CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Futures Guide 2014 is Now Available in Paperback and Three E-book Formats.

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: What S... (05/06)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (05/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (05/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What... (05/06)

May 6, 2013

What You Need to Know

The Hot Starters

by Daniel Rathman


The Weekend Takeaway
Last Thursday, the Red Sox became the first major-league team to notch 20 wins, and over the weekend, the Cardinals and Rangers joined them by sweeping the Brewers and the aforementioned Sox, respectively. Each of those squads has taken a different path to the league’s top win total through 31 games—the Tigers and Royals, who are both riding four-game surges, still could win their 20th before losing their 12th, because of rainouts and off days earlier in the year—and today’s Takeaway is a quick look back at their ascents to first place.

The Cardinals: Road Warriors
Faced with 19 away games in their first batch of 31, the Cardinals haven’t been daunted by the task of racking up victories in front of hostile crowds. Since a season-opening series loss at Chase Field, Matheny’s team has won or split each of the road sets that it has completed, including sweeps at Nationals Park on April 22-24 and at Miller Park this past weekend. Perhaps as compensation for their early travel schedule, the Cardinals were fortunate to play their first six games against the Reds at Busch Stadium, and they won four of them, accounting for much of the 2 ½-game gap that currently separates the National League Central’s top two teams.

While the early frequent-flyer-mile load means a whole lot of home dates to come, the Cardinals will play 10 of their remaining 13 games versus the Reds at Great American Ball Park, where Dusty Baker’s team is 12-4. And the Redbirds aren’t done traveling yet; they’re making a two-game jaunt up to Wrigley Field, sandwiched between off days today and on Thursday, before returning to St. Louis for a 10-game homestand. The key to their early success: A league-best 2.21 rotation ERA, which Jaime Garcia fortified with eight innings of one-run ball on Sunday afternoon.

The Rangers: Rotation Question Marks? What Rotation Question Marks?
The Tigers may have the junior circuit’s best starting pitching ERA (3.04), but the Rangers (3.15)—who play in a ballpark far less friendly to arms than bats—actually ranked ahead of the 2012 pennant winners heading into Sunday’s games, when Justin Verlander fired seven shutout frames versus the Astros and Yu Darvish allowed three runs to the Red Sox. And while Jim Leyland’s team, with a stable of established right-handers in Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister, were expected to field one of the league’s best starting fives, Ron Washington’s squad most certainly was not.

In fact, as recently as April 19, Dallas Morning News beat writer Evan Grant pointed to “a real crisis” in the rotation, spurred by a spate of injuries and general manager Jon Daniels’ unwillingness to splurge in free agency over the winter. Since that radio interview, the Rangers are 10-5, and they have limited opponents to three or fewer runs in 10 of those 15 contests.

A relatively soft schedule, which featured three games against the Astros, three more against the Twins, and seven against the Mariners, has helped the patchwork rotation to hold down the fort in place of the injured Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Martin Perez, but the pitchers themselves deserve ample credit. Rookies Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch have fared well, Alexi Ogando has made a fairly smooth transition back from the bullpen, and Derek Holland is cruising to the tune of a 2.58 FIP. And that doesn’t even include Yu Darvish, who fanned 14 Red Sox on Sunday to notch his fourth double-digit-punchout effort of the young season, and has the 300 mark, untouched since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling stormed past it in 2002, well within his grasp.

The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.


Cancel anytime.


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

2 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: What S... (05/06)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (05/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (05/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What... (05/06)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Tuesday, April...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, April 23
Moonshot: What PITCHf/x Can Tell Us About Ba...
Painting the Black: Some Things Brewing
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Historic Tuesday
Premium Article Overthinking It: Pujols Rewrites the Script
The Lineup Card: 10 of Our Favorite Pitches

MORE FROM MAY 6, 2013
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What is a Good Hitting Coa...
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: What Scott Kazmir Looks Like...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, May 6
Premium Article Dissecting the Draft: Identifying Our Tiers
The Week In Quotes: April 29-May 5
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around the League: May 6th, 2...
Fantasy Article The Stash List: Pitchers Versus Position Pla...

MORE BY DANIEL RATHMAN
2013-05-09 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: King of the Hill
2013-05-08 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: What Choo Think is Wr...
2013-05-07 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Raking in the Gold
2013-05-06 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: The Hot Starters
2013-05-02 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Rocking Their Sox Off
2013-05-01 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Hooray for Hanleywood
2013-04-30 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Let's Play Two (Or Mo...
More...

MORE WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
2013-05-09 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: King of the Hill
2013-05-08 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: What Choo Think is Wr...
2013-05-07 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Raking in the Gold
2013-05-06 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: The Hot Starters
2013-05-03 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Old Dog, Old Tricks
2013-05-02 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Rocking Their Sox Off
2013-05-01 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: Hooray for Hanleywood
More...