Stats & Info: David Cone

Roy Halladay
Today’s Trivia: The St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (18-10, 2.38 ERA), who pitches tonight, and the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay (18-10, 2.44 ERA) have a good chance at 20 wins and an ERA below 2.50. Can you name the last National League pitcher with both of those qualifications who did not win the Cy Young?

On Monday, we took a peek at the American League Cy Young contenders. Today it’s the National League’s turn.

• There are currently four NL pitchers with an ERA below 2.50. The last time that happened was 1998. In three of the previous four seasons, there wasn’t one.

• It would not be unrealistic for Halladay to reach all of the following milestones: 20 wins, 250 innings, 200 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.50. Since 1975, only seven pitchers have done that. All won the Cy Young.

• Though wins and losses are certainly not great indicators of a pitcher’s effectiveness, the fact remains that they are key components in the minds of many voters. So too are losses. Consider that of the last 32 Cy Young winners in both leagues, only Pat Hentgen in 1996 had 10 or more losses.
Adam Wainwright
• Wainwright and Halladay both have 18 wins and an ERA under 2.50. Both also have double-digit losses. So how does 18-6 with a 2.30 ERA sound? Well, that’s what Josh Johnson could be if the Florida Marlins bullpen hadn’t blown seven of his wins this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most in the majors.

• Both Wainwright and Halladay should probably have 20 wins already. Each has only two no-decisions, but all four of them should have been wins. Wainwright has a 0.62 ERA in his two no-decisions, while Halladay’s is 1.17. Amazingly, Johan Santana has a 2.10 ERA in nine no-decisions.

• At 18-6, the Colorado Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez leads the NL in winning percentage (.750), though he is just 3-5 since the All-Star break. However, the last four pitchers with at least 18 wins and six or fewer losses have won the Cy Young. The last to miss out was Mark Prior is 2003, a year in which closer Eric Gagne won the award.

• Will the stretch run eliminate the Cardinals’ candidates? Over the last month, Chris Carpenter has a 3.96 ERA, while Wainwright checks in at 4.50. Similarly, Jimenez is just 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA despite Colorado’s surge. Meanwhile, Halladay is 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA.

• In 2008, Tim Lincecum had the lowest opponent OPS in the majors. He did so again last year. Both seasons brought home the Cy Young. So who is it in 2010? Mat Latos’ .561 opponent OPS ties Lincecum’s 2009 number for the lowest by a qualifying starter since Roger Clemens (.544) in 2005. Clemens finished third that year with Chris Carpenter winning.

• Carpenter leads the NL with 24 quality starts, but five pitchers are just one behind. However, if you make the qualifications seven innings and two earned runs of fewer, a clearer picture emerges. Halladay has 18 such starts, while no other pitcher has 16.

Key Matchups: The Colorado Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez has nine career hits against the San Diego Padres' Jon Garland, three more than he has against any other pitcher. In fact, six of those nine hits are doubles. That means he has as many doubles off of Garland as he has hits off any other pitcher. He doesn’t have more than two doubles off any other pitcher. In his last eight at-bats against Garland, “CarGo” has four doubles and a single.

Facing a must-win series against the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago White Sox send John Danks to the mound. Though he leads the team with 13 wins, the White Sox are just 2-6 in his last eight starts. The lefty will have to contend with Michael Cuddyer on Tuesday. He’s hit .467 against Danks with five home runs in 45 at-bats. That’s two more home runs than he has against any other pitcher. However, all five came last season, as Danks has kept him in the park in all 15 at-bats this season.

Trivia Answer: The last five NL pitchers with at least 20 wins and an ERA below 2.50 have won the Cy Young. The last to come up short was David Cone in 1988, despite a 20-3 record and 2.22 ERA. Of course, the man he lost out to, Orel Hershiser, also had those marks with a 23-8 record and 2.26 ERA.

1st Pitch: Pujols pursues 400

August, 24, 2010
Today’s Trivia:
After going deep last night in Pittsburgh, Albert Pujols is now one home run away from his 400th career HR. Pujols' first career longball came in April of 2001 off of Armando Reynoso and the Arizona Diamondbacks. What did Pujols do in that game that he ALSO did last night? Hint: it’s something he has now done 26 times in his career. Pujols

Bonus: Obviously, Busch Stadium is the park where Pujols has gone deep the most. But which Busch Stadium – the one that closed in 2005 (Busch II) or the one that opened in 2006 (Busch III)?

Quick Hits:
The Tampa Bay Rays’ Rafael Soriano accomplished a rare baseball feat on Monday (a feat with a cool-sounding moniker to match its impressiveness): the Immaculate Inning. Such an inning requires striking out the side on nine pitches, which Soriano did against Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli and Peter Bourjos. Soriano

So rare is the feat that it has only been done 44 times in MLB history. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who have pulled off the Immaculate Inning, according to

• Only three have done the feat twice, and all three are Hall-of-Famers: Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan. No one has done it three times.

• An Immaculate Inning has occurred in every inning, though it is most common late in games. It’s happened nine times in the ninth, seven times in the eighth and four times in the seventh.

• There are some pretty solid sluggers who have been on the other end of an Immaculate Inning. Ken Boyer was part of one thrown by Bob Bruce in 1964. Andre Dawson and Rafael Palmeiro were both part of one thrown by Jeff Robinson in 1987. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio have each been victims, though in different games. Even contact machine Ichiro Suzuki fell prey to one, but in his defense, it was done by Pedro Martinez.

• From Elias: The last closer to get a save while striking out the side on nine pitches in the ninth inning was LaTroy Hawkins in September 2004 for the Chicago Cubs.

• Call it the Rich Harden connection: On the same night Harden was pulled in the middle of a no-hitter, Soriano threw his Immaculate Inning. But Harden has an I.I. of his own, and it came in the first inning. He did it in June 2008 with the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

• Koufax is the only one to throw an Immaculate Inning that turned into an immaculate game. His first Immaculate Inning came in his first no-hitter – on June 30, 1962 - and was also done in the first inning. His immaculaticity (not a word) ended in the second inning when the New York Mets’ Frank Thomas grounded out to short.

• And finally, a Lou Piniella connection. Piniella managed the 1991 Cincinnati Reds to a 74-88 record and fifth place division finish. But that might not have been the worst of it. That team, featuring Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo and Hal Morris, is the only team in MLB history to have two Immaculate Innings thrown against them in the same season. Andy Ashby and David Cone did it to them that year.

Today’s Leaderboard:
It’s becoming one of the classic adages in the sport – if you let the leadoff man get on base in an inning, he’s going to come around to hurt you. Well, don’t pity the leadoff men tonight. Several of the pitchers who are the top culprits in letting the leadoff man get on base are starting for their teams on Tuesday.

Key Matchups:
• Ichiro has been an All-Star every year of his 10-year MLB career and has never batted below .303 in a season. But none of that might be true if he had to face Josh Beckett in every at-bat. Beckett is limiting Ichiro to a career .190 BA (4-21) with more strikeouts (five) than hits. Among pitchers who have faced Ichiro at least 20 times, Beckett is the starter who’s holding him to the lowest average.

• These numbers don’t seem to match up: Adam Wainwright has a perfect 5-0 record at PNC Park, yet a pedestrian 5.56 ERA there. Among parks where Wainwright has pitched more than once, he has a higher era at only Dodger Stadium. Turns out, you can chalk up his sparkling record at PNC to run support. His offense has scored an average of 7.43 runs in games he started there.

• There’s a new Cincinnati Reds rookie starter in town, and he’s not named Mike Leake. Travis Wood takes the mound in San Francisco tonight, making his 10th career start. No Giant has seen him before, but they might want to know these numbers. Wood is allowing a .135 BA his first time through the lineup, but that jumps to .184 his second time through and .222 his third time through.

Trivia Answer: In both games, Pujols finished a triple shy of the cycle. In fact, Pujols has never hit for the cycle in his career despite coming a triple shy of it on 26 occasions. He has finished a home run shy of the cycle twice and finished a double shy of the cycle once.

The bonus question was a trick question. Sort of. Pujols has the exact same number of home runs at both Busch Stadiums – 94 at each.

Rapid Reaction: Doc delivers perfection

May, 29, 2010
Roy Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history on Saturday. The visiting Phillies defeated the Marlins 1-0.

It is the second perfect game of the 2010 season after Oakland's Dallas Braden turned the trick on May 9. This is the only season with multiple perfect games in the modern era. (There were two in 1880.)

Here are some other notes from Doc's gem:

  • Halladay is the fifth pitcher to throw a perfect game and win a Cy Young Award, joining Randy Johnson (five Cy Youngs), Sandy Koufax (three), David Cone and Catfish Hunter.
  • It's the first perfect game by a right-hander since David Cone on July 18, 1999 (6-0 vs. Expos).
  • It's the first perfect game by an NL right-handed pitcher since Dennis Martinez on July 28, 1991 (2-0 vs. Dodgers).
  • The Phillies have joined the White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Athletics as teams with two perfect games. Jim Bunning had the other one for the Phillies on June 21, 1964, against the Mets. (This does not include Don Larsen's World Series perfecto,)
  • The last perfect game thrown on a Saturday was the first one, Lee Richmond's, on June 12, 1880.

  • Last Phillies no-hitter: Kevin Millwood, April 27, 2003, vs. Giants.
  • Only other time Marlins were no-hit: July 14, 1995, against the Dodgers by Ramon Martinez.
  • Mike DiMuro was the home-plate umpire. It was his first no-hitter behind the dish. His father, Lou, umpired Jim Palmer's no-hitter against the Athletics in 1969.
  • Halladay is the sixth pitcher to throw a 1-0 perfect game (Tom Browning, 1988; Mike Witt, 1984; Sandy Koufax, 1965; Addie Joss, 1908; Lee Richmond, 1880).
  • Seven of the 27 batters Halladay faced reached a three-ball count, and three of them ended up striking out. Halladay’s strikeout percentage on three-ball counts is now 23.5 (MLB avg.: 14.5).
  • He struck out four batters with his sinker, the most in a start this season.
  • In his four previous starts, Halladay allowed 30 hits while striking out 12 with his fastball. On Saturday, he retired 19 of the 27 Marlins hitters with the heater, including six strikeouts.

    Halladay got 26 called strikes in this game and struck out six batters looking. Using Pitch F/X technology, a technology set up in conjunction with MLB, we had Doug Kern of ESPN Stats & Information look at whether those strikes were really strikes.

    Of the 26 called strikes, seven were, via Pitch F/X standards, out of the strike zone, or close enough that they would be "borderline strikes."

    There was a pattern:

    Six of these called strikes were off the plate to the right side (looking in from the pitcher's view). But more notably:

    Of Halladay's six strikeouts, five came on pitches that were not in the Pitch F/X strike zone.

    * Strikeout pitch to Chris Coghlan in the first inning was outside.

    * 2-1 pitch to Josh Johnson in the third was low.

    * Strikeout pitch to Hanley Ramirez in the fourth was inside.

    * First pitch to Johnson in the sixth was outside.

    * Strikeout pitch to Coghlan in the seventh was outside.

    * Strikeout pitch to Ramirez in the seventh was inside.

    * Strikeout pitch to Wes Helms in the ninth was inside.