Cole Hamels says he focuses on throwing strikes and PECOTA says he's due for a decline, but maybe they're both lying.
A good introduction for articles like this is a descriptive paragraph. The reader gets a nice little piece of prose, maybe a good simile or two before you drown them in heat maps, while potential critics get warned that the author does, when absolutely necessary, watch the games. Maybe there’s a Bradbury sentence about the sunshine, some flecks of historical context. A reference to the living crowd. The author picks a particular play or scene that transitions well into his or her narrative, applies paint to the brush, and has at it.
The Rangers haven't been the team their record suggests. Here's why that's OK.
The Texas Rangers are currently sitting pretty atop the MLB standings, and through games played on Monday stood one win ahead of the ever-popular, ever-publicized Chicago Cubs. Both teams currently lead not just their divisions, but their leagues, and by wide margins at that.
But things aren’t all rosy in Arlington. The Rangers are currently running out an ailing rotation that can’t seem to catch a break, the numbers suggest that that they have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, and they’re middle-of-the-pack offensively.
Taken in isolation, that combination of facts leaves you scratching your head, wondering how the Rangers have gotten to this point and how they’ll manage to make it any further.
The Rangers are exceeding expectations. Where did the expectations go wrong?
In our preseason predictions piece, 45 of us tried to forecast the 2015 season. Not one of us thought the Texas Rangers would finish first in the AL West. That’s okay; they’re three games out and the Astros are still likely to hold them off. There also wasn’t a brave enough soul to predict that Texas would finish second in the division. Alright, they’re three and a half games clear of the Angels, but that still might not be enough cushion. The thing is, only one of the 45 of us (Bret Sayre, cheers) even had the audacity to suggest that the Rangers could finish third. Sixty percent of this staff of so-called experts had the Rangers finishing last. Instead, they wake up Monday morning with a game and a half to spare for the second Wild Card spot, at 68-61 and riding a four-game winning streak.
Were we wrong about the Rangers? About the Royals? About the Twins? That’s the question we’re here today to answer. (If we were wrong about those three teams, of course, we were also wrong about the Red Sox, Mariners, and Nationals, but we’ll explore the reasons for that wrongness—or innocent victimization at the hands of the universe—another time.) It’s perfectly possible, of course, to not foresee something simply because it couldn’t be foreseen. There’s no blame there. Some things happen simply because anything can happen, and not because they were likely to happen all along. Then again, there are cases every season in which we really, truly should have taken a little longer to understand a team a little better, and where if we had, we might have forecast their seasons better.
Analyzing where pitches that hit batters end up, and whether we should change the system.
The batter read the spin of the pitch: slider. It came straight at him, but he knew it was a ruse, that the pitch was going to break back toward the plate, bite the back corner, and strike him out. He held firm. It was a breaking pitch, 86 miles per hour, but it seemed to take forever. The batter started a check swing he hoped he wouldn’t need. But the pitch didn’t break, and clipped the elbow he’d dropped to start his motion.
Max Scherzer was already walking away, his head up in disgust. Jose Tabata turned away from the pitch by instinct, and found himself facing the umpire, Mike Muchlinski, already out of his crouch, his arms extended to signal the dead ball. There was a single beat, and Scherzer forced himself to look back: Would he somehow make the call, the call that is never made? But then the moment passed, and Muchlinski pointed to first. The perfect game was over.
Cole Hamels pitches well, Cody Asche flashes leather, and Chase Utley whacks a walkoff homer, plus more from Thursday and previews for the weekend.
The Thursday Takeaway
The Phillies squandered opportunity after opportunity to send the Citizens Bank crowd home happy during extra innings on Thursday night. But after a slew of remarkable defensive plays by Cody Asche and a 14th-inning stretch, Chase Utley finished off the Marlins in walk-off fashion.
Cole Hamels took the hill for the Phillies and fired seven strong innings, with his only blemishes coming in the form of solo home runs. The southpaw fanned seven and issued no walks while notching 10 swings-and-misses with his changeup for the second straight game.
The Nationals move into first place, Cole Hamels and Tyson Ross duel in Philly, plus more from Wednesday and previews for today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Nationals starting pitchers have issued four walks over their last 10 games. Combined. That’s four walks in 71 innings and just one in their last 54. Giants starter Matt Cain walked four Nats in the first inning of last night’s game alone, including the first three who stepped into the box.
Justin Morneau goes deep again, plus news about Clayton Kershaw, Prince Fielder, and Cole Hamels, and what to watch today.
The Weekend Takeaway Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado have garnered most of the press surrounding the Rockies’ torrid start—and deservedly so, considering the shortstop’s otherworldly numbers and the third baseman’s league-best 28-game hitting streak and highlight-reel defense at the hot corner. But another member of Colorado’s infield was the man of the hour on Sunday, and he’s been flying under the radar all season.
Yu Darvish flirts with perfection again and Aroldis Chapman returns, plus more from a busy weekend and preview for Monday.
The Weekend Takeaway In his first start of the 2013 season, Yu Darvish set the tone for his stellar sophomore campaign with 8 2/3 flawless innings against the Astros. When the 27th batter, Marwin Gonzalez, hit a grounder that turned into a single, the Texas right-hander threw his hands up and couldn’t help but crack a smile.
A look at the pitchers the fantasy crew expects to outperform their PECOTA projections in ERA.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below: