Bobby Cox said yesterday that Kenshin Kawakami will be used as a reliever when he returns from his stint at Triple-A, which is no surprise given how impressive rookie Mike Minor has been in three starts since stepping into the rotation.
Minor, who was the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft out of Vanderbilt, has racked up 22 strikeouts versus just four walks in 18 innings since being called up earlier this month. He also had a 3.15 ERA and 163/46 K/BB ratio in 134 innings as a minor leaguer, so the 22-year-old southpaw figures to be in the Braves’ rotation for the next decade or so.
As for Kawakami, despite already making four starts at Triple-A he’s unlikely to rejoin the team until rosters expand on September 1. Prior to the demotion he pitched quite a bit better than his ugly 1-9 record, posting a 4.75 ERA and 57/28 K/BB ratio in 83.1 innings, but with Minor more than holding his own and the front four of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and Derek Lowe set in stone there’s just no room for Kawakami.
Or as Cox put it: “We still need him, in case someone’s sick or whatever.”
Juan Rivera made his first career start at first base Monday and manager Mike Scioscia said yesterday that he’ll split time there with Mike Napoli for the rest of the season.
Scioscia has used seven different players at first base since Kendry Morales went down for the season in May and Rivera is available for the switch because of Bobby Abreu moving to left field while Torii Hunter shifts to right field and rookie speedster Peter Bourjos takes over in center.
Napoli has done a decent job filling in for the injured Morales, hitting .255/.318/.446 with eight homers in 176 plate appearances at first base and because both he and Rivera are right-handed hitters a traditional platoon won’t work. Instead, when Rivera plays first base perhaps Scioscia will shift Napoli back behind the plate occasionally instead of Jeff Mathis, who’s hitting just .196.
Last month Rocco Baldelli made the transition from coach to player, and since moving up to Triple-A two weeks ago he’s 10-for-30 (.333) with two homers and three doubles.
Baldelli has been limited to designated hitter duties and is swinging at everything, striking out seven times compared to zero walks, but Bill Chastain of MLB.com writes that he’s hit well enough to potentially earn a call-up to Tampa Bay.
Joe Maddon indicated that he’d consider using Baldelli as a part-time DH and giving him some starts over Willy Aybar or Dan Johnson against left-handed pitchers could make sense. Baldelli hit .266/.337/.462 versus lefties from 2007-2009.
After holding the Nationals to one run over 7.1 innings last night for his best start of the season Carlos Zambrano left the Cubs and flew home to Venezuela to be with his sick 11-year-old nephew.
Zambrano told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that his nephew has been hospitalized with a bacterial infection and “is in bad condition.” Zambrano is expected to rejoin the team this weekend and will make his next scheduled start Monday against the Pirates, but pitched last night with his mind on something other than the Nationals’ hitters:
It’s bad. He’s only 11 years old and being close to death is no fun. People should live until their old age, but god calls us home, and what can we do? But at the same time, I talked to my brother and he told me “Don’t worry about what happened there, just worry about what’s going on here and dedicate the game to his son.” In the first inning I was thinking about him, throwing all the pitches saying, “This is for my nephew.”
Since rejoining the rotation a few weeks ago Zambrano is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts, but his 15/16 K/BB ratio isn’t nearly as encouraging.
Armando Galarraga might have a chance for another (near) perfect game this afternoon, as the Royals feature the following lineup:
1. Gregor Blanco
2. Mike Aviles
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Billy Butler
5. Kila Ka’aihue
6. Brayan Pena
7. Mitch Maier
8. Jai Miller
9. Chris Getz
There are a couple amazing things at play here.
First, as Tom Gage of the Detroit News points out, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera has 10 more homers (31) than the entire Royals’ lineup put together (21).
Beyond that, Willie Bloomquist batting third in a big-league lineup–against a right-handed pitcher, no less–is hilarious. Bloomquist is a career .255 hitter with a .305 on-base percentage and .310 slugging percentage against righties, including .205/.221/.253 this season. He has long been one of the worst hitters in baseball against right-handed pitching. And he’s batting third.
I’m not sure whether to mock manager Ned Yost for filling out that ridiculous lineup card or general manager Dayton Moore for putting together the roster, but there’s probably enough to go around for both. I believe this is what the kids on the interwebs call “epic fail.” Also, “LOLZ” applies too.
And now the Royals will probably score 20 runs.