Tagged: Jeff Locke

Tired Yet?

Michael Wacha is one of the young arms to keep an eye on in September.

Michael Wacha is one of the young arms to keep an eye on in September.

The final month of the 2015 season is upon us and I can’t believe it’s here already.

I’ve frequently written about a young pitcher who has struggled down the stretch and wondered if it didn’t have something to do with them hitting new career highs in terms of the number of innings they’ve pitched in any given professional season.

Here’s a look at some young arms who may be taxed in these last four weeks, not to mention the playoffs.

All Innings Pitched totals are rounded off and include totals from all professional leagues – Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and International Leagues.

St. Louis Cardinals

86-47, 6.5 Games Ahead, 29 Games Remaining

Name Age 2015 IP 2014 IP High IP
Michael Wacha 23 157 109 150 (2013)
Carlos Martinez 23 155 112 114 (2013)
Jaime Garcia 28 107 51 195 (2011)

The Cardinals, it seems, might want to consider pumping the breaks a bit here. With 29 games left in their schedule, they have an 11 game lead on the #2 team in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

ELEVEN GAMES!!!

Even if the Cards go 14-15 in their final 29 games – and there’s little reason to believe they won’t do better than that – the Dodgers would need to go 25-4 to tie them.

Let that sink in.

Marinating…

Okay, now look at those innings pitched totals again.

Why would you put Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez or Jaime Garcia out there? It’s always a tricky thing, of course. You don’t want to use them so infrequently that they head into the playoffs rusty. But it’s also hard to justify putting them out there for long starts.

If I’m the Cardinals, I’m considering something like a 6- or 7-man rotation in this final month of the season. Rosters are expanded. There’s just no call for using those three guys named above in more than, say, 5 or 6 innings per week.

Keep an eye on them, for sure.

Pittsburgh Pirates

79-53, 6.5 GB, 4.0 Games Ahead for #1 Wild Card, 30 Games Remaining

Name Age 2015 IP 2014 IP High IP
Gerrit Cole 24 174 160 185 (2013)
Jeff Locke 27 145 187 187 (2014)

For the Bucs and Cubs, things are a bit different. They don’t have anything locked up yet. But they also have pretty nice leads and are pretty much fighting it out only to see who gets home field advantage in the NL Wild Card game. Which, of course, accounts for a swing of no more than 2% in your chance of winning, such is home field “advantage” in professional baseball…

Gerrit Cole has had less on his stuff, overall, in the second half. He’s 11 innings shy of his professional high (185), set in 2014. And he’s already 14 over his mark from last season. Again, this is tough, but I think you ease off on the 24-year old. He’s a power pitcher and I want to see that gas in the Wild Card game.

I admit I was surprised to see that Jeff Locke had thrown 187 last year. He’s been a bit up and down this season, having stretches of awful and stretches of really good.

Chicago Cubs

75-57, 10.5 GB, 4.0 GB #1 Wild Card, 7.0 GA for #2 Wild Card, 30 Games Remaining

Name Age 2015 IP 2014 IP High IP
Jake Arrieta 29 183 177 177 (2014)
Kyle Hendricks 25 147 183 183 (2014)

In Chicago, Jake Arrieta has hit his career high, with 6 more innings thrown than he did combined last season between the Majors and Minors. He’s obviously showing no signs of a tired arm yet, after a brilliant August. I know he’s also really gone crazy with conditioning this season and seemed headed into 2015 with a goal of proving that last season was no fluke. So who knows… Still, another guy worth keeping an eye on.

Kyle Hendricks is a bit like Locke, above, in that I was surprised to see how many innings he had put up last season at various levels of pro ball. He’s still 36 innings shy of last year’s total, so he should have plenty left in the tank. How much value he brings to the team is questionable right now, as he’s had an overall down year. But the Cubs need some help from the back end of their rotation if they’re going to hold on to the Wild Card spot.

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Big Series this weekend between the Cardinals and Pirates.

Looking forward to that!

Game One Friday, 7:15 PM CT
(PIT) Happ: 7-7, 4.10
(STL) Martinez: 13-6, 2.91

Game Two Saturday, 3:05 PM CT
(PIT) Morton: 8-6, 4.22
(STL) Garcia: 7-4, 2.03

Game Three Sunday, 7:05 PM CT
(PIT) Cole: 15-8, 2.64
(STL) Lackey: 11-8, 2.87

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Lackey Leads Cards To 4th Straight Win

Kolten Wong celebrates with teammates after scoring to put them ahead by a pair of runs.

Kolten Wong celebrates with teammates after scoring to put them ahead by a pair of runs.

The St. Louis Cardinals were 3-1 winners over the Arizona Diamondbacks last night, running their winning streak up to 4 games.

John Lackey improved to 11-8, throwing a steady 7 innings of work, allowing 1 run on 7 hits and a walk. Lackey served up a solo homer to slugger Paul Goldschmidt in the 1st and then tossed 6.1 shutout innings to finish off his day.

Kolten Wong‘s RBI double in the 7th inning broke a 1-1 tie and Matt Carpenter‘s RBI single plated Wong to pad the lead.  Since taking three games off to get his head straight, Wong has three hits in the last two nights.

Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 40th save of the season, joining Pirates closer Mark Melancon in that club. Rosenthal is out this weekend on paternity leave with his wife scheduled to be induced into labor tomorrow.

The Redbirds got more solid defense, turning 3 double plays.

Highlights

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The Pittsburgh Pirates scored 6 in the 2nd inning en route to an easy 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins, winning for the 11th time in their last 14 games.

Andrew McCutchen had a pair of extra-base hits – his 20th homer and 32nd double – driving in 4 runs.

Jeff Locke (W 7-8) went 7 innings, allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits and a walk.  It snapped a 6-game streak in which Locke had failed to escape the 6th inning.  He had gone 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in that stretch.

The Bucs remain 4.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.  September should provide plenty of drama with those two teams battling for the division title.

Highlights

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The Chicago Cubs fell back to even in their series with the San Francisco Giants, falling 4-2 and snapping a 6-game winning streak.

Buster Posey hit an RBI double over the head of Chris Coghlan in right field to break a 2-2 tie in the 6th.

Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant each had a double and single, with Bryant driving in a pair of runs to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the 1st.

Even with the loss, the Cubs are still 21-5 in their last 26 games.

Highlights

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Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett is feeling well after throwing a two inning simulated game and is hopeful to be back soon. He’s scheduled to throw another simulated game – this time three innings – on Sunday as he tries to work his way back into the rotation for the postseason run.

The often entertaining Adam Bittner of the Post-Gazette had a nice write-up on the use of Pirates “first baseman” Pedro Alvarez. Check it out over there.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs.com wrote up 23-year-old Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, focusing on his improved handling of southpaws. Last year, Polanco had a slash line of .171/.222/.244 against left-handed pitchers. This year? .214/.275/.321. Still not great, but improving. FYI: His numbers against RHP are pretty similar between last year and this. By the way, both Polanco and Alvarez sat last night against the left-handed Chris Narveson. Read it.

Anthony Castrovince takes a look at 2015’s Most Impactful MLB Managers and, wouldn’t you know it, 3 of the top 6 are from the NL Central. The Bucs’ Clint Hurdle comes in at #6, the Cards’ Mike Matheny at #4 and the Cubs’ Joe Maddon is #1. Read it at Sports On Earth.

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Joey Votto continues to have a monster season, upping his on-base percentage yet another 10 points this past week to hit .446 at the top of the NL Central Leader Board.

In 14 games played since August 12th, Votto has a .571 OBP to go along with a .372 AVG, .837 SLG, 1.409 OPS, 5 HR and 5 2B. That’s spanning 63 plate appearances. Unreal.

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 81 45 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 49 4.5 W1
Chicago Cubs 73 52 7.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 53 74 28.5 L4
Cincinnati Reds 52 73 28.5 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 49 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 73 52
San Francisco Giants 67 59 6.5
Washington Nationals 63 62 10.0

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Schedule

69-56 Dodgers Greinke (13-3, 1.67)
52-73 REDS DeSclafani (7-9, 3.97)
11:35 AM CT
73-52 CUBS Haren (8-8, 3.76)
67-59 Giants Bumgarner (15-6, 3.02)
2:45 PM CT
76-49 PIRATES Cole (14-7, 2.49)
51-76 Marlins Nicolino (2-1, 3.77)
6:10 PM CT
81-45 CARDINALS Martinez (12-6, 2.85)
62-64 Diamondbacks De La Rosa (11-5, 4.32)
8:40 PM CT

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NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .446
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .400
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .396
Kris Bryant (CHC) .368
Jung Ho Kang (PIT) .364
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.93
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.98
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.09
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.12
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.13

Pirates, Cubs Move Up In Wild Card

Charlie Morton led the Pirates to a shutout of the Giants.

Charlie Morton led the Pirates to a shutout of the Giants.

The Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the outside-looking-in San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs were dominant winners over the Atlanta Braves, giving both teams a bit more room in the National League Wild Card race.

Starting with Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton went 6.2 innings in a 4-0 win over the Giants, improving to 8-4 on the season.

Neil Walker hit his 13th homer of the season and had a pair of hits. Also joining in with multi-hit games were Starling Marte and Jung-Ho Kang.

It was the Bucs’ 7th win in their last 8 games as they moved within 4.5 games of the idle St. Louis Cardinals. That’s the closest Pittsburgh has been since July 29th.

It also gave them a full 8-game lead over the Giants in the Wild Card race. They remain 4 ahead of the Cubs.

Tonight will be tough for the Pirates as they have Jeff Locke going up against Madison Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98) who, besides being a good hitter, is also a decent pitcher.

Both 3B Josh Harrison (thumb) and SS Jordy Mercer (knee) are expected to return from the DL this weekend, with the team having survived thrived while missing the left side of their infield over the last five weeks.

Kang has excelled and 3B Aramis Ramirez looks rejuvenated since coming back to where his career started, so manager Clint Hurdle will have some tough decisions to make.

Highlights

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Jake Arrieta won his 15th game of the year with 6 shutout innings, striking out 7 as the Cubs pounded the Braves, 7-1.

Anthony Rizzo hit his 24th homer and Addison Russell his 8th as the Cubs scored 4 in the 3rd and came out to a 7-0 lead after 5 innings of play. That tends to hold up when Arrieta is on the bump.

In breaking their 3-game skid, Chicago moved 4 ahead of the Giants for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

The Cubs get a tough draw later this afternoon against Shelby Miller (5-9, 2.43) and the Braves.

Highlights

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The Cincinnati Reds lost their 6th straight and are now just a half game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers at the bottom of the division.

Or a half game away from tying them up for a higher draft pick, if you’re a “glass half full” kind of person.

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Fangraphs has a Q&A with Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson. Check it out.

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If you want to know why the NL Central is the most entertaining division in baseball, Anthony Witrado at Bleacher Report has an article explaining that. Go enjoy it.

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 77 43 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 72 47 4.5 W3
Chicago Cubs 68 51 8.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 51 68 25.5 L6
Milwaukee Brewers 52 70 26.0 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 72 47 +4.0
Chicago Cubs 68 51
San Francisco Giants 65 56 4.0
Washington Nationals 60 60 8.5

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Schedule

53-68 Braves Miller (5-9, 2.43)
68-51 CUBS Hendricks (6-5, 3.97)
3:05 PM CT
52-70 BREWERS Nelson (9-9, 3.61)
60-60 Nationals Gonzalez (9-5, 3.86)
6:05 PM CT
65-56 Giants Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98)
72-47 PIRATES Locke (6-7, 4.31)
6:05 PM CT
59-61 Diamondbacks De La Rosa (10-5, 4.40)
51-68 REDS Holmberg (1-2, 5.95)
6:10 PM CT
77-43 CARDINALS Lackey (10-7, 2.87)
59-62 Padres Cashner (4-12, 4.20)
9:10 PM CT

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NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 5.7
Joey Votto (CIN) 5.2
Jason Heyward (STL) 4.0
Starling Marte (PIT) 3.9
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 3.8
WAR (pitchers)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4.9
John Lackey (STL) 3.3
Michael Wacha (STL) 3.3
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 3.2
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 3.1

Wada Bad-ass

Wada Bad-Ass

Wada Bad-Ass

Hard not to lead with the Chicago Cubs, who shutout the Cleveland Indians while scoring a pair of touchdowns and a field goal (17-0).

They received 7 shutout innings of work from starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, who was pretty much on the cusp of losing his spot in the rotation.

Every member of the lineup had a hit, including multi-hit games for the kids: Kyle Schwarber (4 hits including a triple in his first Major League start), Anthony Rizzo (2 hits including his 12th homer, snapping an 0-for-20 stretch), Kris Bryant (2 hits with a grand slam off of outfielder-turned-emergency-pitcher David Murphy), and Addison Russell (2 hits including his 5th homer and a spectacular play in the field).

Chris Denorfia also homered and doubled, driving in 4 runs for the Cubs.

In the post-game press conference, Wada had this to say about his big day:

I am bad-ass.

See the full interview here.

It was the most runs the Cubs had scored in a game since a 19-0 win over the San Diego Padres by that ill-fated 1969 squad.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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If not for a hugely lop-sided game and the ability to include a non-English speaker calling himself “bad-ass”, the lead story would surely be the Pittsburgh Pirates, who ran their winning streak up to 7 with a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

All 3 Pirate runs scored in the 1st inning – Andrew McCutchen had an RBI single and Jung Ho Kang popped a 2-run homer, his 4th of the season.

Jeff Locke wasn’t able to keep the shutout parade going, allowing 2 runs in 6 innings of work. He struck out 8 against 2 walks and 3 hits allowed.

Mark Melancon collected his 22nd save with a perfect 9th inning.

It wasn’t all sunshine for the Bucs, though, as Starling Marte had to leave the game in the 9th inning. Marte appeared to injure his left ankle while hitting the first base bag in the previous inning.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Jeff Sullivan wrote about Cutch’s post-April rebound over at Fangraphs. If you like looking at feet, you will probably enjoy it. Check it out over there.

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The St. Louis Cardinals saw their 5-game winning streak end with a 3-1 loss visiting the Minnesota Twins.

Carlos Martinez threw effectively, allowing just 2 runs (1 earned) in 6.2 innings of work, while striking out 6.

The turning point came in the 4th inning when the Twins had men at the corners with one out, down 1-0. Martinez’s pickoff attempt at first went just wide of first baseman Mark Reynolds‘ grasp, glancing off his glove for an E-3 and allowing the tying run to score from 3rd and move the runner from 1st up to 3rd. That runner, Eduardo Nunez, then scored on a sacrifice fly to put Minnesota up 2-1.

But the offense hit 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, not giving Martinez any kind of support.

Jason Heyward had the sole multi-hit day at the plate for the Birds, upping his average to .259 this season.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Closer Trevor Rosenthal, who hasn’t pitched since June 13th, says he’s ready to resume closing duties but that he’ll be keeping a close eye on some arm fatigue. Rosenthal has 21 saves in 29 appearances this season, posting a sterling 0.59 ERA to go with a 0.96 WHIP, striking out 9.8 men per 9 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since May 3rd, boasting a perfect 0.00 ERA in his last 17 appearances.

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The Todd Frazier Show continued, leading the Cincinnati Reds to an 8-4 win in 13 innings over the Detroit Tigers.

Fraizer’s walk-off grand slam in the 13th inning was his 2nd of the game and 22nd of the year.

Jay Bruce is hitting just .232 this season, but went 5-for-6 with a pair of doubles last night.

And Twitter-abuser Brayan Pena went 4-for-6 (.302) with his 8th double of the year.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Devin Mesoraco sounds close to officially ending his season after an aborted attempt to convert from catcher to outfielder. The hip injury isn’t getting any better and it sounds like he’s finally ready to concede the season to surgery.

In other Reds injury news, outfielder Marlon Byrd could be returning soon. Eligible to come off the DL this Thursday, he’s expected to play a pair of rehab games at AA before returning to the big league club for this weekend’s games.  Byrd had been an interesting stick for Cincy before his injury, hitting just .212 but also driving 10 of his 35 hits out of the park.

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The Milwaukee Brewers were crushed again by the Kansas City Royals, this time by a 10-2 score that handed them their fifth straight loss.

Carlos Gomez was in the lineup at DH and had a pair of hits including a double. He’s been out of the lineup 5 of the Brewers’ last 7 games.

There is good news ahead for Milwaukee, however. There’s only 95 games left this season.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 43 22 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 38 27 5.0 W7
Chicago Cubs 35 28 7.0 W1
Cincinnati Reds 30 35 13.0 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 24 43 20.0 L5

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Schedule

43-22 CARDINALS Garcia (2-3, 2.06)
35-30 Twins Pelfrey (5-3, 3.18)
12:10 PM CT
35-28 CUBS Hammel (5-2, 2.81)
30-34 Indians Salazar (6-2, 3.54)
6:10 PM CT
34-32 Tigers Verlander (0-0, 3.60)
30-35 REDS Leake (3-4, 4.35)
6:10 PM CT
24-43 BREWERS Nelson (3-7, 4.60)
37-25 Royals Guthrie (4-4, 5.79)
7:10 PM CT
38-27 PIRATES Cole (10-2, 1.71)
28-36 White Sox Samardzija (4-4, 4.84)
7:10 PM CT

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NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .422
Matt Holliday (STL) .417
Kris Bryant (CHC) .398
Joey Votto (CIN) .398
Matt Carpenter (STL) .379
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.949
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 0.956
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.963
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.044
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.083