US Presswire, (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Greinke tossed seven innings of one-run, seven-hit baseball, striking out eight, to defeat the Minnesota Twins for his 16th win of the season. With that, he improved his major league-leading ERA to 2.06 and his American League-leading (sixth in the majors) WHIP to 1.07. Those ratios are significant; only Pedro Martinez (1.74 ERA, 0.74 WHIP in 2000) and Roger Clemens (1.87 and 1.01 in 2005) had better numbers while qualifying for the ERA title. Only 12 pitchers, in fact, have done as good or better than Greinke in ERA and WHIP in the past 30 seasons.
But just for the sake of argument, let's look at the competition, shall we?
CC Sabathia, the top name in our Cy Young Predictor, won his 19th game on Saturday and has a 1.10 WHIP and .227 batting average allowed (Greinke's BAA is .229). Sabathia gets one more start on Friday, and if he does win 20, that might be enough to sway the vote in his favor.
Felix Hernandez, No. 2 ahead of Greinke in the Predictor, has 17 wins, a 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and .229 BAA. He's also the major-league leader in quality starts (27), one ahead of Greinke, and could get two more starts to mount a late rally.
Among other starters, Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay also make borderline cases -- well, to some. Verlander leads the majors in strikeouts (256), while Halladay leads in complete games (8) and is tied with Greinke in shutouts (3).
Whatever the result -- Greinke should and probably will be the victor -- fantasy owners are wondering one thing: Sure, this year's numbers are all well and good, but where would these guys rank next season?
Jason Grey recently published his 2010 starting pitching rankings, and ordered them Greinke, Hernandez and Sabathia each of them in the top three behind only Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants. Being that those three represent the best chance of prime-year status and all-around fantasy potential -- win potential being the only problem for Greinke and Hernandez but both pitch in ratio-helping home ballparks -- it's an order that makes a heck of a lot of sense. The case can definitely be made all three are top-five pitchers for 2010, and I'd even argue top-25 overall.
• Though Francisco Liriano returned to the Twins' rotation on Sunday, it was a forgettable performance. The left-hander recorded only five outs and allowed three runs on three hits and three walks, throwing 24 of 45 pitches for strikes. Jeff Manship actually bailed him out of a first-and-third situation, keeping his line from looking worse than it did. Don't expect Liriano to make another start this season, and as bad as he has looked all year, he'll be a huge question mark entering 2010 despite almost assuredly entering next season in the rotation.
• Sticking with this AL Central theme, but turning to a team out of the race, David Huff tossed eight shutout innings of five-hit baseball to defeat the Baltimore Orioles. The left-hander has been shaky at times this season, but now has a streak of five consecutive quality starts, during which time he's 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He'll enter 2010 a strong bet for a rotation spot with the Cleveland Indians.
• Chris Tillman, making his final start of the season, was rocked for six runs on six hits in two innings by the Indians, increasing his rookie-year numbers to a 5.40 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 12 starts. He'll need to strike out more than 5.4 batters per nine innings to truly break out, but Tillman will enter spring training a favorite for a rotation spot with the Baltimore Orioles. There's sleeper potential in him, and he has been carefully maintained, being limited to 161 1/3 innings combined between Triple-A Norfolk and the Orioles after 135 2/3 in the minors in 2007.
• The Texas Rangers, themselves about ready to turn the page to 2010, plan to give speedy Julio Borbon more playing time in center field once the team is officially eliminated from playoff contention, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It's unclear whether the team regards him as more of a left fielder than center fielder of the future, but Borbon will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic and work with coach Gary Pettis during the offseason. Already a speedster capable of batting .300, Borbon would stand a far greater chance at everyday at-bats in center field than at an outfield corner, and perhaps more importantly, his ability to handle the center field chores might allow Josh Hamilton to move to less-taxing right field.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Cabrera went 4-for-5 with one double, one run scored and three RBIs, the fifth time this season he has managed four hits in a game. He's now batting .309, and thanks to 43 walks has a healthy .361 on-base percentage. Cabrera continues to shape up as one of the more underrated top-third-of-the-lineup hitters in the game, and thanks to his fine glove work is almost assured everyday at-bats in 2010, too.
Matt Cain, Giants
Nice bounce-back performance from Cain, who after serving up seven runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings at Arizona this past Tuesday tossed eight shutout innings of three-hit baseball versus the Chicago Cubs. Cain gave himself an excellent chance at a sub-three ERA for the season with the outing. He'd be only the third qualified San Francisco Giants pitcher to do that since the strike; Jason Schmidt (2.34 in 2003) and Tim Lincecum (2.62, 2008; has a 2.47 ERA this year) are the others.
Winning 100 games hasn't been all that great a thing in the 21st century. Though Andy Pettitte earned his 14th win to help the New York Yankees reach that plateau on Sunday, making them the second team to do so since 2005 (Los Angeles Angels won 100 in 2008), none of the 11 teams to win 100-plus games since 2000 has won the World Series. The Yankees were the last team to do it, when they won 114 regular-season games en route to a championship in 1998.
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Peter Gammons: One thing about the NL playoffs is that the Cardinals, Phillies and Rockies all have some sort of bullpen issue. What will be interesting is to see what Charlie Manuel does and whether or not he puts J.A. Happ in the closer role, much like Tony LaRussa put Adam Wainwright as the Cards closer role in 2006 and they won the World Series. Manuel is hinting that he may give Happ a shot at the role. And the fact that he has the lowest oppenent's average with runners in scoring position of any pitcher in baseball is an indicator that perhaps he would work. If he does, with the Phillies starting pitching and lineup, they have a very good shot at repeating.
-- Full chat transcript
Jayson Stark: Check the numbers. Milton has a higher career OBP than Johnny Damon or Grady Sizemore. He has a higher career OPS than Michael Young or Ichiro. He can hit. If the price is right and the market is right, they'll find someone to take him.
-- Full chat transcript
Monday's baseball chat schedule:
Buster Olney, 11 a.m. ET
• Now officially clinched as the American League East champion and the league's top seed in the playoffs, the New York Yankees will trot Chad Gaudin to the mound to take on the Kansas City Royals. Though the Yankees will almost assuredly trot out a skeleton-crew type lineup, don't underestimate Gaudin in this outing. He's fighting for a postseason roster spot and might yet be a dark-horse candidate for the No. 4 spot in the Championship Series rotation if he pitches well in his final two turns. Considering he'll be facing a light-hitting offense, Gaudin might not be a bad streaming option, especially for those in AL-only formats.
• The Atlanta Braves attempt to extend their six-game winning streak, and hot streak of 14 wins in their past 16 games, by throwing Jair Jurrjens versus the Florida Marlins. Jurrjens is already 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in two starts against the Marlins this season, and he's 4-2 with a 1.91 ERA and 1.13 WHIP during a streak of eight consecutive quality starts.
• For more on Monday's games, check Daily Notes.