Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Clearing the Bases: Gio for Cy
By David Schoenfield
First base: G-G-great. That whole Gio Gonzalez won't pitch as well once he leaves the spacious confines of Oakland idea? I'm starting to think he'll be just fine in the National League. The Nationals kicked off a big week -- road trips to Philly and Atlanta -- with a 2-1 win over the Phillies as Gonzalez tossed six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. His season numbers: 6-1, 1.98 ERA, .167 batting average, 69 strikeouts, 22 walks, one home run. Certainly, there are some areas that will bounce back to Earth -- the home run rate in particular will be next-to-impossible to maintain -- but his strikeout rate is up from 8.8 to 11.4 per nine innings while his walk rate has decreased a bit. As his 108 pitches in six innings on Monday showed, however, he still has room for refinement. Because of high pitch counts, he hasn't gone more than seven innings in a start. Unheralded Craig Stammen pitched two shutout innings in relief on Monday to help out Gonzalez's cause. If Gonzalez wants to move into that Clayton Kershaw-Cole Hamels-Cliff Lee class of left-handers and contend for a Cy Young Award, he needs to mix in some eight- or nine-inning outings.
Second base: Darvish's dud. Speaking of Cy Young contenders, Yu Darvish isn't there just yet. He was all over the place against the Mariners, walking six in four innings, throwing 96 pitches and earning an early exit as the intriguing pitching duel with Felix Hernandez turned into a one-sided contest. The Mariners were the first team to face Darvish a second time, so it will be interesting to see how batters adjust as they see him again. While he's 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA, the 32 walks in 56 innings is a big issue and the main reasons he's gone at least seven innings just three times in his nine starts.
Third base: Paulino power. Remember this name: Felipe Paulino. He began the season on the DL for the Royals with a sore elbow, but he's back and throwing heat, blanking the Yankees for 6.2 innings in K.C.'s 6-0 victory. His velocity is up there with any starter in baseball. His issue has always been control, which is how the Royals stole him a year ago from the Rockies (because the Rockies certainly don't need good arms). Through his first four starts, Paulino has a 29/7 SO/BB ratio and has now thrown 12.2 scoreless innings against the Yankees. After that dreadful 3-14 start, the Royals have gone 14-10. Don't count them out in the weak AL Central. As for the Yankees ... welcome to .500!
Home plate: Tweet of the Day. Giancarlo Stanton's second grand slam of 2012 was a monumental blast off Jamie Moyer that broke the scoreboard in left field at Marlins Park. Here's a pic of the scoreboard.