Having a game plan against the game's best bats
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
ATTACKING THE GAME'S BEST HITTERS
By Orel Hershiser, ESPNAll the latest scouting reports and video of the hitters that major league pitchers have access to help them in planning their attack. Seeing what a guy has been doing recently has a constant impact on how you would go after someone. Does a guy have a sore wrist? Is his hamstring bothering him? Has he been really aggressive on the breaking ball this week? Does he have a hole in his swing? Is he as hot as can be?
BEST OF THE BLOGSEach day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. Buster Olney looks at just how valuable lefty Cole Hamels is to the Phillies: Now it all makes sense, a scout said Monday afternoon, after hearing that Cole Hamels has gone to Philadelphia to have his elbow examined. The scout had seen Hamels this month and was mildly surprised by the left-hander's pedestrian fastball velocity -- 82 mph to 84 mph. Maybe it was just early in camp, the scout thought at the time. Maybe Hamels' intention was to pace himself through this long spring training. Or maybe not. Now, it might be that Hamels' problem is not serious and there is an easy explanation for the stiffness he is feeling in his arm. But undoubtedly, the Phillies' officials and coaching staff will sleep a little less until they know for sure, because of Hamels' importance to their rotation, to their pitching staff and to their organization. "The loss of Hamels would change the equation in that division," said another talent evaluator Monday afternoon. "[The Phillies] have more depth in their rotation than they used to have, but still, you're talking about one of the best pitchers in the game." For the rest of this entry from Buster Olney's blog, click here.
The Reds scored 4.35 runs per game in '08, 12th in the NL. How will they fare in the post-Dunn/Griffey era? Keep in mind that it's also the post-Patterson/Bako era, and the Gomes/Chris Dickerson platoon should be effective. CHONE projections and the lineup analysis tool call for 4.42 runs per game which unfortunately still would've ranked 12th last year. This team still falls short offensively, even with strong years from the team's young sluggers.
Even if I generously put the Reds at 750 runs allowed, they project to win 77 games. It's difficult to see this team cracking .500 as it's presently constructed.
Bottom line: The Reds' rotation looks strong, but [GM Walt] Jocketty failed to add the needed offense.
BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY
|3:30 p.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Carlos Baerga
|2 a.m. ET
|Host: Steve Berthiaume
SC HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: U.S. WINS
BASEBALL TONIGHT MAILBAG
Have a question for one of our analysts? Ever wonder what it's like behind the scenes at "Baseball Tonight"? Curious about a player or a team or an executive?
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight he takes a look at Cliff Lee and just how hard it will be for the lefty this year after posting 22 wins a season ago:
|Season after 22+ wins
(AL pitchers since 1990)
|Cliff Lee||2009 Indians||?||?|
|Roy Halladay||2004 Blue Jays||8-8||4.20|
|Roy Halladay||2004 Blue Jays||8-8||4.20|
|Barry Zito||2003 Athletics||14-12||3.30|
|Pedro Martinez||2000 Red Sox||18-6||1.74|
|Jack McDowell||1994 White Sox||10-9||3.73|
|Bob Welch||1991 Athletics||12-13||3.82|
|Dave Stewart||1991 Athleics||11-11||5.20|
|Bret Saberhagen||1990 Royals||5-9||3.27|
TAMPA BAY RAYS SEASON PREVIEW
TUESDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• David Wright drove home the tying and winning runs in the ninth inning as Team USA avoided elimination with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. The U.S. trailed 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth in the elimination game.||WORST|
|• First, the Brewers had to worry about Ryan Braun's health after he tweaked his side at the World Baseball Classic. Now, it's Trevor Hoffman's side that is giving the Brewers a pain in the neck. Milwaukee's new closer has a strained side, and there currently is no timetable for his return. "We are going to proceed cautiously, as we have done with all these injuries," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.|
NUMBERS TO KNOW
The Rays' pitching staff was a big reason for Tampa Bay's success last season, as it held runners to 4.14 runs per game, second-best in the AL (behind only Toronto). The Rays return most of the same pitching staff, including four starters with 50 wins between them last season. The only major change is the departure of starter Edwin Jackson to Detroit via an offseason trade.What did the Rays do so well last season that should predict success for the staff this season? They did a good job of generating strikeouts and keeping batters off base. They also keep opposing hitters from hitting for power.
|Rays||AL avg.||AL rank|
|K pct. of PA||18.6||17.1||2|
HAMELS HAS INFLAMED ELBOW
Have questions about how to build your roster? Whom should you choose early or late in your draft? Which catcher do you want? We have the answers. Draft Kit