What happened to Brad Hawpe?

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At the All-Star break, Brad Hawpe
was enjoying his best season, batting .320/.396/.577 with 14 home runs
and 59 RBI. Tenth in the league in batting, Hawpe earned his first trip
to the All-Star game. However, while the Rockies have surged to a 40-27
record since the All-Star break, taking control in the NL Wild Card
race, Hawpe’s once-promising season has fizzled out.

is batting only .235/.372/.418 since the break. With a two-run homer
against Adam Wainwright on Saturday, Hawpe has just six home runs and
20 RBI in the second half. Hawpe led the majors with 39 strikeouts in
August, and has registered at least one strikeout in 41 of his last 46
games. Now, Mark Reynolds, Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard are enough to tell you
that strikeouts don’t necessarily correlate to negative production, but
until two home runs this week, Hawpe had zero home runs and zero RBI
through the first 14 games of the month.

Jim Tracy has stuck with his struggling slugger throughout the slump,
but as wins have become more crucial, his treatment of Hawpe has begun
to change. During Friday’s game against the Cardinals, Tracy pinch-hit
for Hawpe with Jason Giambi — another left-handed bat — with one out
in the ninth inning. Giambi delivered with a single and Yorvit
Torrealba hit a sacrifice fly to secure the 2-1 win.
But that doesn’t mean the decision was easy for Tracy.

you respect a player as much as I respect Brad Hawpe and as aware of
his accomplishments as I am, not only in the time I’ve been in a
Rockies uniform but when I’ve sat over there on the other side of the
field, it’s not easy. But part of your job as the guy in charge is to
make a difficult decision and know full-well it may not be appreciated
or understood at the time.”

As for Hawpe, he is playing the good solider:

I don’t want to talk about if it was hard. We won the ballgame. That’s
the only thing I care about. Of course, I would like to perform well
every time I get on the field, but the bottom line right now is winning

Hawpe was
dropped to seventh in the lineup for Saturday’s game and responded with
a double and a home run. The good news is that
he is back to fifth in the order for Sunday’s game, so it appears Tracy
is doing everything within his power to motivate the 30-year-old
outfielder in time for the postseason. Just don’t be surprised to see
him make a similar decision in October.

Jacob deGrom outduels Clayton Kershaw, Mets take 1-0 NLDS lead

Jacob de Grom
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.

deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.

In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.

Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.

deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.

Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.

Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom create MLB first with 11 strikeouts each in the playoffs

Jacob deGrom
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.

The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.