Baseball

#15 great to see Yu

I’ve been planning to write about Yu Darvish’s season debut since the season started. We haven’t seen the Rangers ace in over a year because of Tommy John and I’m pretty excited about it. Now his first start won’t come until Saturday but this is my last post before then so I’m going to dedicate this post to him.

Before I get to Darvish I have to mention a top prospect who got the call this morning. I found out at about 9:30 this morning that the Dodgers have called up their top prospect Julio Urias. The left hander got the call to “debut” Friday vs the Mets, I put debut in quotations because all I’ve heard is that he’ll pitch Friday haven’t heard that he’ll start however I assume that he will start after all he is a starting pitcher. The lefty is 4-1 with a 1.10 era at AAA this year and he has a 44 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio. He has never thrown over 87 innings in his minor league career and he’s already at 41 innings this year so just keep that in mind. Oh yeah he’s only 19.

There isn’t too much to say about Yu Darvish except that he will be starting on Saturday. During his rehab starts he was sitting easy in the mid 90’s touching 97. For somebody coming off Tommy John surgery that is actually a terrific sign. When you look at Darvish with one of the best k/9 ratios in history and if his fastball (and everything else) is back watch out because he’ll be back to his “striking everybody out” self in no time. He’ll probably only make around 22-23 starts the rest of the season so there more than likely won’t be a strict innings limit on him like most Tommy John patients.

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#14 the surging Red Sox

Today I want to write about how well the Boston Red Sox are doing. And by the way I totally picked them to win the AL east, but then again I think the majority also did. I also want to write about Jackie Bradley Jr, I call him JBJ, and his notorious “streak” that he’s on right now.

So the Red Sox come into the night at 27-17 and tied for first with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL east. Honestly I’m not too interested in the Red Sox team but they changed their approach at the plate and I really want to talk about it. And when I say they changed their approach I don’t mean one or two guys, no the entire team changed and I love it. The Red Sox are a good hitting team of late and I think the change in approach is a big reason why. So the entire Boston team is seeing less pitches per at bat (don’t know the exact number but I think it’s around 3.5 pitches) which means they’re going and attacking the pitcher right away. Usually the plan for most teams is to work the count get the starters pitch count up and get him out of the game but why? Everybody in bullpen nowadays throw 97+ and has better stuff (usually) than the starter. Not to mention the “situational” pitchers that every bullpen has that comes in and can get a certain batter out almost every time. I think this new approach can lead to big time success and no better example than JBJ. Jackie Bradley Jr is in the middle of a 27 game hit streak and he looks impressive. This actually dates back to last season but I want to write about his adjustments and how he went from a nobody to a somebody. It’s actually a pretty simple adjustment to make and when you have talent, like JBJ, you go from just a player with potential to a potential superstar. JBJ was just a player with potential and got some playing time in the majors because of his gold glove defense in center field but when you hit under .200 it doesn’t matter how good your defense is. Before he was a guy who had no stride, basically pulling his heel up then put it back down then swing, then all of a sudden he started with this big leg kick. A lot like Mike Trout from the left side and then it was like flipping a switch for JBJ he could now see the ball better he was able to start shooting the ball all over the yard and with good power. He was a former first round pick for a reason it just took some time to get him right. Watch out for Jackie Bradley Jr he’s starting to find himself at the plate.

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Baseball

#13 battle in the east

Today I want to write about the competitive NL east. Now when you think NL east you probably think about the two top dogs, the Nats and the Mets, battling it out for the top spot. But I’m pretty sure you don’t think of the Phillies, as of right now they’re 24-17 and only 0.5 games back of the Nats for first place. So today I just want to write about how the Phillies are doing what they’re doing.

Before I get started I have to mention that I do not think the Phillies can keep this up all year. Sorry to any Philadelphia fans who read this but they’re built for the future not right now. The reason they’re surprisingly doing well right now is the pitching, specifically the young starters. Aaron Nola, 22, was a top ten pick just a couple years ago he doesn’t have the best stuff out there but he really knows how to pitch. Vincent Velasquez, 23, was acquired from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade over the winter now he’s the stuff guy that’s just learning how to pitch. Velasquez sits 94-95 mph with his fastball and can touch 97, plus he has a pretty good curveball. I wouldn’t say Velasquez will continue to progress and will be the future ace of the Phillies but he’ll make a good number 2. Now Aaron Nola on the other hand will be the future ace of the Phillies, if he isn’t already considered their ace. Nola might only be around 90 mph with his fastball but he can really locate it, it also sinks it’s not a straight 4 seamer, he also has a good change up and his slurve (mixture of a slider and a curveball) is also very good. That’s 3 pitches he can locate and in my book that’s an ace. And we haven’t even seen Mark Appel yet who was a number 1 overall pick, he possesses a 95 mph sinker he just hasn’t quite figured it out in the minors yet. So this Phillies rotation isn’t just a fluke and can get better I just don’t think they have enough offense to keep up with the Nats and the Mets the entire year.

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Baseball

#12 Odor’s big KO

It just so happens that I’ll be writing about Rougned Odor today and it’s my 12th post of the year which is his number. I promise I didn’t do it on purpose I didn’t know he was going to knock Jose Bautista’s block off over the weekend. If you haven’t seen it yet you should probably look it up it’s a good punch. And no he didn’t really knockout Bautista but it was a clever title.

Before I get to the fight on Sunday let’s go back to the playoffs last year, Jose Bautista’s bat “flip” incident and I’ll try not to get too carried away. So back in the playoffs Jose Bautista hit a big time homer for the Blue Jays and saying he flipped his bat is a huge understatement. He hits it, just stands there, then he stares down the pitcher, then literally throws his bat at the other teams dugout. I have seen interviews with big time bat flippers, like David Ortiz, saying that Bautista did take it too far. If he threw his bat at the Blue Jays dugout instead of the Rangers then I wouldn’t think it was such a big deal. Anyways back to Sunday so Bautista gets hit by a pitch everybody knew it’d happen eventually so it’s not a big deal. He took it and just jogged down to first didn’t say anything no biggie. Next hitter ground ball, an easy double play, the ball was tossed to Rougned Odor, turned it quick enough but Bautista slid kind of dirty into second. My guess is that all was said was Odor saying “that was a dirty slide” and instead of Bautista just going back to the dugout after breaking up the double play he takes a step towards Odor and it was a mistake. Being the quick little second baseman he is punched Bautista after a little push it was clearly a big hit because it knocked his helmet and sunglasses off. Then the other players got involved and the fight was pretty much over that quick. And the people complaining that it was just a little sucker punch no watch it again. Bautista was cocking his fist back and was about to take a swing at Odor but he was just too slow get over it.

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Baseball

#11 Stras’s new deal/Max dominates

No clever title this time, couldn’t really think of anything to write a full post about so I’m just jamming a couple stories together to make a full post. I’m just going to mention Stephen Strasburg’s new extension with the Nats then Max Scherzer’s 20 k’s last night against the Tigers.

On Monday the news broke that Stephen Strasburg will be staying in Washington long term. It was literally right in the middle of his start against the Tigers. Stras’s 7 year 175 million dollar extension is by far the largest for a post Tommy John pitcher. It came as a big surprise to most of the “experts”, however to me it was just kind of a surprise. I knew Stras was going to sign back in DC, once the Nats let Jordan Zimmermann walk last year I knew without a doubt they’d resign Strasburg, but signing this early was odd especially for a Scott Boras client. Scott Boras usually takes his clients all the way to free agency, if you follow baseball you probably know who Boras is and (like me) are probably not a big fan of his. With how Strasburg is pitching this year in his walk year and how Boras is it was a little surprising that he signed this early. Without Strasburg being the big name on the free agent market this offseason it means that an ace pitcher will more than likely be traded.

If you watch sports center or MLB network I’m pretty sure you already know Max Scherzer absolutely killed it last night. Tying the strikeout record with 20 in one game, the 5th pitcher to ever do that. So I went to Max Scherzer’s previous start in Chicago and before the game I was telling my cousins and uncle that I predict Scherzer to throw a no hitter. I know it sounded a little far fetched but I was 100 percent serious. Based on his previous few starts it looked like Scherzer was starting to settle into his groove like he did last year. He gave up 4 home runs that day against the Cubs so I was obviously wrong about that particular game but 1 start later he strikes out 20 that’s got to count for something right? Congratulations mad Max.

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Baseball

#10 Harper’s walk-a-thon

I just have to write about what happened to Bryce Harper over the weekend series with the Cubs. It was a little nuts for the beginning of May if you ask me but hey the Cubs won all four games so who am I to argue. First let me just clear up what happened last night. So Harp struck out on a high pitch early in the game that he thought was a ball and turned and snapped at the umpire. In my opinion if you’re going to throw out a player then throw him out while he’s arguing balls and strikes not while the entire dugout is chirping at you for making another questionable call. Instead he singles out Harper and throws him out of the game. That part I didn’t really get. The part that Bryce Harper will probably get fined for is when Clint Robison hit a walk off he came back onto the field to celebrate with the team and yelled “choice words” at the ump and well you can’t do that. I’d just mark it up to heat of the moment he’ll more than likely just get fined.

The Cubs walked Bryce Harper 13 times during the series. 13! And 6 times on Sunday. You know the Barry Bonds treatment. He had 3 official at bats the entire series and he ended up going 0-3. Those 3 at bats came during the Friday game against John Lackey and he struck out 2 of those 3 at bats. Harper said after the game (and I second it because I was there) that if he didn’t swing at all he would’ve been walked 4 times. And if that was the case he wouldn’t of swung the entire game/series. That is 100% true I’m sure that is exactly what would’ve happened. That’s a big reason why Harper’s only hitting .260 right now, he’s chase rate has been higher than usual you can tell he’s struggling on the choice whether to walk or stretch the zone so he can at least swing a couple times. Maybe I should go out and buy a rubber chicken so I can wave it every time they intentional walk him, and him being intentional walked with the bases loaded is going to happen this year.

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#9 wining in Washington

It’s been about a month and I haven’t dedicated a post to my team yet, I think today would be the perfect time. The Nationals are on a 4 game winning streak so why not write about how good they’re doing. But first I will be going out of town this Thursday so I will be unable to write on Thursday but I will for sure be back next Tuesday.

I promise not to talk too much about Bryce Harper, he’s kind of in a rough patch right now anyways. NL player of the month that’s all I got to say. Honestly the Nationals winning right now has actually very little to do with Harper it is largely (if not fully) because of their pitching. They easily have the best team era in baseball. I’m not going to mention every single pitcher that’s pitching good for the Nats right now because that’d take too long and no one wants that. I just want to talk about two starters, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg. Let’s talk about Gio first. So he has slowed down his mechanics a lot to the point where he looks like he did back in 2012 when he won 21 games. All that changed is that he stopped trying to strike out everybody and now he’s pitching to contact and getting a lot more ground balls in the process. Watch out Gio might have a great year. Now onto Strasburg, this year he’s 4-0 with a 2.25 era. A big part of his success is that he incorporated the slider. He started throwing the slider at the beginning of last year but gave it up because there was really no need for it. He still had the 97 mph fastball with the great curveball so why worry about a high 80’s slider? Last year it was just a pitch he had and this year it’s a major pitch in his arsenal. So far so good Strasburg might be the Cy Young winner he was projected as.

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