As I watch what actually has turned out to be an interesting season opener between the Yanks and the Sox (in the Michael Wilbon voice), I guess there’s no better time than the present to give you my 2010 MLB season preview. Here are 10 storylines to watch as America’s pastime opens 2010 in earnest tomorrow.
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It’s been another busy winter for the Yankees, though this time with a tighter grip on the purse strings. The 27-time World Champs signed former farmhand Nick Johnson as their DH and added journeyman Randy Winn to provide a capable outfielder off the bench. But the other additions came through trades. Curtis Granderson, fresh off a career-high 30 home runs with the Tigers (written as he takes Josh Beckett deep with two outs in the second inning), was brought in for pitchers Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, and top prospect Austin Jackson. The rotation was strengthened by the acquisition of Javier Vasquez (another former Yankee returning to the Bronx) for misfit Melky Cabrera. Vazquez and the reintroduction of Phil Hughes to the rotation stabilizes the back-end of one of the best starting fives in the AL, while Chan Ho Park and Joba Chamberlain’s return to the bullpen gives them depth there. Despite playing in baseball’s toughest division, the Yanks are still a front-runner to take home another World Series Title.
Phil me up again? Continue reading
Coming into this postseason, there were many concerns about the world champion Phillies’ chances of repeating this year: their bullpen was in question, their new ace was struggling, and their offense was in a funk in almost the entirety of September. With game one of the NLDS now over, the Phillies responded to two of the three concerns with style in their 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
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The questions surrounding the new staff ace were answered with four words: Cliff Lee is back. After setting a torrid pace in his first five starts with the Phillies, Lee had slumped as of late, causing a bit of concern for fans when he was named Game 1 starter. In his playoff debut, Lee dazzled, throwing a complete game, allowing only one run while striking out five in 113 pitches. Looking like the pitcher who won 2008 Cy Young award, Lee took command of the game, escaping some tough jams in the early innings and allowing the solitary run to the Rockies in the bottom of the ninth inning. If Lee continues this pace and Cole Hamels is able to emerge from the dugout tomorrow in 2008 World Series MVP form, then the Phillies may in fact have the scariest 1-2 punch in the postseason. Continue reading
As the bleeding finally stopped with last night’s win against the Nationals, the Phillies looked to start up a winning streak tonight in the second game of a three game series against the Nats. With the help of Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz’s solo home runs, the Phils were able to pull out a win in Washington by a score of 5 to 6.
After two tough starts, Cliff Lee looked much better tonight, throwing seven-plus innings, giving up 10 hits and five runs (four earned) while striking out four and not allowing a walk. His command looked much better tonight, and despite some bad luck with hits dropping in, he was able to stay in control of the game. Continue reading
What kind of an ace is Roy Halladay? With a 144-73 career record, a lifetime ERA of 3.47, and only being 32 years of age, it’s hard to find many—if any—more qualified pitchers to build a staff around (and keep in mind these stats come on a team that has to the Yankees and the Red Sox a combined 38 times each season).
By June 7, Halladay was on track to have a career year. His complete-game shutout of Kansas City that day ran his record to 10-1, and dropped his ERA to a tidy 2.52.
On July 6, Halladay’s season was turned upside-down. Blue Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi announced that day that he would listen to offers for the 11-year veteran. Even the typically cool-under-pressure Halladay was not able to pitch out of the off-the-field jam his GM put him in. Continue reading
After Brad Lidge gave his all-too familiar “there goes the game” stare to the outfield last night, Phillies fans feared dropping two straight to the last place Pirates with the struggling Cole Hamels on the mound for the Fightins’. Since his gem against Dan Haren in Arizona, Hamels has struggled with both location and emotion on the mound, seeming more like the Phils’ fifth starter instead of World Series MVP. However, something must have reminded Cole of Chase Field tonight, as he pitched another gem tonight helping the Phillies beat the Bucs in 10 innings by a score of 4 to 1.
Hamels pitched eight shutout innings, walking two while striking out seven over 123 pitches. If not for a Ryan Madson blown save in the ninth, he would have also notched his eighth win on the year. This Cole Hamels looked like the man who led off each of the Phillies’ playoff series with a winning effort during the 2008 World Series Championship. While he sometimes struggled with command, Hamels came back from tough spots to hold the Pirates’ offense at bay all night long. Continue reading
All is right in Phillies’ land once again.
The boys from the City of Brotherly Love just wrapped up a three-game sweep over the Cubs at Wrigley to move five games up in the National League East over Atlanta and Florida (with the Marlins still left to play today). The surge comes after the Phils were swept by Florida to reduce their cushion in the East to three and a half games.
With that kind of cushion, there is one question that begs to be asked: why, with a five-run lead in today’s game, was Cliff Lee on the mound for to throw 122 pitches? Continue reading