WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Francisco Liriano. I'm not ready to go with the whole "he's back" thing or anything, but Thursday's outing against the Gay Sox was a very good sign. Looking a bit deeper into the numbers, Liriano seems to be closer to the 2006 version of himself than last year's. After the injury, he was too reliant on his fastball, throwing the pitch over 50% of the time (54% in 2008 and 56% in 2009) compared to 44% in 2006 despite having lost velocity (90.9mph average in 2008 and 91.7 in 2009 compared to 94.7 in 2006). The good news is he's very close to recapturing his 2006 numbers so far this season. He has thrown his fastball just 46% of the time and the velocity is back up at 93.6mph on average). He's also throwing more strikes, with 64% of his pitches going for strikes compared to just 60% last year (and he was at 66% in 2006). He's also working the change up more often, throwing it 24% of the time, a career high by 4% thus far. Like I said, I'm not saying he's back, but to be able to thrown 7 shutout innings with 8 Ks and to do it throwing just 96 pitches is huge for Liriano. Backing it up with the numbers above is a good sign. Now, his overall K/9 are down, his BB/9 is up, and his BABIP is a fluky low .238 right now so I'm not jumping into the bandwagon with both feet just yet, but things are heading in the right direction.
2. Chase Utley. Hey guy. Small white second-basemen aren't supposed to rake like this, just ask Steve Lombardozzi or Wally Backman. But instead, Utley just does his own thing and continually hits the ball out of the park, something he did five times this week in six games, including four in his three games against the Nationals. This guy is just an absolute stud. If you look at his last five years, and take the worst year he had in each statistic and combined them, he still ends up at .282-22-93. Those are his worst numbers, and don't forget we''re talking about a second basemen, something that of course means nothing to Dawger who probably thinks Utley is no better than Michael Cuddyer. That is if Dawger has even heard of Utley. That guy's knowledge of national league players is on par with my cat. Oh, and I looked up Utley's height and he's actually 6-1 so he's not really all that small, just seems like it because he's so white.
3. Matt Garza. Two weeks into the season, and two weeks that Garza has made this list. On Sunday all he did was shut down the Red Sox, giving up no runs and just four hits in 8 innings of work, and that followed up his outing on Monday, where he shut down the Orioles giving up just one run and six hits in 8 more spectacular innings. That runs his season totals now to 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP, and he's struck out more batters than he's allowed hits. Sigh. At least Delmon is starting to hit the ball - the numbers might not show it but he's raking the ball, just not getting hits out of it - but I think this trade goes down as a suck no matter what. Ignoring the peripheral players and just look at the main pieces, Delmon would basically have to end up hitting like Albert Pujols or A-Rod to make this into a fair deal. Seriously Garza has become a top shelf stud. He has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and has a foot of tail, a mid-80s slider that breaks two feet, a killer slow curve and has finally developed that change-up that caused all the drama back in the day. Plus he has a cute little beard. Sigh.
4. Livan Hernandez. I'm trying to think of things that are less likely than Livan throwing a complete game shutout, which he did on Saturday against the Brewers. So far all I've come up with is a threesome with Brad Pitt, Rosie O'Donnell, and Roseanne, Al Nolen leading the conference in three point percentage, Colt Iverson hitting a shot from further than 8 feet out, and Snacks becoming a big fan of Mike Cuddyer. There are a whole lot Brewers who need to be embarrassed. Not Rickie Weeks though. That guy is the shit.
5. Ubaldo Jimenez. The funny thing about Jimenez tossing a no-hitter on Saturday against the Braves is that my co-worker, Elk, was just telling me about how he was coming around and looking really good this year. Since Elk has him on his fantasy team, I was pretty sure he was just talking up his own player, like how Gardy tries to keep telling us all that Matt Tolbert is awesome. Turns out, the guy can sling the pill. I caught the last inning of the game, and Ubaldo was still hitting 98 on the gun in the 9th. That's pretty impressive. So maybe this guy is pretty good. If only a regular reader and commenter on this blog was a Rockies' season ticket holder, maybe we could get some real insight. Oh, and you better hope Huston Street comes back quick, because Morales is freakin' terrible. You can't trust a left-handed closer, everybody knows that.
1. Jose Mijares. If there is a dark lining to this silver cloud of a Twins season thus far, it was been the struggles of Jose Mijares to get anybody out, now culminating in a trip to the DL in what I suspect is as much of a "figure this thing out" kind of move as it is an injury move. Mijares has thrown a total of 3 innings over five appearances, and is allowing nearly three base-runners per inning (6 hits, 2 walks) and currently sports a 6.00 ERA and has struck out just two batters so far this year - not exactly the kind of numbers you want to see from an eighth inning guy. I don't know if it means anything, but his fastball is down about 1.5 mph compared to last year and he's throwing his changeup about twice as often this year as he used to. Has he lost something off his fastball and subsequently lost faith in it? I don't know, but I do hope whatever is going on this little DL trip can fix it, because as much as I like Duensing him and Mahay as the lefties out of the bullpen doesn't fill me with confidence.
2. Jason Marquis. Hey, remember when the Nationals signed Marquis to a 2-year/$15 million deal this offseason coming off a 15-win season for the Rockies? And remember how Rockies' fans were like, "take him" and everyone else was kind of like, "whoa, really? $15 million for Marquis?" Well, his living up to that this week. In his two starts this week he managed just 4 and 1/3 innings, allowing thirteen base-runners - every single one of which scored. Yes, that's 13 earned runs in 4 and 1/3 innings. His season numbers right now are and 0-3 record with a 20.52 ERA and a 2.88 WHIP. Yes, and ERA over 20. He's certainly earning that $7.5 million this year. My favorite part was when he pitched against the Brewers on Saturday and it went single-single-single-hit by pitch-walk-hit by pitch-single-Marquis yanked. Quality outing.
3. Jason Frasor. You wanted him to be a Twin, which once again proves you don't know what the holy hell you're talking about. You're also probably really impressed that he has three saves, paying little attention to the fact that he's blown two also and is currently rocking a 5.68 ERA, which is already improved from the 6+ number he was carrying at the beginning of the week. At least the Blue Jays are paying attention, and they've yanked the closer role away from Frasor and given it to the decidedly average Kevin Gregg. What this all means is that the guy you wanted to the Twins to trade precious prospects for to close games for them was beaten out for the role on a crappy Blue Jay team by a guy who put up an ERA north of 4.70 the last time he was closing games. Good call, genius.
4. Cincinnati Reds. The Reds were so awesome this week they were actually swept by the Pirates, in what was the first Pirate sweep since 1987, or so I assume without looking anything up. And it wasn't just during that series that the Reds sucked, they've been pretty rough so far this year and sit at 5-8. Out of their players who qualify for the batting title, Joey Votto is the only one hitting over .250 - Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs are hitting under .200. And it's not just the hitters. Aaron Harang looks to have fallen off the cliff, Johnny Cueto isn't developing, and speaking of not developing Homer Bailey is starting to look like the type of prospect who has all the tools on paper but can't ever pull it together - like David West but with more talent. They have yet another new little youngster arm in Mike Leake who has looked really good so far, but if the rest of the youngins' don't start playing and stay just "potentially good", it's going to be yet another losing season in Cincy.
5. Chef Boyardee. Can someone please tell me why the Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs has a different sauce than every other Chef Boyardee? The Ravioli is top notch, and the peripheral spinoffs like Beef-a-roni and Lasagna are basically the same thing, but then you get to the spaghetti and meatballs and it's like WTF, Mr. B? We shove this at WonderbabyTM every so often and she likes most of it (as do I, if we're being honest here - try the mini raviolis, top notch) but we tried the spaghetti the other day and it seriously made her angry, like an old man sending back soup at a deli. So I tried it, and it was like eating evil. Why would you use the exact same, deliciously sodium-filled sauce on the majority of your project and then detour into some sort of unholy combination of what I can only assume is fire and brimstone on what should probably be your flagship pasta variation? For shame. And did you know there isn't even an actual Chef Boyardee? So nobody actually has to answer for this abomination. Except for the sham executives. You know who you are. Between this and all the dead hookers, I bet you can't even sleep at night.