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September 2, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

NL: Fading In The Stretch

by Marc Normandin

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RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Braves
78-55
5-1
.583
Flat
Powered by five straight wins, the Braves continue to lead the NL East and find themselves tied for the best record in the NL. Freddie Freeman gets his first taste of the big leagues thanks to roster expansion-we'll be seeing a lot of him in the future. Tommy Hanson rebounded from two iffy starts in a row with seven innings of one-hit ball against the Mets, and Billy Wagner set the strikeout record for a left-handed reliever in the second of those two poor Hanson starts, passing window._ttf = window._ttf || []; _ttf.push({ pid : 53804 ,lang : "en" ,slot : '.contentPad .article > p' ,format : "inread" ,minSlot : 5 ,components : { skip: {delay : 0}} ,css : "margin: 0px auto 20px; max-width: 600px!important;" }); (function (d) { var js, s = d.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; js = d.createElement('script'); js.async = true; js.src = '//cdn.teads.tv/media/format.js'; s.parentNode.insertBefore(js, s); })(window.document); pectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Jesse+Orosco">Jesse Orosco in eight fewer seasons and 406 fewer innings.

2


Padres
76-56
0-7
.563
Down
The Padres have dropped seven games in a row, losing the last game of a series to the D'backs before swept by the Phils and Arizona. It's their only losing streak longer than three games all season, and just the second one to hit even that mark. They are still three games up in the NL West though, and as Hit List shows, they deserve it. Were Mat Latos not 22 years old and having his starts monitored and skipped, he would be in the Cy Young race: 32 IP, 37 K, nine BB, and a single homer to go along with a 1.69 ERA for the month of August. He was efficient, too, despite all those strikeouts, averaging 101 pitches per start (he's at 102 for the season)-he started September off the same way with 10 Ks in six innings in just 99 pitches.

3


Reds
78-55
5-1
.557
Up
The week was perfect for the Reds, as they won five straight at the same time the Cardinals lost four in a row, expanding a lead that was already depressing St. Louis' fans to eight games. They can all but eliminate the Cards with a strong showing this weekend, as they play them in a three-game set at St. Louis. The biggest news of the week was Aroldis Chapman making his debut and hitting 103 mph with his fastball, striking out three batters in two innings in two perfect innings. He may be just what the Reds bullpen (ranked 11th in WXRL) needs for October.

4


Phillies
75-58
5-2
.545
Up
Fresh off a beating at the hands of the lowly Astros, the Phillies vented frustrations out west by sweeping San Diego over the weekend. Chase Utley hasn't looked good since returning from the DL-he has hit just .160/.323/.200 over the past seven days, and was no better in the week prior (.208/.344/.245 since his return). Roy Oswalt had a pair of odd starts, going eight strong innings against the Padres with six punchouts and zero free passes, and then 6 1/3 against the Dodgers on Wednesday with one hit, but six walks.

5


Cardinals
69-62
1-6
.539
Down
This weekend is the Cards' last chance to stay in the thick of division race-a three-game series against the Reds could put them anywhere from 5-11 games back. They have just a pair of wins in their last 10 games though, and have lost four straight, so this may not be the best time to come up against the surging club from Cincy. Jon Jay, who Tony LaRussa seems to prefer over up-and-coming-but-already-here star Colby Rasmus, has hit just .111/.143/.222 the past week, but he's not the only one failing. The recently acquired Pedro Feliz is hitting .214/.241/.321 over the same stretch. Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday can't do it alone-if only the club had started the year with a few more offensive-minded outfielders, maybe it would still be in this thing.

6


Rockies
69-63
3-3
.535
Down
Colorado picked up Manny Delcarmen in exchange for one of their better pitching prospects, which is the kind of thing you do when you're desperate. They are still in the wild card race at 5.5 out, and are 7-3 in their last 10 despite dropping two straight to the Giants, but Delcarmen isn't going to help their pen become any less average. He does, however, take the designated Manny spot in the bullpen, as Manuel Corpas is set to have Tommy John surgery, ending his season.

7


Giants
74-60
3-3
.531
Down
The Giants have won two in a row to pick up two games on the Padres, but their 5-5 showing during the Friars' scuffles hasn't done them any favors. Remember when Pablo Sandoval's weight was going to be a problem and his first half showed he was going to have trouble hitting? He posted a line of .348/.400/.522 the past week, bringing his second-half production to .298/.347/.503, and has matched his homer total from his first 335 at-bats in the space of a month-and-a-half. Tim Lincecum couldn't wait to get out of August, a month in which he had an ERA of 7.82 and five homers allowed, and he showed it with eight innings, nine strikeouts and just one run against Colorado on Wednesday night.

8


Dodgers
68-66
3-4
.514
Down
You can't write up a better week than what the Dodgers had. In the game immediately following GM Ned Colletti's statement that the team would not make any moves while they were in the playoff race, they sat Manny Ramirez in favor of Scott Podsednik. Then they sat him the next night. Then, when he was claimed by the White Sox and a deal was imminent, they asked him if he wanted to play-shockingly, Ramirez said no to hitting in the lineup of a team that was trying to give him away for nothing. They then pulled Ted Lilly off waivers when he was claimed by the Yankees and couldn't work out a trade with the Padres for Hiroki Kuroda. Oh, and they also had the McCourt's divorce on display for all to see. All this while sitting 7.5 games back of the nearest playoff spot, behind five other teams-the Marlins have a similar chance at making the playoffs and falling out of the race hasn't been nearly as dramatic for them.

9


Marlins
67-65
4-3
.511
Flat
Don't look now, but Anibal Sanchez learned how to pitch. Adding to a staff that already has Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco (though Nolasco will miss the rest of the season due to knee surgery, Sanchez has a 2.21 ERA in the second half, with 55 whiffs in 57 innings against 19 walks. He went seven innings against the Nats Tuesday night (7 K, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB), bouncing back from a bit of a misfire start against the Mets his previous time out. No word yet if Gaby Sanchez plans to begin a career in the WWE following Wednesday night's clothesline on Nyjer Morgan. Maybe if the Acolytes Protection Agency was still around.

10


Mets
65-68
2-5
.485
Down
Breathe easy, Mets fans. It's been a long season, but if there's one thing you can take solace in, it's that Jeff Francoeur is no longer around. He's been shipped off to Texas in exchange for Joaquin Arias, but given the attitude many Mets fans have for him, that sentence could have ended with "shipped off to Texas" and it would have sufficed. How did the Mets decide to cut ties? A little Eddie Vedder here should explain, "Time to emancipate/I guess it was the beatings made me wise."

11


Brewers
62-71
3-4
.455
Flat
Really, Milwaukee? You're behind the Astros in the standings now? I expect this sort of thing from the Cubs, but you? You've done so well ever since the banishment of Jeff Suppan, too! (Thank you, Disciples of Uecker) If you can't get ahead of the 'Stros by season's end, we may have to do something drastic, like shave off Jon Axford's mustache to teach you a lesson. I know, I don't want to bring harm to such a magnificent thing, either, but how else are you going to learn? Try to do better than a three-game losing streak and a 3-7 record over 10 games next time, and maybe we can put the razor away.

12


Nationals
57-77
4-3
.455
Up
It's hard to cheer up after losing Stephen Strasburg for the season to Tommy John surgery, but it's not all bad. Jordan Zimmermann is back, and he has made his presence felt: 10 innings, 13 strikeouts and just one walk. Roger Bernadina (.333/.391/.619), Mike Morse (.579/.600/1.053) and Adam Dunn (.438/.591/.938) all had huge weeks at the plate, and the Nats were able to capitalize despite losses in their last two games. They are still in a race of sorts with the Diamondbacks to be the next team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention-with the way their season has gone, it may be the one race they win all year.

13


Cubs
57-77
3-3
.448
Up
Starlin Castro finished up a fine August in which he hit .336/.367/.443-he's now up to .315/.358/.438 on the season and .362/.385/.497 in the second half. Not bad for a 20-year old shortstop who had never played above Double-A until his promotion to the bigs. The bats for the Cubbies were quiet almost all the way around this week otherwise, except for, ironically, that of He Who Shall Not Be Named (according to our resident Cubs' fan (hint: it's Koyie Hill, and he hit .438/.438/.750 on the week)).

14


Diamondbacks
55-79
6-1
.439
Up
After August 25, Stephen Drew was hitting .266/.342/.430. In the last week, Stephen Drew has hit .500/.515/1.094, and has brought his season line up to .275/.348/.452. After not hitting a homer since May, Drew hit eight of them in August, four in the past seven days, and hit five doubles and a triple in addition to give him 29 total bases over that stretch. It's safe to say his August went well (.310/.381/.628) and helped make up for a lackluster June and July. Daniel Hudson is another bright spot for the D'backs of late-he went seven innings against San Francisco with six punchouts, a pair of walks and two runs allowed.

15


Astros
62-71
5-2
.435
Up
Thanks to a three-game win streak and an 8-2 record over their last 10 gmaes, the Houston Astros are now in third place in the NL Central. Milwaukee and Chicago, you should both be disgusted with yourselves. Carlos Lee showed signs of life with a .280/.296/.600 showing (hey, it's all relative, OK?) and has been a bit more like his former self in the second half (.261/.297/.461-it's a bad sign when that's encouraging in comparison to what came before). Wandy Rodriguez finished August with an ERA of 1.34, as well as 43 punchouts in 40 1/3 IP against just eight walks. He's back, in much stronger language than can be used for the aforementioned Lee.

16


Pirates
44-89
1-5
.336
Down
James McDonald appears to have had a poor week, but it wasn't as bad as his ERA makes it look. A misplay by Lastings Milledge that should have gone for an error but was ruled a hit kept an inning alive, and eventually resulted in McDonald allowing six earned runs. Other than that, though, it was encouraging: 13 K in 11 1/3 IP against four walks, and he's still allowed just the one homer since moving into the Pittsburgh rotation. The Pirates are the lone team in the National League to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but given their up-and-coming core, a last-place finish and a top draft pick doesn't sound so bad.


The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Thursday.

Related Content:  The Streak,  The Who,  Bad Season

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Overthinking It: A Cap... (09/02)

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