giving up six earned runs in his third straight poor start to spike his ERA to 3.77, still a quality mark and more in line with what Morton has done this season. Imitating Roy Halladay's windup has allowed Morton to induce a ton of groundballs but at the expense of striking anyone out, and not being stingy enough with walks. Morton is still a far better pitcher than he was, especially the debacle he resembled last season, but this loss dropped him to 7-4 and the Pirates to two games under .500.

Jeff Mathis, Angels -- And the worst hitting performance goes to Jeff Mathis, who punched out three times in four hitless at-bats against the Marlins. Jered Weaver and Anibal Sanchez had a great duel, with the Angels winning the battle of the bullpens for a 2-1 final. Jack McKeon's triumphant return, replete with smoking a cigar on the bench, had a rain delay precede the loss. Mathis, meanwhile, sinks to .191/.229/.282 on the year. When does his failings at the plate outweigh his defense, skipper Mike Scioscia?

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

Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:19 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Dunn goes deep



By Matt Snyder


Adam Dunn, White Sox. He's still on pace to have the worst season of his career by a huge margin, but Dunn's gotta be pretty happy with his performance Thursday night. After two games off, he returned to the lineup and slugged his sixth home run of the season -- his first since May 24.

Alex Avila, Tigers. Avila tripled twice in the Tigers' victory. He's a catcher, as we know, so a two-triple game has to be a rarity, right? According to Baseball-Reference.com, this was the 75th time a catcher has hit two triples since 1919. It was the 18th time in the past 40 years. The 24 year old, who was really only made the starter due to his defense, is now hitting .297 with nine homers, 33 RBI, 13 doubles and three triples. He's got a real shot to play in the All-Star Game.

Johnny Cueto, Reds. Cueto stifled the Giants Thursday night in his best start of the season. He worked seven shutout innings, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out eight and picking up the win. It was the first scoreless appearance by a Reds starter since Homer Bailey's May 10 outing. The start also marked the sixth quality start in seven tries for Cueto, who lowered his ERA to 1.93 and could really be emerging as the ace of the Reds' deep staff. The win kept the Reds five games out in the NL Central.




Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. If the Dodgers score seven runs for their young ace -- especially against the recently-punchless Rockies -- it should be an easy victory. Instead, Kershaw just didn't have it Thursday night in the thin air of Coors Field. He gave up seven hits, three walks and six earned runs in six innings.

Trevor Cahill, A's. The manager change didn't help in Game 1 of the Bob Melvin era for Oakland. The A's were worked over by the White Sox, 9-4, and ace Trevor Cahill was beaten down in less than three innings of work. Cahill was only able to get through 2 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, three walks and six earned runs. He's now 0-4 with a 5.35 ERA in his last six starts -- and the A's are 0-6 in those starts. You're supposed to feel confident in a win with your ace on the hill. That's not happening. Hey, at least Cahill's healthy, though, unlike about half the Oakland pitchers who have been on the 40-man roster this year.

Ryan Madson/Placido Polanco, Phillies. There will be no repeat of Brad Lidge's 2008 season in Philly (when he saved 41 games without blowing a single chance). Ryan Madson entered the game Thursday night against the Cubs having converted all 14 of his save opportunities, but a Geovany Soto home run tied it. Madson almost took the loss, as Tyler Colvin followed with what was initially ruled a home run. The umpires ruled fan interference and a ground-rule double after video review, and Madson got out of the inning with a tie game. Then, in the top of the 11th, Placido Polanco committed a throwing error with two outs that allowed the Cubs to plate the go-ahead run. The Phillies then went down in the bottom half of the inning and lost a game they should have won.

BONUS UP AND DOWN: Joakim Soria returned to his customary role as the Royals closer and picked up the save. So that's good. It's just that he didn't look in control at all. He allowed back-to-back singles with one out and then walked the bases loaded with two outs before getting Corey Patterson to pop up and end the game. Soria faced six hitters and threw at least two balls to four of them. Both singles were hit pretty hard, too. But, again, he did lock down the save and didn't allow a run.

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Best first-round picks of the last decade



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With the MLB Draft beginning Monday night at 7 p.m. ET, the Eye on Baseball crew is going to look at the best -- and worst -- first-round draft picks by each team in the last 10 years. 

With the way the baseball draft goes, there are plenty of busts in the first round every year, but there are a lot of great players in the game that were drafted in the first round and the supplemental first round. Tomorrow we'll look at the misses, but for today, here are the hits.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Most first overall picks make the majors and many (Alex Rodrgiuez, Ken Griffey, Chipper Jones) find their way to superstardom. Justin Upton may not be a superstar yet, but the first overall pick of the 2005 draft already has one All-Star appearance under his belt and will probably have more to come.

Atlanta Braves: With the 14th pick in the 2007 draft, the Braves took a local kid, outfielder Jason Heyward. Nice pick.

MLB Draft

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters is close to taking this spot, but for now it's still Nick Markakis, who was taken with the seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft out of Young Harris College in Georgia.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox had five picks in the first round and the supplemental first round in 2005, and as good as Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie are, the pick here is right-hander Clay Buchholz, taken 42nd overall out of Angelina College.

Chicago Cubs: While his name is now a cautionary tale, it's easy to forget just how good Mark Prior was before arm trouble. Drafted with the second pick of the 2001 draft, he won six games in 2002 and 18 in 2003, his best season. Overall, Prior was 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA.

Gordon BeckhamChicago White Sox: Even with his struggles last year and this season, Gordon Beckham has been a productive player for the White Sox after he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Cincinnati Reds: Taken out of high school with the 12th overall pick in 2005, Jay Bruce is the reigning National League Player of the Month and only seems to be getting better at 24. He already has 85 homers in his career, including a National League-best 17 this season.

Cleveland Indians: How bad have the Indians' first-round picks been the last decade? The 18 players taken by Cleveland in the first round and the supplemental first round over the last 10 years have collected just 506 games in the majors, 334 for Cleveland. Lonnie Chisenhall (29th overall in 2008) may eventually be their best in this list, but for right now it's the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie, who at least has 40 big-league wins.

Colorado Rockies: While the Indians' choice was tough, the Rockies' wasn't -- Troy Tulowitzki was taken with the seventh overall pick in 2005.

Detroit Tigers: With the second pick in 2004, the Tigers took Justin Verlander.

Florida Marlins: The team's best pick of the last decade came in the fourth round of the 2002 draft when it took high school pitcher Josh Johnson, but as far as first-round picks, their best is right-hander Chris Volstad, taken with the 16th pick of the 2005 draft.

Chris BurkeHouston Astros: The Astros didn't have first-round picks in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and haven't had much production from any of them. There's really just two choices, Chris Burke (10th overall, 2001) and Jason Castro (10th overall, 2008). Castro has potential, but is out this season and has played in just 67 big league games, so the pick is Burke, who played in parts of six seasons with three teams, but his 18th-inning walk-off homer (left) to clinch the 2005 NLDS against the Braves is one of the franchise's signature moments.

Kansas City Royals: This choice could be much more difficult in five years, but for now it's pretty easy -- Zack Greinke. The Royals selected him sixth overall in the 2002 draft and he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jered Weaver was the 12th pick of the 2004 draft.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers took lefty Clayton Kershaw with the seventh pick of the 2006 draft out of a Texas high school.

Milwaukee Brewers: This could change in a couple of years, but for now, Prince Fielder (seventh overall, 2002) leads Ryan Braun (fifth overall, 2005). Fielder is a free agent this offseason, while Braun is under contract through 2020.

Minnesota Twins: There were those who questioned the pick of hometown boy Joe Mauer with the first pick in the 2001 draft instead of Prior. Not anymore.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon may not think he's a franchise player, but David Wright is the team's best first-round pick in the last decade, taken with the 38th overall pick in 2001.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have plenty of first-round picks on their roster, although few were their picks. Two key pitchers, starter Phil Hughes (23rd overall in 2004) and reliever Joba Chamberlain (41st overall in 2006), were Yankee picks. The pick here is Chamberlain, who has allowed fewer runs in a similar number of innings and is currently pitching.

Oakland Athletics: A chapter of the book Moneyball focuses on the 2002 MLB Draft and Billy Beane's distaste of drafting high school players. In the book, the team is excited the Brewers take a player they won't touch (Fielder), and the team also doesn't want Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels or Matt Cain -- all high school player. But they get the man they want the most, Nick Swisher at No. 16. It's a good pick, as is Joe Blanton at 24 -- but it's hardly Greinke, Fielder, Hamels or Cain. The team also picked Jeremy Brown, a catcher out of Alabama, and Mark Teahen in the supplemental round. 

Philadelphia Phillies: Another pick from the Moneyball draft, the pick after the A's took Swisher, the Phillies snatched up Hamels, the left-hander from a California high school with the 17th pick.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The 2005 draft featured six players listed as center fielders taken in the first round -- and all six have made the big leagues. The second one taken was the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen with the 11th overall pick. The others were Cameron Maybin (10), Bruce (12), Trevor Crowe (14), Ellsbury (23) and Colby Rasmus (28).

San Diego Padres: The Padres may have had one of the biggest busts of the last decade in Matt Bush, the first overall pick in 2004 draft, but he's not been their only bad pick. The best of the lot was Khalil Greene, taken No. 13 in 2002, who had a promising start of his career, but his troubles with social anxiety disorder drove him from the game. Still, he's the Padres' career leader in homers by a shortstop with 84.

San Francisco Giants: Nine teams passed on the right-hander out of Washington, some scared off by his funky motion and small stature. Tim Lincecum proved them wrong.

Evan LongoriaSeattle Mariners: Adam Jones (37th pick in 2003) played in just 73 games for the Mariners, but was named an All-Star and won a Gold Glove with the Orioles in 2009.

St. Louis Cardinals: With a compensation pick for the Red Sox signing Edgar Renteria, the Cardinals used the 28th pick of the 2005 draft to take Rasmus out of an Alabama High School.

Tampa Bay Rays: Were Luke Hochevar and Greg Reynolds better than Evan Longoria? The Royals and Rockies took those two right-handers with the first two picks of the 2006 draft, leaving Longoria (left) for the Rays.

Texas Rangers: Funny story here -- in 2001 I was working at the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia and was covering the NCAA Regional in Athens when a Teixeira-led Georgia Tech squad was bounced from the tournament. After his last game, a kid from the student radio station asked Teixeira if he thought his poor showing in the regional would hurt his draft status. The Georgia Tech coach, Danny Hall, took the microphone before Teixeira could answer and said, "No." So did the Rangers, who took him fifth overall.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays took lefty Ricky Romero out of Cal State Fullerton with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft.

Washington Nationals: Another pick that could change with the emergence of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but that's still several years away because of the fourth pick of the 2005 draft,  Ryan Zimmerman.

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Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez


By Matt Snyder


May mostly belonged to the pitcher. Sure, there were some pretty stellar performances by hitters (including our selection, Jay Bruce), but the month belonged to dominant pitching as a whole.

May's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Bruce Verlander
Miller Bruce Verlander
Brunell Joyce Kershaw
Rosecrans Bruce Putz
Snyder Bruce Sanchez
Fantasy Bruce Sanchez
Just look at some of the names we had to choose from when it came to strong pitching performances in May.

The following pitchers threw at least 20 innings and had an ERA below 2.00: Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard, Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Collmenter, Tim Lincecum, Anibal Sanchez, Jair Jurrjens, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw and Ryan Vogelsong. There were eight more at 2.25 or below for the month (again, with at least 20 IP). And this is only starting pitchers, as there have been several dominant relievers, too. Basically, this was a tough choice, and our variety of selections backs that up. In cases like this, there aren't really any wrong answers -- just lots of right answers.

On the offensive end, Jose Bautista continued to silence doubters. In April, he was showing 2010 was no fluke and in May he was showing April sure wasn't either. He hit .360 with 11 home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.267 OPS. We also saw Curtis Granderson and David Ortiz club 10 homers in the month while Matt Joyce hit .414. Adrian Gonzalez drove home 31 runs to go with his nine homers in the month, while Jose Reyes also starred (.364 average, nine doubles, six triples, 11 steals). Still, they all fell slightly short in our eyes to the emergence of Jay Bruce as a star.

The 24-year-old Reds right fielder has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career, but staying consistent has been a problem. In May, it wasn't. He led the majors with 12 home runs and 33 RBI, while also hitting .342 with a 1.140 OPS. He also led in total bases and tied for the lead in extra-base hits. Only Gonzalez, Reyes and Hunter Pence collected more total hits and only Granderson scored more runs in the month.

Click here to see last month's selections.

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
When I saw Bruce last week in Philly, he told me he's looking for consistency. If he ever has six consistent months like this one, he'd hit 72 homers with 198 RBI. Bruce also believes he's become a better hitter. So do I. Remember, he just turned 24. When Adrian Gonzalez turned 24, he was in his first season as a big-league regular. Same with Joey Votto. This could well be the start of something big.
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
We're watching a hitter mature right before our eyes. To actually put together a better month than Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is a spectacular month, but Bruce has shifted me away from Gonzo with his incredible production. Added bonus: He's scorching lefties, too.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Matt Joyce Matt Joyce, Rays
Let's get one thing straight -- Joyce is no Jose Bautista, but he still had a fine month, ripping opposing pitchers for a .414 average and tacking on 14 extra-base hits. His emergence has hid the decline of Sam Fuld and been a major reason why the Rays are hanging around the top of the AL East. No other batter cracked the .400 mark in May.
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
Not only did Bruce hit .342/.402/.739 this month, he also had 12 homers and 33 RBI. But it's not just the raw numbers. He came through when his team needed him the most (even if Cincy didn't always finish it off) with five hits during the month that tied games or gave the Reds the lead in the sixth inning or later -- the most in baseball in that category.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
He's been good before in his career, but never this consistent or deadly. We knew the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year had the potential, and at age 24 he's showing its at the big-league level. With the Bruce power surge, the Reds now have two MVP-caliber players. 
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
After a sluggish April, Bruce went on to lead all hitters in overall production in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head Fantasy formats for the month of May. Not only did he bang a dozen homers, but Bruce was one of only two players to drive in more than 30 runs for the month.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander, Tigers
May was a great month for pitchers, and the only way to decide was to think back to who had the most memorable games. Let's see, who threw his second career no-hitter? And who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings against an on-fire Red Sox team? Answer: Justin Verlander. I know, he also allowed six runs to the Rays, which kept his May ERA (2.62) from looking as flashy as Josh Beckett's 1.00. Two blown saves cost Beckett a 4-1 month. But he didn't throw a no-hitter.
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander, Tigers
I like horses. No, not Secretariat. Dominant workhorses. And while Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens had a great month, Verlander threw a no-hitter AND stuck around through 132 pitches the other night in knocking down Boston, one of the toughest lineups in the game. Six starts, 33 Ks and one hellacious WHIP.
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw doesn't have the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in May, but he does check in at 1.77. What he holds over others is strikeouts, plus luck. Kershaw's 46 punchouts in May were big and he hasn't gotten away with as much as others have, evidenced by Kershaw's 2.57 xFIP in May.
J.J. Putz J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks entered May 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West and end it a half-game up on the defending World Series champs. One of the biggest reasons for the team's turnaround is the bullpen, led by closer J.J. Putz who had 11 saves and didn't allow an earned run all month.
Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Anibal Sanchez Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Toss up between Jurrjens and Sanchez, but there's no wrong answer this month. I'm going with Sanchez because he stepped up with Josh Johnson down, going 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in six starts, averaging more than seven innings per start.
Anibal Sanchez Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Sanchez's five-start stretch to end May was about as good as you'll ever see. He allowed no earned runs in three of those starts, pitching seven innings or more in all five. His 4-0 record, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and strikeout per inning for the month were enough to make him the highest-scoring pitcher in Fantasy, even over Justin Verlander and his no-hitter.

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.

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