Kuroda a Cy Young Candidate?

When you think of the 2013 AL Cy Young candidates who comes to mind? Most people would probably bring up Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish or Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer who are both having phenomenal seasons. Yu Darvish leads the league with 207 strikeouts. He has 5 games of 14+ strikeouts, the rest of the MLB’s starting pitchers combined have 3. Max Scherzer leads the league in wins with 17  he is also 3rd in strikeouts with 175. Both of these pitchers should be highly considered for the Cy Young award but I believe another pitcher should also be included in the talk and that pitcher is Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda is having a fantastic season for the New York Yankees. He has a 2.33 ERA which ranks 4th in the MLB and 2nd in the American League. Having an ERA below 3 is hard to do when you are pitching half of your games in Yankee Stadium which is a hitters ballpark.  Hiroki has an 11-7 record which is great considering the Yankees lineup hasn’t given him more than 5 runs to work with since June 19th. That is almost 2 months! Since July 1st the pitcher has a 1.33 ERA and 3 shutouts, one of them being a complete game shutout.  Oh yeah, Kuroda also hasn’t given up the long ball in 7 starts, which is a feat of its own when you are pitching in one of the smallest ballparks in the MLB. Hiroki Kuroda has turned into the ace of the Yankees staff and almost guarantees the team a win every time he takes the mound. He has been a horse who can pitch into the 7th and 8th inning consistently. He is doing all this with limited run support and the weight of the pitching staff on his shoulders. So in my opinion, Kuroda should easily be considered for the Cy Young award. In fact I believe he is a top 3 candidate. If he keeps pitching the same way he has over the passed month then he may be able to take the award home.

 

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Alex Rodriguez Suspension

Yesterday, Bud Selig and the MLB decided to suspend Alex Rodriguez through the 2014 season, which ends up to be 211 games! The suspension will take place on Thursday and Rodriguez will appeal so he will most likely continue to play in a Yankees uniform until the appeal process is over. Most people believe that Arod and his plethora of expensive lawyers will help him cut down his suspension to a mere 80 or 90 games. In my opinion, they are right. Alex Rodriguez is being treated differently than all the other players involved with this scandal. Ryan Braun, who won his PED appeal process last season, has only received a 65 game suspension this year for being caught with PEDs again. Other players like Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz have only received 50 game suspensions and will be eligibile to play in the playoffs if their respective teams make the race. So, if these “first time offenders” are only receiving 50 game suspensions then why isn’t Arod? Can it be because the MLB has found so much evidence against him that the suspension has to be lengthy? Or could is be that the MLB is just tired of Arod disrespecting the game? I really couldn’t tell ya, but what I can tell you is that this suspension will be cut down and cut down majorly. I simply cannot see how the MLB can suspend a first time offender for 211 games when the drug policy says the suspension should only be 50.

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Pirates Take Sole Possession of NL Central

When the sun rose yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves only a half game back of the NL Central lead and the best record in baseball. With a double header against the division leading St. Louis Cardinals on their plate, they could take sole possession of the Central if they could sweep the double header.

Game 1 of the double header was a close one as both teams scored a run each in the opening 3 innings. From then on a pitching duel would take place between Pittsburgh ace, AJ Burnett, and St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, Lance Lynn. Burnett went 7 strong for the Bucs. He only gave up 3 hits and he struck out 9. Lynn went 6 innings, only allowed 3 hits and struck out 7. The winning run was scored in the 11th when Alex Presley hit a walk-off single off of Cards pitcher Kevin Siegrist. This win was big for the Pirates as it gave them a half game lead over St. Louis in the division.

Let’s just say that Game 2 of the double header wasn’t as close as the first. The Cards gave up 6 runs off 11 hits, while the Bucs shut St. Louis down only giving up 3 hits and 0 earned runs. Andrew McCutchen went 2-5 in the game with 2 RBI. Jody Mercer, Gaby Sanchez, and Tony Sanchez all had an RBI each. With this win the Pirates extended their NL Central lead to 1.5 games and now have the best record in the MLB. Can they keep it up for the rest of the season? Can the Pirates finally make the playoffs for the first time since 1992? We will all have to just wait and see.

Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Burnett

Is Roy Halladay Still A Dominant Pitcher?

When you think of Roy Halladay what do you think of? I know I think of no hitters, perfect games, and just dominant pitching overall, but with his recent performance dating back to last season, I am beginning to question whether Halladay can still be the ace of a major league team. We all know that Halladay can throw a gem on any given night but now these gems are starting to come farther and farther apart. In 2011 Halladay was a horse. In 32 starts he posted a 2.35 ERA which was second best in the majors. He also had 19 wins and struckout 220 batters, and oh yeah, he only lost 6 games. 2011 was a great year for Doc,  2012 on the other hand was not so great. In 2012 Roy Halladay started 25 games and posted a 4.49 ERA. This was a far cry from the ERA he posted in 2011. His win to loss was also worse with an 11-8 record. He only struck out 132 batters which was 88 off the mark he set the previous year.

Now, I bet you’re thinking, “Well, thats only one bad season right?”. You could be right about that, but Roy definitely did not start the 2013 season on a high note. Yesterday in his first start, he only lasted a whopping 3.1 innings and he gave up a total of 5 runs, all earned. That can’t be the way Doc wanted to start the season nor the way the Phillies organization wanted him to start either.

So what is going on with Halladay? It could just be that he is in some sort of pitching slump or it could just be that he is getting a little old to pitch in the MLB. Not many guys can pitch at the age of 35, especially a guy who has as much wear and tear on his arm as him. As of now, I can’t really make a call on how dominant Roy Halladay will be this season. He could be completely terrible or he could bounce back to his old form and be the ace of the Phillies pitching staff again. We will just have to let the season progress and see what happens….

 

Halladay winding up

Halladay winding up

Yankees in Trouble?

Can it be? Is it even possible? Can the most dominant franchise in sports be due for sub-par season? As the season creeps closer and closer the one looming question in the Big Apple is; Are the New York Yankees in serious trouble? From the looks of it, most sports analysts and fans would say the Yankees are a long shot for making the playoffs. The AL East is a powerhouse division this season and in my opinion is the hardest division in Major League Baseball. The Blue Jays have added a few key pieces to their line up in Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to go along with Jose Bautista and young prospect Brett Lawrie. They have also rekindled their pitching staff by acquiring 2012 NL Cy Young Winner R.A Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson. Adding players like these to any roster would make a team a hell of alot better. Unlike the Blue Jays, the Orioles did not make a lot of moves this off season. They still have the same solid core that carried them last season, Mark Reynolds, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters. They also have a young star on the rise in Manny Machado. Oh yeah, they also have a great coaching staff lead by Manager Buck Showalter. The Rays are also another great team in the division, they have a veteran lineup and a great pitching staff lead by ace David Price. If Evan Longoria can stay healthy this team has the potential to go very deep into the playoffs. 

Now, I know what your thinking…With a division like that the Yankees must be doomed right? Well that is where you are wrong. Even though the Yanks have been riddled with injuries and weren’t exactly active in free agency I still believe they have a chance. The injuries they have now are not season ending so Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson should be back by the middle of May. Derek Jeters injury appears to be minor so even though he might be on the DL for Opening Day he should be ready to go in a week or two. So in my opinion, the Bombers injuries aren’t that big of a deal. 

Believe it or not, with all the injuries the Yanks have suffered this spring, they actually have a couple stars returning from injury and they are Mariano Rivera and Brett Gardner. These two pieces will give the Yankees a major boost in defense. Rivera will continue to close out games and Gardner will cover a lot of ground in the outfield. He may even give a boost on offense with his lightning speed. 

The offense will also get a huge boost from Ichiro Suzuki who hit .300 while only playing half the season with the Bombers in 2012. He can also play the field well and I think with him on the field the fans will not miss Nick Swisher at all. Robinson Cano is looking to have an MVP like season this year. He is looking for a contract and it seems like he is in the zone after batting over .400 in the World Baseball Classic. He was also named tournament MVP and lead the Dominican to the title. Derek Jeter is also looking to have a great season. After shutting up all the haters last year by batting .316, people are expecting him to have another phenomenal season.

The pitching staff is looking to be a bright spot for the Yankees this year with returning starters in C.C Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Hiroki Kuroda. The bullpen will also be solid with all star setup man David Robertson. 

So as you can see, I certainly don’t believe the Yankees are going to be in trouble this season. Yes their division is going to be amazing and yes they have a ton of injuries but they have what no other team in the division has and that is championship pedigree. They know how to win when it really matters and they are hungry to quiet all the doubters. If they really set their mind to it they could make the playoffs easily or even win the AL East!

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Derek Jeter on Steroids?

When you think of Derek Jeter, do you think of steroids? I know I certainly don’t. When I think of Derek Jeter I think of gold gloves, big hits, and world series rings, but due to Jeter’s recent success at the plate, some sports analysts like Skip Bayless are actually accusing him of using steroids, or Human Growth Hormone. This season Jeter is batting .324 with 13 homeruns and 43 RBI. These numbers are an improvement from last season when he batted .297 with 6 homeruns and 61 RBI, but are they really that much of an improvement to accuse him of using steroids? Not at all in my opinion. Jose Bautista had never hit more then 16 homeruns before he belted 54 homers in 2010, and no body said he was on steroids, they just said he improved his swing, Jeter has done the same thing. Before Derek had hit his 3000th hit in 2011, he was batting in the low .200s. He went on the disabled list, worked on his swing with hitting coach Kevin Long, and when he came back he batted over .300 and has been on a complete tear since. Derek Jeter can still hit, and can still play the field he definitely doesn’t need steroids to play well in the MLB.