Tag Archives: STL Cardinals

MLB Weekly-ish: Pujols and the Dodgers make history, Harvey DFAed

Looking Back

Milestone games for Angels DH Albert Pujols and Dodgers pitchers, and the Mets designating a former ace for assignment highlight this week’s MLB Weekly.

Pujols began this season with 2,968 career hits and on Friday, in his 31st game of 2018, he recorded his 32nd hit of the season, making him the 32nd player in major league history to reach the 3,000-hit milestone. The 40-year-old singled to right field off Mariners SP Mike Leake in the fifth inning of an Angels victory for hit No. 3,000. With 620 home runs on his ledger, he joins Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez as the only four members of the 3,000/600 club.

Pujols put up monster numbers in his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, totaling 2,073 hits and 445 home runs with a .328 average. But since signing with the Angels prior to the 2012 season, Pujols’ offensive output has slowed and he has transitioned from a two-time National League Gold Glove-winning first baseman to a designated hitter as age and injuries have caught up to him. Entering Sunday, his batting average with the Angels is .262, more than 60 points below what he hit with St. Louis. Despite the offensive downturn, Pujols still has some power, having hit 60 homers since the start of the 2016 season. The three-time NL MVP is signed with the Angels through the 2021 season.

Pujols is one of the longest-tenured active players in the majors, but it was a rookie Dodgers pitcher who had the spotlight on him Friday when the defending NL champs began a three-game series with the Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. SP Walker Buehler — making his third career MLB start — pitched the first six innings of what would be a six-pitcher combined no-hitter in a 4-0 Dodgers victory. Buehler struck out eight batters and issued three walks in his six innings of work before manager Dave Roberts took him out of the game after throwing 93 pitches. RPs Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore followed up Buehler’s performance by each throwing an inning, combining for five strikeouts and two walks in the final three innings of the game. Buehler has been impressive in the first three starts of his big-league career, recording a 1.13 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 16 innings, making him one of the few positives in what has been a disappointing start to the season for the Dodgers, who are 15-17 after finishing 2017 with a MLB-best 104 wins and falling a game short of winning the World Series.

It was the 23rd no-hitter in Dodgers history — 13th since moving to Los Angeles — but the first combined no-hitter for the team. It was the 12th combined no-hitter in MLB history and the first since six Mariners pitchers no-hit the Dodgers in June 2012. And it’s the second no-hitter of 2018 after A’s SP Sean Manaea threw a no-no against the Red Sox on April 22.

The news wasn’t so good for Matt Harvey on Friday. The Mets asked him to accept a demotion to the minors, which he refused. That led the team to designate him for assignment, giving the Mets 10 days to trade the pitcher, who was recently moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, or release him. That ends Harvey’s time with the Mets after a tenure that began promising but had taken a downward turn in recent years, with injuries limiting his time on the field — including missing the entire 2014 season — and inconsistent performances when he did play.

Harvey’s ERA has steadily risen over the last three years, going from 2.71 in 2015 to 4.86 in 2016 and 6.70 last year. In eight appearances this season, including four starts, Harvey is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in 27 innings. That compares to ERAs of 2.73 and 2.27 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The big injury news this week was Dodgers SS Corey Seager suffering a season-ending UCL strain that will require him to undergo Tommy John surgery. Other notable players hitting the DL in the past week include: Padres OF Wil Myers (oblique), Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig (hip) and SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (groin), Phillies SS J.P. Crawford (forearm), Blue Jays OFs Randal Grichuk (knee) and Steve Pearce (oblique), Diamondbacks SP Robbie Ray (oblique), Rockies 2B DJ LeMahieu (hamstring), Twins 3B Miguel Sano (hamstring) and C Jason Castro (knee), Angels RP Keynan Middleton (elbow) and SP Nick Tropeano (shoulder), Giants SP Johnny Cueto (elbow), Yankees SP Jordan Montgomery (elbow), Brewers SP Zach Davies (rotator cuff), Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera (hamstring), Braves SS Dansby Swanson (wrist) and White Sox 2B Yoan Moncada (hamstring).

The Week Ahead

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The featured series this week is the return of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. They’re meeting for three games in the Bronx starting Tuesday, at a time when they have the two best records in the American League. The Indians visit the Brewers for two games starting Tuesday, and the Rockies and Angels have a two-game set in Denver in a couple of series involving playoff hopefuls. Later in the week, the White Sox head to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs starting Friday for this season’s first installment of the annual Windy City Series. The NL West-leading Diamondbacks host the disappointing Nationals for four games starting Thursday, and the Rockies host the Brewers for a four-game start beginning Thursday.

Some pitching performances to look for this week include Twins SP Fernando Romero looking to follow up his MLB debut with another good start Monday when he takes on the Cardinals and SP John Gant. The next day, SP Carlos Martinez takes the ball for St. Louis as he looks to improve upon his 3-1 start with a strong 1.40 ERA when he opposes Twins SP Jake Odorizzi. Mariners SP James Paxton recorded a career-high 16 strikeouts last time out, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance Tuesday against the Blue Jays and SP Marcus Stroman. Indians ace Corey Kluber also starts Tuesday, against Brewers SP Wade Miley, while Cubs SP Yu Darvish continues to look for his first win as a Cub; his next shot comes Tuesday against the Marlins, led by SP Jose Urena. Like Paxton, Astros SP Gerrit Cole is coming off a 16-strikeout performance; he’s set to get the ball again on Wednesday at the A’s. Buehler is scheduled to make his next start for the Dodgers at home Thursday, taking on the Reds.

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MLB Weekly-ish: Surprising teams, injuries mark the start of the season

Looking Back

We’re a couple weeks into the 2018 MLB season with most teams having played about 15 games thus far and there are a number of teams that are surprising people by their performances — both good and bad — and some star players are dealing with injuries in this season’s first edition of MLB Weekly.

Taking a look at the standings entering Sunday, the Mets — who are coming off a 70-92 season — are coming out of the gate strong with the best record in the National League and leading the NL East at 11-2. The Nationals, who were the favorites to win the division, sit in fourth place with a 7-8 mark. The Mets’ struggles last season were caused by injuries, with the starting rotation hit particularly hard, so they were expected to have a better season this year assuming health. Through two weeks, their pitchers haven’t dealt with injuries, but C Travis d’Arnaud will undergo Tommy John surgery, which will end his season, and backup C Kevin Plawecki is also on the DL with a broken hand that is expected to keep him out of action for a few weeks. Apart from SP Zack Wheeler, who has a 1.29 ERA in his only start, none of the Mets’ starters have a sub-3.00 ERA but only SP Matt Harvey, who has the worst injury history of the group, has posted an ERA above 4.00 with a 3.60 ERA in his first two starts, but that should get better if he can stay healthy for the first time since 2015.

There’s also an unexpected team at the top of the standings in the NL Central, with the 10-4 Pirates 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Cardinals and the improved Brewers. The Cubs — who have won the division each of the last two seasons — are in fourth place at 7-7. After trading their best pitcher (SP Gerrit Cole) and hitter (OF Andrew McCutchen), the Pirates were thought to be in rebuilding mode and not expected to be competitive in the division in 2018. They are getting production, though, from two of the hitters they added this winter: OF Corey Dickerson, who they acquired in a trade with the Rays, is hitting .347 with 10 RBI and a couple of steals while 3B Colin Moran, who came over from the Astros in the Cole trade, is hitting .316 with 8 RBI in his first 11 games with the team. A couple of young pitchers have had terrific starts to their seasons, with SP Jameson Taillon posting a 0.890ERA with 18 strikeouts in his first three starts and SP Trevor Williams with a 1.56 ERA and 10 strikeouts in three starts.

In the American League, the Angels and Red Sox were both expected to be in the playoff picture this season but not many people expected them to get off to the kinds of starts they they have. The 12-2 Red Sox have been getting it done on the mound, with the second-lowest ERA in the American League. They’ve also been getting offensive production out of SS Xander Bogaerts — who is currently on the DL — and OFs Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez, who are all hitting .353 or better. For the Angels, the much-hyped Shohei Ohtani has shown his subpar spring training performance was a fluke and has gotten off to a hot start both at the plate and on the mound. He’s hitting .367 with 3 home runs and 11 games in eight games as a DH and has posted a 2.08 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 13 innings in his first two starts of the season. OF Mike Trout, a perennial MVP candidate, is having the type of season people have come to expect from him with 6 home runs in his first 16 games.

It’s not good news for every team, though. The Cubs are one of the bigger disappointments early in the season at .500. That is due in large part to their pitching. Of their five starters, only SP Kyle Hendricks has a sub-4.00 ERA, and it’s not overly impressive at 3.71. SP Yu Darvish, who the Cubs signed to a big contract this winter despite his struggles in the postseason, has a 6.00 ERA in three starts. The Yankees, who were a game away from making the World Series in 2017, are also 7-7 as they sit in third place in the AL East, but the biggest disappointment early in 2018 is the Dodgers. Coming off their first World Series appearance since 1988, the Dodgers are just 4-9 and 6.5 games out of first in the NL West. Part of that is because 3B Justin Turner started the season on the DL and has yet to play in a game, but they’re not getting much out of SS Corey Seager, who hit .293 last season but is at .196 entering Sunday. The starting pitching is a mixed bag, with Clayton Kershaw sitting at a 1.89 ERA but SP Alex Wood posting a 5.09 ERA and SP Rich Hill at a 6.00 ERA. Closer Kenley Jansen is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA and a couple of saves in his first six appearances of the season.

The first couple weeks of the season haven’t been kind to teams in terms of injuries, with the list of players currently on the DL including: Angels SP Matt Shoemaker; Rangers OF Delino Deshields, SS Elvis Andrus and 2B Rougned Odor; Phillies SP Jerad Eickhoff; Blue Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki and 3B Josh Donaldson; Giants SPs Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and RP Mark Melancon; Indians SP Danny Salazar; Royals C Salvador Perez; Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia; Marlins C J.T. Realmuto; Yankees 1B Greg Bird, SP CC Sabathia and 3B Brandon Drury; White Sox SP Carlos Rodon; Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy and OF Adam Eaton; Pirates SP Joe Musgrove; Mariners DH Nelson Cruz; Diamondbacks 3B Jake Lamb; Padres OFs Wil Myers and Manuel Margot; Brewers SP Jimmy Nelson, RP Corey Knebel and OF Christian Yelich; and Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo.

The Week Ahead

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The Angels and Red Sox are the best teams in the American League right now, and they begin a three-game series in Anaheim on Tuesday after the Red Sox host the Orioles Monday in their traditional 11am start on Patriots’ Day. The Astros begin a weeklong road trip on Monday with the first of four at the division-rival Mariners in Seattle. The classic Cubs-Cardinals rivalry gets going for three games at Wrigley starting Monday, and longtime Yankee SS Derek Jeter brings the team he now co-owns, the Marlins, to Yankee Stadium for a two-game interleague series Monday and Tuesday. Over in Queens, the Mets look to keep their hot start going with a three-game series against the Nationals starting Monday. Later in the week, the Cubs visit the Rockies starting Friday in a series between two teams that made the playoffs last season but haven’t begun 2018 the way they would have liked. And the Dodgers look to get things going when they host the Nationals over the weekend.

In some pitching performances to look out for this week, Astros SP Dallas Keuchel looks to lock down his first win of the season Monday when he faces SP James Paxton and the Mariners. Sabathia is scheduled to come off the DL to get the start Tuesday in the Yankees’ second game against the Marlins. Wednesday sees Cole take the mound for his fourth start for the Astros as he looks to continue his streak of double-digit strikeout performances against Mariners SP Mike Leake. And there are aces scheduled to be dueling in Southern California Saturday night with Ohtani scheduled to start for the Angels and a pitching matchup of Stephen Strasburg and Kershaw on the docket for the Nationals-Dodgers game Saturday.

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Seattle Mariners

Our previews of the AL West continue, with the next team in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season, the Seattle Mariners, who finished in third place in the division last season

After the Buffalo Bills made the NFL playoffs this season, the Mariners now hold the longest active streak in the four major U.S. pro sports leagues without making the postseason. They last made it to the playoffs in 2001, and they’ll have to improve upon their 78-84 from last season if they want 2018 to be the year they again play deep into October. They traded for a couple of hitters this winter, with 1B Ryon Healy and OF Dee Gordon joining the team. They also signed RP Juan Nicasio and OF Ichiro Suzuki, who last played for the team in 2012 when he was a teammate of SP Felix Hernandez, who has had trouble staying healthy over the last couple of seasons.

The Mariners’ .259 average last season put them in the top half of Major League Baseball, but their 200 home runs and .749 OPS were both below the league average. DH Nelson Cruz hit .288 with a team-high 39 home runs and 119 RBI to go along with a .924 OPS. 3B Kyle Seager hit .249 with 27 home runs, and 2B Robinson Cano added 23 homers and 97 RBI with a .280 average. SS Jean Segura hit .300 with 11 home runs and 22 steals in 125 games. OF Mitch Haniger hit .282 with 16 home runs in 96 games. With the Marlins, Gordon hit .308 with 60 steals and Ichiro hit .255. Healy hit .271 with 25 homers for the A’s.

The pitchers’ 4.46 ERA placed them in the bottom half of the majors, and their 1,244 strikeouts were the 10th-fewest in the league. The bullpen recorded 39 saves, which matched the league average. SP James Paton put up the best numbers among the starters, with a 2.98 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 136 innings over 24 starts. Hernandez posted a 4.36 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 86.2 innings over 16 starts. SP Mike Leake made five starts for the team last season, putting up a 2.53 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 32 innings, and P Marco Gonzales made 10 appearances — seven starts — with the Mariners after being traded from the Cardinals, striking out 30 with a 5.40 ERA in 36.2 innings. RP Edwin Diaz recorded 34 saves in 66 appearances, posting a 3.27 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Adding Gordon to the lineup gives the team a speedy player who can get on base, but he doesn’t give them much power. Ichiro doesn’t have much left at this point at the age of 44 and he will serve as a backup in his return to the team. So they’re going to rely on the likes of Cruz, Cano and Seager for their power output. Hernandez is the key to the pitching. He used to be the team’s ace, but Paxton seems to have claimed that title now, even though Hernandez will be starting on Opening Day. He hasn’t made more than 25 starts in either of the last two seasons, though, and his ERA has been on a steady climb over the last three years. He’ll have to right the ship and get his ERA back down closer to his 3.20 career ERA to give the team a second ace behind Paxton, whose ERA has steadily improved in recent seasons. This is Gonzales’ first full season in the majors but he hasn’t had much success in his brief stints in the big leagues to date. If he can live up to his potential, that would help the Mariners stay in teams by keeping opponents from scoring too many runs.

The Mariners finished in third place in the division last season and they’re probably still the third-best team in the AL West. The Astros are clearly the best team in the division and the Angels are likely ahead of the Mariners as well, especially with moves they made this offseason like signing Zack Cozart and Shohei Ohtani. If their young players keep improving, they could compete for a playoff spot in the coming years, but I think the American League has too many good teams for this to be the year the Mariners end their playoff drought.

Be sure to check back tomorrow around 12pm Eastern for the final team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.mariners.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Oakland Athletics

Our previews of the AL West continue, with the next team in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season is the Oakland Athletics, who finished in last place in the division last season

The A’s won 75 games last season, but that was a six-win improvement over 2016 so things appear to be looking up for the young team. Their biggest acquisition this offseason was acquiring OF Stephen Piscotty from the Cardinals. They also signed C Jonathan Lucroy and P Yusmeiro Petit. Back to lead the offense again in 2018 is DH Khris Davis while the team hopes a true No. 1 starter emerges from a rotation that currently lacks such a player.

The hitters hit .246 last season, which put them in the bottom 10 in Major League Baseball, but they were fourth with 234 home runs. They were in the top half of the league with a .755 OPS. Davis hit 43 home runs, which was the fourth-most in the majors, but hit just .247 with an .864 OPS. OF Matthew Joyce hit .243 with 25 home runs, and OF Matt Olson hit .259 with 24 home runs in just 59 games. SS Marcus Semien hit .249 with 10 home runs in 85 games, and 3B Matt Chapman added 14 homers in 84 games. Piscotty hit .235 with 9 home runs in 107 games with St. Louis. Lucroy had one of the worst seasons of his career with the Rangers and Rockies, hitting .265 with 6 home runs.

The pitchers’ 4.67 ERA was in the bottom half of the league, as were their 1,202 strikeouts and 35 saves. SP Kendall Graveman posted the best ERA in the rotation at 4.19. He had 70 strikeouts in 105.1 innings over 19 starts. SP Sean Manaea made 29 starts, posting a 4.37 ERA and striking out 140 batters in 158.2 innings. SP Daniel Mengden showed some promising signs in seven starts, posting a 3.14 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 43 innings. In 35 games after being acquired from the Nationals at the trade deadline, RP Blake Treinen recorded 13 saves with a 2.13 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 38 innings. With the Angels, Petit put up a 2.76 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 91.1 innings over 60 appearances.

The A’s have a young team, which could be good if they are able to take the next step in their careers and get the team to where it needs to be in order to be a legit playoff contender. Olson, in particular, showed promising signs, with 24 home runs in 59 games. He probably won’t be able to keep that pace up for a full season, but 35-40 home runs isn’t out of the question based on what he did with his limited playing time last season. Davis has proven he is a 40-homer hitter, so they could provide some nice power output in the middle of the lineup. There isn’t is much of an obvious leader in the starting rotation. Lucroy has to bounce back from his disappointing season and get back to the double-digit home-run totals he usually has if he wants to help the team. Graveman has been named the Opening Day starter, but he has not yet proven himself to be an ace in the first three seasons of his career. SP Jharel Cotton will miss the entire season after recently undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The A’s may have improved this offseason, but if they did it wasn’t by much, and they’re still behind division foes like the Astros, Angels and Mariners. They may be able to pass the Rangers to avoid another last place finish this season, but the A’s can’t expect much more than that because they’re still at least a couple years away from competing, especially with the rotation they have.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.oaklandas.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Colorado Rockies

The next NL West team up in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season is the Colorado Rockies, who came in third place in the division last season

The Rockies are coming off their first winning season since 2010 and focused on adding to the bullpen this winter. They signed RPs Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw, and offensively they signed free-agent C Chris Iannetta in addition to re-signing OF Carlos Gonzalez to a one-year deal. The offense will again be led by OF Charlie Blackmon and 3B Nolan Arenado, but they are without a true ace in their rotation. They lost a few free agents who helped the team make the playoffs last season, including 1B Mark Reynolds, SP Tyler Chatwood and RP Greg Holland.

The Rockies’ .273 average led the National League and was second behind only the Astros in Major League Baseball, but they were in the bottom half of the majors with 192 home runs. Their .781 OPS ranked fifth in MLB. Blackmon had the best numbers of his career, hitting .331 with 37 home runs and 104 RBI. His 1.000 OPS was third-best in the NL. He has a 6.5 WAR, which was second in the NL, and he finished fifth in NL MVP voting. Arenado hit .309 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, which was the second-highest total in the NL. SS Trevor Story had a bit of a sophomore slump, hitting 24 homers with a .239 average — more than 30 points lower than the .272 he hit in his rookie year. 2B DJ LeMahieu hit .310 with 8 home runs, and OF Gerardo Parra added 10 home runs on a .309 average in 115 games. Gonzalez hit .262 with 14 homers in 136 games. Iannetta hit .254 with 17 home runs in 89 games with the Diamondbacks.

The Rockies’ 4.51 ERA placed them in the bottom half of the league, as did their 1,270 strikeouts. They recorded 47 saves, which was fourth in the majors. SP Jon Gray posted a 3.67 ERA in 20 starts, recording 112 strikeouts  in 110.1 innings. SP Kyle Freeland recorded a 4.10 ERA in 33 games, including 28 starts, and struck out 107 in 156 innings. SP German Marquez had a 4.39 ERA with 147 strikeouts in 162 innings over 29 starts, and SP Chad Bettis put up a 5.05 ERA, striking out 30 batters in 46.1 innings over just 9 starts. Davis recorded a career-high 32 saves with the Cubs, posting a 2.30 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 58.2 innings over 59 appearances, and Shaw put up a career-worst 3.52 ERA in 79 appearances with 73 strikeouts over 76.2 innings with the Indians.

Blackmon had a career year in 2017 and he will likely lead the offense again this season, along with Nolan Arenado. That’s not the part of the team that the Rockies should be worried about, though. It’s the pitching staff that has the most question marks. It’s a young rotation without a true ace. Gray is the closest pitcher the team has to a No. 1, but he needs significant improvement to be the true leader of the starting staff. The rest of the rotation is filled with pitchers who have either been inconsistent in their careers or have health questions, including Jeff Hoffman, who is unlikely to be ready to begin the season and will probably pitch out of the bullpen when he is healthy to make his regular season debut. With the team not re-signing last year’s closer Greg Holland, Wade Davis will get the first shot at taking over the closer’s role and he has experience pitching in the ninth inning so he should have success pitching at the end of games. But there the team should have concern about how many leads will end up in his hands with the inconsistent starting pitching.

The Rockies barely made the playoffs last season, but I don’t  think they’ll make it this year. Their pitching isn’t good enough to match up with some of the league’s best teams and other contenders — like the Giants, Brewers and Cardinals — got better and may have passed the Rockies in talent. The offense will have to carry the team, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to get back to the postseason.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.rockies.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Minnesota Twins

The final AL Central team we preview in our monthlong series looking at all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season is the Minnesota Twins, who came in second place in the division last season.

The Twins were a surprising team last year, winning 85 games and getting an American League Wild Card after losing 103 games in 2016. And they made a number of moves this winter to improve the team, including most recently signing SP Lance Lynn. Earlier in the offseason, they traded for SP Jake Odorizzi and signed DH Logan Morrison and RPs Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney. They also signed SP Michael PIneda to a two-year deal, but that is a signing geared toward 2019 as he will miss most — if not all — of this season as he recovers from the Tommy John surgery he had in July. 1B Joe Mauer returns as the veteran leader in his 15th season with the team.

The Twins hit .260 last season, which placed them in the top 10 in Major League Baseball, but their 206 home runs were middle-of-the-pack, and their .768 OPS was in the top half of the league. 2B Brian Dozier hit .271 with 34 home runs and an .856 OPS. 3B Miguel Sano hit .264 with 28 home runs in 114 games, and OF Eddie Rosario added 27 homers with a .290 average. OF Byron Buxton hit 16 home runs and stole 29 bases. Mauer hit .305 with 7 home runs. OF Max Kepler had 19 long balls. Morrison hit a career-best 38 home runs with the Rays, with a .246 average.

On the mound, the Twins’ 4.59 ERA put them in the bottom half of the league and their 1,166 strikeouts were the second-fewest in the majors. The bullpen recorded 42 games, which was above the league average. SP Ervin Santana posted a 3.28 ERA with 167 strikeouts in 211.1 innings over 33 starts last season. SP Jose Berrios posted a 3.89 ERA in 26 games — 25 starts — and struck out 139 in 145.2 innings, and SP Kyle Gibson struggled with a 5.07 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 158 innings over 29 starts. Odorizzi put up a 4.14 ERA in 28 starts with the Rays; he had 127 strikeouts in 143.1 innings. Lynn posted a respectable 3.43 ERA with the Cardinals, striking out 153 batters in 186.1 innings over 33 starts. Rodney recorded 39 saves with the Diamondbacks last season and put up a 4.23 ERA while striking out 65 in 55.1 innings, and Reed posted a 2.84 ERA with 19 saves for the Mets and Red Sox; he also had 76 strikeouts in 76 innings.

The Twins’ hitting was fine last season, and adding Morrison will provide a boost if he can even come close to the power he showed last season. it’s a largely young offense, which offers room for improvement if they can take their games to the next level. Signing Lynn and trading for Odorizzi provides needed depth in the rotation with Satana sidelined for up to 12 weeks with a finger injury, potentially leaving him out of action until May. Rodney is expected to begin the season as closer, but Reed could step into the ninth-inning role if Rodney struggles.

The Twins added to the team, trying to fill some holes they had last season, but the additions probably aren’t enough for the Twins to overtake the Indians as the best team in the division. They’ll certainly compete again for one of the Wild Cards in the AL, and I think they’ll get it, but if they do I’m not sure they’re good enough for a deep postseason run.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.mntwins.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: St. Louis Cardinals

Our look at the NL Central, part of our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season, concludes with the St. Louis Cardinals, who came in third place in the division last season.

The Cardinals have had a winning record each season since 2008, but they have missed the playoffs two straight years. They’re trying to reverse that latter trend and made a couple of big acquisitions this winter to try to get back to the postseason, both coming on the same day in December. They signed veteran RP Luke Gregerson and traded three players — including OF Magneuris Sierra — to the Marlins in exchange for OF Marcell Ozuna. In other moves, the Cardinals signed P Bud Norris and traded away OFs Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, taking advantage of their depth at the position to try to restock their farm system following the Ozuna trade.

The team hit .256 last season, which was in the top half of Major League Baseball, with 196 home runs and a .760 OPS. Rookie SS Paul DeJong led the team with 25 home runs in 108 games, to go along with a .285 average and .857 OPS. OF Tommy Pham hit .306 with 23 home runs and a .931 OPS; he also stole 25 bases. 1B Matt Carpenter added another 23 home runs, with 3B Jedd Gyorko hitting .272 with 20 homers. OF Dexter Fowler hit .264 with 18 home runs. C Yadier Molina, who’s been a mainstay of the team since 2004, hit .273 with 18 home runs — his most since 2012. With the Marlins last season, Ozuna had the best year of his career as he hit .312 with 37 homers.

The Cardinals’ 4.01 ERA was the 10th-best in the majors, their 1,351 strikeouts put them in the top half of the league. The bullpen recorded 43 saves, which was also in the top 10. SP Carlos Martinez made 32 starts, posting a 3.64 ERA with 217 strikeouts in 205 innings. SP Michael Wacha had a 4.13 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 165.2 innings over 30 starts. Veteran SP Adam Wainwright appeared in 24 games — including 23 starts — and put up a career-worst 5.11 ERA, striking out 96 batters in 123.1 innings. Young SP Luke Weaver struck out 72 batters in 60.1 innings while posting a 3.88 ERA. Gregerson posted a 4.57 ERA last season with 70 strikeouts in 61 innings for the Astros.

Looking ahead to this season, the Cardinals improved their offense by adding Ozuna to the outfield, but they could face some offensive issues from the infield. DeJong had a good rookie campaign, but will he be able to repeat that success this season? And Carpenter is dealing with a back injury that could cause him to miss the start of the regular season. If that issue lingers and he misses more than just a few games, the Cardinals don’t have a viable alternative to man first base. And with Molina now 35 years old, his offensive output will start to decrease at some point. One of the biggest issues for the Cardinals in terms of pitching is Wainwright. He had a 5.11 ERA last season and will be 37 by the end of the season. Is the season he had in 2017 the new normal for him or can he bounce back from that high ERA? The Cardinals are hoping the latter is the case, but I’m not so sure it is. SP Miles Mikolas is expected to land a spot in the rotation. He last played in the majors in 2014, when he made 10 starts with a 6.44 ERA, but he found success playing in Japan since then. In three seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, he posted a 2.18 ERA with 378 strikeouts in 424.2 innings.

The Cardinals should compete with the Cubs and Brewers in a three-way race for the NL Central crown this season, with the Cubs holding the advantage over the other two teams. If guys like Wainwright, Weaver and Mikolas don’t perform well, it’ll hurt the Cardinals’ chances of passing the Cubs for the division title. Even if they don’t win the Central, they should be able to hang around the Wild Card race for most of the summer.

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Source: http://www.stlouiscardinals.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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