Stats & Info: Bartolo Colon

Top things to know: Tigers vs Athletics

October, 4, 2013

Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsMax Scherzer has the second lowest road ERA among AL starting pitchers this season.
The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics begin their ALDS tonight (9:37 ET/ESPN Radio) in Oakland. Here are some storylines to follow.

1. This is the fourth all-time meeting in the postseason (1972 ALCS, 2006 ALCS and 2012 ALDS). The Tigers have won nine of the 14 all-time postseason meetings, including seven of the last nine.

Oakland won the regular season series this year, taking four of the seven games, including three of the last four, in which they outscored the Tigers 34-20.

2. These two teams have not had much success in the postseason lately. Detroit has lost four straight postseason games. They have not lost at least five straight since 1907-08, when they lost six in a row. In addition, the Tigers have lost 11 of their last 16 road postseason games.

Oakland comes into this postseason having lost seven of its last nine playoff games.

The A’s have made the playoffs seven times since 2000 (including this year) and only once have they advanced to the ALCS (2006, lost to Detroit).

3. Max Scherzer is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA in seven postseason appearances (six starts). In his only postseason appearance against the Athletics (Game 4 of the 2012 ALDS), Scherzer went 5⅓ innings, allowing one run while striking out eight in a no-decision.

This season, Scherzer went 9-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 16 road starts. He only allowed more than three earned runs once in his 16 road starts. James Shields is the only AL starter who had a lower ERA away from home (2.07).

4. Bartolo Colon will take the ball for Oakland tonight. He is starting the first game of a postseason series for a third different team (he started twice for Cleveland and once for the Angels).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, five other pitchers made Game 1 starts for three different teams – Roger Clemens (Red Sox, Yankees, Astros), Tommy John (Angels, Dodgers, Yankees), Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks, Astros, Mariners), Jack Morris (Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays) and Curt Schilling (Phillies, Red Sox, Diamondbacks).

The only other 40-year-old to start a postseason game for the Athletics was Jack Quinn (46 years old) in the 1929 World Series.

5. What sort of impact will Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder make? The 2012 Triple Crown winner hit over .350 with 43 home runs over the first five months of the season, but all but disappeared in September.

Fielder is hitting .183 (19-for-104) in 28 career postseason games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his average is the third lowest among active players with at least 50 postseason at-bats.

Only Alex Avila (.129) and Nick Swisher (.165) have worse averages.

5 stats to know: Pirates at Cardinals

August, 14, 2013

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Andrew McCutchen struggled down the stretch last season, but has been red hot this August.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won two in a row after enduring a tough stretch over which the team lost 13 of 17 games. They’re now two games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the NL Central as they host the Bucs Wednesday in Game two of their three-game series (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN).

Here are five stats to know going into tonight’s action at Busch Stadium.

1. Shelby Miller takes the mound for the Cardinals coming off a start in which he threw just two pitches and left after being hit in the elbow by a Carl Crawford line drive. Although he has struggled as of late - going 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in his last 10 starts - his fastball remains a force to be reckoned with.

Miller throws his fastball 74 percent of the time; the second-highest fastball usage among MLB starters behind Bartolo Colon (85 percent).Only teammate Lance Lynn has more strikeouts with his fastball (105) than Miller this season (102).

2. Whereas Miller is a fastball pitcher, Francisco Liriano uses his slider as often as any pitcher in baseball. As a lefty, he throws more sliders to righties than any other pitcher (min 10 starts). Among left-handed pitchers, only Chris Sale throws his slider more often against lefty batters.

Opponents are hitting just .144 against Liriano’s slider this season. That’s the fourth-lowest average among pitchers with at least 150 plate appearances ending with the pitch.

3. The Cardinals lead the league by a wide margin in batting average with runners in scoring position, batting .334. They have five of the top 10 hitters with RISP this season.

How are they performing so much better with runners in scoring position?

One way is by cutting down strikeouts. The team has struck out in 19 percent of plate appearances with the bases empty, the 10th-lowest rate in MLB. But with RISP, the team has struck out in only 16 percent of plate appearances, the lowest rate in baseball.

4. After slumping down the stretch last year, Andrew McCutchen is doing the exact opposite this year. He’s batting .471 in August, second in MLB behind Jayson Werth (.531) and has multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games.

While McCutchen has reversed his late-season trend from last year, overall, he is still better in his home park. McCutchen is hitting .362 at home this season, third-best in the majors, but just .263 on the road, 84th in MLB.

5. Starling Marte has provided a boost at the top of the order for the Pirates this season. Last year, the Pirates’ .291 OBP out of the leadoff spot was the fourth-worst in the majors. This year, Pirates leadoff hitters have a .334 OBP and Starling Marte’s 75 runs out of the top spot are second-most in the majors.

Kernels of wisdom: MLB week in review

August, 12, 2013
The Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie went single-double-triple in Monday's 3-1 win over Seattle, becoming the first Toronto hitter this season to even have a triple and a double in one game. Had he also homered, Lawrie would have recorded the Jays' first cycle since Jeff Frye on August 17, 2001.

In Tuesday's game, the Astros didn't need to steal any bases (although they did have two). The Red Sox-- specifically catcher Ryan Lavarnway-- were giving away bases.

Handling knuckleballer Steven Wright's first career start, Lavarnway was charged with four passed balls in the first inning alone, tying the major league record for one inning. It's happened twice before in the modern era, and also with knuckleballers: On August 22, 1987, the Rangers' Geno Petralli committed four while catching Charlie Hough; and on September 10, 1954, the Giants' Ray Katt did it while trying to catch Hoyt Wilhelm.

AP Photo/ElsaMatt Harvey threw his 1st career shutout on Wednesday against the Rockies.

Matt Harvey, on the other hand, threw his first career shutout (and first complete game) on Wednesday, holding the Rockies to four singles as the Mets won 5-0. He also went through a start without walking a single batter, the eighth time this season he’s done that. Only Bartolo Colon and Hisashi Iwakuma (with 10 each) have more walk-less starts this season, of any length.

Harvey also threw nine scoreless innings with zero walks against the White Sox on May 7, but got neither a decision nor a complete game because the Mets didn't score either and the game went to extras. Clayton Kershaw and Chris Archer are the only other pitchers with multiple such games this season.

He's the first Mets pitcher to have multiple starts of 8+ scoreless, walk-less innings since Jason Isringhausen in 1995; and the first with a pair of NINE-inning games since Craig Swan in 1979.

Thursday's limited slate brought us a matchup between Detroit and Cleveland at Progressive Field. Although the outcome wasn't in much doubt when the Tigers took an 8-0 lead after 3˝ innings, the notable part of the boxscore was that both cleanup hitters (Prince Fielder and Asdrubal Cabrera) had two doubles and two runs driven in.

Strangely, it's only the second game in the past 20 years where BOTH cleanup hitters have had at least two doubles and two RBI. The other occurred when Fielder "teamed up" with the Rangers' Adrian Beltre to do it on May 19.

On Friday the Tigers had their 12-game winning streak (which matched their longest since 1934) on the line against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera. The Tigers, however, countered with Miguel Cabrera, who launched his 34th home run of the year - but first in the ninth inning or later - to tie the game.

It was only the second homer Rivera allowed to the Tigers in a save situation. Bobby Higginson hit the other way back on July 6, 1999.

In Sunday's finale between the Tigers and Yankees, the visitors from Motown trailed by two runs after eight innings. Enter Rivera. Enter Cabrera.

Same result as Friday as Cabrera hit his 36th home run of the season. By doing so, he became the first player ever to homer off Rivera in consecutive at-bats, and one of just five players to have multiple homers against Rivera.

Later that inning, Victor Martinez hit a solo homer to tie the game, handing Rivera his third consecutive blown save. Something he had never done in his career to that point.

Rivera was still officially the pitcher of record when Brett Gardner hit his first career walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning. This was the 18th time Rivera has won a game after blowing a save, and the first since August 13, 2007.

5 stats to know: Dodgers at Cardinals

August, 7, 2013

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Shelby Miller's fastball is a strikeout weapon and he'll use it against the Dodgers tonight.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had their franchise-record 15-game road win streak snapped on Tuesday. Tonight, the Dodgers will look to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since June 20-21 as they face the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN).

Here are five statistical notes to know going into tonight’s "Wednesday Night Baseball."

1. The Dodgers are one of nine teams since the World Series began in 1903 to win at least 15 straight road games in a single season. But that hasn’t always meant sustained success.

Only two of the previous eight teams went on to win the World Series, and five didn’t even make the Fall Classic. Who were the two teams to win the title? The 1984 Tigers and 1953 Yankees.

2. This is the last leg of a 15-game stretch for the Cardinals versus the four other NL playoff teams (if the season ended today): Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and the Dodgers.

The Cardinals lead the league by a wide margin in batting average with runners in scoring position, hitting .337. Assuming the other teams’ batting averages do not change, they could go hitless in their next 140 at bats with RISP and still lead MLB.

3. Ricky Nolasco makes his sixth start for the Dodgers since being traded to the team in July. He is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA for Los Angeles, with the team winning four of his five starts.

Nolasco's ERA has fallen more than half a run from last year (4.48 in 2012, 3.78 in 2013), and one of the biggest improvements has been in his strikeout rate, which has increased from 5.9 K per 9 IP to 7.2 K per 9 IP. How has he been able to increase his strikeouts so much?

He is going to his slider more this year with two strikes.

Nolasco has 59 strikeouts with his slider, fifth-most among NL pitchers. The pitch has been especially effective for him against lefties, where he is making them miss 36 percent of the time on that pitch this season, compared to 22 percent in 2012.

4. Shelby Miller will take the mound for the Cardinals. Miller earned his first career win against the Dodgers on Sept. 16, 2012, at Dodger Stadium, pitching one inning of scoreless relief in the Cardinals' 5-2 win.

Miller’s fastball has been a strikeout weapon. He throws the pitch 73.8 percent of the time, the second-highest fastball usage among MLB starters behind Bartolo Colon (84.5 percent). No pitcher has more strikeouts with his fastball than Miller this season (102).

5. There’s no doubt that Yasiel Puig has made quite an impression over his first two months. Since his debut June 3, he ranks first or second in five major offensive categories.

But how do you get him out?

For one, DO NOT throw him fastballs. He is hitting .385 versus fastballs this season, and that includes a .425 batting average versus fastballs of 93-plus mph.

What's made Bartolo Colón so good?

August, 7, 2013
It is amazing that Oakland Athletics starter Bartolo Colón has been as effective as he has been this year.

Colón was named to his third All-Star team this season, and is currently third in the AL with a 2.50 ERA. On Wednesday afternoon, Colón is scheduled to face the Reds, who will look to jump on his 90-MPH fastball.

Let’s take a closer look at what has made Colón so good this season.

Colón has thrown a strike on 69 percent of pitches, the second-highest rate in the AL behind David Price. As a result, Colón has walked less than four percent of batters faced, second-lowest among qualified pitchers in the league, again behind Price. Colón’s WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning pitched) is a career-best 1.12, which is on pace to be the best WHIP by a starter at least 39 years old since Jamie Moyer posted a 1.10 WHIP with the Phillies in 2010.

The fastball
Colón has thrown his fastball 85 percent of the time, nearly 11 percentage points higher than the next-closest qualified pitcher (Shelby Miller, 74%). Colón throws his fastball more often than most relievers do; Only seven other pitchers have thrown their fastball more often than Colón has this season (min. 100 pitches).

Limiting extra bases
Colón has allowed a .277 average in at-bats ending with his fastball, which is actually worse than the Major League average for qualified starters of .273 in at-bats ending with fastballs or sinkers.

But where Colón has shined this year is limiting hitters to singles. Isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) measures the average number of extra bases a hitter gains per at-bat.

Colón’s opponent isolated power in at-bats ending in his fastball is just .107 this year, third best in the AL among qualified starters with their fastballs or sinkers.

Reds may feast
Since July 1, Reds batters have hit a line drive on 23 percent of the fastballs or sinkers they have put in play, the third-best rate in the National League during that span. They have slugged .457 in those at-bats, second in the National League.

The Reds will be a good test for Colón, who likely won’t hesitate to challenge them with his fastball.

AL East extends its lead in power rankings

August, 1, 2013
Can anyone top the beasts of the AL East? Ahead in the rankings all season, the AL East further increased its lead as the AL West and NL Central were both underwhelming months in July according to the ESPN Stats & Information MLB Division Power Rankings.

The Tampa Bay Rays led the way for the AL East last month. Strong pitching outings by David Price and Matt Moore helped propel the Rays to a 21-5 month.

However, according to our player ratings, those were not the big players for the AL East. Baseball's home run leader, Chris Davis, continues to lead the division in the batter player ratings at third overall (

The Oakland Athletics have been the stabilizing factor in the AL West since last season. Sitting fifth in the power rankings ( and holding one of the best records in baseball, the A’s are led by Josh Donaldson and Bartolo Colón ranking in the top 30 of the player rankings ( And Bartolo Colón isn’t the only pitcher from the AL West dominating this season.

Yu Darvish holds the American League’s lowest opponent batting average and one of the best WHIPs in baseball. Darvish along with teammates Joe Nathan and Derek Holland have helped the AL West on the pitching side, but Mike Trout has provided the biggest boost from the offensive end for the AL West. Behind only Miguel Cabrera in batting average, Trout is arguably the second best hitter in the AL, doing his best to help a hurting Los Angeles Angels team.

The Seattle Mariners had their best month of the season, but sub-.500 months from the other three teams hurt. As a whole, the AL West had an ERA half a run higher than any of the other divisions.

With the Houston Astros holding steady at the bottom of the power rankings and the standings, it's not likely the AL West to overcome the AL East. However, improvement from the Angels or Rangers and continued winning from the Mariners could see the AL West start to chip away at the deficit.

For an explanation of the rankings system, click here.

Jered Weaver adjusts to declining velocity

July, 29, 2013

AP Photo/LM OteroHe's pitching well of late, but Jered Weaver has had little success when's he's started at Texas.
Two of baseball’s hottest starting pitchers take the hill as the Los Angeles Angels’ Jered Weaver faces Texas Rangers’ newcomer Matt Garza, Monday at 7 ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.

Weaver goes off-speed
The last time Weaver made a start in Arlington was April 7, when he fractured his elbow dodging a Mitch Moreland line drive. When Weaver returned from the injury he had a 4.55 ERA in his next five starts but since then he's pitched extremely well.

Weaver is 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his past six starts and has found success by increasing the use of his curveball and keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate.

In his first seven starts of the season, Weaver threw his curveball about 10 percent of the time, but has nearly doubled that rate since.

An increased use of the curveball coincides with Weaver’s declining fastball velocity, which has dropped from 89.8 mph in 2010 to 86.6 this season. His recent success indicates that Weaver has found a way to pitch around his declining velocity.

Although Weaver has pitched well of late, he has struggled on the road in his career against the Rangers, going 4-8 with a 5.07 ERA. That’s a stark contrast to the 9-0 record and 2.28 ERA he’s posted against the Rangers at home.

Garza’s red hot
In his first start since being acquired by the Rangers, Garza allowed five hits over 7.1 innings in a win over the Yankees.

Garza has won a career-high six straight starts -- only Bartolo Colon (eight) and Patrick Corbin (seven) have longer such streaks this season. Garza is also riding another career-best streak, allowing two earned runs or fewer in seven consecutive starts.

A key for Garza's success has been his slider, widely regarded as his best pitch. Over his previous seven starts, opponents are hitting .157 without an extra-base hit when he throws his slider.

However, Garza has struggled against the Angels. His 5.83 career ERA against Los Angeles his fourth-worst against any team.

Diminishing returns from Pujols
Another key storyline revolves around Albert Pujols, who was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with a partially torn plantar fascia ligament in his left foot.

If Pujols does not play again this season, he would finish the season with career-lows in games played, batting average, home runs, RBI and runs.

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) tell the story of Pujols’ steep decline of late. He led the league in 2009 with a 9.7 WAR on his way to winning the National League MVP. That number has dropped each of the next four seasons to 1.4 in 2013, which ranks outside the top 120 players.

The Angels have gotten a poor return on investment on the Pujols contract thus far, and it does not seem to be getting any better. From 2014-2021, Pujols is still owed $212 million, that's more than any other player except Joey Votto, who is owed $225 million.

How they won: Cy Young contenders

July, 21, 2013
Sunday was quite a day for good starting pitching. Thirteen different starters went at least seven innings and six pitchers who can make a case as a Cy Young contender pitched great en route to an eventual victory.

Here’s a statistical snapshot of what those pitchers did best.

Kershaw makes them chase
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw held the Washington Nationals to two runs and two hits in seven innings in Sunday’s sweep-completing win.

Kershaw made Nationals hitters chase his pitches. They swung at 22 of 50 thrown out of the strike zone. Kershaw’s 44 percent chase-rate was his highest in any start this season.

Nationals hitters were 0-for-9 against the pitches they chased, with six strikeouts.

They missed on nine of 18 swings they took against Kershaw’s curveball and slider.

Harvey dominant
What made NL All-Star starter Matt Harvey so good against the Philadelphia Phillies? Try this combo:

23 swings-and-misses, 1 shy of his career high set April 3, 2013 vs Padres

An average fastball of 97.4 mph (career-best)

Nine strikeouts with offspeed pitches (ties career-high)

Four strikeouts with his changeup (ties career-high)

Went to 2-0 count on only one hitter in seven innings

Harvey has owned the Phillies from the start of his career.

He’s yielded only four earned runs in 33 1/3 innings against them.

Locke’s key: shutting down righty bats
Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Locke dropped his ERA to 2.11 with a six-inning effort in which he allowed one run and one hit in a win over the Cincinnati Reds that averted a Reds sweep.

Locke shut down the Reds right-handed hitters, holding them to 0-for-11 in this contest.

Righties are hitting .186 against Locke this season, the lowest of any of the 29 lefties who are currently qualified for the ERA title.

Wainwright handles Padres … again
Adam Wainwright beat the San Diego Padres, holding them to two runs over eight innings. He’s now 5-2 against the Padres with a 1.47 ERA and 4-0 with an 0.84 ERA in four home starts against them.

Wainwright won without his best curveball/slider combo. He allowed six hits with those pitches, his most in any start in the five seasons for which we have pitch-performance data.

Wainwright has thrived recently because of his escapability. In his last six starts, he’s held opponents to a .161 batting average and .434 OPS with men on base.

Colon cruising
Bartolo Colon threw his third shutout of the season, and his second since he turned 40 on May 24. In the past 25 seasons, only 3 other pitchers threw multiple shutouts in the same season after turning 40—Nolan Ryan (1989, 1990, 1991), Dennis Martinez (1995) and Randy Johnson (2004).

Colon won in his usual method, by spotting a fastball that he threw 101 times in 110 pitches and was tough to hit far. Colon induced 12 fly ball outs. In his last three starts, Colon has generated 23 fly balls. Of those, 22 have been caught.
Also consider this about Colon: His road ERA (2.54) is almost identical to his home ERA (2.50). Eighteen other ERA-title qualifiers have an ERA as good or better than Colon at home this season. But only seven have a road ERA as low as his.

Astros easy work for King Felix
Felix Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings in a win over the Houston Astros. Hernandez has a 1.54 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his last five starts.

Like with Wainwright, Hernandez has found a way to escape tough situations. In his last five starts, opponents are 1-for-16 against him with multiple men on base, including 0-for-3 on Sunday.

Colon finds fountain of youth in Oakland

July, 8, 2013
In a battle of division leaders and All-Star pitchers, the Oakland Athletics continued their dominance of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-1 win on Monday night.

The A’s are now a perfect 10-0 vs the Pirates all-time, the best record by any team vs another in the modern era (since 1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Oakland improved to 17-11 in one-run games this season, the second-most one-run wins among AL teams. Their overall record stands at 53-37, the franchise’s best 90-game mark since 1990 (57-33). That 1990 squad was the last Oakland team to make the World Series.

Colon Keeps Winning
Bartolo Colon emerged as the winner in a pitcher’s duel between two of the unlikeliest All-Star pitchers this season.

He is now 12-3 this year, his most wins in a season since he went 21-8 and won the Cy Young Award in 2005. His 12 wins before the break are the most by an A’s pitcher since Mark Mulder had the same amount in 2004.

Colon has thrown 11 straight starts of at least six innings pitched and no more than three runs allowed, compiling a 9-1 record and 1.71 ERA in that span.

Nine of those starts have come since he turned 40 years old on May 24. Elias tells us that is the longest such streak by a player aged 40 or older since John Smoltz had a 10-game streak in 2007.

Colon got the Pirates to swing at 21 of the 50 pitches (42 percent) he threw out of the strike zone, his highest chase rate in any start over the last five seasons.

He went to a two-strike count on 17 of 30 batters faced and retired 14 of them, allowing only two singles and a walk in those counts. In his previous five starts he had allowed batters to hit .318 with two strikes.

Locke Finally Loses
Jeff Locke entered this game without a loss in his last 16 starts, the second-longest undefeated streak by a Pirates starting pitcher in franchise history. Despite allowing only two runs on three hits, Locke suffered his first loss since April 7.

The game-winning RBI was a sacrifice fly by Josh Donaldson in the fourth inning. It was the sixth sacrifice fly allowed by Locke this season, one shy of the most in the majors.

Stat of the Game
Grant Balfour converted his 41st consecutive save, breaking the franchise record previously held by Dennis Eckersley. Balfour has not blown a save since April 29, 2012 at Baltimore and has posted a 1.93 ERA during the streak.

Kyle Lohse succeeds without overpowering

March, 19, 2013

Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesKyle Lohse has been one of baseball's best strike-throwers the last two seasons.
Kyle Lohse remains on the free agent market, with first-round compensation required if a team chooses to sign him.

What would the team that signs Lohse be getting?

Let’s run through a few of Lohse's areas of strength.

Lohse is not a power pitcher. His fastball averages 89 miles-per-hour and tops out at 92 on a good day. He gets his outs through getting contact and letting his defense turn outs behind him. His effectiveness over the last five seasons has coincided with a dip in two key stats: he’s cut his walks per nine innings from 2.8 (from 2001 to 2007) to 2.2, and his home runs per nine from 1.2 to 0.9.

In a 200-inning season, that equates to 13 fewer walks and seven fewer home runs allowed.

Lohse had his best season in terms of control in 2012. His 1.62 walks per nine innings ranked fifth-lowest among ERA qualifiers (six-hundredths of a point from Bronson Arroyo for second place).

Over the past two seasons, Lohse has excelled at throwing first-pitch strikes. His 68 percent first-pitch strike rate is tied with Cliff Lee for second-best among pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings in that span.

He's also been terrific at getting called strikes. His called-strike rate of 39 percent ranks third, trailing only control artists Bartolo Colon and Lee.

In particular, Lohse excels at hitting the outside corner. Since 2011, his 38 percent called-strike rate on pitches to the outer-third of the plate (or off the outside corner) is the best in all of baseball.

What’s next for Lohse?
The five projection systems used by all have Lohse’s ERA increasing by at least half a run from 2012, from 3.39 by OLIVER to 4.28 from Steamer Projections. ESPN’s predictive system of choice, ZIPS, gives Lohse a 3.63 ERA.

Media reports have the Texas Rangers as the team with the most interest in Lohse. One thing to keep in mind that if Lohse goes to Texas, he would go from pitching in a park that is modestly pitcher-friendly (Busch Stadium ranked 18th in Park Factor for runs scored last season and 21st for home runs) to a park that is much more hitter-friendly. (Rangers Ballpark ranks fourth in Park Factor in runs scored and seventh in home runs.)

One other thing to keep in mind for Lohse. Over the past two seasons, Lohse has gone 30-11 with a 3.11 ERA in nearly 400 innings. In each of those seasons he has outpitched his peripheral numbers. In 2011, he had a 3.39 ERA, but his strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed produced a Fielding Independent Pitching (an estimator of what his ERA was likely to be) of 3.67. Last season, he had a 2.86 ERA and a FIP of 3.51.

The difference between Lohse’s ERA and FIP was .-65 (meaning his FIP was 65 points above his ERA). That was the fifth-worst negative differential among those who qualified for the ERA title last season.

In 2011, 10 ERA-title qualifiers had an ERA-FIP differential of -.65 or worse. Of those 10, nine saw their ERA increase in 2012.

Two former Cy Youngs are ace-worthy

May, 26, 2012

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJohan Santana threw his first shutout since August 12, 2010 as the Mets beat the Padres 9-0.
Four former Cy Young winners took the mound on Saturday afternoon, but only two pitched like aces. Let's take a look at the performances from this quartet:

Vintage Santana
Johan Santana continued his comeback from shoulder surgery, throwing his first shutout since August 12, 2010 as the New York Mets blanked the San Diego Padres, 9-0.

Santana was efficient, tossing just 96 pitches in the win. It’s the fewest pitches by a Mets pitcher in a nine-inning shutout since at least 2000 (as far back as complete pitch-count data is available).

Santana did not go a three-ball count for this time this season, after averaging five three-ball counts in his first nine starts. He threw 77 percent of his pitches for strikes, his highest rate since August 20, 2009.

Twenty-five of his 96 pitches (26 percent) were sliders, his second-highest percentage since the start of 2009. He got seven outs with the pitch, matching his most outs with the pitch over the last four seasons.

Sabathia brings the heat
Another New York lefty, CC Sabathia, also had a strong outing this afternoon, throwing seven innings of two-run ball as the New York Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics, 9-2.

CC Sabathia
Sabathia allowed seven hits, including a home run, but was still able to avoid his first three-start losing streak since joining the Yankees in 2009. Without his best swing-and-miss stuff (had a season-low four strikeouts), Sabathia got 11 groundball outs, his second-most in a start this season.

Sabathia recorded 17 of his 21 outs with his fastball, three more outs than he's gotten with the pitch in any previous start this season. It matches the second-highest total of outs with his heater since the start of 2009.

Not the best Bartolo
The former Yankee and current A’s starter, Bartolo Colon, was on the losing end of that game in Oakland, allowing six earned runs in six innings. Colon is now 1-3 with a 7.96 ERA in five May starts, after going 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA in five April starts.

Colon threw 14 pitches on the inner third of the plate, but couldn’t jam the Yankee batters. They knocked out four hits on nine swings against those inside pitches, including Robinson Cano’s second-inning home run.

Peavy past his peak
In the Windy City, Jake Peavy allowed a season-high seven runs, but still got the win as the Chicago White Sox offense exploded for 14 runs and 17 hits in their victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Peavy has allowed a total of 13 earned runs over his last three starts, after giving up just 11 earned runs in his first seven starts combined. Peavy had trouble stranding runners today, as the Indians had four hits in six at-bats with runners on base against Peavy, including two home runs.
David Price set a single-game Tampa Bay Rays record with 14 strikeouts in a 12-0 victory Sunday over the Toronto Blue Jays.

David Price

Price's 14 strikeouts passed the previous Rays record of 13 set by James Shields earlier this season and first done by Scott Kazmir in 2007. Price's strikeout total finished one shy of the most by an American League pitcher this season. Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels struck out 15 -- also against the Blue Jays -- on April 10.

The most strikeouts in a game this season belongs to Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies, who struck out 16 against the Atlanta Braves in seven innings on May 6.

Price, who just turned 26 years old on Friday, flirted with the possibility of nearing the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game of 20 held by Roger Clemens (done twice in 1986 and 1996) and Kerry Wood in 1998.

Price struck out 10 batters through four innings, which was one more than what Clemens had in his two 20-strikeout games and was two more than what Wood had.

Price proceeded to strike out two more batters in the fifth, which kept him on pace with what Clemens had and was one ahead of Wood's pace. However, Price did not strike out a batter in the sixth inning, the only frame in which a batter did not go down on strikes.

But the left-hander finished with two more in his seventh and final inning of the game. He became the fourth pitcher this season to record 14 strikeouts in seven or fewer innings.

Price became the fourth pitcher to record at least 14 strikeouts on the road against the Blue Jays and the first since Bartolo Colon on May 29, 1998. The first to do it was Mark Langston in 1988 at Exhibition Stadium, the Blue Jays original home from 1977 until 1989.

So how was Price able to rack up so many strikeouts? He relied on what he always does, the fastball. He picked up 10 of his 14 strikeouts on pitches ending on the fastball. It's his third start this season in which he had 10 strikeouts with his fastball. No other starter in baseball even has one. This season, Price has 128 strikeouts ending on the fastball, 30 more than Colon, who is second with 98.

Blue Jays hitters swung 32 times against the pitch and put only four in play, the fewest fastballs ever put in play in a start against Price with a minimum of 20 swings.
The story of the season has been Red Sox domination. It's the difference in the AL East race. With the Yankees traveling to Fenway Park to take on the Red Sox, it's time to break down how the season series has gone so far.

Here are some highlights about the head-to-head series:

• The Yankees will be trying to snap a seven-game losing streak in the series. That’s tied for the third-longest losing streak for the Yankees in the rivalry, behind only a nine-game streak from 2008-09 and a 17-game streak from 1911-12.

• The Yankee starters have struggled, with a 8.18 ERA in the nine games. The losers in the eight losses were mostly the pitchers upon whom they usually rely: Bartolo Colon (twice), CC Sabathia (3 times), Freddy Garcia (twice), A.J. Burnett (once).

• Sabathia is 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA vs the Red Sox this year (he’s 15-2 vs everyone else). In 2010, he was 1-0 with a 3.96 ERA, and in 2009, he was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA.

• However, the Red Sox pitchers have held them to a .208 batting average with runners in scoring position. In three of the games, they failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position (0-3 on April 10, 0-10 on May 14, 0-7 on June 9), and in another game they got just one hit (1-7 on May 13).

• The Red Sox shut down the Yankee lefties (and when their switch-hitters hit lefty). Red Sox pitchers held Yankees left-handed batters to a .207 BA.

• Yankees were shut out twice in nine games; they have been shut out just three times otherwise.

Notable Yankees mediocrity:

Nick Swisher .188, 8 K
Brett Gardner .167, double and triple
Mark Teixeira .121 (4-33), 11 K, 0 XBH

Notable Red Sox standouts:

Dustin Pedroia: .500 (15-30), 4 doubles, 8 walks
Jacoby Ellsbury .371, 3 SB, 4 doubles
David Ortiz .324, 3 HR, 4 doubles, 9 RBI

• We should note that Pedroia was the AL Player of the Month for July. He led the Majors with 46 hits, the most hits for a Red Sox player during July of any season since 1939, when 3 future Hall of Famers each collected more: Bobby Doerr (52), Ted Williams (48) and Jimmie Foxx (47) (Elias). Pedroia also led Major Leaguers in total bases (81), tied for first in runs (27) and extra-base hits (18), and posted the second-best AVG in the ML at .411 (112 AB).

Derek Jeter: Return to Form?

• Derek Jeter has picked it up after getting his 3,000th hit on July 9. Jeter has four career five-hit games and two of them have come within the last four weeks. His numbers since July 10 are more in line with his career numbers.

The Setup Men: David Robertson and Daniel Bard

• David Robertson has better numbers vs opposite-handed batters (LHB) than same-handed batters (RHB) this year. His .169 BA vs LHB is fourth-best among AL RHP (min. 75 batters faced), while his 43 K vs LHB are the most among RHP relievers.

• He has yet to allow a run on the road in 20 appearances (21 1/3 IP).

• He has yet to allow a HR in 42 1/3 IP (most IP of any AL reliever who hasn’t allowed a HR yet this season).

• Opponents are 1-12 (.083) with 10 K with the bases loaded.

• Daniel Bard has been more effective vs righties this season. His .117 opponent BA vs RHB is the lowest among AL pitchers (min. 75 batters faced).

• Prior to allowing three runs in his last outing on August 1, Bard had made 25 straight scoreless appearances (since May 27), spanning 26 1/3 IP. During the streak, opponents hit .125 vs him, and RHB were 3-40 (.075).

• It was the most consecutive scoreless outings in Red Sox history. It was the longest streak of scoreless IP in a single season by a Red Sox pitcher since Bob Stanley had a 27-inning streak in 1980.

• Yankees are 1-14 (.071) against him this season.

• His opponent BA w/RISP of .133 is fifth-best in AL (min. 50 batters faced).

• He’s pitched on zero days rest 18 times, tied for the most in the AL.

Bartolo Colon
The Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 16-7 Thursday, as Bartolo Colon was pulled after allowing eight runs in ⅔ of an inning, tied for the shortest start of his career. He’s just the fourth Yankees starter ever to allow eight or more runs in less than an inning.

The only other time Colon lasted less than one inning was during his rookie season in 1997. Amazingly, it’s the 10th time the former Cy Young Award winner has allowed eight runs or more in his career. In the previous nine such starts, he completed at least two innings in every one.

The Blue Jays scored their 16 runs on 20 hits -- both season highs -- and none of them were home runs.

The last time the Yankees gave up 20 or more hits and no home runs in a game of nine innings or fewer was July 13, 1934 in a loss to the Detroit Tigers.

It’s the first time in team history the Blue Jays scored 16 runs without a home run and Toronto is the second team to do so this season (Mets against the Tigers on June 29). Every Blue Jays player who had a plate appearance had at least one hit and scored at least one run.

Coincidentally, it’s the third time since 2007 the Blue Jays have score 14 or more runs without a home run -- and all three games have been wins over the Yankees.

According to Elias, the Yankees allowed the most runs in the first inning after the All-Star break since the Twins allowed 11 to the Tigers in 1982.
There were a couple of improbable complete games in the bigs on Monday.
Jo-Jo Reyes
Toronto Blue Jays hurler Jo-Jo Reyes beat the Cleveland Indians 11-1, snapping a 28-start winless streak, a major league record he shares with two other pitchers. Reyes went the distance for his first career complete game.

Reyes shared this winless start streak with Cliff Curtis and Matt Keough. All three record-holders snapped their droughts with a complete game. Curtis ended his as the Boston Rustlers beat the Brooklyn Superbas 7-2, on May 26, 1911.

Reyes used all parts of the plate Monday. With men on base, he threw nine high fastballs out of the zone, and Indians hitters swung at seven. Indians hitters were 0-for-3 against those pitches with men on, and all three at-bats came with runners in scoring position.

Earlier in the day, New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon was turning back the clock. Colon blanked the Oakland Athletics, allowing only four hits in his ninth career shutout, and his first since 2006.

According to, there have been 274 nine-inning shutouts since Colon's previous shutout. Of those 274, only two were tossed by a Yankee: CC Sabathia (2009) and Chien-Ming Wang (2007).

Colon, who turned 38 on May 24, became the fifth-oldest Yankee pitcher to throw a road shutout in the divisional era (since 1969). He trails only Luis Tiant, Roger Clemens, Tommy John and Phil Niekro, who at age 46 shut out the Blue Jays en route to his 300th career win.

Memorial Day fireworks
Aside from the improbable pitching outings, Memorial Day belonged to the hitters.

There were a total of 169 runs scored Monday, which averages out to 5.6 runs per team. The 169 runs is a season high, besting the previous high of 154 runs set April 6.

It was the first date this season that featured a full slate of games and at least one home run in each game. It was the first time since July 17, 2010, that five different games each had five or more home runs.

There were 46 total home runs hit on Memorial Day, six more than on any other day this season. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us the 46 home runs is the third-most home runs hit on a single day over the past three seasons.

Kudos to the Seattle Mariners' Doug Fister, who was the only pitcher to take a no-hit bid beyond the second inning.

The combined ERA of all starters Monday was 6.30. If you take Colon and Reyes out of that equation, the starters' ERA was 6.98.