Tag:Justin Verlander
Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am
 

Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:

 

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 

 

2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 

 

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.

 

4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.



6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.

 

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.

 

8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:04 am
 

Verlander, Kershaw win pitching triple crowns

By C. Trent Rosecrans

So, now that we've got that pesky playoff thing all figured out, we can get to the important stuff, like batting titles and the such, right?

OK, while eight teams still have something to play for, 22 other teams are done, and so are the regular-season individual titles. So what were the best marks in the biggest individual categories? Here you go:

American League
Batting average: .344 -- Miguel Cabrera
Home runs: 43 -- Jose Bautista
RBIs: 119 -- Curtis Granderson
Stolen bases: 49 -- Coco Crisp, Brett Gardner
Wins: 24 -- Justin Verlander
ERA: 2.40 -- Justin Verlander
Strikeouts: 250 -- Justin Verlander
Saves: 49 -- Jose Valverde

National League
Batting average: .337 -- Jose Reyes
Home runs: 39 -- Matt Kemp
RBIs: 126 -- Matt Kemp
Stolen bases: 61 -- Michael Bourn
Wins: 21 -- Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy
ERA: 2.28 -- Clayton Kershaw
Strikeouts: 248 -- Clayton Kershaw
Saves: 46 -- John Axford, Craig Kimbrel

If you want to know who led in other stats, you can check out our stats page.

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

Posted on: September 27, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Kershaw, Verlander make history

By Matt Snyder

After falling out of playoff contention Monday night, the Angels have decided to scratch Jered Weaver from his scheduled start Wednesday (Jeff Wilson via Twitter). Since Weaver is done for the year, Tigers ace Justin Verlander has now locked up the AL lead in ERA (2.40 ... Weaver's is 2.41), wins (24, next best is 19) and strikeouts (250, next best is 230). This is known as the pitching triple crown, though it doesn't get as much attention as the hitting triple crown (which Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp still has a very-outside shot of winning).

Over in the National League, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has locked up the triple crown as well with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks also has 21 wins, but it still counts when a pitcher is tied for the lead.

So we have a triple crown winning pitcher in both leagues, which is amazing. It's pretty rare, too, as the last time it happened was all the way back in 1924 (ESPN Stats and Info via Twitter). In that season, Hall of Famers Dazzy Vance of the Brooklyn Robins and Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators pulled off the feat.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 12:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Montero leads Yankees

Jesus Montero

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jesus Montero, Yankees: The Yankees rookie is certainly making his case to be not only on the team's playoff roster, but also to be the team's starting designated hitter come Friday. Montero went 3 for 4, knocking in four with his fourth homer of the season in Saturday's 9-1 victory over the Red Sox. Montero is hitting .346/.414/.635 in 15 games since being called up on Sept. 1.

Alex Torres, Rays: The rookie reliever was trust into action when left-hander Jeff Niemann was pulled after allowing two runs in the first inning of the Rays' game against the Blue Jays. Torres threw five shutout innings, allowing three hits, striking out five and walking one in Tampa Bay's crucial 6-2 victory over Toronto. The 23-year-old left-hander was making just his fourth big-league appearance and his first multi-inning outing, earning his first win. The Rays got Torres along with Sean Rodriguez (and Matt Sweeney) in the 2009 trade of Scott Kazmir to Anaheim. 

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Lohse would be his starter in a one-game playoff for the wild card if it comes to that on Thursday. Lohse gave him every reason to stand by that decision in Saturday's 2-1 win against the Cubs. The right-hander didn't pick up the decision, but he did have a season-high eight strikeouts in seven innings. After giving up a run on three hits in the first inning, Lohse gave up just three more hits and didn't allow a runner in scoring position over his final six innings. Lohse (14-8) lowered his ERA to 3.39.


Carlos Marmol, Cubs: The very best closers give a fan a sense of confidence -- when Mariano Rivera takes the mound, Yankees fans know the game is wrapped up. When Brian Wilson comes in, Giants fans can raise their beer (or, well, wine glass, it is the Giants). But when Carlos Marmol comes in, Cubs fans either reach for Pepto Bismol or a case of Old Style to help them forget. Marmol not only blew his 10th save of the season on Saturday, but he did it in a typical frustrating style -- after giving up a hit, he walked three batters to bring in the tying run and then uncorked a wild pitch to let in the winning run. 

Carl Crawford, Red Sox: Already a goat, if the Red Sox complete their epic collapse, his drop of a Russell Martin line drive in the second inning of Saturday's 9-1 loss to the Yankees could be the defining play of the team's disappointing finish to the 2011 season. If Crawford makes the catch, Andruw Jones would have been doubled up easily at second to end the second inning, down just a run. Instead, New York scored six runs in the inning, two on Crawford's play and then three more on Derek Jeter's homer. Crawford, batting second, drove in the Red Sox's only run, but it came in the seventh when Boston was already down 9-0. It was too little too late.

Justin Verlander, Tigers: It's not often you can put Verlander here, and it was little more than a bad outing, but it's just so shocking to see Verlander on this side of the ledger. Verlander, who should unanimously win the Cy Young Award, failed in his bid to become the first 25-game winner in the majors since Bob Welch won 26 in 1990. Verlander gave up five runs on eight hits in seven innings and had his streak of 12 consecutive starts with a win snapped as Detroit fell 6-5 to Baltimore.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 10:58 am
 

On Deck: Verlander goes for 24

OD

By Matt Snyder

As always, follow all action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. Also, the Playoff Race page has all the information you need about the remaining races.

24:
The Tigers already have locked up their first division title since 1987, but that doesn't mean they're packing it in the rest of the way. They're only one game ahead of the Rangers for the second-best record in the AL, and as of Sunday, that means playing the Red Sox instead of the Yankees in the first round. And having home-field advantage. But none of this is the main story Sunday. It's the Tigers' starting pitcher. Justin Verlander (23-5, 2.36) is gunning to become the first 24-game winner in baseball since Randy Johnson in 2002. The last pitcher to win at least 24 in the AL? Bob Welch in 1990, when he won a whopping 27 for the A's. Coincidentally, the A's are Verlander's opponent Sunday. Guillermo Moscoso (8-8, 3.44) is on the hill. Tigers at A's, 4:05 p.m. ET.

Rays shoot for three of four: The biggest head-to-head series of this weekend is easily the Rays-Red Sox tilt in Fenway Park. If the Rays win Sunday, they'll have taken three of four from the home team and trimmed the Wild Card deficit to two games with 10 to play. The pitching matchup certainly favors the Rays. David Price (12-12, 3.34) has a 1.60 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with more than a strikeout per inning in his last seven starts. The Red Sox send Tim Wakefield (7-6, 5.13) to the mound. He hasn't fared well as a starter (5.33 ERA) at all this season, so it's going to come down to how well the Red Sox hit Price. He's 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in four starts against Boston this year. Rays at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. ET.
 
Giant comeback?
A five-game deficit with only 10 games to play is an awfully tall order, but the Giants are making the NL West as interesting as they can. They've won seven in a row while the Diamondbacks have dropped three straight. That magic number of six for the D-Backs has been stalled for several days, and things have a chance to get interesting before a three-game series between the two clubs next weekend in Arizona. Matt Cain (11-10, 2.79) will try to keep the good times rolling for the Giants against Esmil Rogers (6-5, 5.88) and the Rockies. Giants at Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Joe Saunders (11-12, 3.83) leads the D-Backs against Aaron Harang (13-6, 3.85) and the Padres. Diamondbacks at Padres, 4:05 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 2:45 pm
 

On Deck: Rays in the spotlight

OD

By Matt Snyder

Make sure to keep your eyes on the live CBSSports.com scoreboard to follow along with all the game action on this Tuesday evening. Also, stay up to the minute on the playoff races in a convenient one-stop shop.

Red Hot Rays: In what is increasingly becoming the big story of September, the Rays have climbed to within three games of the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race and have presently won five in a row. With a four-game series in Boston looming in the second half of this week, the Rays will look to get even closer before playing head-to-head again. Tuesday, they square off against the Orioles. David Price (12-12, 3.40), who has pitched better than his record and ERA show, gets the ball for the Rays, while Alfredo Simon (4-8, 4.83) goes for the O's. Price is locked in right now, too, as he has a 1.64 ERA in his last six starts. Simply put: The Red Sox better win, because a Rays victory appears likely. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. ET.

Verlander goes for 23; Kennedy 20: The leaders in the archaic, yet still mainstream, wins stat for the season in each respective league both start Tuesday night. Tigers ace Justin Verlander (22-5, 2.44) faces the White Sox, who are the last team to beat him. He has won 10 straight games since the Sox got him on July 15. Meanwhile, the Tigers themselves have also won 10 straight, burying the rest of the AL Central. Over in the NL, Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy (19-4, 2.90) will face the Dodgers. Kennedy entered the season with 10 career wins, so it's quite a story -- just as his first place D-Backs are. Chad Billingsley (10-10, 4.30) is his counterpart in Dodger Stadium. Tigers at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET. Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET.

No Minor start: The Braves have lost four games in a row and it's gotten to the point that the Cardinals should be visible in their rearview mirror in the NL Wild Card standings (it's 4.5 games now). With Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson on the shelf, the Braves could definitely use a big start out of someone. Tuesday night, it's Mike Minor's (5-2, 4.32) turn to give it a go. Brad Hand (1-6, 3.91) gets the ball for the Marlins. Marlins at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Verlander leads candidates for AL Cy Young Award

Verlander, Shields, Weaver

By Evan Brunell

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Cy Young Award winner.

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP

The AL Cy Young is pretty much a foregone conclusion as Justin Verlander continues to run away with the award. But the ballot gives you five names to put in, so Verlander won't be the only one getting votes. Let's take a look at the top five candidates alphabetically:

Josh Beckett, Red Sox: Beckett has two things working against him in consideration for the award -- that being his recent injury derailing him and possibly costing him a chance at 200 innings pitched. When you compare that to the four other pitchers on the list, that will be a significant issue. In addition, while pitcher wins are an irrelevant statistic when it comes to actually evaluating performance, there are still plenty of voters who believe in it. Beckett's 12-5 record won't do him any favors despite a 2.49 ERA. One thing working in his favor is that Beckett has showed up against the Yankees or any other team with a record over .500, as his 2.06 ERA in 16 such starts indicates.

CC Sabathia, Yankees: Sabathia is no Verlander, but he's racked up the second-most wins thanks to pitching behind New York's offensive, gifting him a 19-5 record. He's also already logged 218 1/3 innings and his 2.97 ERA as-is would be his best mark as a Yankee. Oh, and Sabathia leads all AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement, so there's that. The reasoning behind that is that Verlander has pitched behind a tight defense that has only allowed 23.5 percent of batted balls to fall in, while the Yanks' defense is at 31 percent, making Sabathia and Verlander's ERA difference greater than it should be.

James Shields, Rays: Shields used to be known as Big Game James. It's Complete Game James now, as the righty has dazzled baseball with 11 complete games, four of them shutouts. He's come close a couple other times to complete games and/or shutouts as well, and has racked up 218 innings pitched over 29 starts, checking in with a 2.77 ERA and 14-10 record. The last time a pitcher had at least 11 complete games in a season was Randy Johnson (a name you will hear again in this space) back in 1999.

Justin Verlander, Tigers: It would be a surprise if Verlander didn't win the award unanimously after the year he's having. He's already notched 21 wins and is on pace to throw over 250 innings, which would be a career high. Add in 226 strikeouts in 224 2/3 innings currently with a 2.40 ERA leading the league and there simply isn't any other checkboxes one can tick off in stating a Cy Young Award case. This will very likely end up a career year for the 28-year-old ... not because he can't keep it up, but because he's had a perfect storm of a year. The last pitcher to win more than 22 in a season was Randy Johnson in 2002, when he came away with 24.

Jered Weaver, Angels: Up until a recent hiccup, Weaver was keeping pace with Verlander in the Cy Young Award race. After his Aug. 5 start against the Mariners, Weaver had a 1.78 ERA in 24 games started, posting a 14-5 record in 176 2/3 innings. Add in 150 punchouts and four complete games, and it's easy to see why some thought he could mount a challenge to Verlander. Fast-forward a month later and the righty is still having a strong year, but is solidly behind Verlander at this point with a 2.49 mark in 206 1/3 innings. There might even be an argument that Weaver was a better pitcher in 2010.

Who is the best candidate to win the AL Cy Young Award? We'll answer that later in the year, but have your say in the comments.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Sizing up the AL MVP contenders

Verlander, Bautista

By Evan Brunell

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL MVP.

The AL MVP race is shaping up to be one of the more interesting races as of late, with compelling cases to be made for several candidates. Increasingly, the MVP race in the junior circuit looks to be one that could bear out a surprise candidate. Without a clear-cut candidate, players will lose votes due to team performance, being a pitcher or seeing teammates stealing votes. This last distinction is important, as the Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers will all boast multiple candidates.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on the majority of ballots:

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The presumptive top candidate, Bautista is getting dinged due to Toronto being way out of the postseason race. But since when does one player control the fate of a team that could be in the hunt if it didn't play in the AL East? Bautista leads baseball with 40 homers and is far and away the most productive hitter with a .306/.444/.632 line. Any votes he loses due to playing for Toronto could easily be negated with rivals splitting the vote with teammates, so Bautista remains the most likely victory.

Robinson Cano, Yankees
: Entering play Tuesday, both Cano and Dustin Pedroia had equal production on offense as wOBA suggests (basically OPS, but weighted on an OBP scale and tweaked to account for OPS' weaknesses). Cano checks in at .307/.350/.535, while Pedroia lands at .304/.391/.469 in one less game than Cano. The difference is on defense, where Pedroia has played worthy of a Gold Glove and Cano has slipped back to below average, but fielding isn't considered a major factor in MVP balloting. Both players are deserving, but aren't even considered the best MVP on the team.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
: Voters will be dealing with a lot of AL East fatigue in MVP ballots, which could cause Cabrera to slip up the ballot further than anyone may have otherwise thought. The first baseman will crack 100 RBI before the year is out and should also slide over the 30-homer barrier, which will be enough to make him viable to the voters still adamant about relying on traditional counting metrics. This is a player to watch.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
: Ellsbury has been a wrecking machine all season and may be the most popular candidate on the Red Sox for voters, who will love the five tools Ellsbury brings to the table. Leading off much of the year, the center fielder has contributed a .311/.371/.520 line, swiping 36 bags and hammering 24 homers. If he can get hot down the stretch and toss in a 30/30 season for good measure, his candidacy will be overwhelming and could take home the honors. But will it be enough to cut through the noise of two other Boston contenders?

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
: Gonzalez leads baseball in batting average with a .339 mark and while his power has suffered with the move to Fenway, 23 homers and 67 extra-base hits is nothing to sneeze at. An August swoon dropped his RBI pace down and no longer leads the league in that respect, but he's still collected 103 on the season. Pair that with fantastic defense as always, and he's another strong candidate. Someone who was considered a lock to win the award before the year and even for the first few months of the season, Gonzalez may fall short thanks to Bautista's overpowering talents and Ellsbury doing it all on the same team.

Alex Gordon, Royals
: Gordon's not going to win the award, but with the MVP balloting going 10 deep, he figures to show up on enough to place on the ballot. He's been the Royals' best hitter by far, with a sneaky .303/.376/.502 line that would get far more play if he played on a better team or in a better media market. Gordon has also taken to left field, leading all outfielders with 20 assists. (Second best: Nick Markakis, 14.) While some of these assists are certainly players taking a risk early on in the season with an unknown entity manning left, it's still to Gordon's credit that he's become a strong fielder. If he keeps up these type of numbers in the coming years, he could have a MVP waiting for him down the line.

Curtis Granderson, Yankees
: Granderson is doing all he can to outslug Bautista with 38 homers and 109 RBI to his name, but where he drops off is in batting average, with his .271 line the lowest among any hitter on this list, and the only one under .300. That's going to hurt Granderson, as well as the presence of Cano as a candidate. And, while not listed here, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira could also steal votes. Mitigating things is Granderson's 24 stolen bases. If you throw fielding out of the equation, Granderson easily clears Ellsbury in terms of offensive value. But when you add in overall game... well, the balloting results should be interesting.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
: As mentioned above, Pedroia has the same offensive value as Cano, but wins it all on fielding. Yet, Pedroia pales in comparison -- at least as far as MVP chatter goes -- to Ellsbury and Gonzalez. Pedroia is the Red Sox at this point and is one of the most indispensable players in the game. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's MVP, and it's hard to look past the gaudy numbers Ellsbury and Gonzalez are putting up in favor of someone who just keeps motoring along. Perhaps in a weak class, he'd stand out.

Justin Verlander, Tigers
: The only pitcher on this list, Verlander has a chance to win it all because when he pitches, the Tigers win. When he doesn't the Tigers... well, they win too, but a lot less to the point where they'd be out of the postseason chase by now. Scott Miller describes his chase as well as anyone could: "Most dominant single individual player in baseball this season. In line to win the first pitching Triple Crown in the AL since Johan Santana in 2006, and he's 14-3 this season after a Detroit loss."

Michael Young, Rangers
: Young will get some love here for two reasons: First, he's not in the AL East. Second, the Rangers are currently poised to win the AL West, although the Angels may have something to say about that. (And even then, there's no clear MVP candidate in Los Angeles.) Plus, Young had that well-publicized spat with the Rangers over the winter, when he was booted to the DH spot, causing the infielder to ask for a trade. It didn't work out, but Young has been immeasurably valuable in his ability to play around the infield and has thrown up a .334/.376/.482 line, driving in 91 games, so he'll top 100. Getting votes as a MVP after the offseason he had would be an interesting story.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but drop in your responses in the comments.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball 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