Standout pitching performances this week, including Zack Greinke, Francisco Liriano and Adam Wainwright.
The past week to 10 days has seen a return to past glory for a pair of veteran right-handed, with both Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright providing optimism that their respective seasons can be salvaged. A veteran southpaw has not been so lucky, and though Francisco Liriano’s last two starts came in week nine of the season (he was skipped this past week), he is scheduled to pitch today and all eyes will be on his performance and any potential adjustments that he makes.
A play that was almost too close for replay, Ichiro marches on, and the Rangers and Orioles continue to surge.
The Thursday Takeaway
“What is a catch?”—one of the more complex existential questions of our time, albeit usually only in the context of the NFL and the subjectivity of its rules. In Thursday’s Cardinals-Reds game, though, it got a relatively rare turn in baseball’s limelight.
Yet, while the club’s offense has been better than expected—St. Louis ranks first in the NL in home runs and in OPS—the record sat at just .500 entering play Thursday. That’s because the club added Mike Leake and, in effect, Adam Wainwight, who has been healthy again after missing nearly all of the 2015 season.
Yup, it’s the upgrades who are leading the regression. Wainwright in particular has been dreadful. When he hasn’t been showing off his hitting skills , he has allowed four homers in 33 2/3 innings (after allowing just 10 in the 255 innings split he threw in 2014 and 2015). He has an ERA close to 7, a FIP close to 5, and just 4.8 K/9—the sixth-lowest in baseball, minimum 20 innings. Overall, the club’s starting rotation has a 4.38 ERA and just 7.0 K/9 as a collective this year, after posting a 2.99 ERA with 7.9 K/9 last season. What has happened to the Cardinals’ erstwhile ace?
The problem relates to what had historically been his greatest weapon. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leads us to the biggest question of all: What do Adam Wainwright’s curveball and a chained-up Chihuahua have in common? All bark, no bite.
The curve has long been Wainwright’s out pitch, with a career whiff rate of 17 percent—and, with two strikes, 21 percent. This year, the whiff rate is at 9 percent overall, and 11 percent with two strikes.
Adam Wainwright is a exit-velo monster at the dish, Dallas Keuchel loses a streak, and Lorenzo Cain has a tough night.
The Monday Takeaway
For those who sought to go out on a limb with their World Series picks this spring, the Rangers represented an alluring dark horse. They were so alluring, in fact, that, at least in this neck of the woods, the horse in question wasn’t dark at all. Five BP’ers, including yours truly, pegged Texas to go all the way in 2016, giving Jeff Banister’s club more backing than any other except the Cubs.
The Rangers had plenty going for them as a tempting pennant pick. They’d have a full season of Cole Hamels. They sported a breakout candidate in Rougned Odor. They’d added a cheap, high-upside bat in Ian Desmond near the end of the offseason. And, beyond all that, the injury-ravaged 2015 outfit had managed to win 88 games and the American League West. But, while I can’t speak for my colleagues, the determining factor behind my preseason vote was the potential for internal reinforcements to greatly bolster the roster midyear.
...an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of...
On Monday night this week, Jason Heyward played a baseball game in St. Louis. This wouldn’t be particularly notable, in the grand scheme of things, except for the fact that Heyward played rather a lot of games in St. Louis last year, and in those games he wore the traditional Cardinals red. And, also, that in the game on Monday night, he was wearing instead of those colors a uniform of dark Chicago blue.
On their march to the 2013 Bundesliga title, Bayern Munich triggered an out clause in Mario Götze’s contract, effectively poaching rival Borussia Dortmund’s best playmaking midfielder. Less than a year later, Munich again raided Dortmund’s cupboard, this time leaving with BVB’s top striker, Robert Lewandowski. Götze and Lewandowski are two of the top players in the world, but despite their talent, the moves were motivated less by Munich’s need to augment its already star-studded team than by the club’s pragmatic desire to cripple its only challenger to the Bundesliga crown.
The challenge of upgrading on Daniel Nava in Anaheim, the Braves' surprising semi-bid on Justin Upton, and the closer who wants to be a starter.
The Los Angeles Angels are trying to acquire an everyday left fielder
The Angels are currently set to go into this season with 33-year-old Daniel Nava as their starting left fielder, joining the 2014 Red Sox, the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox and the 2007 Chico Outlaws as the only teams who can say that. Although Nava is smashing in spring training, his PECOTA projection (1.5 WARP) and his 2015 output (Zero.Zip WARP) have a little more authority than his .500/.619/.719 Cactus League line. As a result, the Angels are reportedly looking for an everyday left fielder to replace him.
The federal government gets into the sabermetrics biz.
Last week in Federal court, former St. Louis Cardinals executive Chris Correa was indicted on, and pleaded guilty to, charges that he improperly accessed the Houston Astros’ database, Ground Control, on multiple occasions. Before we go any further in this article, let’s get something out of the way. What Mr. Correa or anyone else involved in the case did or did not do is a matter for the FBI to investigate and the courts to adjudicate and I will leave that in their hands. Correa is quoted in the article as saying that he “trespassed repeatedly” and that he accepts responsibility for the case. Everyone else, not surprisingly, has largely declined to say much else.