When Andre Ethier tries to extend his hitting streak to 30 games tonight, he’ll be doing so against southpaw Jon Niese and the Mets. Some numbers:
Ethier vs. LHP in 2011: .229 average (8-for-35)
Ethier vs. LHP career: .246 average
Niese vs. LHH in 2011: .275 average (11-for-40)
Niese vs. LHH career: .286 average
Ethier and Niese have never faced off. Let’s look at the relievers Ethier is most likely to face:
Ethier vs. Tim Byrdak: 0-for-1, 1 BB
Byrdak vs. LHH in 2011: .227 (5-for-22)
Byrdak vs. LHH career: .204
Ethier vs. Mike O’Connor: 0-for-2
O’Connor vs. LHH in 2011: .182 (4-for-22) for Triple-A Buffalo
O’Connor vs. LHH career: .241
Ethier vs. Taylor Buchholz: 2-for-4, 1 BB
Buchholz vs. LHH in 2011: .222 (6-for-27)
Buchholz vs. LHH career: .243
Ethier vs. Jason Isringhausen: 0-for-2, 1 BB
Isringhausen vs. LHH in 2011: .167 (2-for-12)
Isringhausen vs. LHH career: .254
Ethier vs. Francisco Rodriguez: 1-for-4, 2 K
Rodriguez vs. LHH in 2011: .310 (9-for-29)
Rodriguez vs. LHH career: .211
Byrdak is the Mets’ primary lefty specialst. With Pedro Beato on the DL, the team just added O’Connor to help out against left-handers. He’s back in the majors for the first time since 2008.
The ideal scenario for the Mets has Niese facing Ethier three times and then Byrdak getting him once in the seventh or eighth inning. With the left-hander going, it’s probably their best chance of shutting down Ethier’s hitting streak. Not that that’s really the priority. But it is what many will be watching.
Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.
“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”
The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.
Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.
MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.
Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.
Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.