Showing posts with label Manny Machado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manny Machado. Show all posts

Monday, August 8, 2016

White Sox drop two out of three to first-place Orioles

Carlos Rodon
The White Sox threw the back end of their starting rotation against one of the American League's most powerful lineups this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field.

Predictable results ensued, as the hard-hitting Baltimore Orioles maintained their slim lead in the American League East by taking two out of three games from the South Siders.

Let's reflect back on the weekend's action:

Friday, Aug. 5
Orioles 7, White Sox 5: Baltimore never trailed in this game as it jumped on Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez for a run in the second inning and three more in the third to take an early 4-0 lead.

The Sox got two back in the fourth, highlighted by Jose Abreu's 13th home run of the season, and to his credit, Gonzalez (2-6) settled in and kept the score close at 4-2 through six innings.

Unfortunately, attrition has taken its toll on the Sox bullpen, and the unreliable arms now outnumber the reliable ones. That means manager Robin Ventura at times has to roll the dice and hope some lesser relievers can keep games such as this one close in the late innings.

This was one of those times where that completely blew up on the Sox, as Tommy Kahnle allowed three runs on four hits in just one-third of inning. The Orioles increased their lead to 7-2, and wouldn't you know it, the Sox countered with three of their own in the bottom of the inning to make it close again. Too bad Kahnle failed to keep the score at 4-2, huh?

The Sox ran themselves out of the inning in the bottom of the eighth. They scored three runs to make it 7-5, and had runners on second and third with only one out for Adam Eaton. The Sox outfielder grounded out to first for the second out, and Dioner Navarro -- the runner at third -- strayed too far off base and was thrown out trying to get back to bag.

That was a bad baserunning double play, and with it, the Sox squandered their best chance to tie the game. Typical White Sox nonsense.

Saturday, Aug. 6
White Sox 4, Orioles 2: Sox lefty Carlos Rodon got a no-decision in this game, but his performance was the most encouraging part of the win.

Rodon was in big trouble in the top of the first inning with runners on first and third and nobody out -- and a 3-0 count on Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado. Using a fastball that hit 100 mph and a devastating slider, Rodon rallied to strike out Machado. Then, he struck out Mark Trumbo and Steve Pearce to escape the inning with no runs allowed.

Rodon ended up with five consecutive strikeouts after he began the second inning by fanning Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy. He went six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits. He finished with seven strikeouts and walked just two. He left the mound with the score tied at 2.

The Sox hung a rare loss on Baltimore ace Chris Tillman (14-4) by scoring a run in the seventh on an RBI single by rookie catcher Omar Narvaez. Eaton added his ninth home run of the season for an insurance run in the eighth, making a winner of Nate Jones (5-2), who worked 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.

Closer David Robertson got three outs for his 27th save in 31 opportunities.

Sunday, Aug. 7
Orioles 10, White Sox 2: I had to back off my criticism of the James Shields trade for a little while after he put together six consecutive quality starts. But now that Shields had allowed 14 runs over his last 2.1 innings, I think I can go back to talking about what a stupid decision it was to acquire him.

The Sox were trailing 10-0 after three innings, thanks to the latest Shields meltdown. On Sunday, he gave up as many home runs as he recorded outs (four). He lasted just 1.1 innings, allowing eight earned runs on six hits. Not a single one of those hits was cheap.

Machado made a little bit of history by homering three times in three at bats in the first three innings. He drove in seven of Baltimore's 10 runs. The first two homers were off Shields, the last was off Matt Albers.

There were few positives for the Sox, although Abreu homered for the third time in four days. He's up to 14 on the season now.

After three innings, and given the thin nature of the Sox bullpen, I thought this one might end with Baltimore scoring 20-plus runs and the Sox using position players to pitch.

Mercifully, Kahnle, Carson Fulmer and Michael Ynoa combined to throw six innings of garbage-time, scoreless relief.

Don't worry, folks, the Sox will be out from underneath Shields' contract at the end of the 2018 season.

Friday, April 29, 2016

John Danks torpedoes another White Sox winning streak

John Danks is 0-4 in four starts.
From April 9 to 15, the White Sox won five games in a row. John Danks put a stop to that by getting shelled in Tampa Bay on April 16.

The Sox won six games in a row this week. Danks put a stop to that Thursday by getting shelled in Baltimore.

The veteran left-hander was staked to an early 2-0 lead on Todd Frazier's first-inning home run, but it was all downhill from there as the Orioles clobbered the South Siders, 10-2.

Danks lasted five-plus innings, allowing six runs on nine hits. He struck out four and walked two, one of which was a four-pitch free pass to Baltimore's No. 9 hitter, Caleb Joseph, in the third inning. That walk started a four-run Orioles rally that featured back-to-back home runs by Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo. By the time the fourth inning rolled around, the Sox were facing a 5-2 deficit.

Baltimore broke it open with five in the sixth. Jake Petricka, providing no relief, gave up a grand slam to Manny Machado, but realistically, the game was lost early when Danks let it get away from him.

The Sox are 16-7 through 23 games, but Danks is 0-4. His ERA has swelled to 7.25. His WHIP sits at an unsightly 1.746.

Danks' woes have created the first crisis for the Sox in this 2016 season. As we've stated before, we can't attribute this slow start to a small sample size, because Danks finished last year on a struggling note. If you combine his final 10 starts of 2015 with his first four starts of this year, you come up with an ugly 1-11 record and a 5.13 ERA.

"It's been a pretty miserable April," Danks said in this MLB.com article. "I'm just not throwing enough strikes, just not throwing enough quality strikes. There's been games where I can full on eliminate a pitch, because it doesn't have a chance."

If you can believe it, Danks' velocity is down from last year. His average fastball velocity is 87.90 mph through four starts this season. That's only six miles an hour quicker than his changeup, which sits at 81.16 on average. They say you want an average variance of 9 to 11 mph between those two pitches, so Danks' reduced velocity is really killing him. It's hard to tell the difference between the fastball and the change. To the hitters' eye, it all looks the same. Danks is easy pickings for a hard-hitting team such as the Orioles right now.

By way of comparison, his fastball velocity in 2015 averaged 89.86. Danks had 15 starts, most of them toward the end of last year, where his fastball averaged 90 mph. If he touches 90 with his four-seamer, that's at least enough to give him a fighting chance with the 81 mph changeup. Right now, those lost three ticks on his fastball have put him in a situation where he needs to be pinpoint with his command, and he has been anything but pinpoint.

The Sox have to be thinking about making a change at the back of the rotation at this point. We've already seen Miguel Gonzalez come up for a spot start. Other viable options from Triple-A Charlotte include Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner.

General manager Rick Hahn has addressed several problems on this team since the end of last season -- a new third baseman, a new catching duo, a new second baseman, a new shortstop, an upgraded outfield defense. The Sox have the look of a contender, and they've come too far to show too much patience with Danks.

I'd be inclined to make a change now, but at most Danks should get no more than two more starts to pull himself together. It's hard to sustain winning streaks when you've got one starting pitcher who is putting you in a three-, four-, or five-run hole in the early innings more often than not.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Orioles add Pedro Alvarez to a lineup that already has a DH

Pedro Alvarez
Former Pittsburgh Pirates 1B/3B Pedro Alvarez agreed Monday to a one-year, $5.75 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

Alvarez was No. 2 on our list of top 5 remaining free agents going into March (posted earlier this week), and he figures to add power to an already-potent Baltimore lineup. Alvarez has clubbed 101 home runs over the past four seasons. Last year, he hit .243/.318/.469 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs in 150 games with the Pirates. He also struck out 131 times.

Pittsburgh, being a National League team, most likely parted ways with Alvarez because he is a defensive liability at both first base and third base. The Orioles have Chris Davis at first base and Manny Machado at third base, which means they can have Alvarez serve as designated hitter and hide his deficiencies with the glove.

There's just one problem with that: Where does that leave Mark Trumbo? I would have projected Trumbo as Baltimore's DH before this Alvarez move. Now, Trumbo is probably going to play right field, where he's just as big of a defensive problem as Alvarez would be at first base.

I wonder if the Orioles will try Davis in right field and have Trumbo play first. I'm not sure that's any better, but I won't be surprised if Baltimore manager Buck Showalter at least experiments with that defensive look during spring ball.

Baltimore is going to score some runs this season. Adam Jones, Davis, Machado, Trumbo, Alvarez, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy; they have a deep lineup with plenty of guys who can hit the ball off the wall and over it.

I question whether the Orioles have enough starting pitching to contend in the AL East. With a projected rotation of Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman, there isn't an ace in that group -- unless the 25-year-old Gausman, a former first-round draft pick, takes a giant leap forward.

I think Baltimore is going to need to play good defense behind that questionable rotation, but it looks to me like there are too many weak gloves in its projected lineup. That's going to drive Showalter crazy, as he is known as a manager who values good defense.

If the Orioles are to be a playoff team in 2016, they are going to have to outslug the opposition on most nights.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Buck Showalter, Matt Williams named Managers of the Year

So, Ned Yost guided the long-suffering Kansas City Royals to the World Series this year, but he still didn't win American League Manager of the Year.

Instead, that honor went to Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Can you tell the voting was done after the conclusion of the regular season, but before the playoffs?

Based upon the regular season, Showalter deserved the award. His Orioles won 96 games, an 11-game improvement over 2013, and captured the AL East title. Until Baltimore got swept in the ALCS by the Royals, it had not lost four consecutive games since May, nor had it dropped consecutive home games since June 28-29.

Avoiding long losing streaks is a good way to win a division, and that kind of consistency always reflects well on a manager. In addition, the Orioles were without catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado for long stretches of the season, and first baseman Chris Davis was a combination of bad and suspended throughout the year. Baltimore overcame all that and won its division going away.

Showalter was rewarded by receiving 25 of the 30 first-place votes on the Manager of the Year ballot. He finished with 132 points, ahead of Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels, who had four first-place votes and 61 points. Yost finished third with 41 points.

On the National League side, Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals joined Houston's Hal Lanier (1986), San Francisco's Dusty Baker (1993) and Florida's Joe Girardi (2006) as the only men to win Manager of the Year in their first seasons as a major league manager.

I thought Williams inexperience showed in a four-game NLDS loss to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Some of his pitching moves didn't make much sense to me, but again, this award is based upon the regular season.

You'd have to say Williams did as good a job as any NL manager during the regular season. He guided the Nationals to a league-best 96 wins, and his club destroyed the NL East, winning the division by 17 games.

Williams received 18 first-place votes and totaled 109 points in the balloting. Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle, the 2013 NL winner, garnered eight first-place votes and finished second with 80 points. San Francisco's Bruce Bochy was third, collecting three first-place votes and 30 points. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Here's a look at the first of my two fantasy teams

Manny Machado
I'll be participating in two fantasy baseball leagues this summer. In addition to talking about actual baseball, I plan to post about fantasy baseball from time to time once the regular season begins. I'll talk about the progress of my own teams, and hopefully hand out some decent advice to readers of this blog.

I was nowhere near a computer last night and therefore unable to participate in the draft for the first league I'm in. This is my first year in this keeper league, where I inherited a last place team. I did have the first pick in the draft, and the league commissioner selected a team for me based upon player rankings. Here is my roster:

C: Jason Castro
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Ian Kinsler:
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
3B: Manny Machado
LF: Starling Marte 
CF: Michael Bourn
RF: Josh Reddick
DH: Matt Kemp

BN: Domonic Brown
BN: Aramis Ramirez
BN: Daniel Murphy
BN: Todd Frazier
BN: Alexei Ramirez

SP: Jordan Zimmermann
SP: David Price
SP: Gerrit Cole
SP: Mike Minor
SP: CC Sabathia
SP: Dan Straily

RP: Steve Cishek
RP: Addison Reed
RP: Joaquin Benoit
RP: Mark Melancon

The league allows owners to keep four guys from the previous year's team. My four were Tulowitzki, Machado, Fielder and Zimmermann.

Zimmermann was the easiest choice. I can see why last year's owner finished last. His relief pitching was terrible, and Francisco Liriano was his second-best starter. I figured I had to keep one pitcher, and Zimmermann was the only guy on that roster I liked.

I'm always a little reluctant on Tulowitzki. He always seems to have injuries, but he's still the best offensive shortstop in the game. It's hard not to keep him if you have the chance.

I kept Machado because third base is a hard position to fill. Even though he's coming off an injury and may not be ready to start the season, I feel like he's a good fantasy option over the long haul. At least I have Ramirez and Frazier as backups at third base to get me by in the short run.

Finally, I had to decide whether to keep Fielder or Josh Hamilton as my fourth guy. I chose Fielder because I think he will thrive in hitter-friendly Texas, and Hamilton hasn't been healthy this spring. I was already keeping a couple health risks in Tulowitzki and Machado, and didn't want to take another one.

At first glance, it looks like right field and relief pitching will be my two weaknesses. Reddick, who was chosen for me in the 21st round, is my only option in right field. Once Machado is healthy, I might be looking to deal one of my third basemen to fill that spot.

As for relief pitching, well, closing situations are always so fluid. Things change quickly, and if you're on top of things, you can sometimes find some good options for your team on waivers. We'll see.

I have another draft next Sunday. It's not a keeper league, and I'll actually be able to go to the draft. I'll post the results and my thoughts on it in this space next week.