Results tagged ‘ Justin Verlander ’

Royals Playing Better Than They Have In A Decade

When Max Scherzer allowed a mere three hits over nine shutout innings in his first career complete game last week, I made the statement that, despite a dismal start to the season by the Tigers, the great outing by Scherzer could be the starting point in a turn around for the team.Untitled

But it appears I was wrong.

Lasting just four innings against the Royals on Tuesday, giving up a total of ten runs, and raising his ERA up to 3.84 on the season, Scherzer joins the long list of Tigers players who’ve struggled at some point this year.

More importantly, however, the Royals 11-4 rout of Scherzer after an 11-8 win against Justin Verlander the night before (the first time since 2011 that they’ve posted a double digit score in back-to-back games) helped them swap places with the Tigers, moving them into first place in the American League Central by a half game.

The first time the Royals have been in first place in their division this late into a season (70 games or beyond) since 2003, and the first time the Tigers haven’t held the first place spot in over a year, the great run by the Royals as of late should help to get their fan base excited, at least for the time being.

With a slow start to the year leading many people to once again assume that what was supposed to “finally” be the Royals’ year was yet again another bust, the Royals have gone from seven games back of first a month ago to leading the division. Thanks to a nine game winning streak (the longest winning streak for the Royals since July of last year) and to a struggling Tigers team, the Royals are seemingly in good shape to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985 (the longest drought in all of baseball).

It’s important to remember, however, that the AL Central is a very close division.

As I touched upon in a previous post, the Royals aren’t the only threat to the Tigers. Every single team in the entire division stands a legitimate chance at being at the top when the end of the year rolls around. Though the Tigers should be running away with things, struggles by most of their offense and the majority of their pitching staff has left more to be desired, giving every other team room to make a run.

The Twins are playing decent baseball (with the exception of a slow stretch lately); Jose Abreu and the White Sox are hanging in the mix; and the Indians are looking to pass the Tigers in a matter of days if the Tigers’ struggles continue. And thus, the Tigers need to turn things around fast.

With just under a month remaining until the All-Star break in mid-July — though teams will undoubtedly move up and down in the standings between now and then — things are setting up for an extremely exciting second half of an already eventful season.

Scherzer’s First Complete Game Stops Tigers’ Skid

After winning over 20 games last season and picking up the 2013 American League Cy Young Award, it’s hard to believe that Max Scherzer had never thrown a complete game over the course of his seven-year career heading into Thursday night’s start against the White Sox.

Max ScherzerBut after 178 previous starts without achieving the feat (the longest streak of any active pitcher without their first complete game), Scherzer was finally able to go the distance against the Sox, outpitching the equally dominant Chris Sale, throwing 113 total pitches over his nine innings of three hit, shutout baseball (it was Scherzer’s first career shutout as well) on the mound.

Moving to 8-2 on the year, with an ERA of 3.05, Scherzer’s great start helped to stop the Tigers’ three game loosing streak as well as put a little more room between them and the White Sox in the American League Central standings. When playing a division rival it becomes even more important to pickup the victory, and Scherzer made sure that happened.

One of only two divisions in all of baseball with less than ten games separating the first and last place teams (a mere four games separate the Twins at the bottom from the Tigers at the top), the Tigers are looking to begin turning around a somewhat disappointing year by their standards.

With the team the Tigers possess (Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez on the offensive side; Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on the pitching side) many people agree that they should be running away with the division as they had been predicted to do. But despite their strong team on paper, not a lot has been going well for the Tigers this season.

Justin Verlander — once one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball — and Joe Nathan — once one of the most dominant closers in all of baseball — are both trying to figure things out, along with the majority of the Tigers’ pitching roster. With their lineup being hit or miss on any given night (except for Miguel Cabrera, who’s having a great year despite a slow start, and Victor Martinez, who’s having a career season), it’s still going to take a lot for the Tigers to begin increasing their current lead.

Although the Tigers currently sit atop the division, they hold only a two game lead over the Royals. With the Royals on a four game winning streak, and the White Sox, Indians and Twins all within a few games of first place, the Tigers shouldn’t be panicking quite yet, as there’s still plenty of season remaining. However, they need to pay close attention before things get too far out of hand.

With such a small margin separating the Tigers, Royals, White Sox, Indians and Twins in the division, no matter how you look at it, any team in the American League Central currently has a chance at finishing in first place at the end of the season. While it’s a long shot at best for a couple of the teams, if the Tigers want to be the division winners, they’re obviously going to have to start playing better.

But if Max Scherzer’s dominant outing was any sort of sign of what’s to come, the Tigers could easily begin to pull away from the rest of the pack in the upcoming weeks before the All-Star break.

Yankees Get Tanaka On 7-Year, 155 Million Dollar Deal

Although I felt the Yankees would be better off using their money to sign other free agents to fill their bullpen and positional needs, the Yankees have decided to lock up Masahiro Tanaka for seven years, giving him a contract worth 155 million dollars. As many people around the baseball world are discussing, this is truly a lot of money for a pitcher who’s never played in the Major Leagues. 201311030731270873836-p5

Despite reportedly wanting to remain under the 189 million dollar luxury tax threshold, this deal to Tanaka blows right past that. The Yankees have now spent nearly 500 million dollars this offseason, with the biggest additions being Tanaka (155 million), Jacoby Ellsbury (153 million), Brian McCann (85 million) and Carlos Beltran (45 million). But even with all the money spent, they still have holes in their overall team.

The Yankees need at least one more good bullpen pitcher, preferably a solid closer, and have an average, at best, infield. With it uncertain how Derek Jeter will perform this season — coming of an injury plagued 2013 season – there are still a lot of questions surrounding the deal. (Now that the Yankees have passed the threshold, I suppose spending more money to acquire their needs isn’t that big of a concern.)

It’s been reported that the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Astros and Diamondbacks all made runs at Tanaka, with at least one team possibly outbidding the Yankees. But ultimately, Tanaka chose the bigger stage of New York City, where he will likely begin as the second or third man in their starting rotation.

Tanaka becomes the receiver of the fifth largest contract for a pitcher in MLB history, just behind Clayton Kershaw’s 215 million over 7 years, Justin Verlander’s 180 million for 7 years, Felix Hernandez’s 7-year, 175 million dollar contract, and C.C. Sabathia’s 160 million for 8 years. That says a lot for the type of pitcher Tanaka is, but it’s somewhat risky, even for a pitcher who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year in Japan, since, as stated earlier, he has never pitched a single MLB inning.

If everything works out as the Yankees planned, and are certainly hoping for, then the signing of Masahiro Tanaka could go a long way to helping them return to the playoffs in 2014 (many people are predicting just that). But if there are any bumps in the road, you could be seeing a lot of regret in New York.

As things look now, however, the future looks to be bright.

Dodgers Lock Up Clayton Kershaw With Record Deal

We all knew it was coming, it was just a matter of time.

After Felix Hernandez – a former perfect game winner – received a 7-year, 175 million dollar deal from the Mariners, and Justin Verlander – a former Most Valuable Player – received a 7-year, 180 million dollar deal from the Tigers, you had to figure that Clayton Kershaw – a two-time Cy Young award winner – was going to receive a massive deal.Clayton+Kershaw+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+v+San+d0VPZUHHq9Rl

However, I don’t think anyone quite predicted a deal of this magnitude.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have agreed to a 7-year deal worth 215 million dollars, coming out to 30.7 million dollars a year, and making Kershaw the highest annually paid player in Major League Baseball history.

The deal also sits second all-time in total contract amount, just behind Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, 275 million dollar deal from the Yankees in 2007. (That deal didn’t go too well.)

But all this money poses a question – Is Kershaw worth the money? In my mind, absolutely.

Sure, it’s a ton of money, especially for a guy who only plays every fifth day. But when you’re looking to retain a player of Kershaw’s caliber, keeping him from becoming a free agent at the end of next season, you do what it takes — and it took a lot.

Although I’m normally not a fan of big contracts, by going 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA last season in which he won the 2013 National League Cy Young award (his second in three years), Kershaw has done more than enough to prove that he’s worth a contract of this size. He’s still young, at just 25 years old, and in addition to being durable, Kershaw holds a career ERA of 2.60, over nearly 1,200 innings pitched. He’s just the type of player that can go a long way to win a team a championship, as every team needs a true Ace.

A championship for the Dodgers is, obviously, the goal, as it is for every club. By signing Kershaw for the next seven years, it definitely gives them a good shot. But as history has shown, you can’t buy championships, nor can you predict how guys will play. It takes nearly a perfect year, where every player on the team plays to the best of their ability without very much injury, to have a magical season.

The only down side to the deal is that it makes Kershaw the fifth player owed 20 million dollars or more for 2014 season by the Dodgers, joining Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Greinke. But that doesn’t seem to phase the Dodgers, as they are still reportedly in the running for Masahiro Tanaka, who certainly won’t come cheap.

As many have coined, the Dodgers would appear to be the “new Yankees” — with their seemingly endless amount of spending money.

Nonetheless, only time will tell how the Dodgers will perform in 2014. Should things play out the way many are predicting, they could have a really special season, and that also holds true for many seasons to come.

No matter what, when it comes to Clayton Kershaw, signing him was absolutely worth it.

MLB Hot Stove Heating Up In First Days of December

Monday was a busy day for Major League Baseball’s Hot Stove. Several players either signed or were traded, making an otherwise slow offseason pickup a bit. I won’t take the time to go over every single deal that has taken place recently, however, I do want to give my thoughts on the main deals that took place on Monday — and one from today. Doug+Fister+Detroit+Tigers+v+Cleveland+Indians+8W2pEFs2ZpUl

The biggest deal, by far, was the Tigers trading Doug Fister to the Nationals, in exchange for Minor League player, Robbie Ray, along with Nat’s second baseman, Steve Lombardozzi, and rookie pitcher from 2013, Ian Krol. This deal helps out the Nationals most, as they have a young prospect, Anthony Rendon, who’s ready to take over at second full time, and Krol and Ray aren’t a lot to lose for a pitcher of Fister’s caliber. (Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 2013.)

On the Tigers’ side of things, while it doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense, they’re going to use the money saved by getting rid of Fister to sign Joe Nathan to fill their closer role. The Tigers are still left with a rotation of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Annibal Sanchez, and the signing of Nathan will help them out tremendously.

Theoretically, this furthers the case for the Tigers hanging onto Scherzer, instead of trading the 2013 Cy Young award winner, but it’s still possible that they will. What the Tigers really needed was a closer, and they’re getting a good one in Joe Nathan, who recorded 43 saves in 2013.

As far as closers go, Jim Johnson is one of the games best at the moment, and he was part of a deal between the Athletics and Orioles that sent him out to Oakland for Jemile Weeks — a low-end player who only spent eight games in the Majors last season, batting .111 – and a player to be named later. Johnson, who posted a 2.94 ERA last season while recording 50 saves, has achieved at least 50 saves for the past two seasons. (His 101 saves over the past two years is the best in baseball.) He should improve the A’s bullpen drastically.

1377582892000-USP-MLB-Texas-Rangers-at-Seattle-MarinersThe Athletics also signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal, who was decent in 2013, having the best season of his career since 2008, and will join a pretty good rotation of players such as Sonny Gray and Jarrod Parker.

This signing likely ends their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, who was great last season, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA, but was asking for more money than the A’s were willing to give him. But even if Colon leaves, the signing of Kazmir and Johnson makes them a much better team, at least as far as their pitching goes.

After the great season he had with the Rangers in 2013, batting .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI’s, the Red Sox signed free agent A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year contract on Monday.

This more than likely means that the Sox’ catcher from this season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will be headed to another team, despite posting decent stats of 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s to go along with a .273 batting average in 2013. As I stated in a previous post, I feel the Rangers would be a good fit for Saltalamacchia, however, it all depends on what the Rangers are looking to do.

With four months remaining until the 2014 season, anything can happen.

Red Sox Turn Slow Start Into Electric Finish

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After nearly getting no-hit, and striking out 17 times, in Game 1 of the American League Championship series on Saturday night, the Red Sox went into Sunday’s game looking to redeem themselves in a pivotal Game 2. Though the Red Sox have done some amazing things in the past — coming back from a 3 game deficit to the Yankees in 2004, to go onto win the World Series — you had to figure that this game was a must win for them the way they’ve been playing lately.

But it wasn’t looking too promising for the Sox early on.

The Tigers came out swinging, putting up a quick five runs. In addition, Max Scherzer was dominant to start the game, as he has been all season long, going 5.2 innings before allowing a hit; a single to Shane Victorino. Dustin Pedroia promptly drove him in, however, for the Sox’ first run of the series, taking their early deficit from five to four runs.

From there, the Red Sox strung together multiple hits in the eighth to load the bases for David Ortiz. As he has done time and time again throughout his career, Ortiz came through, blasting a game tying grand slam into the bullpen.

The Red Sox would go onto win the game in the ninth inning, on a walk-off RBI single from Jarrod Saltalamacchia — truly making this one of the best games in recent postseason history.

Although the Red Sox face a difficult road, going up against Justin Verlander in game three on Tuesday, if Sunday night’s game taught us anything it’s that the Red Sox have the ability to come through no matter how bad the odds seem to be against them.

It looks to be an exciting remainder of the ALCS.

My Vote for American League Cy Young

Each season there are usually several pitchers from each league that have incredible seasons, making it difficult to choose between them for who most deserves the Cy Young award. This year, however, it really wasn’t all that close. Bartolo Colon, Hisashi Iwakuma, Anibal Sanchez, Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer all had great years, but only one of them truly stood above the rest. Regardless, I’ll take the time to go over all of the top candidates anyway.

Bartolo Colon had a great season, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA, however, he didn’t have nearly good enough of a year to win the Cy Young. His opponent batting average was .264 — fairly bad — and that, combined with a few other stats that just weren’t the best, leave him shimg23755956ort of the credentials needed to win. But having the year he had at the age of 40 is impressive in itself.

Hasashi Iwakuma recorded a mere 14 wins throughout the season, but that’s not the only reason I didn’t pick him. Iwakuma’s 2.66 ERA and .220 batting average against was pretty good, but he didn’t do enough to come close to winning the award. If, however, he can pitch the same, or better, next season as he did this year, Iwakuma stands a chance of receiving the Cy Young down the road.

Anibal Sanchez is one of two Tigers pitchers on my list, and had Verlander pitched throughout the season the way he’s been pitching in the postseason, there would probably be three. Regardless, Sanchez had a career-best season, where he went 14-8 with a 2.57 ERA. As with Iwakuma, a few more wins would’ve made the Cy Young race a bit more interesting.

Yu Darvish was the second best American League pitcher this season, in my opinion. If he could’ve performed the entire season the way he began the year, he would’ve had a good shot at winning. By going 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA, MLB-leading 277 strikeout’s, and .194 opponent batting average, Darvish put together a very good season. But not quite good enough.

That just leaves Max Scherzer, who is the favorite to win the American League Cy Young award.

Scherzer led all pitchers in wins this season with 21 — the only pitcher in baseball to record 20 or more wins — ,going 21-3 on the year. Posting an ERA of 2.90 and a mere .198 batting average against, Scherzer had a Cy Young worthy year. A year that helped lead his team to the postseason, and will likely lead him to his first career Cy Young award.

Best Players Going Into 2013–By Age

The first players reported to Spring Training nearly two weeks ago, however, the first official games are taking place today. The Tigers are set to take on the Braves at 1:05 EST, with the Reds-Indians, Royals-Rangers and Padres-Mariners games all beginning at 3:05 EST. The remaining teams are all playing their first game on Saturday.

With the first official baseball games of the season starting up, I wanted to take the time to post a “top players” list, of sorts, but instead of making my own version of a top 10 list, or whatever, I decided to make a list of the top player for each year of age throughout Major League Baseball. Meaning, of the 20 year olds in MLB, I’ll list the player I feel is the overall best of them all. With the same holding true for the players age 21, 22, 23, 24, and so on.

The range of ages runs from 20 years old, with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, etc., all the way up to age 43, with Mariano Rivera. Just so you know, I’m going by the age each player will be to start the season. Therefore, a few players will be listed a year older than they currently are, due to them having a birthday between now and April 1st.

With there being SO many names, I’m not going to be listing my reasoning behind each pick; just a general list with players’ names. The player I feel is the best for their age category can be either a position player, or a pitcher:

20 years old: Bryce Harper

21 years old: Mike Trout

22 years old: Shelby Miller

23 years old: Giancarlo Stanton

24 years old: Stephen Strasburg

25 years old: Clayton Kershaw

26 years old: Felix Hernandez

27 years old: Evan Longoria

28 years old: Prince Fielder

29 years old: Miguel Cabrera

30 years old: Justin Verlander

31 years old: Josh Hamilton

32 years old: C.C. Sabathia

33 years old: Albert Pujols

34 years old: Cliff Lee

35 years old: Roy Halladay

36 years old: Michael Young

37 years old: David Ortiz

38 years old: Derek Jeter

39 years old: Ichiro Suzuki

40 years old: Andy Pettitte

41 years old: Henry Blanco

42 years old: Jason Giambi

43 years old: Mariano Rivera

So, there you have it. The best players by age, in my opinion, from 20 through 43, going into the 2013 season. Do you agree with my picks? If not, who would you pick to replace the name(s) you disagree with? Let me know in the comments section below.

My Prediction for the 2012 World Series

With last night’s win over the Cardinals, it’s official: The San Francisco Giants will be taking on the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series; which begins Wednesday in San Francisco.

Now that the matchup is set, I wanted to take the time type up a blog post with my prediction of who I think will win the World Series. Though I’m normally way off when making predictions–I had the Rangers and Angels making the World Series in my March predictions–I feel fairly confident this particular time. (After all, I have a 50 percent chance of getting it right.)

With that said, this is how I feel it’s going to play out:

Game 1- Tigers
Game 2- Giants
Game 3- Giants
Game 4- Tigers
Game 5- Tigers
Game 6- Giants
Game 7- Giants

That’s right. Not only do I have the World Series going seven games, but I strongly feel the Giants are going to pull it out–both of which many people disagree with. A lot of people seem to think the Tigers are going to mow down the Giants with little effort whatsoever, and while that’s not out of the question, I just don’t see it happening.

First of all, the Tigers are going into the World Series on five days rest, while the Giants merely have today. While logic would tell you that rest is a good thing, in the case of post season baseball, I see it as working just the opposite. The Giants have momentum that the Tigers don’t, and while the Tigers seem to be the favorite to win the World Series I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people; and not in a good way.

One of the main reasons I think people feel the Tigers are going to be SO dominant against the Giants is because of the way they clobbered the Yankees in the ALCS. Something you have to keep in mind is that the Yankees weren’t themselves during the series. Lets face it: They sucked. That’s about as straight forward as I can put it. The only reason the Tigers were so impressive is because the Yankees played horribly. While I’m not trying to take anything away from the Tigers, I just want to get the point across that had the Yankees of played like THE Yankees, things wouldn’t have gone the way they did; in terms of a sweep.

Now, something the Tigers have that the Giants don’t is Justin Verlander. Every time he’s on the mound, you have to like the Tigers chances of pulling out a victory. But while they have one of the best pitchers in baseball–along with the Triple Crown winner, in Miguel Cabrera–in the end, I don’t think they’ll be able to hold off the surging Giants. The Giants have too much going for them.

In the end, no matter who you have winning the World Series, as a baseball fan, you have to be excited about the upcoming week of Major League Baseball. Anytime you have a couple of teams as good as these going head-to-head in a pressure filled Fall Classic situation, you’re sure to have some incredible games.

So that’s who I have winning the World Series. Who’s your pick?

Leave a comment below with who you have winning, and in how many games.

My Vote for American League Cy Young

This is the second in a series of four blog posts that I plan to type up between now and Friday; all of which will focus on who I feel should win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player (MVP), Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY). (If you haven’t read my posts on who I think should win the AL MVP and NL MVP, go ahead and check those out now.)

When making a pick for American League Cy Young, I feel I can rely on stats (and not just personal opinion) more so than I did with Most Valuable Player. Unlike with MVP–where I didn’t let stats influence my decision–stats played a big role in my decision making for AL Cy Young; as the numbers don’t lie.

But don’t get the impression that the decision was an easy one. There are SO many good candidates for AL Cy Young that it made it impossible for me to choose just one player. So I ended up letting the stats do the deciding for me.

I took the American League starting pitchers with ERA’s below 3.00 (Price, Verlander and Weaver) and compared them from 20 different statistical angles. (I chose to use so many different stats to compare them because I felt that using Wins, ERA and strikeouts alone didn’t tell the whole story of how good a particular pitcher was.)

My method works as follows: The pitcher with the best numbers in a given category receives 1 point; with the 2nd and 3rd place pitcher receiving 2 and 3 points, respectively. (The occurence of a tie in a particular category results in the tied players receiving the same point amount.) In the end, the pitcher with the lowest combined total would be my pick for the Cy Young award.

It took me awhile to crunch all of the numbers, but once I finally finished, this was the result:

As stated earlier, the pitcher with the lowest combined total is declared (by me) as the winner. Which makes Jered Weaver the statistical choice (as well as my pick) for AL Cy Young.

I’m a bit shocked by the results, but not THAT shocked. (It’s not like Jered Weaver doesn’t deserve it.) Posting a record of 20-5, with a 2.81 ERA, Weaver is definitely worthy enough. He led the league in opponent batting average (.214), as well as WHIP (1.02), and in addition, pitched a no-hitter on May 2nd against the Twins.

Just icing on the cake for Jered Weaver–my pick for 2012 American League Cy Young.

Do you agree or disagree with me?

As always, feel free to leave a comment below.

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