Bill Baer

Philadelphia Phillies' Jerad Eickhoff pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

The Phillies throw a ton of curve balls

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As noted in Monday’s preview, Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff relies on his beautiful curve to supplement his mid-90’s fastball and rack up the strikeouts. While Mets starter Noah Syndergaard pitched slightly better, Eickhoff was still excellent, surrendering only two runs on five hits and three walks with nine strikeouts over nine innings. It’s the second start in a row Eickhoff has struck out nine.

Eickhoff isn’t the only Phillie to utilize a curve. In fact, all of them use it, as August Fagerstrom illustrates in a great research piece at FanGraphs. As a team, the Phillies have thrown curves at a 27.4 percent clip, about seven percent higher than the next-most curve-happy team, the Athletics. Fagerstrom notes the single-season high in the Pitchf/x ERA is the 2012 Pirates’ 24 percent. Not only are the Phillies throwing curves more than anyone else, they’re also putting the most spin on those curves with over 2,600 revolutions per minute.

Fagerstrom surmises that the Phillies specifically targeted Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton during the offseason for their curves and the amount of spin each pitcher puts on it. The Phillies’ obsession with the curve may be their organizational philosophy, similar to how the Mets have become fascinated with the slider.

It’s a really good piece by Fagerstrom and if you’re a fan of baseball wonkery, give the full article a read.

John Lackey has now defeated all 30 MLB teams

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, April 18, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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Cubs starter John Lackey dazzled in Monday’s start against the Cardinals, tossing seven shutout innings on four hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts. He moves to 3-0 on the year with a 3.66 ERA and a 22/5 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings.

Lackey also finally defeated the Cardinals for the first time in his career, meaning he has now earned a victory over all 30 major league teams. He’s the 16th pitcher to do so, per MLB.com, joining Al Leiter, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, A.J. Burnett, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling, Woody Williams, Jamie Moyer, Javier Vasquez, Vicente Padilla, Derek Lowe, Dan Haren, Kyle Lohse, and Tim Hudson.

It’s not surprising that it took Lackey this long to defeat the Cardinals as he spent 2002-14 in the American League and then got sent to the Cardinals at the July non-waiver trade deadline in 2014. Until Monday, Lackey never actually had an opportunity to pitch against the Cardinals.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia pitches in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Thursday, April 14, 2016 in St. Louis. Garcia gave up just one hit and struck out 13 as the Cardinals beat the Brewers 7-0. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
AP Photo/Tom Gannam
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We’re back to a full panel of games on Tuesday evening after roughly half the league took Monday off. Tonight’s 8:15 PM EST game between the Cubs (Jason Hammel) and Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) is our highlight, not just because of some controversy over how the St. Louis crowd may or may not have treated ex-Cardinal and current Cub Jason Heyward, but because of the historic rivalry in general. Additionally, Garcia is coming off of a one-hit shutout against the Brewers, walking only one while striking out 13. It was overshadowed as Phillies starter Vincent Velasquez struck out 16 Padres on the same afternoon.

Garcia, 29, hasn’t made more than 20 starts in a season since 2011 as the lefty has battled injury after injury. He has started off the 2016 season strong and is hopefully behind the shoulder issues that have plagued him for years.

Hammel is no slouch. In two starts to begin the season, the right-hander has yielded just one run on eight hits and seven walks with nine strikeouts in 12 innings. While he’s probably not 0.75 ERA good, he’s a lot better than he’s given credit for being. Last season, Hammel set a new career-high with a 24.2 percent strikeout rate, and nearly matched his career-low walk rate of 5.5 percent.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Seattle Mariners (Wade Miley) @ Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco), 6:10 PM EST

New York Mets (Logan Verrett) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez), 7:05 PM EST

Oakland Athletics (Eric Surkamp) @ New York Yankees (Michael Pineda), 7:05 PM EST

Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman) @ Baltimore Orioles (Mike Wright), 7:05 PM EST

Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) @ Cincinnati Reds (Robert Stephenson), 7:10 PM EST

Los Angeles Dodgers (Alex Wood) @ Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez), 7:10 PM EST

Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly) @ Boston Red Sox (Joe Kelly), 7:10 PM EST

Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg) @ Miami Marlins (Adam Conley), 7:10 PM EST

Detroit Tigers (Shane Greene) @ Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura), 7:15 PM EST

Houston Astros (Scott Feldman) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 8:05 PM EST

Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos), 8:10 PM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano) @ San Diego Padres (Colin Rea), 10:10 PM EST

Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray) @ San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain), 10:15 PM EST

Phillies acquire Alfredo Marte from the Orioles

Arizona Diamondbacks' Alfredo Marte breaks his bat as he lines out against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
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The Phillies announced the acquisition of outfielder Alfredo Marte from the Orioles in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. This comes shortly after the club optioned Cedric Hunter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and recalled David Lough.

Marte, 27, has a career OPS of just .532, but the Phillies continue to search for outfield help after losing Aaron Altherr for the season due to a torn tendon sheath, and Cody Asche for at least another two weeks due to an oblique strain. So far in left field, the Phillies have used Hunter, Rule-5 selection Tyler Goeddel, Darin Ruf, and Emmanuel Burriss but the foursome has combined for an abominable .248 OPS, by far the worst in the league.

Marte began the season with Triple-A Norfolk and will report to Lehigh Valley for the Phillies, but there’s a chance he could get called up to the majors at some point in the near future.

Noah Syndergaard threw a pitch so hard he branded catcher Kevin Plawecki

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Mets starter Noah Syndergaard routinely hit 100-plus MPH with his fastball — as usual — during Monday’s start against the Phillies, a 5-2 victory. Even as he got into the seventh inning, Syndergaard was still sitting in the high 90’s.

By now, we’re familiar with the numbers on Syndergaard’s velocity, but what about the visual evidence. SNY’s Steve Gelbs snapped a photo of catcher Kevin Plawecki‘s chest, which was branded with an imprint of his necklace. That happened when Plawecki blocked one of Syndergaard’s pitches in the dirt, as it bounced up and hit him in his chest protector.

Syndergaard went seven innings against the Phillies on Monday night, yielding jus tone run on five hits and a pair of walks with eight strikeouts. He now has a 0.90 ERA with a 29/4 K/BB ratio over 20 innings in his first three starts of the season.