Stat of the Day: Best and worst ERAs since the All-Star break

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Justin Verlander has gone 10-1 in the second half to emerge as the clear front-runner for the AL Cy Young award, but his 3.00 ERA since the All-Star break actually ranks “only” 22nd among all pitchers with at least 50 innings.

Here are the MLB leaders in ERA since the break:

                    IP      ERA
Clayton Kershaw     75     1.44
Cliff Lee           66     1.76
Ian Kennedy         74     1.95
Ervin Santana       85     2.13
Tim Lincecum        67     2.16
Jon Lester          58     2.18
Jeremy Hellickson   61     2.37
Zack Greinke        74     2.42
Matt Cain           77     2.47
Tim Hudson          76     2.50

Not a whole lot of surprises on that list. Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee have been amazing all season, and along with Roy Halladay are basically neck-and-neck atop the NL Cy Young race right now.

And here are the worst ERAs since the All-Star break:

                    IP      ERA
A.J. Burnett        53     7.81
Brian Duensing      51     7.76
Trevor Cahill       55     6.67
Jason Vargas        59     6.56
Brad Penny          51     6.49

My favorite stat: A.J. Burnett has allowed 46 earned runs in 53 innings since the break. Kershaw has allowed 56 earned runs in 206 innings all season.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.