Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s afternoon action


As the season goes on Bill will normally be doing this in the late afternoon to preview that night’s action. A lot of times, however, when there are a ton of day games, I’ll do one of them late in the morning. Today is one of those days with a ton of day games, so let’s check them out too, shall we?

It feels like the Pirates and the Tigers have been playing each other all season, and they tip things off for an early getaway day game at 12:35PM EDT. It’s Jordan Zimmermann, who was great in his first 2016 start, against Gerrit Cole who was not so great in his first start of the season. Despite all of Zimmermann’s time in the NL, he has never beaten the Pirates, though. Only two starts. Stupid unbalanced schedule. Meanwhile, Cole has won six of his last seven decisions against AL teams. He’s 7-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 11 career interleague starts. One of those wins came against the Tigers, who he has faced twice. Of course head-to-head records like that are sort of meaningless. It’s not 1930 anymore. Teams get new dudes every year.

The rest of Thursday afternoon’s action:

Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) 12:35 PM EDT, PNC Park;

San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez) 1:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park

Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos) @ Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana) 1:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) 1:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) 1:45 PM EDT, Busch Stadium

San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain) @ Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) 3:10 PM EDT, Coors Field

Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) @ Washington Nationals (TBA) 4:05 PM EDT, Nationals Park

TBA has never won a big league game, but I like his chances against the Braves.

How can you have a “must-win” game in April?

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Still sort of wondering about that Mets game yesterday. They won, which is cool. But the circumstances of the win and the stuff surrounding it all is a head-scratcher.

After the game, Mets manager Terry Collins said “Huge win! That’s one we had to have!” And then added “We couldn’t sacrifice another game. Had to win this game to get ourselves going again.” Which I would normally take as sarcasm — a reaction to panicking members of the media, who we mentioned earlier in the week — but in this case he was apparently serious.

Serious by his acts in the game, for one thing. He used reliever Jim Henderson in the seventh inning in a day game after a night game in which he threw 34 pitches on his reconstructed shoulder. Henderson’s velocity was off and he got into trouble, but other relievers got him out of it. Then he used Jeurys Familia who, in addition to being sick this week, has been used a lot. And he went with him for a five-out save. Those words were not sarcasm, then. He really considered the Marlins on April 13 to be a must-win game.

Which, OK, he’s the manager of a pennant-winning team, he can approach a game any way he wants to. But what is vexing here is that, apparently, he considered this a must-win game not because of what he saw in the situation, but because of what he heard from that same, often hysterical New York media. Here’s Collins:

“The perception is that there’s no energy here, which is completely not true. That we’re not prepared, we’re overconfident or we’re not taking things seriously. I heard that last night, and it made me sick to my stomach that people actually think that this team that accomplished what they did last year would have any semblance of that type of makeup. So I said: ‘You know what? We got to win this game today. We got to show people we mean business here.’ And that’s why I did what I did with Jeurys today.”

I’m not sure how to read that in any way other than “the media said we look bad, so I showed them.” He turned a getaway day game against the Marlins into a “must-win” and pushed the redline on a couple of relievers to do it. Which is an absolutely remarkable thing to do simply to shut the media up. A thing, I think, that can only really happen in New York.

Phillies pitcher Daniel Stumpf suspended 80-games for PEDs


We get minor leaguer suspensions all the time, but it’s not often we see major leaguers popped for PEDs. A major leaguer got popped today, however: Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Daniel Stumpf.

Stumpf has received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The Phillies just issued a statement saying that they “are disappointed to hear today’s news of Daniel’s violation.”

Stumpf has only appeared in three games this year, allowing three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. The 25 year-old rookie was taken in the Rule 5 draft from the Royals and thus would’ve had to stay on the major league roster all season or else be returned to Kansas City. Now half of that time is accounted for.