Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sit or Start: Jonathan Sanchez vs Los Angeles Dodgers 4/13/2011

In the 3rd start of the young 2011 season (4/13/2011, 10:15 ET), Jonathan Sanchez draws the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2nd time, looking to avenge the loss he took at Dodger Stadium on his own turf, at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Jonathan Sanchez vs Dodgers
Historically, Sanchez owns a very flawed set of numbers against the Dodgers, but he went 2-0 in his last 2 starts against the hated rivals in 2010 allowing just 7 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run on a solo home run, while striking out a total of 21 batters in 14 innings. Including the first start of the 2011 season, Sanchez owns a 2-1 record with 14 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 HR, and 29 K in 19 2/3 IP.

Jonathan Sanchez vs Dodgers Batters
3 of the 8 Dodgers regulars have a better than .300 AVG in at least 10 AB against Sanchez (Jamey Carroll, Rod Barajas, and Matt Kemp) while the rest of the bats are batting no better than .167 with significant number of ABs.

Trends and Injuries
The Giants have lost 4 out of 6 games against Dodgers in the 2011 season, dropping 3 out of 4 in the first series and splitting the first 2 games of the current 3-game series.

Despite giving up just 2 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings during his first match up (4/1/2011) against the Dodgers, Sanchez took the loss as the Giants defense committed 2 crucial errors (including his own) and offense generated just 3 runs against Chad Billingsley and the Dodgers bullpen.

Sanchez did give up 7 hits and issued 3 bases on balls, but he limited the earned runs allowed by dialing up 8 strikeouts, picking off Rafael Furcal, and inducing a double play while allowing base runners in all but one of the frames he pitched in.

Carroll will continue to step in for the injured (broken thumb) Furcal for the Dodgers, probably improving both the Dodgers' offense and defense.

Opposing Pitcher
Ted Lilly gets his 3rd start of the season for the Dodgers and will try to complete 5 innings for the first time in 2011. In his last start against the Giants, Lily gave up 4 ER on 6 H in just 4 2/3 IP and took the loss.

The Call: Start
Sanchez's recent numbers against the Dodgers and utter domination of 66% of the Dodgers starting lineup during his career begs for the start despite the ugly career numbers.

Prediction: W, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 10 K.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Start or Sit: C.J. Wilson at Tigers 4/12/2011

C.J. Wilson vs Tigers
In his seventh year as a Texas Ranger pitcher - second as a starting pitcher - C.J. Wilson has only faced the Detroit Tigers on just 6 relief occasions, for no more than a single inning at a time. In 4.2 IP, Wilson has compiled a horrific 5.79 ERA 1.71 WHIP off .263 BAA along with 1 HR 3 BB and an impressive 7 K.

Looking closer into the numbers, all 3 earned runs came in a single disastrous inning in 2009 where Wilson was only able to record 2 outs while giving up 6 runs total on 4 H, 1 IBB where the Tigers batted around the order, aided by 2 Rangers' errors. Of the 7 batters faced 3 are still in Tigers uniform with Brandon Inge being the only one to do real damage (solo HR).

In the rest of 4 IP outside of the nightmarish inning, Wilson has compiled 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, while notching a save and hold.

C.J. Wilson vs Tigers Batters
Outside of Victor Martinez (.188 AVG .263 OBP .250 SLG in 16 AB) and Jhonny Peralta (.077/.077/.154 in 13 AB), Wilson has faced just three others Tigers regulars in Brandon Inge, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez (combined 1 for 5 with 1 BB, 1 HR, and 2 K).

Trends and Injuries
The Texas Rangers, coming off last year's World Series appearance where they only notched a single win against the Champion San Francisco Giants, are on serious winning streak, winning 9 of 10 games, while getting it done with both offense and pitching.

Texas's hot start can partially attributed to C.J. Wilson as after 2 starts, he's 1-0 in 12.2 IP and have only given up 2 ER in each game. Slightly concerning is the 2 K effort against the light-hitting Seattle Mariners, but also encouraging is the quality start against Boston Red Sox in his first start of the young season - although Boston bats did start the year off very cold.

The Tigers, on the other hand, are staring at a 4-game losing streak after alternating between a win and a loss to begin their 2011 campaign. Against the up-start Rangers rookie Alexi Ogando along with 3 IP of strong bullpen yesterday, the Tigers failed to put a score up on the board behind a 2 ER complete game by their ace, Justin Verlander.

Casper Wells will fill-in for the ailing Ordonez, who looked horrible in right field (the ankle issue added to his usual immobility, I'm sure), allowing 2 flyballs to go over his head and hit the wall for doubles during Verlander's outing yesterday.

Opposing Pitcher
Brad Penny gets the call as the Tigers host the Rangers at Comerica Park in an afternoon game, and I am highly confident that the Rangers are going to continue to hit Penny as hard as they have in the previous years, and for Penny to continue to get hit as hard as he has thus far in the 2011 season (11.17/2.07/.317 in 9.2 IP).

The Call: Start
It's a must start for C.J. Wilson against the scuffling Detroit Tigers, especially with the backing of the Rangers potent offense against BP-throwing Penny, and strong 'pen.

Prediction: W, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 5 K.

Start or Sit: Chad Billingsley at Giants 4/12/2011

Chad Billingsley vs Giants
In the current infant stage of the 2011 MLB season, Chad Billingsley already has a record against the intrastate and divisional foes, the San Francisco Giants, having won the first start of the season at Chavez Ravine.

Since his debut as a Dodger, Billingsley boasts 7 wins in 16 starts vs the Giants, sporting numbers (2.73 ERA 1.26 WHIP .258 BAA) mostly better than his career averages (3.60/1.36/.248) in 108.2 IP.

Last year he absolutely dominated the Giants both at home and away, not allowing more than 2 ER in 5 starts, completely shutting them out in 3 of those outings.

Chad Billingsley vs Giants Batters
For the 2011 campaign the Giants not only went out and acquired a bat, but also called up one of the more intriguing prospects to bolster their offensive lineup - which teetered towards being weak despite the World Series win last year - in Miguel Tejada and Brandon Belt, respectively.

Clearly pleased with themselves after the veteran signings of Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff of the previous year, the Giants are hoping that Tejada will make enough of an impact, and even though he went 0/2 against Billingsley in the first game, he sports a lifetime numbers of .350 AVG .409 OBP .550 SLG.

As for Belt, even though his first taste of the majors thus far has been, well, brutal (.161/.257/.290 in 31 AB), the lone bright spot is the 3-run HR off Billingsley that accounts for 75% of his RBI this year.

As you may guess from Billingsley's career numbers against the Giants, the rest of the Giants regulars sport mostly anemic numbers against the young Dodger right-hander, except for Aaron Rowand and Buster Posey.

On the bench, Mike Fontenot and Nate Schierholtz boast good numbers against Billingsley, but it remains to be seen (will update when the lineups are posted) whether they will get the starting nods.

Trends and Injuries
The Giants have already lost 4 out of 5 games against the Dodgers this year, stymied by Clayton Kershaw twice and unable to generate enough offense in 2 close games (one involving a duel between Billingsley and Jonathan Sanchez).

Billingsley, after notching the win against the Giants in the first start of the season where he really made one mistake to Belt on the 3-run HR, got rocked at Coors Field (oh, the trend continues) for 5 ER in just 3 IP.

On the injury-front, Rafael Furcal's seemingly never-ending love affair with the DL continues in 2011 with news that he has now broken his thumb and is considering retirement. Furcal was hardly getting on base anyway this year, so this could actually be a good thing for Dodgers, given that Jamey Carroll is not only playing good defense, but also getting hits.

Opposing Pitcher
Tim Lincecum. Need I say more? OK, I should write just a sentences on Lincecum, at least to say that he's pitching very well this year and he thoroughly dominates the Dodgers' lineup.

The Call: SIT
Despite dominating most of the SF bats, Billingsley just doesn't fair well-enough at AT&T Park for some reason. Perhaps it's the Giants pitching, but in 3 starts alone last year at AT&T, Billingsley has a 0-1 record along with 1.37/0.97/.194 15 K in 19 IP, and just 2 wins in 54 IP (the last and lone win as a starter back in 7/13/2007).

The slight upgrade to the Giants offense - that's already tainted Billingsley's numbers this year - in addition to Billingsley's lack of win success at AT&T and the Dodger's unlikelihood of hitting Lincecum, I'll be showing Billingsley the bench on this start.

Prediction: L, 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Start or Sit: Justin Verlander vs Texas Rangers

Justin Verlander in April?

Hmmm, if you've paid even a moderately decent amount of attention to Fantasy Baseball in the past handful of years, you know that one of many yearly April ritual is to bench Verlander in April, right?


But then again, what of all this talk about how Verlander changed the way he approached this year's Spring Training and how he totally dominated in March?

Two words: Spring Mofo'ing Training.

Yeah . . . but . . .

Back in 2007 Verlander had a great April, to a tune of 2.79 ERA 1.24 WHIP .208 BAA in 29 IP, and 3.52/1.11/.211 in 30.2 IP the year before that, in his first season as a full-time major leaguer. So can we be so sure that Verlander's horrific April numbers in the past three years will continue this year?

Roll the dice. Despite an ugly 5.53/1.45 /.264 in 27.2 IP April last year, he ended the season at 3.37/1.16/.228.

But against the hot-hitting Texas Rangers?

Check out the career pitcher vs batter numbers. Only a single Ranger (Josh Hamilton) regular has an above-.300 AVG against Verlander and just three with an above-.300 OBP.

Despite the fact that Alexi Ogando looked great in his first-ever major league start, let's keep in mind that it was against the AAA bats of my Seattle Mariners.

The Call: Start
This is the year Verlander gets his April numbers straightened out.
Prediction: W 7IP 5H 2ER 1HR 3BB 8K