First-third awards – NL Cy Young

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With Johan Santana coming back to the pack lately, the NL currently has nine starters with ERA between 2.00 and 2.70.

1. Johan Santana – 2.00 ERA in 72 IP
2. Wandy Rodriguez – 2.26 ERA in 67 2/3 IP
3. Matt Cain – 2.31 ERA in 66 1/3 IP
4. Dan Haren – 2.42 ERA in 78 IP
5. Johnny Cueto – 2.43 ERA in 74 IP
6. Jair Jurrjens – 2.59 ERA in 66 IP
7. Chad Billingsley – 2.59 ERA in 80 IP
8. Zach Duke – 2.62 ERA in 79 IP
9. Josh Johnson – 2.66 ERA in 74 1/3 IP

No one else is under 3.00 and there aren’t any relievers on pace for 60
saves, so let’s label the above as the nine legitimate candidates.

First off, I like looking at unearned runs and defense. Santana and
Rodriguez have both given up seven unearned runs apiece, while no one
else on the list had allowed more than two. Haren is the only one in
the group yet to give up an earned run.

On to the gloves. Duke is being helped out by the game’s second most efficient defense to date.
Billingsley’s defense is third, while Cueto’s is ranked fifth. On the
other side, the Mets are 19th, the Astros 25th, the Giants 18th and the
Diamondbacks 22nd.

With additional factors, such as bullpen support and ballpark, being weighed, VORP still has an identical top nine NL starters, but ranks them in a vastly different order.

1. Dan Haren – 29.0
2. Johnny Cueto – 26.4
3. Chad Billingsley – 25.4
4. Zach Duke – 24.6
5. Matt Cain – 24.3
6. Josh Johnson – 23.1
7. Johan Santana – 22.4
8. Jair Jurrjens – 21.8
9. Wandy Rodriguez – 19.1

I’m not a big fan of VORP, but I think it comes up with a very good
list here. Santana was the NL’s best pitcher for six weeks and he’d
probably be my Cy Young pick for the rest of the season, but he doesn’t
deserve the top spot right now.

First third NL Cy Young

1. Haren
2. Billingsley
3. Cueto

Yankees GM Brian Cashman not considering demoting struggling Greg Bird

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Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.

GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”

Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

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Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.

Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.

The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.