Though recent trends might indicate otherwise, aged pitchers rarely return to form after year-long layoffs.
Sure, it came against an Angels lineup whose centerpiece, Albert Pujols, has yet to get untracked, but it was difficult not to be impressed with Bartolo Colon's eight shutout innings last Wednesday. For one thing, it marked the 38-year-old Oakland righty's second consecutive scoreless start; he had tossed seven scoreless against the Mariners on April 13. For another, he reeled off a streak of 38 consecutive strikes, running from the second pitch of the fifth inning through the seventh pitch of the eighth inning, a span that included balls in play; he allowed only a single and a double during that time. Pitch-by-pitch records only go back to 1988, so there's no definitive account of whether Colon set a record, but via the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, the next-highest known total was 30 in a row by Tim Wakefield in 1998.
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Injuries to David Wright and Ike Davis start a Mets infield shuffle, the Red Sox rotation gets rejiggered, the curse of the Rangers outfield continues, Aroldis Chapman exeunt, and familiar faces resurface in the Cubs rotation and Braves bullpen.
Is this the year for Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris? And what of Lee Smith?
In a tradition as old as my Hall of Fame ballot analysis series itself predating even the JAWS acronym, we come to the pitchers on the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame mere hours ahead of the announcement of the voting results. As with last year, it's a short list, featuring three holdovers and four newcomers. Among this group, Bert Blyleven remains the standout. Now in his 13th year on the ballot, he's polled above 60 percent in each of the past two years. While the work done by statheads here and elsewhere to boost his candidacy has gotten through to the voters, he's running out of time.
Every year when the PECOTA projections come out, I like to sort through some of the statistical leader boards to see which players PECOTA likes for the upcoming year. One of my favorite categories is ERA because it gives me an idea of how well certain pitchers may do within the context of their teams. I am also on a sort of Easter egg hunt. I figure that PECOTA has data on hundreds of starting pitchers from professional baseball, and when it projects ERA (or anything else), it will find the usual CCs or Johans, but it might also like a rookie or another player that I'm not expecting as much.
An AL powerhouse against a Rocky Mountain-high Cinderella--who has momentum, and who's got the advantage?
Tonight, the Colorado Rockies will become the fifth franchise in the past 11 years to make its virgin appearance in the World Series, following in the footsteps of the 1997 Marlins, the 2001 Diamondbacks, the 2002 Angels, and the 2005 Astros. The Rockies combine elements from each of those clubs. Like the 1997 Marlins, they are an odd mix of veteran talent and youth, and squeezed into the playoffs as a Wild Card team in a league that featured a great deal of parity. Like the 2001 Diamondbacks, they are an expansion club from the Mountain West that is set to square off at long odds against one of the AL East's superpowers. Like the 2002 Angels, they are a 'small ball' team that has excelled by vacuuming up with their defense when their opponents tried to put the ball into play. And like the 2005 Astros, which at one point were more than 200:1 underdogs to reach the postseason, they saved their best baseball for late in the year.
Jeff Francis sums up the improbability of Colorado's pennant, the Yankees and Angels search for new leaders, and Dusty settles into the Queen City.
Jeff Francis searched for the proper word to describe the Colorado Rockies' incredible streak that has carried them to their first-ever World Series appearance. Colorado has won 21 of its last 22 games. "Unbelievable? Unfathomable?" the Rockies left-hander asked. "Ridiculous is a word I've been throwing out there a lot lately. Yeah, ridiculous might sum it up."
Vlad Guerrero and Zach Day go down, adding to the Expos' injuries woes. Jerome Williams gets his chance with Kurt Ainsworth on the DL. Carlos Delgado is crushing everything in sight. Plus other news and notes out of Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto.