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Tag:Justin Verlander
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: July 31, 2011 11:24 am
 

On Deck: Verlander/Weaver highlights deadline day

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


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WeaverVerlanderBEST MATCHUP: A fantastic matchup is set to take place amid trade deadline hubbub, with AL Cy Young Award favorite Justin Verlander toeing the mound. Verlander has 14 wins, just like opponent Jered Weaver, but has a higher ERA at 2.34. Weaver is at an eye-popping 1.79, but Verlander has the inside track on the award thanks to his no-hitter, plus a fantastic 4.97 K/BB ratio, with Weaver at 3.62  -- still no slouch. This is a battle between the likely No. 1 and No. 2 finishers for the Cy Young, in some order. Detroit will have reliever David Pauley, just acquired from the Mariners along with Doug Fister, to back up Verlander, but the Angels have yet to make a move at the trade deadline. Angels vs. Tigers, 1:05 p.m. ET

PiratesPhilliesNEW FACES: Hunter Pence already made his Phillies debut, but he's still a new face as he prepares for his second career game as a Phillie, and will do so against a familiar face as Jeff Karstens draws the start for Pittsburgh. Karstens' 2.41 ERA came out of nowhere and is obviously over his head, but he is pitching better this year than he ever has. He'll do so with a new first baseman, as Derrek Lee was dealt from the Orioles over to Pittsburgh late on Saturday. Karstens is opposed by rookie Vance Worley. (Sadly, Lee won't join the Pirates until Monday, so the team gets one more day of Lyle Overbay at first.) Pirates vs. Phillies, 1:35 p.m. ET

EllsburyNEW STREAK: Dustin Pedroia's attempt to run his hitting streak to 26 games the other day was snapped, but another Red Sox player is ready and willing to start getting attention for his own hitting streak. Jacoby Ellsbury is at 19 games, continuing what has been a breakout season for the center fielder. Baltimore's Nick Markakis and Kansas City's Alex Gordon are also working on 19 straight. In other news, Boston is searching high and low for a new starting pitcher to replace Andrew Miller, who draws the assignment Sunday despite a lousy 17/24 K/BB ratio. The White Sox bring their own lefty to the mound in Mark Buehrle, whose 2.45 ERA since the start of May ranks in the top 10 of baseball. Red Sox vs. White Sox, 2:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 4:50 pm
 

On Deck: Seattle primed for 17th straight loss

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


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MarinersCHASE FOR 17: The Mariners will go for their 17th straight loss on Tuesday, running up against the powerful Yankees and ace CC Sabathia. That's a tall task for the Mariners, who will offer up Doug Fister. Fister isn't exactly a terrible pitcher, but he's no Sabathia. Fister's success this season is dependent on a below-average walk rate and limiting home runs, which isn't exactly hard to do in his home park, where he's allowed two of his six homers on the season. By the way, fun fact on the 16 straight losses by Seattle: Back in 2001, the Mariners won 116 games, and their 16th loss of the year was on June 18. Mariners vs. Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

KarstensHansonBEST MATCHUP: Yep, your good old Pirates are part of the best matchup, which will pit Jeff Karstens and his surprising 2.28 ERA against the Braves' fireballer Tommy Hanson. Hanson has a 3.0 ERA and is really the better pitcher to have both this year and in the long run because of his excellent peripherals, but Karstens has registered the second-lowest ERA in the NL. He's done so by taking a minuscule 4.2 walk percentage, fourth lowest in all of baseball. And these days, every win is paramount in Pittsburgh as it will put more and more pressure on the front office to make a move to improve the club, which everyone and their mother agrees is necessary. The Pirates are tied for first with the Cardinals, a mere half-game up on the Brew Crew. Atlanta, meanwhile, has fallen to six games behind Philadelphia and at this point have to be more concerned with ensuring their grip on the wild-card race Pirates vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

VerlanderCY YOUNG SHOWCASE: The Tigers are one game ahead Cleveland for first place, and what better pitcher to keep Detroit in first than Justin Verlander? Seemingly the leader for the AL Cy Young Award, Verlander has a 2.24 ERA in 165 innings, punching out 162. While he's been untouchable much of the year, one of his worst starts of the season came on Jul 15, allowing five runs in six innings. The White Sox, meanwhile, are caught between deciding to go for it or rebuild. At just 3 1/2 out, the series outcome could put a stamp on Chicago's future. It already took down Detroit on Monday, so can be assured of a series win Tuesday as the ChiSox offer up Jake Peavy, a one-time Cy Young Award winner who is now struggling to stay healthy and contribute in the AL. Tigers vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:47 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 11:56 pm
 

Pirates move into first place in NL Central

Neil WalkerBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Just because I can, I'm going to type this sentence -- the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.

And it's true. Wait, it gets better. It's July 15 and the Pirates and the Cleveland Indians are in first place. Who had that at the beginning of the year?

The Pirates beat the Astros behind a shutout from Jeff Karstens, while the Brewers fell to the Rockies and the Reds topped the Cardinals. With Friday's results the Pirates lead the Cardinals by just percentage points -- .5275 to .5269. Milwaukee is a half-game back of the leaders, with the Reds three games back.

I touched on this the other day, but the Pirates are the season's best story and could break the franchise's streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons. The team started off hot then faded a bit, but have hung around and are now 48-43 on the season.

The Indians used two-run homers by Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore to send the Orioles to their ninth straight loss. Cleveland broke its tie with the Tigers when the White Sox put five runs on Justin Verlander for an 8-2 victory in Detroit.

We'll see if either team is there at the end, but at this point, who cares? It's after the All-Star break and the Indians and Pirates are in first place and that's just awesome.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 5:14 pm
 

On Deck: Central showdowns

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Central showdown: Detroit is tied with Cleveland for the lead in the American League Central with the White Sox and Twins sitting five and six games back, respectively. While Chicago and Minnesota have had their struggles so far this season, they are by no means out of the race in what has been a mediocre division. Ozzie Guillen's squad plays Detroit six times in its next nine games, giving them a chance to either make up ground or get buried in the standings. A tough road back isn't any easier with Justin Verlander getting the start for the Tigers. White Sox at Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Andrew MillerProving ground: Andrew Miller has pitched well in his first four starts for the Red Sox, accumulating a 3-0 record and a 3.57 ERA while Boston has won all four games he's started. However, his four starts have come against San Diego, Pittsburgh, Houston and Baltimore -- of those, only the Pirates have a winning record and only the Orioles have a team OPS better than the league average. The Rays aren't exactly breaking out murderer's row out there, but they're at least in the hunt in the American League East. Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Make or break?: The Reds start the second half four games back of lead in the National League Central and face off against the division-leading Cardinals at home, followed by three games in Pittsburgh before coming back home for three against the Braves, four against the Mets and three against the Giants. This stretch could put the Reds back at the top of the standings or burry them behind the Cardinals, Brewers and Pirates in the division. Cincinnati has the man it wants on the mound, right-hander Johnny Cueto who enters the game 5-3 with a 1.96 ERA and allowed just one run in eight innings in a 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on July 4. That day he was facing Chris Carpenter, this time it's Jake Westbrook. Cardinals at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Verlander fronts AL Central All-Stars

By Matt Snyder

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

The AL Central has been the most upside-down of all divisions in baseball this year, at least according to preseason expectations. Thus, the team doesn't much look like one we'd expect. Let's dive in.

C Alex Avila, Tigers: Very easy choice here, as the AL All-Star starter resides in this division. It's just that if you read that phrase at the start of the season it would have been very obvious we were talking about Joe Mauer. And if Mauer went down with an injury for a while -- as he did -- the next in line would have likely been Carlos Santana. Nope, it's instead Avila. With a .370 on-base percentage, 10 homers and 46 RBI, he's the man. It's been that kind of year in the Central.

1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: This was a very tough call over Paul Konerko. The two are so comparable across the board that it's hard to make a distinction. We'll give the nod to Cabrera based upon the 40-point lead in on-base percentage, but this is really a dead-heat. The fans certainly got the AL "Final Vote" right when electing Konerko.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Alex Gordon KC LF
2 Asdrubal Cabrera CLE SS
3 Miguel Cabrera DET 1B
4 Carlos Quentin CWS RF
5 Travis Hafner CLE DH
6 Jhonny Peralta DET 3B
7 Melky Cabrera KC CF
8 Alex Avila DET C
9 Gordon Beckham CWS 2B
2B Gordon Beckham, White Sox: This is a choice between the undeserving. Orlando Cabrera, Chris Getz, Alexi Casilla, Ryan Raburn. Yeah, those are the other choices. Beckham has at least shown flashes of being productive and -- at this point in their respective careers -- easily has the most potential. Unfortunately, that's what we have to go on here.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: Unlike second base, we're loaded here, with Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Alexei Ramirez. Alcides Escobar is a defensive stud, too. Cabrera, though, is hitting .293/.387/.489 with 14 homers, 51 RBI, 55 runs and 12 steals. Ramirez is our runner-up here, because we're doing something else with Peralta ...

3B Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: There was no other choice. I had to cheat and move Peralta back to third. Otherwise we were looking at Danny Valencia, Brent Morel, Mark Teahan, Jack Hannahan or the stuggled yet promising Mike Moustakas. Or some other players who aren't even close to All-Stars at this point, yet have been seeing time at third in this division. So we're using Peralta and his .312 average, 14 homers and 50 RBI.

LF Alex Gordon, Royals: After years of waiting, here is the Alex Gordon many were thinking would show his face in 2007. He's put up good numbers -- 11 homers, 50 runs, 50 RBI, 24 doubles, six steals -- and been a steady force in the lineup for the Royals. Even atop the lineup, which we didn't think we'd see when he arrived on the scene. This was a tough call over Brennan Boesch, but we're giving Gordon the nod.

CF Melky Cabrera, Royals: Grady Sizemore missed a lot of games due to injury, Austin Jackson has taken a step backward, Denard Span has missed a lot of games and Alex Rios has been awful. Who's that leave? Yep, Cabrera. Apparently it's the best last name to sport in this division, as 33 percent of the starting lineup has it. Melky has hit for average, hit for power, run well and been a leader for the young Royals. It's shocking to say it, but he's the easy choice here (again, it's backwards).

RF Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Once again, Boesch gets passed over. Quentin has 17 home runs, 51 RBI, a solid OBP due to walks and hit-by-pitches and plays solid defense in right for the White Sox. Plus, Konerko and Quentin have had to pick up some serious slack in the power department with the disappearance of Rios and Adam Dunn. This is actually a pretty loaded position, too, with Jeff Francoeur having a good year, Shin-Soo Choo's talent (when healthy), Michael Cuddyer and Boesch.

DH Travis Hafner, Indians: Sure, he's missed a small chunk of games, but Pronk has shown much more power than Victor Martinez, and that's what we want in a DH. Hafner has eight home runs and a .528 slugging percentage in 51 games, while Martinez has only hit six homers in 77 games with a .457 slugging percentage. Billy Butler also gets squeezed out here with having a bit less power than Martinez.

SP Justin Verlander, Tigers: Guys like Justin Masterson and Scott Baker are having pretty good seasons, but there's really no reason to even expand on the discussion. Verlander is starting to come up with Roy Halladay in the best-pitcher-in-baseball discussions.

RP Al Alburquerque, Tigers: The rookie has been a Godsend for the Tigers' bullpen, as he's taken over the setup role Joel Zumaya can never stay healthy enough to hold down. Plus, big-money free agent signee Joaquin Benoit faltered early in the season. Alburquerque stepped up and struck out 47 hitters in just 29 innings. Rafael Perez is the runner-up here, but Alburquerque gets the nod.

CL Chris Perez, Indians: Too bad Joakim Soria wasn't quite himself early in the season, because this could have been easy. Instead, we've got a three-way race with no right answer. No matter how many ways you look at Chris Perez, Sergio Santos and Jose Valverde, there's no real way to argue and ironclad case as one man emerging as the absolute best of the three. We'll go with Perez, but it's a coin-flip.

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Pepper: Hurdle responds to Bochy comments



Barry Zito seeks his third straight win since coming off the DL while Jered Weaver looks to keep his hot streak going. Eye on Baseball Blogger Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss those storylines and more in this edition of Baseball Today.

By Evan Brunell


ALL-STAR CRITICISM: Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't happy about criticism that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Marlins manager Jack McKeon leveled about his choices on who made the All-Star roster. Hurdle was annoyed that Andrew McCutchen hadn't made the team while McKeon questioned the selection of Bochy's player in Tim Lincecum.

Well, Hurdle fired back after hearing Bochy's comments, specifically that Hurdle and McKeon never lobbied for their players while other managers did, so how can they speak out against the selections?

"I don't think lobbying is a part of what you do in that position," said Hurdle, who has experience with the All-Star Game, managing it in 2008 when he represented the Rockies. "He's earned that opportunity by winning the National League championship. I just have never lobbied, and I never got any calls from any other managers lobbying the year I did it."

Hurdle did apologize if his comments were hurtful to Bochy.

"I have the most professional respect for Boch," Hurdle said. "He's a better manager than I'll ever be. My feelings came from the heart. Diplomacy, I guess, wasn't at the top of my list that day, and I can understand that as well.

"I've been on the other end of that. I just know that I took it with a grain of salt, and he felt he made the best decision for the National League because that's his job to represent. I wish the National League nothing but the most success that we go out and win the game.

"We've known each other back to when we were 16 years old. I can understand he's disappointed in what I had to say. I can deal with that."

McCutchen still has a chance to get on the roster as Ryan Braun from Milwaukee is hobbled by an inflamed tendon, and if he cannot play this weekend, will pull out of the game. (MLB.com)

ALL-STAR INVITE: Albert Pujols says he would be honored to go to the All-Star Game should he be selected as a replacement. Pujols missed his chance at going to the game thanks to his wrist injury, but could still squeak in as players pull out because of injuries or other reasons. It's possible Pujols could replace Braun. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

DODGER DEBACLE: More information in the saga that just won't go away. MLB has filed a motion that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt should not have the right to see various documents that McCourt is requesting, alleging that releasing the documents would turn the bankruptcy court hearing into "a multi-ringed sideshow of mini-trials on his personal disputes." (Los Angeles Times)

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Davey Johnson has never ordered a suicide squeeze, per his own recollections. That changed Wednesday night for the Nationals. Wilson Ramos dropped a successful bunt, allowing Mike Morse to cross the plate with what turned out to be the winning run. (CSN Washington)

WHAT EYE PROBLEM? Mike Stanton visited an ophthalmologist Wednesday and received eye drops to combat an eye infection that has sent him spiraling into a slump. He's received eye drops and apparently they worked as he slammed a walk-off home run against the Phillies on Wednesday night to give the Marlins a victory. (MLB.com)

YOU'RE NO PUJOLS: Apparently Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo is hoping to pull an Albert Pujols and get back on the field earlier than expected. After breaking his left thumb and staring at a diagnosis of eight-to-10 weeks out, Choo is telling friends he believes he can be back in early August. Given how fast Pujols returned, I suppose you can't rule it out, but ... well, don't go wagering on an early Choo return. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

YEAH AND NO: That was the Dodgers' Andre Ethier's answer when asked if he was pleased with his performance so far. Hitting a career-high .317 is great, but Ethier's seven home runs are a sudden loss of power for someone who slammed 31 two seasons ago. (Los Angeles Times)

WORKHORSE: Justin Verlander has made 37 consecutive starts of 100-plus pitches, which is tops in baseball all the way back to 1999, and probably a bit farther back, too. Second place boasts Felix Hernandez at 32 consecutive games from 2009-10, while Randy Johnson pops up multiple times. (Baseball-Reference)

UNSAVORY COMPARISON: Just three months into Jayson Werth's massive seven-year deal with Washington, and he's already being compared to another player who was a colossal bust on his own big deal, not that it was his fault for the team throwing ill-advised money at him. "Him" is Alfonso Soriano, and that's definitely company Werth does not want to be associated with. (Washington Post)

JONES HURTING: Chipper Jones admitted he shouldn't have played Tuesday after he received a cortisone shot for a meniscus tear as he is trying to avoid surgery. “I just didn’t feel right [Tuesday]," he said. "Not having that first step quickness, you favor it. It’s hard to stay on back of it right-handed, swinging the bat. Just one of those things we’ve got to continue to monitor and deal with.” For his part, Jones says he was perfectly fine for Wednesday's game. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

FIGGINS BENCHED: Finally. Chone Figgins has been benched and has easily become one of the largest albatrosses in the game. Figgin's replacement is Kyle Seager, who was promoted from the minors and will stay at third for the foreseeable future. (Seattle Times)

BARGAIN: Who were the best bargains signed as free agents in the winter? There are some worthy candidates in Bartolo Colon, Erik Bedard, Ryan Vogelsong and Brandon McCarthy. Fine seasons, all. But the best bargain is another pitcher, Phil Humber. Hard to disagree. (MLB Daily Dish)

CRAWFORD EN ROUTE: The Red Sox can't wait to get Carl Crawford back, and it looks as if that will happen after the first series back, which is in Tropicana Field. The Sox want to avoid Crawford playing on artificial turf right away, so a July 18 return in Baltimore appears likely (Providence Journal)

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 7:18 pm
 

On Deck: Pujols back, not in lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


SUPERMAN'S BACK: Albert Pujols is back after missing a little more than two weeks with a broken bone in his wrist. He's not starting tonight, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him pinch-hit at some point. Pujols is 4 for 10 with two homers in his career against Reds starter Edinson Volquez. Reds left-fielder Jonny Gomes is 4 for 8 with two doubles in his career against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. However, the Reds' two-through-five hitters (Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce) have combined to hit just .179 (7 for 39) against the Cardinals left-hander. Reds at Cardinals, 7:09 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Ryan BraunBRAUN, TOO: Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun is back after missing two games with a strained left calf will miss his third game and will not be available to play at all Tuesday. Braun has a 22-game hitting streak that will resume when he does. It's too bad for the Brewers that Braun isn't playing tonight, as he is hitting .366/.418/.573 with three homers during the streak. Braun is 7 for 19 with two homers in his career against Diamondbacks starter Zach Duke. Duke is 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA in seven starts at Miller Park and the Brewers haven't lost back-to-back games at home this season. Diamondbacks at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Justin VerlanderDan HarenBEST MATCHUP: Justin Verlander may be the game's best pitcher right now and will look to prove it by becoming the first 12-game winner in baseball (although the Yankees' CC Sabathia will have a chance earlier in the night). Verlander is 11-3 with a 2.32 ERA and was 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA in June. He faces off against Dan Haren, who has four wins in his last six outings after suffering a seven-start winless streak. Haren was dominating in his last start, allowing just two hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Nationals, and is 8-5 with a 2.85 ERA this season. He's even better at home where he has just a 3-3 record, but a 2.12 ERA and opponents are batting .090 points lower against him at Angel Stadium than on the road. Tigers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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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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