Around the Majors: April 25: Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen & More

It was another great day around the league, so let’s take a look at all the stories from yesterday’s games:

Carlos Gonzalez’ Woes Continue
The struggles of Carlos Gonzalez continued last night, going 0-4 with 1 RBI.  He is now hitless in his last six games, going 0-21 in the process.  Is it time to get concerned?  Just a few numbers worth noting:

  • In 2010 he had 77 extra base hits; so far in 2011 he has 4 (3 doubles and 1 home run)
  • His BABIP is currently at .279
  • His fly ball rate is down to 25.8% (he was at 36.6% in ’10) and his HR/FB rate is a measly 6.3% (he was at 20.4% in ’10)

Obviously it is still early and there is no reason to hit the panic button.  There was reason to believe that he couldn’t maintain his .336 average from 2010 (he did have an unrepeatable .384 BABIP), but this falloff is a little too great. 

His power actually didn’t really come around until June last season (he had 7 HR over the first two months and no fewer than 5 in any month after that).  He also can’t remain hitless for too much longer.  While a regression from ’10 stats is likely, we all know this is a little bit too severe of a fall.  Look for him to turn things up before long.

Other Notes:

  • Colby Lewis pitched well for 4.0 innings, then the wheels completely fell off (6 ER, 4 H, 2 BB).  In the fifth the Blue Jays battered him for three home runs (Corey Patterson, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind).  Lewis showed some signs of putting things together, but he needs to put it together for an entire outing (the biggest problem has been the long ball, having allowed 8 HR already this year).  He finished allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 3, over 5 innings.
  • It has been awhile since the White Sox had a save opportunity, so it was interesting to see Sergio Santos called upon for a four out save.  He got the job done, giving up 2 H while striking out 1.  He is sporting a clean 0.00 ERA and it will certainly be interesting to see if the White Sox continue to try and use him in the closer’s role.  He’s worth monitoring and, if you are desperate for saves, he’s certainly worth taking the flier on.
  • Phil Humber carried a no-hitter through 6.1 innings, finishing tossing 7.0 shutout innings against the Yankees (he allowed 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 5).  It was an incredibly impressive outing, lowering his ERA to 3.20 and WHIP to 1.07.  He entered the day with an unlucky 59.3% strand rate and a realistic .281 BABIP.  As a fill-in for Jake Peavy, he certainly has done a tremendous job. 
  • It continues to be a struggle for Andrew McCutchen, who went 1-3 to raise his average to a tidy .237.   He’s actually on a three-game hitting streak (4-10 with 4 R and 2 SB), so maybe he’s finally starting to turn things around.  Obviously all we can do is stay patient, but for now the experiment of having him hit third appears to be over (at least until he starts hitting).
  • Brandon Wood made his debut for the Pirates, playing 3B and hitting sixth.  He went 1-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R and should see time all around the infield.  He has promise, but we all know the average is going to be tough to come by.
  • It goes down in the books as a blown save for Jonathan Broxton, but his defense abandoned him.  He allowed 2 runs (0 earned) on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 0.2 innings.  However, the final hit should’ve been caught, as Jerry Sands broke in on a ball that went over his head.  Tough break, but don’t let it affect your view of Broxton.
  • Chris Coghlan went 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R.  Over his last five games he’s now gone 8-20 with 3 HR, 8 RBI and 5 R.  In five outfielder formats, he’s obviously worth using.
  • Interesting that it was Jon Rauch who got the save opportunity for the Blue Jays, isn’t it?  The fact that he gave up a solo home run to Nelson Cruz (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) probably doesn’t help anything, but clearly it is no slam dunk that Frank Francisco takes the job.  Until this situation plays itself out, both pitchers should be owned if you are in need of saves.
  • Jered Weaver looks like the best pitcher in baseball, and it’s impossible to argue.  He improved to 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA and 0.79 WHIP by tossing a complete game shutout against the A’s.  He allowed 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, in the process.  Obviously, there are numbers that show that he isn’t likely to continue at this pace (.198 BABIP, 87.8% strand rate), but there is little questioning how good he is.
  • It was an improved performance for Matt Garza, who allowed 5 R (only 1 earned) on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 innings.  Still, he couldn’t get a victory, falling to 0-3 on the year.  It certainly is nice to see him limit the hits for a change, so hopefully things are starting to go in the right direction (it was the first time he allowed less hits than innings pitched on the year).
  • Chris Narveson got rocked by the Cincinnati Reds, allowing 7 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 2.1 innings.  Things have been turning a bit over his last three starts, now having allowed 13 ER over 14.0 innings of work.  He will look to get things back on track in Houston next time out.
  • Brandon Phillips was moved to the cleanup spot, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He is heating up with the bat (five multi-hit games in his last seven) and it is nice to see some numbers to go along with the hits (he entered the day with just 7 RBI).  If he continues to hit behind Joey Votto and Jay Bruce (who was moved to the second spot), the RBI will come, though at the expensive of runs scored.  It’s been the constant issue with Phillips the past few years.  Will he hit leadoff and score a bunch or will he be moved down and drive in more runs.  Either way, he’s productive.
  • Would anyone expect Ian Kennedy to be able to outduel Cliff Lee?  That’s exactly what happened, as Kennedy tossed a complete game shutout, allowing 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 10.  Lee was no slouch, allowing 4 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 7.0 innings, but it obviously wasn’t enough.  The strikeouts for Kennedy are not the norm, but outside of the one disaster against the Cardinals on April 13, he has been solid and is worth using in all formats.
  • It has not been a great season for Ryan Ludwick.  In fact, he hasn’t been the same since the trade that sent him from the Cardinals to San Diego.  However, he delivered in a big way yesterday, going 2-6 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  The day raised his average to .195, but he did enter the day with a .218 BABIP.  Don’t give up on him yet.  While he’s not likely to be the same player he was in St. Louis prior to the trade, he also isn’t this bad.

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