Monthly Archives: July 2013

64 Down, 17 To Go

July 30: Top 5 Teams in MLB
Team W L % GB Last 10
Pirates 64 42 .604 7-3
Rays 64 43 .598 0.5 8-2
Red Sox 64 44 .593 1.0 5-5
Cardinals 62 43 .590 1.5 4-6
A’s 63 44 .589 1.5 7-3

That’s the standings after last night; After the Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Cardinals. If somebody had told me in march that the Pirates would have the best record in baseball at the end of July 30th, and be in the middle of making the Cardinals look bad…. I never would’ve believed it.

This is just about the time of year when Pittsburgh’s supposed to pull off their sudden collapse trick, and wind up under .500 yet again. Now though, they look like they’re making it clear they’re as good as anybody.

St Louis will probably beat ’em tonight, ’cause Wainwright’s scheduled to start. But even if they do, the Pirates will still be 1/2 game up in the division when August begins.

So the Pirates might actually be a contender when September begins. There’s an entire generation of baseball fans who’ve never seen that. Before the team gets that far though, they’ll reach 81 W’s.

The Pirates have 28 games on the schedule in August, and need just 17 W’s to reach the 81 mark for the season. So if they still need 17 wins when the month begins, then they can reach 81 if they go 17-11 (.607) or better in August. That wouldn’t be beyond them either, as they went 19-9 (.679) in May and 17-9 (.659) in June. Also, they’ll be facing a number of teams they should be able to handle.—

  1. 6-2 against the Cardinals (3 home, 3 away)
  2. 0-0 against the Rockies (3 home, 3 away)
  3. 1-2 against the Marlins (3 home)
  4. 2-1 against the Diamondbacks (3 home)
  5. 0-0 against the Padres (3 away)
  6. 2-1 against the Giants (4 away)
  7. 9-4 against the Brewers (3 home)

The NL West is weak this year, so I think Pittsburgh won’t have much problem with the Rockies, Padres, and Giants. The Diamondbacks might give ’em a series loss tho. I doubt the Marlins will win the season series against the Pirates. The Brewers and Cardinals seem to be no match for the Pirates.

Fans should start lining up for tickets to the Pirates homestand at the end of the month (Aug 27 – Sep 1). It’ll be 6 games against the Brewers and Cardinals. Sometime during that homestand, is when I think they’ll secure a .500 season for the first time since 1992. It’s too soon to tell which game it’ll likely be.

The Rays Are Shining

You’ve probably noticed by now that the Rays are 21-4 (.840) in the past month. They catapulted from observers to contenders, even reaching 1st place in the AL East for a day before their loss in New York yesterday. We all know Tampa’s good, but how have they just suddenly turned it up a notch?

If you’re like me, you probably figure the offense caught fire by way of an Evan Longoria spark. Yet, that couldn’t be more wrong. The Rays are pulling this hot streak off, with a slumping Longoria. He’s batting .200/.299/.365 during these last 25 games.

That should probably scare fans in New York, Boston, and Baltimore. After all, Tampa’s usually good, but now it seems like they’ve learned how to win without relying on Longoria to carry the offense.

The guys leading the team through this, are an aging Luke Scott (.324/.405/.632), James Loney (.361/.389/.458), and rookie Wil Myers (.348/.378/.551). Kind of a weird mix, but it kind of makes sense too. Those three lead the team in OBP during the team’s heat wave.

On the pitching side of things, guys like David Price, Matt Moore, and Fernando Rodney, are doing their jobs as we’d expect. Then there’s some unknowns who are stepping it up alongside them. Middle reliever Alex Torres hasn’t allowed any runs, earned or unearned, in his past 10 1/3. You should also note that he’s striking out 8.71 batters per 9 IP. Starter Chris Archer, is 4-0 with 2 shutouts, on the strength of a 1.29 ERA.

Tonight, the Rays are in Boston, to play the division leading Red Sox. There’s only a half game difference between them right now. This should be good.

Greinke Is Pitching AND Batting

I just noticed that in the past month (6/22 – 7/21), Zack Greinke’s really hot. He’s doing it from the mound, which isn’t much of a surprise, but he’s also doing it from the batters box.

Among pitchers (min. 35 IP), he’s thrown the 2nd most innings of any pitcher, going 5-0, with a 2.36 ERA. His K/BB is 2.4. He’s only really pitched one bad game, but that was in Colorado. Impressively, since that game, he’s only allowed 1 run in 22 IP.

More surprisingly though, is what he’s been doing at the plate. Greinke’s batting .538/.625/.692 in 18 PA. Not many pitchers ever get a hot streak with the bat where they draw 3 walks & pepper a couple doubles into the mix while going 7 for 13 over the course of 18 PA. In fact, comparing it with all batters (min. 10 PA) during this period, Greinke’s been the best at getting on base. Of course that’s small sample size, but he doesn’t get to hit too often since his main deal is to pitch. Still impressive.

So for the season, Greinke’s batting average is up to .406, which is by far the best he’s done in any season with more than 2 PA’s. I think the last time a pitcher hit .400 was Walter Johnson in 1925, when he hit .433 in 107 PA. Greinke will probably only get up to the plate around 50-70 times, but he could still end up with one of the greatest hitting seasons by any regular pitcher. What will probably get less attention, but is more important, is that Greinke’s already drawn more walks than Walter Johnson did.