Given his sterling 2.86 ERA after shutting down Chicago on Monday night, explaining the greatness of Dodgers starter Zack Greinke comes pretty easy. Even with declining velocity—his average fastball has dropped from 94 mph to 91.7 mph since 2007—few pitchers consistently contribute at the same level.
But in 2013, there’s an aspect of Greinke’s performance that cannot be ignored. After going 1-for-2 with a walk against the Cubs on Monday, the Dodgers starter is now hitting .340/.426/.383 this season. He’s not merely baseball’s only starting pitcher posting better-than-average hitting numbers, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of his peers.
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Frank Menechino was the first position player I ever saw pitch. It was 2004, and I was understandably excited by this event. I set off for the internet to research the history of the position player pitching, hoping to find every game in which this had happened. After a few hours, I realized with disappointment that it wasn’t as rare as I’d hoped it would be (it’s no hidden ball trick).
VIN SCULLY TO RETURN FOR 65TH SEASON "Just the thought of walking away from it to retirement — and looking out the window or something? It's just too good. As a baseball man, and someone who has always loved the game, the situation and the conditions are perfect.”
Running through the notable quotes of the week that was.
REACTIONS TO EXPANDED INSTANT REPLAY
“I kind of like baseball being pure with the human aspect and the human error of the game. I think the umpires sometimes get undue criticism. There's countless plays every game throughout the year and they may miss probably less than one percent of them. That's pretty good. It seems like the only ones that anybody ever brings up replay with are the ones that are at the end of the game, where they think that's the deciding factor of a ballgame. But there could be a play in the first or second inning that could have directly affected the outcome of the game.”
—Diamondbacks reliever J.J. Putz on MLB’s proposal to expand the use of instant replay in 2014. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)
Do teams tend to overpay for bullpen help at the deadline?
Baseball lore preaches that a team “can never have enough pitching,” but we rarely hear the same thing said about hitting, perhaps because of a sister proverb, “Baseball is 75 percent pitching.” Pitcher fragility plays a big part, of course. But sometimes one poor start or relief outing will cause a team to press for more pitchers: a marginal arm blows up, and suddenly the team needs assistance. When a hitter goes 0-for-4 or 1-for-5, on the other hand, the line is common enough that we don’t bat an eye.
Only one has bested Jarrod Parker's streak of 15 straight starts of lowering his season ERA.
On Tuesday against Houston, Jarrod Parker pitched seven innings of one-run ball. After a rough start to the season, Parker has lowered his ERA to 3.79. Cory Schwartz of MLB.com noted an interesting fact about Parker’s last 15 starts:
David Price turned in his third complete game in four starts to lead the Rays past the Red Sox. Tonight, Zack Greinke will try to sustain his success against Brandon Phillips.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Before the Rays' series against the Red Sox, David Pricesaid, “I want to go nine every fifth day.” Taking the ball in the third game, he did exactly that, disposing of baseball’s best offense with just 97 pitches.
Price completed the first four innings with 35 pitches and needed only 10 to close out the game’s final frame, throwing strikes from the beginning of the contest through the end. All four of his pitches proved effective, with his sinker averaging nearly 95 mph, a mark he’s been hitting consistently since returning from a six-week stint on the disabled list to nurse a triceps injury. Boston’s only run came on a Mike Napoli homer in the seventh.