Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The MLB on TSC: The Dog Days of August

Getty Images
The MLB season has entered the stretch run as the "Dog Days of August" are upon us. And from looking at the standings, unless something miraculous happens in the next 6 weeks, it's safe to say, 17 of the 30 teams can pack it up today and go fishing. So if my math is correct, we have 13 teams (still alive) fighting for 8 playoff spots.

So as the season soldiers on, here are some tidbits from the first 10 days of August--

THE FANTASTIC FIVE

Getty Images and AP Photos
The Philadelphia Phillies (76-40) are playoff bound. Period. They began the season with the much anticipated debut of what is perhaps one of the most lethal starting pitching staffs in major league history. The Fantastic Four or the Fab Four or whatever you want to call them have not disappointed for the most part thus far. Roy Halladay (15-4, 2.51 ERA); Cole Hamels (13-6, 2.53 ERA) and Cliff Lee (12-7, 2.83 ERA) are having monster years. Roy Oswalt (4-7, 3.84 ERA) has missed time due to injuries and personal issues but is still a dangerous pitcher down the stretch.

But the last thing anyone expected was that the Fantastic Four would become the Fantastic Five as Vance Worley (8-1, 2.35 ERA) has emerged as a top-notch pitcher. Worley has put together an extraordinary run in place of injured 5th starter Joe Blanton. In fact, in most of his outings, he has out-performed the Fab Four themselves. With the emergence of Worley there's no doubt the Phillies will ad-Vance deep in the playoffs (pardon the corny pun).

UGGLA KEEPS LOOKING PRETTY

AP Photo
I gotta admit, I'm having a great time following Dan Uggla and his out-of-nowhere hitting streak. For Uggla, the streak is officially at 30 games which ties him with LA Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier for the longest this season. Uggla's overall batting average has now climbed to a "whopping" .220 as a result of the streak. On July 4 (the day before the streak began) Uggla had a .173 batting average and 30 games later he's at .220. In relations to batting average, Uggla's streak has been historical as no player has ever had a hitting streak this long while hovering in the .170 to .220 neighborhood.

Another tidbit about the streak--

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the 9th 30-game hitting streak in the majors so far in the 21st century and all have occurred in the National League. Here's a look--
  • Dan Uggla (2011 Braves)
  • Andre Ethier (2011 Dodgers)
  • Ryan Zimmerman (2009 Nationals)
  • Moises Alou (2007 Mets)
  • Willy Taveras (2006 Astros)
  • Chase Utley (2006 Phillies)
  • Jimmy Rollins (2005 Phillies)
  • Albert Pujols (2003 Cardinals)
  • Luis Castillo (2002 Marlins)
The last 30-game hitting streak in the American League was by Eric Davis of the 1998 Baltimore Orioles, which coincidentally, was the year the Orioles began their current run of consecutive LOSING seasons-- 14 and counting after this season.

JOSE VALVERDE FOR AL MVP?

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Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde has 32 SAVES and 0 BLOWN SAVES thus far this season. The last time a Tigers' closer had this phenomenal a start was Willie Hernandez back in 1984. That year we were so in awe with what Hernandez did that we awarded him the AL MVP and the AL Cy Young Award. So if we use the same old-school 1980's mentality, shouldn't Valverde be in the Cy Young and MVP conversations this year? Or how about this-- if the Tigers make the playoffs, Valverde's teammate Justin Verlander (16-5, 2.30 ERA) is our AL Cy Young Award winner and Valverde is our AL MVP. Just trying to figure out our logic back in 1984.

A-ROD'S MY NAME, POKER'S MY GAME

Sean Delonas/NY Post - click on image to view larger
I've asked myself, do I really care that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez plays big-bucks poker during his spare time? And do I really care that there's drugs, booze, babes and big-time celebrities involved in these shady poker games? The answer is no! Over the year's I've come to the realization that A-Rod's life will be under a microscope no matter what he does and trouble always seems to follow him around. So these A-Rod stories are getting old and boring. When he starts betting on baseball somebody give me a call. Or if he starts hittin' on the recently-divorced J'Lo, give me a call also. That's a much more juicier story.

THE BREW CREW IS PLAYOFF BOUND

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The surging Milwaukee Brewers (66-50) have a respectable 4 game lead in the NL Central. Over the last two seasons, I've said, the Brewers are a solid all-around team if only they can just get their bullpen in order. Well so far this year that has happened and the Brew Crew are enjoying their best season in a LONG time. Closer John Axford has 33 SAVES to only 2 BLOWN SAVES and their set-up men, led by LaTroy Hawkins and Kameron Loe, have an impressive 55 HOLDS on the year. As long as their bullpen doesn't implode (remember Trevor Hoffman?) the Brewers are in business, no doubt about it.

Go Brew Crew!

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