Warming up in the bullpen: Notes from Monday games, to whet your appetite
– Starlin Castro ranks 12th in MLB with a .333 BA … and 64th with a .349 OBP. Through 35 games, he has 48 hits and 4 walks in 152 PAs, putting him on pace for 222 hits and 18 walks. No Cub since 1937 has topped 210 hits. No one has ever had more than 212 hits with less than 22 walks. And just two players have had 200+ hits with 12 times as many hits as walks.
- Castro’s stats are extreme in other ways. He’s hitting .370 with RISP, 17 for 46 — with 16 singles and a triple. Of his 4 walks, 1 came with men on 1st & 2nd, the others with bases empty; he has no walks in 31 PAs with a man on and 1st base open.
– Ben Zobrist, the anti-Castro, has a .218 BA, but a .377 OBP and 6 HRs. He leads the AL with 30 walks. The highest qualifying OBP ever with a BA under .220 is .377, by Jim Wynn in 1976 (.207 BA, 127 walks).
– Pittsburgh’s Brad Lincoln, who was the only pure reliever averaging 2+ IP in 5+ games so far this year, started Monday and held Miami to 2 runs in 6 efficient IP (80 pitches). The last pure reliever to average 2+ IP in 30+ games was Steve Sparks in 2003.
- The Bucs have won 6 of 9 despite scoring just 25 runs; they’ve allowed just 24. That’s an average of 2.7 runs per team per game.
- Pittsburgh was the last team to reach 100 runs for the season. They’re last in MLB at 2.86 R/G, but just a game under .500.
– One problem with judging a pitcher by earned runs allowed was on display in Brandon Morrow‘s disastrous 5th inning. With 2 out and a man on 1st in a tie game, he walked the righty B.J. Upton on 4 pitches, bringing up the more dangerous Matt Joyce (1.005 OPS vs. RHP). Joyce grounded to 1st, but Adam Lind missed it and the go-ahead run scored. Morrow could not minimize the damage: A strike-3 wild pitch loaded the bases, then consecutive 2-run hits made it 6-1 Rays and that’s your ballgame. Morrow was charged with only 1 ER, but he did not do a good job.
- Lind is killing the Jays (and not so softly) with his noodle bat. This would be his third straight year of sub-100 OPS+ and sub-zero WAR. He’s signed for next year at a modest $5 million, but will likely see his option bought out after that.
- Daniel Nava hit his 2nd career HR — 205 PAs and almost 2 years since hitting the first pitch he saw in the majors for a grand slam. No. 2 was also on the first pitch, but from the other side of the plate.
- In 5 games since his call-up, Nava has reached base in 15 of 20 PAs. He had 2 walks three times, and 2 HBPs another.
- With 12 HRs and 53 Ks, Adam Dunn is on pace to break both White Sox records — 49 HRs by Albert Belle, and 177 SO by himself. (By the way, Belle set the Sox HR mark with the help of a 163rd game, thanks to a rain-shortened tie. He homered in both the tie game and game #163. Imagine the commotion if that had been a MLB record he set!)
- Drew Smyly (4 R in 5 IP) had allowed 2 runs or less in his first 6 career starts. He was the 5th pitcher since 1981 to start his career that way, and the only Tiger ever to do so.
– The Mets are now 11-6 at home. Last year they were 43-38 out of town, but 34-47 in the Citi, 27th in the majors.
- The Mets’ last win with 3 hits or less was Aug. 2010.
- On the road, Ike Davis is hitting .258/.825, with 5 HRs, 11 RBI and no GDP in 16 starts. But at home, he has 3 singles and 22 Ks in 53 ABs, with 4 GDP.
- New York has 1 HR in their last 10 home games. For the year, in 17 Mets home games, the teams have combined for 19 HRs (7 by NYM). In 18 road games, 37 HRs (16 by NYM).
– How much will the Giants really miss Brian Wilson? Replacement closer Santiago Casilla has his ERA under 2 for the third straight year and has blown just 1 of 9 save tries (on a lone unearned run, with his team going on to win). Sergio Romo is unscathed in 10 IP; since 2010, his 1.72 ERA is 2nd among all pitchers with 100+ IP (Casilla is 3rd). LOOGY Javier Lopez has a 2.27 ERA since joining the team in 2010. Their bullpen has inherited and stranded more runners than any other NL team, with a sterling 79% strand rate.
- Since moving to the #3 spot to replace the injured Panda a dozen games ago, Melky Cabrera is 22 for 50, with 8 multi-hit games, driving his season average to .338.
- Christian Friedrich is the first Rockies pitcher ever to begin his career with 2 starts of 6+ IP and 1 ER or less.
- It’s getting late early for the 13-21 Rockies, who spent a passel o’ money this offseason but have lost 9 of their last 10. Troy Tulowitzki has gone 11 games without an RBI, hitting .220 in that span and sporting an 87 OPS+. Michael Cuddyer‘s 101 OPS+, 10 points below the median for qualified corner OFs. Marco Scutaro, acquired in trade with a $6 million salary, has no HRs and 2 RBI playing full-time at 2B. CarGo leads the team with a 138 OPS+; Cuddyer and Helton are at 101, the other 5 regulars at 87 or less. No SP has an ERA+ over 95. Jhoulys Chacin had a 131 ERA+ over the past 2 years, but this year went 0-3, 7.30 in 5 starts before hitting the DL. Jamie Moyer is a fun story and all, but a guy who can’t miss bats is a poor fit in Coors Field, where opponents are hitting .347 off him.
– This cannot stand: Derek Lowe has a 1.51 WHIP but a 2.47 ERA and 158 ERA+. For qualified seasons with WHIP over 1.50, the best ERA+ was 136 by Lefty Weinert in 1922; the best ERA was 3.08 by Bill Hogg in 1908.
– I’ve often quoted this Hepburn line from The Lion in Winter: “In a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible.” But here’s my new line for such occasions: “In a season when Bruce Chen can beat Texas on 1 run in The Ballpark, anything is possible.” In prior games there, the HR-prone Chen had allowed 26 runs in 24.2 IP with 10 HRs.
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