MLB Diamond Notes-June 7
As we head towards mid-June, Cleveland begins to stumble in the AL Central, Boston and New York are beginning to separate themselves in the AL East and Texas is showing why they are the cream of the crop in the AL West. In the NL, St. Louis is finding ways to win without their ace Adam Wainwright, but watch out for Milwaukee. San Francisco took the lead in the NL West, despite losing Buster Posey and the Cubs are well, the Cubs.
*The Chicago Cubs are a dysfunctional unit right now. The Cubs have lost six in a row and are getting called out by pitcher Carlos Zambrano. They are also a pitiful -$1299 against the money line, which is second-worst in baseball. One thing the Cubs are good at and that’s going OVER the total as they are 32-25 OVER this season. They rank last in baseball with a 4.75 ERA and last in WHIP with a 1.49. Zambrano leads the team with a respectable 5-2 and 3.98 ERA. Ryan Dempster (4-5, 6.32 ERA) has become one of the best pitchers’ in baseball to go over with. Matt Garza (2-4, 3.72) has pitched pretty well but has missed four start due to a bruise on his right elbow. That explains some of the problems they’ve had with the rotation.
*St. Louis won three straight over the weekend, sweeping the Cubs. With Wainwright gone, Kyle Lohse (7-2, 2.41 ERA, 52Ks) has really stepped up. Lohse was essentially a journeyman before finding a home in St. Louis. After going 15-6 in his first season in 2008 with the Cards, Lohse has dropped off the radar until this season. Without Wainwright, the Cards are 13th in the NL in ERA at 3.69 but it’s their offense that has carried them. They are second in baseball, averaging 4.93 runs per game and first with a .280 average. Albert Pujols leads the way with 13 homers and 38 RBIs, but the real surprise is 35-year old outfielder Lance Berkman, who is hitting .329 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. Even with Matt Holliday (.342, 6, 31) on the DL, this team is coasting through the NL Central save for one team…..
*The Milwaukee Brewers have climbed to within two games of the Cardinals after sweeping Florida last weekend. The Brew Crew offers power (67 homers, 4th in MLB) and some speed (14 steals). But the pitching has led to their turnaround. They rank 11th in baseball with a 3.69 ERA and fourth in strikeouts with 465. Milwaukee is $566 against the money line and 21-7 at home, the best record in the majors. Ryan Braun leads the team with a .306 average with 13 homers, 13 steals and 42 RBIs. Prince Fielder leads in RBIs with 45 and also had 13 homers. They have also had success from former Blue Jay Shaun Marcum (6-2, 2.78 ERA) and former Phillie Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.69). Yovani Gallardo (8-2, 3.72 ERA, 69 Ks) has been the ace of the staff. If Zack Greinke (4-1, 5.29 ERA, 45Ks, 34 IP) can become consistent, this will be a scary team in the second half.
*In the American League, as Cleveland continues to fade, though they still have a 2.5 game lead over Detroit in the AL Central, Minnesota is finally showing some signs of life. It may be too late for the Twins, but they did win four straight last week, including sweeping the Kansas City Royals. C Joe Mauer started a rehab assignment and could join the team on Sunday if he’s healthy. That would be a huge boost to a team that is hitting just .242 overall and is averaging just 3.71 runs per game. The bigger problem is a pitching staff with a 4.63 ERA and their ace, Francisco Liriano, is still on the DL. Injuries have just crushed this team with OF Jason Kubel, DH Jim Thome, Mauer and SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the DL with various injuries. When Nick Blackburn (5-4, 3.57 ERA) is your best pitcher, you have problems.
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*As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, jump on Texas now that they are getting healthy. They Rangers have won five straight and 8 of their last 10. They are 19-11 at home and $543 against the money line. OF Josh Hamilton (.315, 3, 19) hasn’t shown a lot of power in 92 at-bats, but OF Nelson Cruz (.241, 12, 29, 162 at-bats) has made up for it. Adrian Beltre (.247, 11, 43 RBIs) has been a very nice addition and has shown last year wasn’t a fluke. Starters Alexi Ogando (6-0, 2.20 ERA), C.J. Wilson (6-3, 3.03 ERA) and Matt Harrison (5-4, 3.26) have made people forget that Cliff Lee left for free agency. Of course, they might miss Lee when it comes to the postseason but right now, the Rangers look like a lock as long as they stay healthy
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