Some excuses, some more excuses, and 8 pieces of Braves Deadline analysis

If any of you have checked me out on Twitter (@NoahSports1 by the way) since I started earlier this month, than you know why I haven’t posted anything in two weeks.

If you read my blog and not my Twitter, than you THINK you know why I haven’t posted anything in two weeks.

I’ve been blogging for a year and a half and I’m no better at delivering promises now than I was after my first article.  So it’s understandable if you figured that “something came up” or I “forgot” or whatever my excuses usually are.

But something did come up, folks!  My computer BROKE!

Believe me.  It really did break.  Here’s what happened.

The weekend of the Open, a tree fell at the end of my street, causing a power outage.  As I huddled with a flickering flashlight on my bed, certainly not scared one bit about the complete and utter darkness that befell my typically bright and happy room, the only thing bringing me joy was the thought that tomorrow I could write about sports.

I’m just joking, it wasn’t that bad.  Well, at least not yet.

The next morning I woke up and my light was turned on.  I scurried outside my room, leaped into my chair, and pressed a button on the keyboard.

Nothing happened.

It turned out that my computer was broken forever.  I had to go two weeks without one.  Finally, this week, a replacement came!

And now, it is all set up!  That means this should never (knock on wood) happen again.  So yes, that is what happened.  Now I have a new desktop.  It’s really cool, too.

Okay, enough of that.  If you’re not too disappointed that my gripping tale of courageousness and perseverance is over and you’re still reading, than let’s talk about sports already.  It’s been too long.

Here we have 8 Braves notes/views on our current extremely confusing situation as the deadline approaches ever faster.  I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t bring you guys a complete Trade Deadline preview because of my computer problems, and this is probably all I can manage, preview-wise.  I don’t know, I might have something out before the August 1st deadline.

In the meantime, check my Twitter over the next couple of days because I will be tweeting out deadline news, rumors and reports until 4 PM on Monday*!

(*=which, as you probably already knew or figured out, is the deadline).

8 PIECES OF BRAVES TRADE DEADLINE NOTES AND ANALYSIS

1: The Harrell trade

The Braves made their first official deadline move yesterday, flipping pitchers Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez to the Texas Rangers for INF prospect Travis Demeritte.

This may not sound like much to you.  If you’re a casual Braves fan, you might not even know of Harrell or Alvarez.  But that’s the point.  Demeritte is a stud, and all it took to get him was two unseasoned veterans that were in the minors two months ago.

John Coppolella has worked the sign-and-flip to perfection here.  Demeritte, the 30th overall draft pick in 2013 and the Rangers 20th-ranked prospect, instantly becomes the Braves’ second-best power prospect behind 3B Austin Riley.  (Demeritte has hit 25 homers so far this season in High A ball.)

Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez are likable guys that did fine jobs with in their short time with the Braves in 2016.  But if we lose 110 games it won’t be because of the departures of these two players.  Like I said, that’s the point: We got a quality prospect for some guys that nobody wanted.

A+ trade by Coppy.

2: Updated situations for the guys from last month’s article

My last Braves article (in June) discussed the trade situations and rumors for three pitchers: Bud Norris, Julio Teheran, and Arodys Vizcaino.

We all know what happened to Norris.  That’s old news.  Norris has been wearing a Dodgers uniform for a month.  But the futures of Teheran and Vizcaino continued to remain up for grabs… That is, until Coppy told us a few days ago that Teheran was not going to be traded and Vizcaino started to struggle and landed on the DL.

Vizcaino could still and very well might be traded – the injury is not serious at all and I believe that talks are not dead yet surrounding the fireballer – but most likely, Norris will be the only pitcher from that article that will be dealt.

Now, on to the good stuff: The rumors!

3: Addressing the Lucroy rumors

The Braves have asked about Lucroy (per Ken Rosenthal) meaning that Atlanta could be the “mystery team” that everyone got worked up about the past two days.  A deal is, however, very unlikely.

The Braves do not appear to have much interest in Lucroy.  Steve Adams of mlbtraderumors.com points out that the Braves would have to extend his contract if they wanted to make a deal, which understandably would make the potential acquisition less appealing.

Atlanta also should think twice before trading for the backstop for another reason: When will they actually need a star catcher?  Next season as an answer sounds a little far fetched, and that is how much Lucroy has left on his current contract if his club option is exercised for 2017.

4: Addressing the Chris Sale rumors

Yes, the Braves actually are expressing interest in the White Sox ace, who is arguably the biggest name on the market right now.

Sale has been on the Braves watch list for years now.  But don’t get too excited.  The White Sox want five top prospects for Sale.  Are we sure that the Braves really want to trade five top prospects for anything?  Certainly not right now, right?  (See note 8).

Atlanta has worked very hard the past two years to stock up on big-name and big-talent prospects, and a huge chunk of their prized haul would have to leave town if they want Sale.  It would not be wise in my opinion to make this move.

But if there is interest, then there’s a chance (as slim as it may be) the Braves bite the bullet seriously go after him.  The Braves certainly do have a lot of what the White Sox want…

5: The three Braves names to know for the deadline

Nick Markakis, Jim Johnson, and Erick Aybar.  Those are the three Braves names you need to know as August 1st draws closer and closer.

Let’s start with Markakis, the highest-profile free agent signing the Braves have made since they started the rebuilding process.  Markakis has been mentioned as a potential trade piece for a while now, but direct interest in the right fielder for the most part has been sparse.

The Royals have reportedly shown some interest, but a Markakis trade would mean that Kansas City is looking to contend, and that just might not be the way to go for the defending champs: They are below .500 and in 4th place (9 games back) in the AL Central.

Their recent struggles have prompted the club to put closer Wade Davis on the market, and if that doesn’t suggest the Royals have all but thrown in the towel on 2016, then I don’t know what will.

Next, we’ll look at Aybar, who has been a major clunker at the plate this season.  The Braves have made it clear that they are aggressively shopping the shortstop, but Coppolella is apparently putting a big asking price on Aybar.  Aybar, a free agent after this season, will almost certainly be deemed unworthy of one.  If they Braves want to move Aybar, and it’s quite apparent they do, they might have to settle for unloading him Kelly Johnson-style with little in return.

And now, Jim Johnson.  Our new closer’s stuff has been sharp and he had been putting up solid numbers since he returned from the DL last month.  Numerous reports have said that Johnson has been receiving strong interest, which is not surprising: He’s cheap, has a high ground-ball rate and is a better pitcher than his poor 2016 numbers suggest.

To my knowledge, a full or nearly complete list of teams with interest in Johnson his unavailable.  The only team we know of is the Mets, who, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, have called asking about the reliever.  Whoever it is, they’ll probably need to overlook his disastrous performance after being traded last year.

6. The other guys being talked about

The Braves, as the Dario Alvarez trade and Ken Rosenthal report suggest, are shopping their lefty relievers.  Expect at least one of Krol-Cervanka-O’Flaherty to be moved by Monday afternoon if Johnson isn’t dealt.

Veteran outfielder Jeff Francouer is also being shopped, perhaps as aggressively as Aybar.  Francouer has more appeal than Aybar for sure (above-average bat against lefties, great clubhouse guy, solid in outfield).

Ender Inciarte is another name that has been popping up as a possible trade chip ever since arriving from the Diamondbacks this winter.  The Braves will reportedly listen on Ender Inciarte but, barring a crazy offer, will not pull the plug.

There’s been some talk about Gordon Beckham as well.  Beckham has mostly identical trade value to Erick Aybar: Backup infielder with little value at the plate but enough to offer that he would have at least some type of role with any contending team he would land on.

7. Making sense of the Braves deadline strategy

The Braves are expected to be among the most active teams this weekend.  But the Braves’ exact plan for this week is a little bit more blurry than it once was.

The fact that Lucroy and Sale made it into this article is a little odd, and suggests that the Braves are actually considering being…. buyers?

Nope, I’m not kidding.  It’s probably not going to happen, but if management is interested in Chris Sale – a guy, as I have mentioned, the Braves would have to give up 5 top prospects for! – than it is definitely exploring the idea of buying at least some and maybe a lot.

Don’t expect this, obviously.  It would be going against every move the Braves have made in the past two years.  But every Braves fan knows that eventually, when they get good enough, they will flip the script and start to buy.

The Braves are, as their 35-67 record suggests, not quite there yet.  But John Coppolella looks like he knows exactly what he’s doing (I guess…) so don’t rule anything out.

Sorry for the misleading title of this note.  When the worst team in baseball explores buying, there is just no sense to be made whatsoever.

8. Predictions

Let’s put this to rest quick: I highly, highly doubt the Braves will do any buying.  Sale and Lucroy are more pipe dreams than reality, at least until we understand the front office’s true stance on these players or what exactly they want to do this weekend.

I don’t think Atlanta will get enough in return to prompt a trade of any cornerstones.  I think we’ll see Johnson, one of Aybar and Beckham, and one lefty reliever (let’s say O’Flaherty) leave town, but no one that you could make a case for building around like Teheran or Vizcaino.

Either way, it should be interesting, because if there’s one thing you should take from the past year and a half, it’s that you never really know what the heck Coppy has up his sleeve.


Thanks for reading!  Be sure to stay tuned on Noahsports for more deadline updates and to subscribe and follow @NoahSports1 on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2-day recap at the Open Championship

Two days have passed in Open Championship play and boy has it been exhausting for both yours truly and everyone that has teed it up at Troon this week.

I haven’t even slept a wink!  Getting up at 1:30 in the morning has really been tough.  It’s been worth it, however, because the action has been awesome.

I’m just kidding, by the way.  I’ve been getting up much, much later than that.  And that’s unfortunate, the Open is halfway through for the day by the time I wake up.

But I’ve seen so many great things and haven’t missed a thing I need to see because of the Golf Channel’s fantastic coverage of this event.  Not a sponsor, by the way.

Boy, I’ve always wanted to say that.  However, no sponsors yet for Noahsports, peoples.

Alrighty that intro was long enough.  Anyway, what I have here is a recap of the first two days at the Open in case you missed it:

SO, WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AT TROON?

If I had to choose only one thing to talk to you about from this week’s Open it would be about Phil Mickelson.  He is the leader at -10 under 132 (Open record after 36 holes).  Even if you don’t follow golf you probably heard about Phil Mickelson’s near-major-championship-record 62 yesterday.  If you didn’t, then what happened was this:

http://www.cbssports.com/golf/news/watch-golf-gods-cruel-to-phil-mickelson-as-major-championship-record-putt-lips-out/

Warning, the above should only be viewed by those who either do not care about or don’t understand the cruelty of golf.

Mickelson carded 8 birdies and no bogeys in that seemingly flawless 1st round.  He then backed it up with a very solid 69 this morning to stay on top.

Henrik Stenson will join him in the final pairing tomorrow.  Stenson shot the low round on the course today (65).  The pairing of him and Mickelson has a combined age of 86.

Mickelson and Stenson both got extremely lucky draws today, avoiding the havoc-wreaking conditions of the later afternoon at Royal Troon.  (Winds were up to 35 miles per hour this afternoon.)  A few others did not, including Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, and Danny Willett, who all shot 75.  All three made the cut, which was 146, or 4 over par.

That’s 14 shots back of Mickelson, who is attempting to win his first tournament since the 2013 Open.

One of the stories coming into this week was the recent trend of first-time major winners.  The top pick among those potential first-timers heading into this was Sergio Garcia, who is tied for 6th at -4.  Less people threw around Stenson’s name as a popular pick, and much less even considered Soren Kjeldsen, the 41-year-old Denmark native.  Kjeldsen will be in the second-to-last pairing tomorrow with Keegan Bradley, who admit you’d either almost forgotten about or given up on.

If the trend of first-time major winners continue it might not be the only one to do so this week.  As I mentioned in Wednesday’s article, four of the past five Open winners have been 37 or older, and currently everybody in the Top 5 is over the age of 30.

Stenson, who is 40 years old, talked to the media today about time running out for him to win a major, quoting that “(he is) not going to play in majors forever and ever”.  This could be the best opportunity for the Swede yet, and he will obviously be one of the names to watch heading into the weekend.

Defending champ Zach Johnson is also in contention, currently in 5th place.  He hasn’t exactly kept up his pace that he set early in Round 1 but has been steady enough to give himself a chance at back-to-back Opens.  A few other notable names hovering around the top of the leaderboard: Matt Kuchar, Bill Haas, Martin Kaymer, and…

Andrew “Beef” Johnston of England.  He is -4, 6 back of Phil, and has shot back-to-back 69s.  He is one of the more famous European players in the field today.  Basically “Beef” is the “Kuch” (Matt Kuchar) of England.  Johnston said he loves his brand-new celebrity status, even if it includes everybody shouting “beef” when you walk past.

A couple names not mentioned among the top or the bottom of the leaderboard are Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy (2014 Open winner).  Johnson and McIlroy are 8 shots back but only T-15 on the leaderboard, but Day has not been rewarded with anything close to the luck of the draw and is 1 over par.

Some others that made the cut: Rickie Fowler (-1), former champ Darren Clarke (+2) Lee Westwood (+2), and the aforementioned  trio of Spieth, Willett, and Watson.

Now for those that did not make the cut.  You wouldn’t know it by watching Mickelson and Stenson the past two days, but scoring has been pretty darn tough at Royal Troon this week.  25 different golfers missed the cut with a score of +10 or higher.

No true household names will miss the weekend, though.  Ernie Els and last year’s party-crashing amateur Paul Dunne were perhaps the two most notable to have an early exit.

UPDATED PREDICTIONS

I picked Zach Johnson to win Wednesday and I’m sticking to it.  However, the Open can throw anything at anybody, and it’s a much closer golf tournament than it might appear to the naked eye.

For those of you that are Phil Mickelson fans, I think he has a great chance to hoist the Claret Jug again Sunday.  But I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: You will never know who will make a charge or who will need five shots to escape a bunker.  That’s why the Open is the best tournament in golf.

The fact that so many elite golfers are still around for the weekend could mean that this is shaping up to be the most action-packed major yet.  Like I said I still have Zach Johnson winning because he was my pick before the tournament but more realistically I would say Stenson is the winner.  He’s got the game to win here and wants to get that first major bad.  Don’t forget about Soren Kjeldsen, either.  You might not know his name but that guy can play himself around of golf.  So I’m going with either those two or Zach.


Hope everyone enjoyed this little update post!  Be sure to SUBSCRIBE and check back often it really helps me out!  Also, if you want more Open coverage, follow the live scoreboard on my blog AND my Twitter, @NoahSports1.

I’ll be back tomorrow with an MLB post and maybe one more thing about the Open so stay tuned and subscribe!

 

145th Open Championship at Royal Troon preview and predictions

Welcome to Noahsports’ 2016 Open Championship Preview!

You may not consider the Open Championship as big of a deal as the Masters or even the US Open, but the amount of history made and associated with this title truly separates it from any other event in golf.  There is just something about the sight of pot bunkers and long, flowing grass that gets a true golf fan excited.  If St. Andrews (which hosted the Open in 2015) is the home of golf, than the Open is the home of golf championships.

So, before you go to bed in preparations for getting up at 1:30 tomorrow morning so you don’t miss a second of the action (don’t do that, by the way), let’s get into my preview for the 145th edition of the Open!  Get your bagpipes ready, folks, and let’s head to Scotland!

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION

  • When: Thursday-Sunday
  • Where: Royal Troon Golf Club, Scotland
  • Watch: Thursday, Friday: 1:30 AM-4 PM on Golf Channel; Saturday: 4 AM-7 AM on Golf Channel, 7 AM-2:30 PM on NBC; Sunday: 4 AM-7 AM on Golf Channel, 7 AM-2 PM on NBC
  • Defending Champion: Zach Johnson, -15 (St. Andrews)

COURSE INFORMATION

  • What: Royal Troon Golf Club
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7190
  • Last Open: 2004 (Todd Hamilton, -10)
  • Opens hosted: 8
  • Course record: 64 (Arnold Palmer)
  • Signature hole: Par-3 8th: Nicknamed the “Postage Stamp”, this 123-yard hole is as dangerous as they come.  The long but incredibly narrow green is surrounded by five bunkers, including two that guard each side of the putting surface.  The impossible wind effects add to the treachery of this little hole.  Par is a very good score here.

NOTABLE TEE TIMES

(All times AM and ET)

  • 4:03 Thurs-9:04 Fri: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry – Lowry’s Sunday US Open struggles left him scratching his head (he led the US Open by 4 strokes after 54 holes only to shoot a 77 the next day) but he the Irishman could very well contend again this week.  Spieth also heads into the Open off some heartbreak, as he missed the playoff by one stroke in last year’s championship, ensuring that his quest for a Grand Slam would fall short.
  • 4:25 Thurs-9:26 Fri: Danny Willet, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day – Day seems to have won everything but a major this year, while Fowler has missed the cut in both the Masters and the US Open.  Fowler hasn’t been perfect in this Championship but does have two Top-5s here (2012 and 2014), so perhaps a turnaround could be on the horizon for Rickie.
  • 4:36 Thurs-9:37 Fri: Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson – All three of these stars struggled at Oakmont last month, but they always seem to be in the thick of things when a major rolls around.  Rory McIlroy will be attempting to win back-to-back Open titles this week, as he skipped 2015 due to injury a year after winning his first Championship.
  • 8:26 Thurs-3:25 Fri: Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els – Mickelson has not won since his remarkable final round at Muirfield earned him his first Open Championship all the way back in 2013….  Westwood has been a contender in both majors this season.  He has 4 top-5s in this championship, with his last coming in 2013, and is on everyone’s list of guys who have a realistic shot at winning this thing.
  • 9:04 Thurs-4:03 Fri: Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Russell Knox – Dustin Johnson will win this week if he plays at the top of his game and Mother Nature doesn’t take over (and, don’t get me wrong, there is a very good chance it will).  That’s just a fact.
  • 9:15 Thurs-4:14 Fri: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson – This could end up being the group that has every player high on the leaderboards after the Friday cut is made.  Johnson, the defending champion, has the putter to give himself a chance anywhere, and veterans Scott and Stenson both have the game to win this thing (especially Scott, who has finished in the Top 10 in each of the last four Opens).

TOP STORYLINES

The Olympics

Yes, I know that the Olympic situation doesn’t have an impact on the Open Championship, but the star-studded list of those skipping Rio 2016 is still golf’s biggest story coming into this week.

Jordan Spieth joined Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day (among others) this past week in announcing that he will not participate in golf’s first Olympics in 112 years.  Concerns from the players that have pulled out are reportedly not only stemming from the Zika virus but the clearly unprepared host city.

It certainly is an awkward situation for the sport right now, as the PGA Tour went to leaps and bounds (two majors in three weeks) to create space for the Olympics, which only 18 of the world’s Top 60 are slated to play.

Dustin Johnson’s hot streak

Nobody is hotter than DJ.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at his last two starts:

  • WGC-Bridgestone: Won
  • US Open: Won

He’s at the top of his game right now, and when Dustin Johnson is at the top of his game, he tends to be very hard to beat.

Johnson is considered the favorite this week by most, but will he be able to continue his winning streak at the Open Championship, where Mother Nature is usually the true champion and a 3 can turn into a 9 with one tee shot in a greenside bunker?

STAT OF THE WEEK

Of the past five Open Championship winners, four have been 37 or older: Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, and Zach Johnson.

SELECTIONS

The Winner:

Zach Johnson.  Maybe you think the Open is too unpredictable to have a repeat winner, but Johnson is consistent as they come and has seen everything the Open can throw at him.  He might not have the all-around game of Dustin Johnson or Jason Day, but he’s as good as anybody at slugging out a win and has plenty of motivation to regain possession of that Claret Jug.

The Others:

Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Branden Grace, Lee Westwood.  To me, Sergio Garcia is the most likely to host the Jug out of this group, quite simply because he’s due:  He has 9 top 10s in this event but no wins.  He’s also playing great golf right now.

The Sleeper:

Andy Sullivan.  Sullivan will be that guy from the European Tour that you don’t know much about but gets hot and finds a way into the final pairings of Sunday.  He’s no newbie to winning, either, as he emerged victorious 3 times in 2015, so don’t count him out.

The Other Sleepers:

Kevin Chappell, Marc Leishman, some grizzled veteran or amateur.  If I were to bring up Chappell’s name in a major, it would make loads more sense for the PGA Championship, but I think he could be ready to make some noise in an unexpected environment.  He’s not going to win a major until he sheds his best-player-to-have-never-won-a-PGA Tour event label and gains some more experience (this is his first Open) but I think he could be this week’s Andrew Landry.  He could also finish 18 over, but that’s the beauty of golf….  Leishman is a more likely sleeper candidate, as he has finished in the Top 5 twice here.  And you know that a Paul Dunne or a Mark Calcavecchia will make things interesting come the weekend.

Bold Prediction:

The Big 4 will not win.  Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are more likely than not going to contend this week, but there are too many other guys that can win the Open this year and the course is just too dangerous to be sure about anything.  We’ll either see a first-time major winner or a veteran (or both!) become the 2016 Champion of Golf.


Thanks for reading!  Be sure to subscribe, follow @NoahSports1 on Twitter and stay tuned on Noahsports for more golf updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which pitchers will start the All-Star game?

Hey guys!  As you probably know if you’ve been reading my MLB stuff the past few weeks, the All-Star game is right around the corner (Tuesday night).  The rosters are set, the starting position players have been named, everyone is over whining about the snubs.  Now all there is to blog about is the starting pitcher.

Even if he only lasts one or two innings, which pitcher starts the All-Star game is traditionally a pretty big deal.  So, just like last year, let’s break it down using xpNHR, the ratings system I invented a few years back.  This time, however, we’ll compare my statistic’s choice vs. my personal choice and cap it off with who will probably start.

If you want to remember how it works (it has been a year, after all) read this and then come back.  I’m adding WAR this year, so xpNHR will be a little more in depth.  Basically what I’ll be doing is take a player’s WAR (say it’s 3.5) double it (7.0) and get rid of the decimal (70 points).

Also note that all stats are as of 6 PM Saturday.

Sorry for the dragging intro.  Let’s get underway!

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

As usual, the AL doesn’t have as strong of a candidate list as the NL does.  This, as you know, is subject to the higher offensive numbers in the AL.  Still, the less clear who starts, the better, right?  It means we need xpNHR to come to the rescue!

So let’s have a look at the starting pitchers on the AL roster (note: Corey Kluber, Aaron Sanchez were injury replacements):

  • Cole Hamels, Rangers
  • Corey Kluber, Indians*
  • Danny Salazar, Indians
  • Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays*
  • Chris Sale, White Sox
  • Steven Wright, Red Sox

The true contenders to start the game are limited to everyone else but Kluber and Sanchez, who were, as I mention above, injury replacements.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an injury replacement in the starting lineup, as that would be unfair and those players don’t typically have the numbers of those who did start.

So.  Which pitcher has the highest xpNHR score?  Let’s find out:

  • Cole Hamels: 271
  • Danny Salazar: 373
  • Steven Wright: 315
  • Chris Sale: 382

xpNHR’s choice: Chris Sale

My choice: Chris Sale

Some people made the case that Danny Salazar should start because Chris Sale threw the biggest clunker of his life Friday night in his last start before the break.  Well, as of writing time, Salazar has given up 6 ERs in 5.2 innings in his start today.

Plus, why do people make such a big deal out of a potential All-Star starter’s last start?  In my book, it should be about the entire season up to that point, and Sale has had the better season.  The fact that he’s won almost every single start with the White Sox should throw all of his more questionable stats away.

Who Ned Yost will probably pick: Danny Salazar

This game has pretty big stakes for an All-Star game (league that wins will host Game 7 in World Series if necessary) and manager Ned Yost plans to play to win.  In that case, he will most likely go with Salazar, who has sharper stuff right now whichever way you look at it.  Salazar is also a right-hander, and almost the entire NL starting lineup is right-handed.

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

The NL is absolutely stacked with starters this year.  Three of the favorites to start will miss the game (Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, and Noah Syndergaard) but this is still a tough decision for Terry Collins.  It was hard to imagine anyone else but Kershaw taking the mound Tuesday, so it’s a shame he landed on the disabled list.

Here’s all the starting pitchers on the NL roster (Max Scherzer, Drew Pomeranz and Bartolo Colon were replacements):

  • Jake Arrieta, Cubs
  • Drew Pomeranz, Padres*
  • Bartolo Colon, Mets*
  • Max Scherzer, Nationals*
  • Johnny Cueto, Giants
  • Jose Fernandez, Marlins
  • Jon Lester, Cubs
  • Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
  • Julio Teheran, Braves

We already know that the injury replacements won’t start, and I highly doubt that either Julio Teheran or Jon Lester have even a sliver of a chance to get the call, so it’s down to Arrieta, Cueto, Fernandez, and Strasburg.

The xpNHR scores:

  • Jake Arrieta: 379
  • Stephen Strasburg: 451
  • Jose Fernandez: 419
  • Johnny Cueto: 464

xpNHR’s choice: Johnny Cueto

My choice: Stephen Strasburg

I think my statistic is accurate in that Johnny Cueto has had a slightly better overall year than Strasburg.  But I would go with Strasburg here.  His strikeout rate and WAR are higher than Cueto’s and he’s the better storyline: He went to high school and college (San Diego State) in San Diego.  Oh, and one other tiny thing: Strasburg is the first pitcher to start 12-0 in the past 30 years (teammate and fellow All-Star Max Scherzer).

It’s really not that big of a deal who starts – everyone else who received xpNHR scores will almost certainly pitch Tuesday – so I’d go with Strasburg, who makes the most sense here.

Who Terry Collins will probably pick: Stephen Strasburg

If Syndergaard had been healthy, I would have probably put him here. He is Collins’ ace, after all.  But he’s out, so I imagine that Collins will choose the pitcher he knows all too much about: Division foe Stephen Strasburg.

Don’t rule out Cueto, who’s been as solid as anyone this season, or fellow division foe Fernandez (and Jake Arrieta still has a realistic shot at this, so basically it’s anyone’s game), but better chance than not Strasburg and his untouched record are named the All-Star game starter.


Well, I hope everyone enjoyed this post!  I was probably just proving that my stat is inaccurate, but I don’t think that’s true.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, be sure to subscribe and follow @NoahSports1 on Twitter for news, updates and exclusive stats and I will see you guys next time!

 

 

 

 

MLB Weekly Notebook: First half comes to a close

Allo, allo, allo!  It’s Notebook Thursday, peoples.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s Friday.  I’m still tweaking the system for writing this post, so I couldn’t get it out yesterday.

(Be sure to subscribe and check back soon, as I should have my annual “which pitcher starts the All-Star game?” post out.)

Alright, let’s get in to it!

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL East

  • The Orioles made history last month, as their 56 home runs were the most ever in June.
  • The Red Sox sent 6 players to the All-Star game this year: OFs Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., SS Xander Bogaerts, DH David Ortiz (all starters), SP Steven Wright, and RP Craig Kimbrel.  This is the first time the Red Sox have had 6 All-Stars since 2008.
  • Next week’s Home Run Derby bracket was announced, featuring Orioles All-Star Mark Trumbo as the no. 1 seed.  Trumbo leads MLB with 26 home runs.
  • Aaron Hill is on the move again.  The veteran infielder was dealt from Milwaukee to Boston yesterday, only 7 months after being traded from the Diamondbacks.
  • The AL East is currently the closest race in baseball, with the O’s, Red Sox, and Blue Jays all within three games of each other.
  • High Heat Stats pointed out this week that Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has a 6.75 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP in non-save situations this year.
  • The Orioles’ 14-inning win over the Dodgers Wednesday featured a Dodger Stadium-record 36 strikeouts.  It was only the third time ever that both teams in a game struck out 18+ times.
  • 2016 marks the 15th straight season (and last) that David Ortiz has hit 20+ home runs.
  • Yankees reliever Andrew Miller is one of the more popular names being thrown around in rumors, but he reportedly was told this past week by management that he will not be traded.  Miller’s 2016 stats: 1.43 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 16 K/9.
  • Blue Jays starter JA Happ has received an average of 12 runs of support in his last five starts.
  • Blue Jays OF Michael Saunders was named the AL Final Vote winner.  It’s his first All-Star game appearance.
  • According to High Heat Stats, Orioles slugger Chris Davis leads baseball in first-pitch homers with 9.

AL Central

  • The White Sox are far from perfect, but Chris Sale has been everything but in his career.  2016 marks both the 5th straight year that the ace was named an All-Star and the 5th straight year that Sale has won 11+ games.  (Sale leads the majors with 14 wins in 17 starts).
  • Fungo golf?  I’ve never heard of it, but apparently it’s a thing and White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer is very very good at it.
  • The Indians finally lost to the Tigers.  They were 11-0 vs the club before they were blown out 12-2 at home Wednesday.
  • The Indians 2-1 win over the Blue Jays on July 1 was the longest game in 2016 in both innings (19) and time (6 hours 13 hours).  The Blue Jays’ losing pitcher was infielder Darwin Barney.
  • Corey Kluber is at last an All-Star.  The Indians ace didn’t make it the game 2014 when he led the AL and wins and won the league’s Cy Young Award, so it must have felt good to be named an injury replacement for Marco Estrada.
  • In June, OF Rajai Davis became the first Cleveland player in 18 years to steal 10+ bases in a month without getting caught.
  • Detroit Tigers rookie RHP Michael Fulmer improved to 9-2 this week, joining Mark Fydrich (1976) and Justin Verlander (2006) as the only Tigers to win 9 games before the All-Star break.  Both won Rookie of the Year honors those years.
  • Royals C Salvador Perez is having a good week.  On Tuesday, he was announced as the leading vote-getter among all players in All-Star game voting, and last night, he hit a walk-off double to lead the Royals past the Mariners.  “I’m just doing my job,” Perez said to MLB.com after the game.  What a Salvy-like thing to say.

AL East

  • The Houston Astros season has been a tale of two…. quarters.  Before May 24, they were 17-28.  Since that day, they are 29-12.
  • Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve’s June player of the month honors were the first of its kind for the Astros since 2008.  Altuve hit an extremely impressive .420 for the month.
  • The Angels win over the Red Sox on Saturday was easily the most impressive and milestone-filled victory by any team in 2016.  LA recorded 21 runs, 22 hits and an 11-run 7th inning, while 1B CJ Cron became only the 5th player ever to have a stat line of 6 hits, 5 runs and 5 RBI.  According to MLB.com, the Angels averaged a run per every 8.05 pitches thrown by the Red Sox.
  • MLB’s best mascot debate (if there is one) is decided in my book.  It’ll probably be decided in yours, too, after you lay eyes on the oddly mesmerizing Houston Astros’ mascot, Orbit.  Search “orbit” at MLB.com or the app to find an absolute gold mine of the alien’s hilarious pre-game antics.
  • You may be wondering why little-known A’s reliever Ryan Dull is appearing in almost every All-Star snub article (including mine).  All you really need to know is that Monday, Dull set the MLB record by stranding his first 36 inherited runners of the season, which is an extremely impressive feat.
  • Rich Hill is back!  The 36-year-old continued his breakout season this past week with his first two starts in over a month, striking out a combined 16 batters (10 last night) while allowing fewer than 4 hits in 6 frames each start.  Hill is arguably the biggest trade chip on a team full of them, something that absolutely nobody would have predicted coming into the season.
  • Mariners 2B Robinson Cano, who has hit 20 homers this season, is back in the Home Run Derby for the first time since 2011 and the fourth time overall.  (Cano will also play in the All-Star game.)  Hopefully for the former Yankee, this Derby will go a little bit better than the last one, when Cano failed to hit a single blast.
  • The Rangers’ starting pitching has been terrible so far this month.  It has been six games since a Rangers starter lasted at least five innings, a new franchise record.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

NL East

  • Braves’ RF Nick Markakis had hit only 5 home runs in his Braves career coming into last night, when he hit two to help propel the Braves to a 4-3 win over the Cubs in 11 innings.
  • Mets’ 3B Wilmer Flores is hot.  Really hot.  In his past 5 games, including his 6-hit game on Sunday, he has gone 10-for-19 with 5 homers and 10 RBI.  The Mets themselves are pretty hot too, having won 7 of their past 8 games.
  • The Nationals’ Oliver Perez had a 2-hit game last night, becoming the first relief pitcher to do that since Esmil Rogers in July 2011.
  • This may sound fake, but the NL 2B All-Star race between the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist and the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy was decided by…. 88 votes.  No, that is not a typo.  A race featuring millions of votes was actually decided by that much.  I imagine that some Nationals fans out there are wishing they had voted right now.
  • Sunday’s largely anticipated Fort Bragg game between the Braves and the Marlins (the first game of any sport played on an active military base) was a rousing success.  The atmosphere was great, the game was entertaining, and the players all clearly enjoyed talking to veterans and testing equipment out.  Now if only the world’s only professional ballhawk, Zack Hample, didn’t cause a major controversy by sneaking into the game, which was intended to be only for military personnel.  And if only that guy in the orange Marlins outfit at every major sporting event hadn’t gotten into it with Hample this past week.  No, I am not making this up.  Get the popcorn machine started, folks, and check this out.
  • The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton accomplished some pretty cool stuff yesterday in his team’s loss.  He became the first Marlins player ever to hit 200 home runs in his career, and the first player in 10 years to hit a home run in 4 consecutive at bats (dating back to Wednesday’s game).
  • Matt Harvey’s nightmarish 2016 is done.  The Mets starter will reportedly have season-ending surgery to resolve his thoracic outlet syndrome.  Harvey had been everything but sharp this year, finishing 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.
  • After Giants ace Madison Bumgarner decided to get a little bit of rest and not pitch in the All-Star game, Mets starter Bartolo Colon was named his replacement.  Colon, at 43 years old, is the second-oldest player (Satchel Paige, 47 years old) to ever make the event.
  • The Mets and Nationals combined for 8 home runs in last night’s contest, including 5 homers in the 4th inning.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that hadn’t happened in a game involving the Mets in 55 years.
  • 21-year-old Lucas Giolito and 43-year-old Bartolo Colon were the starters of last night’s Mets-Nationals game, the biggest age difference between two starters since 2008.

NL Central

  • How concerned should the Cubs be?  They have dropped 6 of their past 7 and 13 of their past 18 games while allowing their opponent to score 5+ runs 8 times in that span.  Their starting pitching is the most to blame for the Cubs’ struggles, as it has not been even remotely sharp in the past week or so.
  • Struggling or not, the Cubs still sent an MLB-leading seven players to next week’s All-Star game, including five starters and their entire infield.
  • In Monday’s game vs. the Nationals, the Brewers became the first team in nearly three years to have a player called out for batting out of order.  Manager Craig Counsell took responsibility for the gaffe, saying that he posted the wrong lineup card in the clubhouse.
  • The Pirates promoted no. 3 prospect 1B Josh Bell today, becoming the second heralded Pirates prospect to get the call this week (Tyler Glasnow).
  • Speaking of Glasnow, his debut Thursday was quite solid: 5.1 innings of 3-hit ball and 5 strikeouts.  It did not result in the Pirates’ 8th straight win, however.
  • Cardinals 2B Matt Carpenter became the second player to drop out of the All-Star game due to injury yesterday.  Teammate Aledmys Diaz will replace him.
  • Cardinals backup catcher Brayan Pena tweeted out this week that he was joining the US Army Reserve, but his current contract will prevent him from doing that.  Pena will instead take part in a 2-week training camp with the Army this winter.
  • 2016 just keeps getting better and better for Reds OF Adam Duvall.  The 27-year-old playing in his first full season will take part in the All-Star game and the Home Run Derby this week in San Diego.

NL West

  • Rockies rookie SS Trevor Story tied the record for more homers (21) by a rookie before the All-Star break.
  • Speaking of NL West rookie shortstops, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager is currently on a 19 game hitting streak.
  • Three 6-hit games in a week?  It happened.  Wednesday, the Dodgers veteran 2B, Chase Utley, joined Wilmer Flores and CJ Cron with 6 hits in the 14-inning loss to the Orioles (see AL East).
  • Wil Myers will be the only Padres player representing the club in this year’s All-Star game and Home Run Derby, which San Diego will host.  The first baseman is enjoying a breakout year in 2016, in which he is hitting .291 with 19 home runs.
  • The Giants have overtaken the Cubs and Rangers for the best record in baseball at 54-33.
  • Giants’ 1B Brandon Belt was named the NL Final Vote winner.  Like Toronto’s Michael Saunders, it is his first All-Star game appearance.

Thanks for reading!  Hope you enjoyed it.  Be sure to subscribe and follow Noahsports’ first ever Twitter account, @NoahSports1.