Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
Cahill showed up to camp svelter than usual. The offseason work paid off with a strong April, as Cahill averaged more than seven innings per start while striking out about 2.5 batters per walk issued. He saved his best for last: throwing eight innings of one-run ball on Tuesday against the Giants. The bread-and-butter of Cahill's arsenal remains his sinker. His secondary pitch of choice has changed, however. Cahill threw his cutter 26 percent of the time in April, compared to 11 percent in 2012. Increased confidence in the pitch gives Cahill a fourth option, or at least a backup plan on nights when he cannot find the feel for his changeup.
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
Yes, another Arizona starter acquired through an earlier trade. Corbin allowed one home run in 33 innings after allowing 14 homers last season in 107 innings. A considerable difference, and one that allows for improvement even after regression. There are two encouraging signs from Corbin so far: 1) his velocity is slightly up, and—more importantly—2) his command has been better. Corbin must stay down in the zone in order to be effective. He's done just that early this season.
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Featuring Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez, and everyone who faced Brett Wallace.
You could have an intro here, or we could go straight to the sweet and sexy pitches. Nobody pays for the intro (literally, in the case of BP's paywall), so forget the intro. To the pitches!
3. Matt Moore, fastball, against Asdrubal Cabrera, in which Moore eagerly unveils the new slider he's been working on; "guys," he tells everybody before he throws it, "it's such a swell slider, sliding all over the place and real hard like, so I can use it on two strikes and it'll break way out of the zone and batters will swing at it because they don't anticipate how much it's going to slide," upon which Moore proceeds to throw it and everybody tells him that, as far as sliders go, it actually breaks the wrong way, that clearly Moore is doing it wrong, sending Moore into a funk until he figures "ah shucks to it all, I'm going to throw it anyway."
Fredi Gonzalez began the year with a strong group of starters—even with Tim Hudson on the disabled list—and plenty of possible reinforcements. When Jair Jurrjens coughed up five home runs and 10 walks in his first four starts, Atlanta had the luxury of sending him down, because Hudson was finally healthy and Randall Delgado was emerging as a reliable rotation piece.
If you had to pick a pitcher for a big game tomorrow, who would you take? How about a big game in 2015? Some MLB execs weigh in with their choices.
On the surface, the question seems like an easy one: if your team were playing in a championship game tomorrow, and you could have any starting pitcher to pitch that game for you, who would it be? Your choice is of any ace in the game, but for some it's not just about statistics, it's about comfort and mitigating risk. The question was posed to 12 industry insiders, ranging from pro scout to general manager, and those twelve generated five different responses.
Admire the beauty of two of the game's best young left-handers pitching exactly like two of the game's best young left-handers.
Memorial Day means many things to many people. For Major League Baseball, the holiday means a full slate of games, stretching from midday to midnight. Some games with no business being entertaining became just that (like the Cubs-Padres and Astros-Rockies games), but the day’s best pitching matchup happened at Tropicana Field. The White Sox and Chris Sale were in town to take on the Rays and Matt Moore. There’s nothing quite like two young, power-armed southpaws going at it, and Sale and Moore made it worth everyone’s while. Here were the lineups for both teams:
A pitch-by-pitch review of a matchup that we might one day consider historic.
There are downsides to having a primary team, like developing tunnel vision to the other divisions. The Yankees guaranteed Jesus Montero would make fewer trips to Tropicana Field when they traded him to the Mariners. With only seven scheduled visits on the season, Montero demands attention when he plays at the Trop. This isn’t my first tango with Jesus, though my strongest memory entailed Joe Maddon intentionally loading the bases so as to face Montero with nobody out. (He would ground into a double play, albeit one that scored a run.) The Montero intrigue intensified with Matt Moore taking the mound on Tuesday night.
Sam Miller wrote about Moore facing Miguel Cabrera for the first time earlier this season. I made a joke to Ben Lindbergh during Moore’s first tangle with Albert Pujols along similar lines. Montero-Moore is different from those two encounters. This isn’t a case of hotshot versus established superstar, but rather hotshot versus hotshot. In five years, Montero-Moore might be a matchup of all-world caliber ballplayers. Or it might be a battle of former busts playing out the string in Triple-A. Nobody knows. Either way, I took notes to commemorate the occasion:
If you missed yesterday's game between the Rays and Tigers, you missed Matt Moore facing Miguel Cabrera in his second major-league start.
The last time we saw Matt Moore start a meaningful game, it was against a Texas Rangers offense that came within 20 runs of leading the American League in scoring. Before that, he pitched against the Yankees, who were just eight runs shy of the league lead. So it might not be true that, as Tigers announcer Rod Allen says, this is the best lineup that Matt Moore has ever faced. Also, it might be true. It’s a good lineup. And it’s almost certainly true that Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter he has ever faced, especially considering Moore’s platoon disadvantage.
So that’s what Moore did on Tuesday, his third major-league start: he faced Miguel Cabrera, three times. I’ve been told by my therapist that I need to quit raising expectations for the future, so let’s not go crazy about where this matchup stands in history. Just note that there were games when rookie Tom Seaver faced Hank Aaron (2-for-20, HR, seven Ks during Seaver’s rookie year), and when rookie Felix Hernandez faced Alex Rodriguez (0-for-2, K, BB) and when rookie Bob Feller faced Joe Dimaggio (9-for-20, four home runs). And now Matt Moore (!!!) is facing Miguel Cabrera (!!!). Awwww crud I did it again.
Yu Darvish makes his first big-league start, while Ian Kinsler signs an extension.
The Monday Takeaway
When Yu Darvish walked back to the Rangers’ dugout after the top of the first inning of his major-league debut, things were looking bleak for both the pitcher and his team. Darvish had allowed seven Mariners to reach base and four of them to cross the plate while throwing 42 pitches and putting Texas in an early hole.
The righty settled down after that, coughing up just one more run in the second inning, and needing only 68 pitches to complete the final 4 2/3 innings of his 5 2/3-inning debut. The four walks, hit batter, and wild pitch on Darvish’s line are a bit worrisome, but some of his early wildness can be chalked up to rookie jitters. And once the Rangers’ offense kicked into gear against Mariners starter Hector Noesi, Darvish grew more comfortable, riding 11 runs of support to his first stateside victory.
Are team-friendly contract extensions signed early in players' careers about to become a lot longer?
A few weeks ago, I asked this question on Twitter: If Mike Trout were willing to sign a 20-year contract with the Angels right now, what would be a fair price? The responses I got ranged from $100 million to $350 million and averaged $243 million. Glenn DuPaul did the heavy lifting to try to answer this, which is great for me, because Less Heavy Lifting is basically my entire goal in life. It’s why I went to college, and it’s why my furniture is made of Nerf. Glenn’s answer: $274 million. OK! He also wrote this, which is probably what I would have written, too, to avoid sounding like a crazy person:
Kevin shares his picks for Minor League Player of the Year honors.
Making pre-season picks for minor league player of the year honors is a bit more complex than doing the same for big league awards. The biggest issue is, of course, playing time. The trio of Rays lefty Matt Moore and outfielders Bryce Harper (Nationals) and Mike Trout (Angels) are universally seen as the top three prospects in baseball, but none is a good pick for 2012 honors: Moore will open the year in the big leagues, and Harper and Trout will likely follow suit. Instead, you need a player who will spend the entire year away from the majors, either in an environment that is conducive to putting up good numbers, or with an assignment where the player can impress for other reasons. Here are my top ten candidates.