Potent pitching on parade
Five Cy Young winners on the mound this weekend, but what's the best matchup?
There will be no shortage of star pitchers on the mound this weekend. This list includes five Cy Young winners -- Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and CC Sabathia -- in addition to Stephen Strasburg, Jered Weaver, Josh Johnson and Ian Kennedy. In Friday's Triple Play, our analysts discuss their favorite pitching matchup of the weekend, along with unsung players and teams, and the fate of Royals GM Dayton Moore.
1. Which weekend pitching matchup are you most looking forward to?
Dave Gershman (@Dave_Gershman), Marlins Daily
Although it might not be as heralded as other matchups, the Josh Johnson-Gio Gonzalez matchup in the nation's capital Sunday is pretty intriguing for me. It'll be interesting to see if Johnson's effectiveness will be up to par against a decent Nationals lineup. Additionally, Gonzalez will have a tough Marlins lineup to take down.
David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), SweetSpot blogger
Roy Halladay versus Cory Luebke, Saturday night in San Diego. Don't be surprised to see a reprise of the Cliff Lee-Matt Cain scoreless duel in this one. You have two good pitchers, two bad offenses and Petco Park. It's sort of a potential perfect storm of zeroes. After getting roughed up on Opening Day, Luebke has allowed one run in each of his past two starts. Yes, he's good.
Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski), ESPN Insider
Justin Verlander versus Neftali Feliz Saturday afternoon. You have two teams that are solid bets to make the playoffs, and a Cy Young candidate facing off against Feliz, whose conversion back to starting has gone well so far. This game may be an ALCS preview, 150 games early. The Rangers have scored more than six runs a game this year, meaning only Verlander or some superhero can stop them.
2. The team or player not getting enough attention so far is _________.
Gershman: How about A.J. Pierzynski? The backstop has a wOBA (weighted on-base average) of .506 so far with four homers. Power from a position where it's generally lacking is crucial for a team such as the White Sox, a club that's been struggling to score runs. Pierzynski has always been a solid catcher, but the fact that we're just over 10 days into the season and he already has four dingers is pretty exciting.
Schoenfield: The Carlos Beltran signing seemed to fly under the radar in the offseason, and he's off to a great start for the Cardinals, hitting .333 with five home runs and 12 RBIs. For all the hoopla over losing Albert Pujols, Beltran actually had a higher OPS last season -- .910 to .906. Beltran has to stay healthy, but if he does he could be a sleeper MVP candidate.
Szymborski: Matt Wieters and the Orioles. The O's won't finish at the top of the division -- or the middle -- but the pitching's actually been decent, good news for a staff that usually looks more like a MLB version of the Washington Generals. Wieters has played up to the level of his Internet meme and is making his case for being best catcher in baseball. April's always the best time to be an O's fan because by May the team usually remembers that it's not very good.
3. The Royals have lost seven straight and seem to be going backward. Is it time for GM Dayton Moore to go?
Gershman: Moore should have been sacked long before the Royals dropped their past seven games, but, yes, now is the time. A change in Kansas City might just make sense and, considering the Royals' recent history, any change could very well be for the better. The organization has drafted better over the past several years but have still made some silly moves through trades and signings.
Schoenfield: Hey, Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon are both hitting under .170, so you can't blame Moore for that. Frankly, I didn't understand some of the love for the Royals heading into the season. It's still a very young team with a predictably shaky rotation. If you believe in Moore's process -- there, I said it -- of developing young players, then 2013 should be the breakthrough season, not 2012.
Szymborski: Moore, like Chuck LaMar in early Rays history, is a top-notch scouting director used as a bottom-notch general manager. A demotion to his area of strength is long overdue, but if the Royals liked Moore two weeks ago, I'm not sure what he's done since then to be jettisoned now. I guess Moore could be penalized for not having Chris Getz shot out of a cannon or something, but the MLBPA frowns on that, I think.