We last saw Brad Penny pitch with the Giants in a relief role at the end of the 2012 season. He was bothered for a few weeks in August into September by a shoulder impingement, which prompted him to take the 2013 season off. However, he has been throwing and according to Troy Renck, he has been throwing well. Renck suggests the right-hander might make for a good risk-free signing.
Penny, however, is 35 years old, coming off of a year-long break, and hasn’t shown even a competent ability to miss bats since 2011. In 181.2 innings in 2011, Penny struck out just nine percent of batters faced, which was the worst rate among all qualified starters — markedly worse than Carl Pavano’s 10.7 percent strikeout rate in second-place. In 28 innings in 2012, he struck out 7.5 percent of batters. He lost about 2 MPH on all of his pitches since 2010 as well, which likely explains the inability to miss bats.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.