Rather than simply quickly blurb a bunch of today's games, I'll instead create a fine listicle ranking the top three pitching match ups according to my own fickle and arbitrary criteria. Sounds like fun! Here we go.
- Boston @ Philadelphia: Dice K v. The Bastardo. ZOMG! Dice K is done! Ship him out, when does Smoltz get here? The temptation to believe Matsuzaka's days of high pitch counts and myriad walks have finally caught up with him is strong. While Dice-K hasn't pitched nearly as well as expected (it's hard to make up excuses for a 2.11 WHIP) most of his peripheral stats are right in line with his career numbers. In fact; his walks are actually down from his 2008 rate and his FIP is up less than a full run over last season (compared to his ERA which is 5 runs higher than 2008.) His current BABIP is an alarming .453 - a figure guaranteed to come down.
Bastardo's been a revelation for the Phillies this season, winning his first two starts and fans of good pitching and better surnames. Bastardo features essentially a two-pitch arsenal with a change up sprinkled in for fun and flavor. He was hit a little harder last time out against the Dodgers, it remains to be seen if he can survive the Red Sox Gauntlet of Patience.
The Sox and Phillies are two of the most popular teams in baseball with an active blogosphere and passionate fans. Dice K brings the star power while the Phils bring the WFCness. Good enough for third place Duel for today.
- Mariners @ Rockies: Brandon Morrow v. Jason Marquis. Ahh, the study in contrasts. The kid with the golden arm making the least of his talents versus a career junkballer making a
late-careerfinancially-fueled resurgence. Brandon Morrow is a big, strong, kid that touches triple digits with his fastball who spent most of last season as the Mariners closer. The team smartly recognized he was much more valuable in the rotation and began the process last season. Fast forward to the spring when Morrow decided he was more comfortable in the pen. Argh go the Marinerds. Suddenly, two weeks ago, Morrow decided he wanted to be a starter after all! A shocking injury to Erik Bedard presses Morrow into duty before he's fully stretched, putting him on a strict pitch count. Morrow hasn't pitched well this season at all, getting good innings out of the diabetic youngster is crucial to the M's rebuilding process.
Jason Marquis: what can I say about him that hasn't been said about three cheese ranch. Right place, right time, surprising results. I teased Marquis in regards to his poor career numbers, but he's really pitched well this season. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs broke down his recent success, pointing to an increase in ground balls and missed bats as driving forces in his contract year success.
This might not be as sexy a match up as established East Coast teams, but don't sell these two pitchers short. Good for second place on the list as a showcase for diversity as well as the red-hot Rockies.
A's @ Giants: Outman v. Many Strikeouts Man Two of the hottest teams in baseball. An actual, legitimate rivalry between two light hitting teams sure to enhance the pitching bottom line. Walkoff Walk Object of Scorn Randy Johnson looks for his 301st career win against Josh Outman, he of 14 career starts. One lithe lefty versus a cagey old buzzard lefty.
Outman comes in with a 4-0 mark on the season. His 4.17 FIP is very good with only a few red flags to speak of. A low BABIP may cause some of his numbers to creep up, but a manageable home run, walk, and line drive numbers should find Outman and his effective slider continuing to help the A's in their quest for futility in the AL West.
Randy Johnson is old an broke Rob's heart. He's quite famous thanks to his pitching prowess and bird-like features. He still notches strikeouts with regularity but home runs, walks, and the damned kids on his lawn have reduced Johnson from top of the rotation stud to lingering old guy. He moves the needle in this Bay Area battle and that's good enough for my Duel of the Day! Go out and score a dozen on my credibility!