June 23, 2009
Seriously, is there a reason that we have virtually no games on Mondays for the next few weeks?
This four game garbage just does not work. One was only added because of a rainout earlier in the season. It is understandable that the various agreements call for off days to be guaranteed, but there needs to be more of a balance in how we see the schedule.
This year, more than any other, there seem to be multiple schedule complaints. The players do not necessarily understand it either. From the Red Sox playing only five home games from July through September against the Rays and Yankees, to the manner in which interleague play opponents are determined, something needs to be adjusted.
Even the games selected for national television need more variation. There are many that enjoy seeing the Red Sox play the Yankees on Saturday afternoon on TBS followed by the Sunday night game on ESPN, but it can safely be assumed that there are plenty of other baseball fans that would like that time to be spent on other teams.
Baseball needs to start opening up the schedule and finding another way to do things.
On to the notes.
- Carlos Beltran hit the disabled list yesterday. The outfielder is still suffering from a bone bruise on his right knee that caused him to miss games in late May.
Beltran may not be activated when he is eligible to come off the DL, especially where the doctors feel the injury has worsened since they last looked at it. Jeremy Reed and Gary Sheffield should both see more time as a result.
- Ervin Santanawas placed back on the DL as well. Santana has had arm issues most of the season, and suffered a setback when he felt a pull in his triceps throwing a bullpen session earlier this week.
Sean O'Sullivan was recalled to replace him in the rotation and will get the start tonight.
- Aramis Ramirez continues to progress in his rehab. Ramirez has moved to taking soft toss and is expected to be back with the team around the All-Star break.
The shoulder injury has been tough to gauge, and how he responds as he moves to full speed will impact the timetable and further decisions as to how Ramirez works through the season.
- After missing Sunday's game, Ryan Howard should be ready to return to the Phillies lineup tonight. Howard had flu-like symptoms that broke his consecutive game streak, but all has gone well in his quick recovery. Be ready to have him in the lineup.
- Aaron Cook improved to 7-3, winning his fourth decision in a row last night against the Angels. Cook threw seven solid innings, giving up just one run on three hits. The Rockies have been hot, winning 18 of 19 games, and Cook has been a beneficiary of some run support.
Still, do not discount how he has pitched this last month. He is keeping the ball on the ground, inducing 14 last night to go with 18 in his last start.
- Trevor Cahill continues to pitch well. He worked seven innings of his own, striking out four batters while allowing just one run on four hits. The A's have found a way to put together another solid rotation without many names.
Cahill and Outman have pitched better than expected, to the point that deep-mixed leagues should consider them for rosters in the wake of injuries.
- Teams struggling in the middle infield should take this as good news. Akinori Iwamura had surgery to repair his knee, and it was found to not be as severe as originally thought.
Iwamura did not have a complete tear of the ACL, and should be back in six-to-eight weeks. It is late for many teams, but it is a light at the end of the tunnel.
- The Cardinals need to consider what options they have for Todd Wellemeyer. The pitcher struggled again last night, allowing five run in five-and-two-thirds innings of work.
His ERA is fast approaching 5.50, and lefties are pounding him to the tune of .349 with an OPS over 1.000, there needs to be a solution quickly. He is no longer worthy of even spot-start consideration unless the matchup is beyond favorable.
- Hard to believe after pitching as well as he has for so many consecutive outings, Javier Vazquez earned his first win since May 20th last night.
He did so without pitching very well. Vazquez allowed nine hits while working into the seventh inning. Vazquez still remains a solid pitcher, but he did work most innings with at least one runner on base. Not a recipe for success.
- Every time Chien-Ming Wang takes the mound, he is being evaluated for his next start. Tough position to be in. Wang looked better against the worst team in baseball, but still gave up three runs to them in five innings of work.
Do not expect stars in this one, as Atlanta played Boston well over the weekend and got a good win against Chicago yesterday. Wang needs to be held out to make sure that consecutive appearances breed success.
- Need a catcher today? Josh Bard could get the start behind the plate for Washington against Brad Pennyand Boston. Bard is 7-for-13 against the Boston right-hander.
If you can avoid Adam Dunn, that would not be a bad thing. Dunn is 5-for-28 against Penny, but does have two home runs. Have to like Penny in this matchup, especially where his short-term future in Boston is more secure.
- Had an eyebrow or two raised on the selection of Koji Uehara for a spot start. The Orioles starter had a solid line last time out against the Mets, and the Marlins are a much weaker hitting team.
Uehara's velocity is coming back, and this will be his third start since his stint on the DL. Add to that, the Orioles are one of the better hitting teams against left-handed starters. They draw Andrew Miller tonight.
- Tampa Bay draws a soft throwing lefty in Jamie Moyer. The Rays are seventh in the league in terms of average against left-handed pitching, are fourth in home runs, and first in total runs.
They play very well at home, and this could be a good matchup for most of their hitters. Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford are both must-starts.
- Jeff Suppan has put up a 2-0 record in his last four starts. The Brewers starter has not allowed more than three runs in any of those appearances. He would have picked up a win last time out if not for the bullpen.
Suppan is always dancing with fire, and his numbers against lefties have to leave you questioning this run of luck. Where lefties hit .331 against him, that is a valid concern. Minnesota can throw a lot of them into the lineup, and this would make it a rough start for Suppan. Stay away.
- As hot as Miguel Cabrera has been to this point in the season, he is just 4-for-18 against Carlos Zambrano. Since returning from the DL, Zambrano has looked good in each of his last four outings.
This season, he is 3-1 on the road with a 2.58 ERA in six starts. Even against Edwin Jackson, this is a good matchup to keep Zambrano active.
- While you can really never advocate the use of Livan Hernandez, we can advocate against using Khalil Greene. Greene is just 3-for-20 against Hernandez for his career. Yadier Molina has had no more luck himself.
Look to avoid these two in your lineups today. Hernandez has pitched well at home, but is far too risky a start with plenty of others available, especially given his lack of luck against the bigger St. Louis bats.
- Joel Pineiro will take the mound tomorrow after leaving his last start with cramping in his legs. Pineiro has gone 0-3 in June, but has not allowed more than three runs in any of his three starts for the month.
In fact, he is just 1-5 in his last six starts, but only once has he allowed more than three runs. He has pitched well against the Mets, including a win earlier this season.
- Matt Holliday has had solid luck against Tim Lincecum. The A's outfielder has hit .320 against Lincecum in 25 at-bats. The power numbers have not been there, as Holliday has yet to hit a home run and has only driven in one run against him.
Lincecum was stellar in his last outing against Oakland, and is 3-1 on the road with a 2.87 ERA.
- Spot Starts: Penny, Uehara, Ubaldo Jimenez
- It is hard to say you can be sold on a guy that burned many owners early in the season, but Ricky Nolasco has had three good outings since returning from AAA.
Nolasco has allowed five runs in 18 innings over three starts, while also striking out 18 batters. He is still not the pitcher he was, but control and command were very good in bad weather against the Red Sox last time out.
- Nick Blackburn has not allowed more than three earned runs in a start since back on May 16. While it is always safer to use Twins starters at home, Blackburn has held batters to a .249 average on the road this season and posted a 3.46 ERA. Both are respectable numbers. Against the Brewers, he is worth the start.
- Dan Haren has pitched beyond well to start the season, but there are several Rangers that have had good luck against him.
Keep Marlon Byrd, Michael Young, and Hank Blalock in the lineup against Haren. While Haren has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last five starts, there are some good options here for Texas.
- Do not count on Josh Outman to make his start on Wednesday. Though he is still listed as the likely starter, he had an MRI on Monday and does not feel he will be able to throw.
Look for Gio Gonzalez to get the ball. This is a setback for Outman, who had been pitching well in the Oakland rotation.
- Bronson Arroyohas been roughed up this month, and the Blue Jays are not going to make it any easier on him. With Vernon Wells and Scott Rolen both hitting above .300 with two home runs a piece, the Reds starter could be in for a rough trip north of the border.
The team has hit .302 against him in 141 combined at-bats.
- Spot Starts: Scott Richmond, Blackburn, Rick Porcello
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