Friday, April 19, 2013
Friday's five things you need to know
By Eric Karabell
Before any games commence this weekend the focus will be in Boston as the Red Sox return home to Fenway Park for the first time since the horrific events earlier in the week during the Boston Marathon. There will be plenty of good baseball that will make us smile this weekend, but check out what's happening in Boston Friday night and hum a few bars of "Sweet Caroline" as well. Here is what else to you need to know about this weekend:
Aces on display: Matt Harvey is really good. Stephen Strasburg is really good. These aces face off Friday night in what might be New York's best chance, believe it or not, at a win. I mean, after Harvey on Friday, Bryce Harper gets to tee off on Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee! But on Friday, it's the first of what should be many matchups between right-handed power arms Harvey and Strasburg. They could have met last year, but John Lannan had already replaced Strasburg in the rotation. What, you forgot Strasburg was shut down early last year? It really wasn't publicized much, so that's understandable. OK, same thing might happen to Harvey this year, but the Mets will just have to use someone else in Game 1 of the playoffs. Yep. Perhaps Hefner.
Yu are the man: I ranked Texas Rangers Yu Darvish right-hander among the top 10 starting pitchers for this season, and so far, so good, but it's worth noting his kryptonite as a rookie was, believe it or not, the Seattle Mariners, Friday's opponent. Darvish is 18-10 with a 3.80 ERA in 32 career starts. The first three times Darvish faced Seattle he allowed 16 earned runs in 16 innings, with 20 hits and 14 walks. Since then Darvish has righted the ship with two excellent outings against the M's, including last week, but isn't this guy must-watch TV anyway, especially coming off a blister problem?
Bring your parka: It hasn't been, shall we say, warm in Denver this week, as the Colorado Rockies and Mets found out. David Wright homered into a snowbank. Pitchers are wearing ski masks. Shouldn't be much of a change for the Arizona Diamondbacks, right? The Rox are the last remaining team without a home loss, and nominal ace Jhoulys Chacin and his 1.96 ERA is scheduled to take the mound Friday against Ian Kennedy. OK, so maybe the Rockies aren't playoff bound, but the team can certainly hit, and if Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio can win 40 games between them, who knows? It's not like the Dodgers are running away with things out West.
Help wanted: Josh Hamilton gets a lot of attention for his slow start and how it's contributed to his Los Angeles Angels struggling, but check the rotation now that Jered Weaver is hurt. Angels pitchers rank last in baseball in ERA (5.43) and the starters have been even worse (6.07). It's a perfect time to face the mighty lineup of the Detroit Tigers, eh? Good luck to Tommy Hanson, Garrett Richards and C.J. Wilson. The Angels will save Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas for the Rangers series next week, as I'm sure that will go a lot better.
Papi time!: Meanwhile, on the field in Boston many eyes will be on designated hitter David Ortiz, as he is scheduled to make his season debut. Ortiz homered for Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday and proclaimed himself ready for big league action, and it's doubtful the team will deny him. The Red Sox have actually received stellar production from their DH slot sans Big Papi, as Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava have hit well in the role, and Jonny Gomes has drawn walks. Still, none of them is Ortiz.
Enjoy your weekend!