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By Mark Simon, ESPN Research
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Barry Zito hasn't been able to solve whatever has ailed him since signing that huge seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants, and San Francisco's management took action, deciding Monday to send their ace to the bullpen.
Zito, who is in only the second year of the deal with the Giants, will be baseball's second-highest paid relief pitcher -- he's slated to make $14.5 million this season (Yankees closer Mariano Rivera makes $15 million) -- and it will be up to the Giants to find a way to get value out of that salary.
Since Zito joined the Giants, he's failed to live up to expectations. One possible consolation: In 2005 while pitching for the A's, he was 0-4 with a 6.60 ERA in April. He regrouped and went 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA the rest of the season, and then went 30-23 over the next two seasons. The Giants can only hope that history repeats itself with Zito.
|Since the beginning of the 2007 season:|
By Orel Hershiser, ESPNYankees starters Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes are two completely different pitchers, but both are having similar problems. The first has to do with command: Kennedy has walked 17 batters in 19 innings. Hughes, who will start for the Yankees against the Tigers on Tuesday, has allowed 10 walks in 18 1/3 innings.
The second problem is they aren't finishing off their pitches. Kennedy is pulling off line (falling toward the first base line), which allows his arm and elbow to drop. He's coming underneath his pitches and the outcome is a flat pitch that doesn't go where he wants it to. Hughes is popping out of his delivery, almost becoming a spectator at the moment he should be dropping his head into the catcher's glove and driving through the pitch. Popping out of his delivery also flattens out his pitch and brings it up in the strike zone.
Hughes might be on the path to fixing his problem, as he's pitched well in his last two starts. He looked strong in two innings on April 24 before he was pulled after a rain delay in Chicago. In that start, he was keeping his pitches down and had command of his fastball. On April 18 at Baltimore, Hughes pitched five very good innings before he gave up four runs in the sixth. Hughes' makeup reminds me of Kevin Millwood, and he has a chance to be overpowering with his curveball and has a fastball with great life. He'll be able to get away with making some mistakes.
Kennedy, on the other hand, won't. Right now, he's really struggling to throw strikes with confidence. Kennedy is more of the Greg Maddux type in that he needs to be able to change speeds, be precise with his pitches and have command of the strike zone.
One problem for both Kennedy and Hughes is New York's middle relief is a black hole. Ideally, Yankees manager Joe Girardi would like to get Kennedy and Hughes up the tunnel after five or six good innings and let them feel good about themselves and build up their confidence. But right now the Yanks don't have a reliable middle reliever who can get the ball to Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera. I think Girardi would rather take them out after five innings instead of letting them pitch five good innings only to leave the game after one bad inning. But Girardi doesn't have that luxury because he doesn't have anyone in the bullpen who can bridge the gap to the eighth inning.
• Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:05 p.m. ET: Roy Halladay (2-3, 3.73 ERA) will make the start for the Blue Jays. He's winless in his past two starts, during which time he's allowed a combined 20 hits in 17 innings pitched. He'll be opposed by Daisuke Matsuzaka (4-0, 3.14 ERA), who was scratched from his last start because of the flu.
• Brewers at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. ET: Ben Sheets (3-0, 0.96 ERA) will take the mound for the Brewers after missing his last start because of soreness in his right triceps. In four starts (28 innings pitched), he's allowed a combined three runs. He'll face Jason Marquis (1-0, 3.47 ERA), who has given up a combined five runs in his past three starts.
• Complete list of pitching probables for Tuesday's games
|10 p.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Buck Showalter, Eric Young, Peter Gammons
|12 a.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Buck Showalter, Eric Young
|• Playing in his fifth game since signing with the A's, Frank Thomas fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle and reached base in all four of his plate appearances in the A's 14-2 rout of the Angels.||BAD|
|• Ryan Garko continued his struggles at the plate as he went 0-for-4 to extend his hitless streak to 23 at-bats in the Indians' 5-2 loss to the Yankees.||UGLY|
|• Cardinals leadoff batter Ryan Ludwick went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts -- two swinging and two looking -- in St. Louis' 4-3 loss to Cincinnati.|
Will Harris examines the pitching matchups in store for the 15 games on Tuesday's schedule in the American League and National League.
Will also looks at injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Tuesday's games. Daily Notes
Every Sunday on the 12:30 p.m. ET "Baseball Tonight" show, Karl Ravech, John Kruk and Steve Phillips take part in the Sunday Double Play competition. Each of them selects a starting pitcher and a hitter to play for Sunday's games. They compete in three different categories -- wins, hits and home runs -- based on the results of their selections. The results are cumulative for the season.
This past Sunday's pitcher selections and results:
This past Sunday's hitter selections and results:
Here are the standings after the first three Sundays:
Tune into "Baseball Tonight" on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET for the latest Sunday Double Play selections.
• 1981: Steve Carlton struck out Montreal's Tim Wallach in the first inning of the Philadelphia Phillies' 6-2 victory over the visiting Expos to become the sixth major leaguer -- and first left-hander -- to strike out 3,000 batters.
• 1986: Roger Clemens set a major league record by striking out 20 batters as Boston defeated Seattle 3-1. Clemens broke the major league record of 19 shared by Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver.
• 2006: Albert Pujols set a major league record for homers in April. The 14th home run, an opposite-field drive in the bottom of the eighth inning, helped St. Louis to a 2-1 win over Florida.