Next Level Player of the Week
Last week, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said LeBron James could be a better player than Michael Jordan, thanks largely to James' play on the defensive end. In the series-clinching Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, James forced Derrick Rose to shoot 1-for-10 from the floor with two turnovers, and, for the entire series, Rose shot just 6.3 percent from the floor when guarded by James.
A key reason for Jose Reyes' hot start has been his ability to hit the fastball. In Sunday's 9-5 win over the Phillies, Reyes went 4-for-5 from the plate, with two of those hits coming off a fastball. Reyes is hitting .410 against the fastball this season, which ranks fifth in baseball, and his 50 hits against the fastball leads all of baseball.
On Sunday against the Marlins, Clayton Kershaw recorded his second career shutout. Critical for Kershaw's dominating performance was his ability to throw his slider at a clutch moment. Kershaw threw 18 of 19 sliders (94.7 percent) with two strikes for a career best in a start. Entering Sunday, he had thrown 44.3 percent of his sliders this season with two strikes.
Making a spot start for injured Francisco Liriano, Anthony Swarzak took a no-hitter into the eighth inning to finish with a career-high eight innings pitched and a career-best one hit allowed as a starter. Swarzak's average fastball velocity of 91.4 mph was his best since his second career start in 2009, and the Angels were 0-for-13 in at-bats that ended with a fastball.
SAMSUNG NEXT LEVEL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Samsung Next Level Player of the Week pits four athletes with the most impressive statistical performances against each other.