Tag: Bartolo Colon

Masahiro Tanaka

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights


Blue Jays 6, Yankees 1:Masahiro Tanaka’s lowish velocity and poor results probably have everyone in Gotham clenching their sphincters at the moment because there’s really not a path to the playoffs without their putative ace being healthy and effective. And, in this game, his lack of effectiveness is probably going to make many wonder if he’s healthy. Not that getting shelled by the Blue Jays is going to be an uncommon thing for teams this year. A couple of bombs, a couple of manufactured runs and there’s a six-spot against you. That was plenty for Drew Hutchinson.

Tigers 4, Twins 0: David Price cruised for eight and two-thirds. And, to be honest, totally could’ve finished this shutout off if Brad Ausmus’ Manager3000 software hadn’t beeped upon encountering the “base runner on in the ninth inning” subroutine that mandated the Ausmusbot to bring in the Closer Unit. Didn’t matter, of course. Homers from J.D. Martinez homer and Alex Avila were all the Tigers needed. Oh, and welcome to Detroit Yoenis Cespedes.

Rockies 10, Brewers 0: Getting shut down by Kyle Kendrick while allowing him his damn self to get two hits off of you and having your best player get hurt in the same game is pretty bad. Having the other guys drop a 10-spot on your Opening Day starter in the same game? Even worse. But hey, last year the Brewers started strong and then faded. Maybe they’re gonna do it up different this time.

Red Sox 8, Phillies 0: Cole Hamels wasn’t traded to the Red Sox like so many thought he would be, but that doesn’t mean a deal of some sort wasn’t done. Like, say, Hamels being secretly enlisted as a Red Sox spy. I mean, sure, it’s far-fetched, but it’s way easier to ensure a Red Sox win by serving them up meatballs yourself than it is to play for them and trying to stop the other team from doing the same. Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez each hit two bombs and Clay Buchholz looked like an ace (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 9K) even if Curt Schilling doesn’t think he does.

Orioles 6, Rays 2: Trvis Snider had three hits, drove in two and flashed some pretty sweet defense as the O’s beat the Rays. Alejandro De Aza, Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty all hit homers.

Mets 3, Nationals 1: All that hand-wringing over Matt Harvey not starting the opener and everyone being stuck with old man Bartolo Colon amounts to the old man allowing one run over six while striking out eight. Four relievers held that lead, but one of them was not Jenrry Mejia, who felt stiffness in his right elbow while warming in the bullpen during the game. He’s supposed to be the closer this year so, yeah, yikes.

Royals 10, White Sox 1: If I remember my 2014 narratives correctly, this is more runs than the Royals scored all last year. Alex Rios had a three-run homer and two other hits. The Royals scored five runs in the seventh. Yordano Ventura gave everyone a scare when he crumpled to the ground in pain, but it turns out it was just a cramp. Jesus, dude, don’t freak us out like that.

Mariners 4, Angels 1: Mike Trout got his in the form of a solo homer in the first, but that’s all anyone got off King Felix, who was otherwise untouchable (7IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 10K). Trout struck out his other three times to the plate so I suppose 2015 is picking up where 2015 left off for all of these dudes.

Reds 5, Pirates 2: With Opening Day, the Reds’ opportunity to sign Johnny Cueto to an extension before he hits free agency basically ended, as he is not going to negotiate during the seasons. And with Opening Day, the Reds are reminded that they don’t have a pitcher anywhere as good as Johnny Cueto, who struck out ten in seven shutout innings. He didn’t get the win because of some unholy combination of Kevin Gregg, the Elias Sports Bureau and society, but he’s still the best pitcher they’ve developed and he’s gonna either get dealt or walk away because, I assume, someone decided that Homer Bailey needed to get paid.

Dodgers 6, Padres 3: Clayton Kershaw wasn’t at his best (if you can call striking out nine guys not being at you best) but Adrian Gonzalez was (3-for-5, HR, 2B 2 R) as was Jimmy Rollins, who hit broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run homer in the eighth. I watched this one with my kids because, as I’ve noted recently, they’re Dodgers fans now. They didn’t get my joke about how Craig Kimbrel has gotten to watch all kinds of great moment in Dodger Stadium in recent years without actually getting to participate in them. But Dodgers fans know what I’m talking about. As do Braves fans. Padres fans who had to endure that never-ending eighth inning without the team’s best reliever coming into the game are starting to grok it some too.

Braves 2, Marlins 1: A rain delay in a domed stadium which included the home team’s new star fall on his face because of the slippery track. The Brave may have lost their closer on Sunday, but their pen was just fine yesterday. It escaped a bases loaded no-out jam in the seventh to preserve a one run lead. Nick Markakis drove in both of the Braves’ runs. Julio Tehrean scattered eight hits.

Astros 2, Indians 0: Dallas Keuchel outdueled Cory Kluber, tossing seven shutout innings. The Astros’ runs scored on an RBI single and a sac fly. Not that Kluber was chopped liver. He had a no-hitter into the sixth. His first hit allowed, however, went to Jose Altuve who then stole second and scored on that George Springer single.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4: Madison Bumgarner picked up where he left off last year, scattering six hits across seven innings, allowing one run and picking up the win. The top three in the Giants’ order — Nori Aoki, Joe Panik and Angel Pagan — combined to go 8 for 14 with four runs scored and two driven in.

Athletics 8, Rangers 0: Sonny Gray took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Ben Zobrist had a two-run homer and a double. It was the first time the A’s had won an Opening Day game since 2005, which seems impossible, but it’s true.

2015 Preview: Cleveland Indians

Terry Francona

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Big Question: Are the Indians trending up or down entering Terry Francona’s third year as manager?

After winning 92 games and a Wild Card spot in 2013 the Indians dropped to 85 wins last season, missing the playoffs by three games. Their division rivals all had very busy offseasons, but the Indians basically stood pat. First baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss was their lone big addition (Gavin Floyd too, but he’s already out for the year) and there were no notable departures, so Chris Antonetti, Mark Shapiro, and the Indians’ front office clearly believes last year’s team was capable of more and can take a step forward with better health and perhaps some help from prospects.

That’s definitely a reasonable approach, although it’s worth noting that the Indians declined by seven games last season and went just 85-77 despite a breakout, Cy Young-winning year from right-hander Corey Kluber and a breakout, MVP-caliber year from outfielder Michael Brantley. They got two spectacular performances from previously unspectacular players … and still barely finished above .500. So what happens if Kluber and/or Brantley come back down to earth a bit in 2015?

Fortunately for the Indians they have lots of under-30 talent with the upside to make up for any Kluber/Brantley-related declines. Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer all have the potential to emerge as impact, high-strikeout starters and Carrasco already showed signs of doing so last year. Even after losing Floyd before he ever threw a pitch for them the Indians have quality, albeit largely untested rotation depth behind Kluber.

First baseman Carlos Santana’s overall numbers were plenty good–including 27 homers and a league-high 113 walks–but once he got on track following an absolutely brutal season-opening stretch that left him with a .150 batting average after six weeks he posted a .900 OPS for the final four months. Santana is one of the best switch-hitters in baseball, with 30-homer power and 100-walk patience.

Jason Kipnis had a breakout 2013, hitting .284 with 17 homers, 30 steals, and an .818 OPS to rank among the league’s best all-around players, and then signed a $52.5 million contract extension. He followed it up with a miserable 2014, struggling through injuries while hitting just .240 with six homers and a .640 OPS. His age and skill set suggest he should bounce back in a big way if healthy.

And by midseason the Indians may get a boost from stud prospect Francisco Lindor, a 21-year-old switch-hitting shortstop who ranks as a top-10 prospect according to Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus. Even if Kluber and Brantley take a step backward this season the Indians have the other pieces in place to be a contender and if Kluber and Brantley come anywhere close to repeating their 2014 performances Cleveland is a few breaks from rising as high as the best team in the league.

What else is going on?

  • I didn’t mention catcher Yan Gomes above, because I don’t think he has a ton of further upside at age 27. But he doesn’t need it, because he’s already one of the league’s best catchers. Gomes was acquired for pennies on the dollar from the Blue Jays before 2013 and has hit .284 with 32 homers, 45 doubles, and an .801 OPS in 223 games for the Indians. Among all MLB catchers during that time only Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy have a higher OPS and Gomes also has a high throw-out rate plus good pitch-framing numbers. He’s a stud.
  • Right-hander Cody Allen is a prime example of why the mystique and aura often attached to the closer role is so over the top. As a setup man in 2013 he threw 70 innings with an 88/26 K/BB ratio. As a closer in 2014 he threw 69 innings with a 91/26 K/BB ratio. Basically identical performance, except he pitches the ninth inning now instead of the eighth inning. And he’s one of the league’s top closers.
  • Brandon Moss was a mess down the stretch for the A’s last year and it was later revealed he played through a torn hip labrum. That’s never a positive thing, but he’s looked good this spring and Moss had 21 homers with an .878 OPS in the first half last year after topping an .850 OPS in 2012 and 2013. It’s tough to count on Nick Swisher for much of anything at this point, but Moss adds another big bat.
  • Cleveland is going for a third straight winning season for the first time since way back in 2001, when the Indians were the kings of the AL Central and won their sixth division title in the span of seven seasons. Their Opening Day starter that season? Bartolo Colon, who 13 years later will be the Mets’ Opening Day starter this season.

Prediction: Neck and neck with the Tigers all season and a Wild Card spot if they fall short in the division.

2015 Preview: New York Mets

Matt Harvey

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The New York Mets.

The Big Question: Can the Mets end years of futility to contend for the NL Wild Card in 2015?

The Mets’ fortunes in 2015 will rest in the hands of one person: Matt Harvey. All eyes will be on the soon-to-be 26-year-old right-hander as he returns to the starting rotation after missing all of the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. Harvey set the baseball world on fire in 2013, finishing with a 2.27 ERA and a 191/31 K/BB ratio in 178 1/3 innings, earning him a fourth-place finish in NL Cy Young balloting. If he can return to his former elite level, the Mets will be in good shape to make some noise in the NL East, a few laps behind the Washington Nationals.

Despite a quiet offseason, the Mets are arguably a contender for the NL Wild Card this season and they’re the most competitive they’ve been since 2008, having averaged fewer than 76 wins over the last six seasons. Outfielder Michael Cuddyer was their biggest signing, as they inked the 2013 NL batting champ to a two-year, $21 million deal. Aside from a low-key signing of John Mayberry, Jr., the team the Mets had last year is largely the team they’ll bring into 2015.

The Mets unfortunately lost Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery, but their starting rotation is still quite solid. It includes veteran Bartolo Colon (their Opening Day starter), youngster Jacob DeGrom, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee. DeGrom was superb in his rookie season in 2014, finishing with a 2.69 ERA and a 144/43 K/BB ratio in 140 1/3 innings, earning him NL Rookie of the Year honors. If he can reprise his performance, the Mets would have two ace-caliber pitchers at the top of their rotation.

As far as offense goes, they’ll be relying on some young players to take the next step up. Catching Travis d’Arnaud started off slow last season, but caught fire in June following a brief demotion to Triple-A. From June 24 through the end of the season, d’Arnaud posted an .805 OPS with 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 276 plate appearances. The 26-year-old has the potential to become a top-ten catcher this season.

23-year-old Wilmer Flores will be starting everyday over Ruben Tejada after a long winter of speculation. Tejada has failed to live up to expectations over parts of five seasons with the Mets, posting a .645 OPS over 1,778 plate appearances. Flores posted similarly weak offensive numbers last season and is a worse defender, but he’s a couple years younger and has a bit more power potential. The Mets had a great deal of interest in acquiring a shortstop from outside the organization during the winter – including Jimmy Rollins – but nothing ever materialized, so they’ll be expecting Flores to man the position over the course of the season.

The Mets will also be relying on Juan Lagares in center field. He is arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball but he leaves a bit to be desired at the plate. Last season, though, he posted an above-average adjusted OPS of 102 (100 is average). In 452 plate appearances, Lagares showed gap power with 24 doubles and three triples along with only four home runs, and he stole 13 bases as well.

What else is going on?

  • Third baseman David Wright is hoping to bounce back from the worst season of his career. He batted .269/.324/.374 with eight home runs and 63 RBI in 586 plate appearances. He was hampered by shoulder problems throughout much of the second half. Wright is now 32 years old and the expectations aren’t nearly as high as they once were. But for the Mets to seriously contend, they need him to return to a .290-ish average with 20-plus homers in the middle of the lineup.
  • Lost in the Harvey hoopla is the fact that Bobby Parnell is returning from Tommy John surgery himself. The right-hander missed just about the entirety of the 2014 season after emerging as a reliable late-inning option for the Mets the year prior, saving 22 games with a 2.16 ERA and a 44/12 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. He threw 20 pitches in a minor league game on Saturday, which is the next step towards his eventual return. Parnell will likely be out until May. Unless Jenrry Mejia struggles in the closer’s role, Parnell should end up in a set-up role.
  • The Mets chose to give Bartolo Colon the honor of pitching on Opening Day in Washington against the Nationals and Jacob deGrom the honor of pitching the Mets’ home opener against the Phillies. It’s a bit surprising that they didn’t give Harvey either honor as he’s both the Mets’ best pitcher and their most popular player. Though an expected home sellout regardless of who’s pitching may have given the Mets’ brass reason to create an incentive (Harvey) to show up for the second home game of the season.
  • Manager Terry Collins said that he won’t platoon first baseman Lucas Duda against left-handed pitchers to begin the season. Duda is the Mets’ biggest power threat, as he blasted 30 homers with 92 RBI last season in 596 plate appearances. However, he did show a severe platoon split, with a .915 OPS against right-handers and .516 against lefties. That’s not too far away from his career averages of .847 and .610, respectively. Reserve 1B/OF John Mayberry, Jr. would make a nice platoon partner, as Mayberry has a career .857 OPS against lefties.
  • Second baseman Daniel Murphy, currently nursing a hamstring injury, is entering what could be his final year with the Mets as he is eligible for free agency after the season. The Mets are not expected to offer him a contract extension, which means that there’s a strong possibility they trade Murphy by the July 31 deadline. Murphy, who turns 30 on April 1, made his first All-Star team last season, finishing with a .289/.332/.403 slash line along with nine home runs, 57 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 642 plate appearances.

Prediction: The Mets remain in contention for the NL Wild Card for most of the season, but eventually fall behind the Miami Marlins for a third-place finish in the NL East with an 80-82 record.

Why does it matter who the Mets’ Opening Day starter is?

Bartolo Colon
source: Getty Images
Bartolo Colon

I’ve seen it bubbling up on Twitter as it seemed increasingly likely for the past several days and now that it’s official it has bubbled up to the New York Post: varying levels of dismay that Bartolo Colon is going to the Mets’ Opening Day starter. The dismay coming by virtue of the fact that Colon is not one of the Mets’ promising young starters like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard:

It’s just … curious. Every day for weeks, for months, for years, we have heard about the young guns, the young arms, the ones who are here, the ones who are on the way, the ones who will carry the Mets back to relevance and then to prominence and beyond, and …

And on the day that will begin this rich, fresh, fresh-faced time in Mets history, Opening Day of this brand-spanking-new era, they’re going to start the season with Bartolo Colon, who made his first Opening Day start during the CLINTON ADMINISTRATION. (Editor’s note: that’s 100 percent true.)

That isn’t just a buzzkill, let’s be honest.

It’s a buzz massacre.

Why this matters is beyond me. For one thing the Mets are starting on the road, so it’s not like the paying customers are being deprived of their glimpse of the future. deGrom is pitching the home opener, Harvey the second home game.

For another thing, the theory behind who should be honored with an Opening Day start is not exactly a matter of some sort of established orthodoxy. Some teams do it by seniority. Some teams give the start to last year’s best pitcher who is still with the team. Some managers have, in the past, decided to play matchups early on and pit their best against the other team’s second best and so on. Heck, the mid-80s Braves seemed to give it to Rick Mahler every year because someone there decided that he was Opening Day good luck.

Colon could be getting it on some age-before-beauty theory. He could be getting it because someone decided that, even though he was clearly not the Mets’ best starter last year, he led the team in wins and isn’t that nice? He could be getting it because Opening Day at any park is occasioned by pomp, circumstance and delay and if you’re going to cause one of your pitchers to be taken out of his normal pregame rhythms, why not let it be the old warhorse? He could be getting it because that “buzz” for Opening Day is going to come even if the reanimated corpse of Carl Willey is given the nod. Sustaining that buzz into Games 2-162 is a much harder trick. Better to use the young guns more then.

Or, maybe, it just doesn’t matter at all because it’s just one of 162 games and who the Opening Day starter was will be forgotten by the second or third trip through the rotation.

And of course by then no one will have a good excuse to get worked up about it all and if no one is worked up it’s much harder to make a column or a radio segment out of it.