What we're watching – June 10

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– Detroit’s Justin Verlander, arguably baseball’s hottest pitcher,
takes on his nemesis tonight in the fourth game of a five-game series
with the White Sox. Verlander has won six in a row since April 27,
posting a 1.12 ERA during that span, but he’s 2-9 with a 5.90 ERA
lifetime against the Pale Hose. That’s a full quarter of his 36 career
losses coming against one team. The struggling John Danks will get the
ball for the White Sox.

– I’m rooting for Lance Berkman to drive in five runs with a pair of
doubles tonight, setting things up perfectly for Thursday. He’s
currently sitting at 299 homers, 994 RBI, 1,497 hits and 4,993 at-bats.

– It figured that the Pirates would want to Charlie Morton a look
soon after acquiring him in the Nate McLouth deal, but to have him
pitch against his former team just a week following the deal certainly
wasn’t the ideal scenario. He’s taking Jeff Karstens’ place against the
Braves tonight after Karstens was needed in Monday’s 15-inning game.

Game of the Night

N.Y. Yankees vs. Boston – Chien-Ming Wang wasn’t exactly eased back
into the Yankee rotation: after facing the Rangers in his first start
since coming off the disabled list, he gets to pitch in Fenway tonight.
Wang is 6-5 with a 4.82 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox. Boston will
go to Tim Wakefield, who didn’t pitch in either of the first two series
against the Bombers this year. The knuckleballer went 1-1 with a 4.98
ERA in four starts against the Yankees in 2008 and is 10-17 with a 5.03
ERA lifetime against the team. Alex Rodriguez has hit .276 with seven
homers in 76 at-bats against him. The Red Sox will hope for another
strong night from David Ortiz, who has hit .444 with two homers in 36
at-bats versus Wang.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.