Baseball Press presents "The 606", a look at the most intriguing pitching matchup of the day, with a final prediction of the winning pitcher. You may be asking yourself "What exactly does The 606 mean? There's no major league baseball for that area code- it's in Eastern Kentucky!" BBP isn't listing players from Eastern Kentucky either. The 606 is short for 60 feet and 6 inches. If you still don't understand, I direct your attention to Official Rule 1.07 from Major League Baseball, referring to the distance from the pitching mound to home plate. Now that we've got that squared away, let's take a look at today's featured pitching matchup for Thursday, July 29th.
Yesterday in the 606, Johan Santana was lit up early by the Cardinals, allowing 6 first inning runs and 7 overall, though the Mets rallied and pushed the game into extra innings, sparing him the loss.
No Decision: Johan Santana (5.2 IP, 13 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.47 WHIP)
The 606 Season-to-Date Record (W-L-ND): 91-76-51, 3.84 ERA (577 ER in 1354 IP)
Today, the 606 presents an AL West battle down in Arlington Texas, as the Athletics send a surprising 23 year-old righty to the mound against the division-leading Rangers and a converted lefty reliever coming off of a great outing.
RHP Vin Mazzaro - OAK (6-2, 3.45 ERA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson - TEX (9-5, 3.03 ERA)
Young Vin Mazzaro, just 23 years old, has already made quite an impression in his second major league season. The righthander has appeared in 13 games and made just 10 starts this year, but 7 of those have been quality starts and he's been a solid contributor to a surprising Oakland squad that sits right around the .500 mark. Mazzaro doesn't possess dominant stuff (just 5.9 strikeouts per 9 innings), but his low-90s fastball and sharp mid-80s slider work well for him when he's locating, as evidenced by just 67 hits allowed in 70.1 innings this year. His biggest asset is his ability to keep his team in games and not get lit up, as he's allowed more than 3 earned runs in just two starts all season. He posted largely solid numbers throughout most of his minor league career, including a 3.13 ERA in 37.1 innings at AAA Sacramento this year, so there could be a lot of success in store for him. His quietly good season continues on Thursday against Texas, a team he has faced just once, allowing 4 runs in a 3 inning start back in his first MLB game of the year on May 4th.
C.J. Wilson's conversion from reliever to starter this season started off very well, as the lefty posted a 1.48 ERA in his first 7 starts (48.2 innings). However, he stumbled through some rough starts after that, allowing 22 runs (20 earned) over his next 4 starts (21 innings) and seeing his season ERA increase to 3.62. But just when he appeared destined for mediocrity, he got back on track with 4 straight quality starts to finish June. Wilson has notched a 2.33 ERA in his last 9 outings, including 8 scoreless innings against the Angels in his last game on July 23rd. He has a 5-2 record in those 9 games, and he's lowered his season ERA to 3.03. Walks have been a somewhat persistent problem for Wilson this year (60 free passes in 127.2 innings, tops in the American League), but opponents are hitting just .203 against him this year and his 6.56 hits per nine innings rate is second only to Trevor Cahill for the AL lead. C.J. was very good in his only start this season against Oakland on May 13th, as he allowed just 1 run, 4 hits, and 3 walks over 7 innings in a no decision.
Final Prediction: C.J. Wilson