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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 56

post #1651 of 77578
Trailer - Moneyball - starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman http://t.co/j70faZ5
post #1652 of 77578
Trailer - Moneyball - starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman http://t.co/j70faZ5
post #1653 of 77578
Quote:
Originally Posted by venom lyrix

Trailer - Moneyball - starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman http://t.co/j70faZ5

Le Batard was taking shots at Jonah Hill being in this laugh.gif

Looks promising to me
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
post #1654 of 77578
Quote:
Originally Posted by venom lyrix

Trailer - Moneyball - starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman http://t.co/j70faZ5

Le Batard was taking shots at Jonah Hill being in this laugh.gif

Looks promising to me
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
post #1655 of 77578


smiley: roll

7 in a row for the Nats! PimpPimpPimpPimpPimpPimpPimp
post #1656 of 77578


smiley: roll

7 in a row for the Nats! PimpPimpPimpPimpPimpPimpPimp
post #1657 of 77578
maybe its the pressure but damn how can you throw that damn girly laugh.gif

nats looking good though pimp.gif
post #1658 of 77578
maybe its the pressure but damn how can you throw that damn girly laugh.gif

nats looking good though pimp.gif
post #1659 of 77578
And people say baseball isnt that hard. laugh.gif
post #1660 of 77578
And people say baseball isnt that hard. laugh.gif
post #1661 of 77578
man what the marlins are going throughsmiley: eek epic

smiley: laugh at wall...
post #1662 of 77578
man what the marlins are going throughsmiley: eek epic

smiley: laugh at wall...
post #1663 of 77578
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_LSZXuulwUJc/SA5df07NnOI/AAAAAAAAACA/iAWu_03NgO8/s320/hamiltonhamporter.bmp

You're killin' me, Walls.
post #1664 of 77578
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_LSZXuulwUJc/SA5df07NnOI/AAAAAAAAACA/iAWu_03NgO8/s320/hamiltonhamporter.bmp

You're killin' me, Walls.
post #1665 of 77578
LMFAO John Wall throw like a girl!!!

laugh.gif

nah, but seriously roll.gif
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
Reply
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
Reply
post #1666 of 77578
LMFAO John Wall throw like a girl!!!

laugh.gif

nah, but seriously roll.gif
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
Reply
"Nothing is wrong with letting the girls know that you're money, and you wanna party"
Reply
post #1667 of 77578
James Shields is absurd. Poor Marlins.
post #1668 of 77578
James Shields is absurd. Poor Marlins.
post #1669 of 77578
Thread Starter 
Betemit just took out Pujols' wrist. Did not look good.
post #1670 of 77578
Thread Starter 
Betemit just took out Pujols' wrist. Did not look good.
post #1671 of 77578
post #1672 of 77578
post #1673 of 77578


I've been looking forward to this for a while now. Can't wait.

Edit: I completely read over venoms post with the trailer ^ smiley: laugh.
post #1674 of 77578


I've been looking forward to this for a while now. Can't wait.

Edit: I completely read over venoms post with the trailer ^ smiley: laugh.
post #1675 of 77578
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland

This is one of the best plays you've ever seen: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16084705&partnerId=aw-6155164227569223475-1026


Good Lord, that was spectacular. smiley: eeksmiley: sick
post #1676 of 77578
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland

This is one of the best plays you've ever seen: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16084705&partnerId=aw-6155164227569223475-1026


Good Lord, that was spectacular. smiley: eeksmiley: sick
post #1677 of 77578
Wall laugh.giflaugh.gif
post #1678 of 77578
Wall laugh.giflaugh.gif
post #1679 of 77578
Thread Starter 

Why the Phillies defense is so bad.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

In the piece I wrote last week about Cliff Lee's struggles, I pointed out that a lot of his problems had to do with the Phillies' poor defense. This led one commenter to write:

"This article seems to forget that the Phillies are the team with the second least amount of errors in baseball. Poor defense? No. Defensive runs saved is a very flawed statistic."

The commenter is correct about the errors. The Philadelphia Phillies have made the third-fewest errors and have the highest fielding percentage in the baseball this season. By this logic, you might be fooled into thinking they're a great defensive team behind their superb pitching staff. But there is so much more to good defense than not making errors.

Errors provide useful information. When the official scorer assigns an error, we know that the fielder has gotten to the ball and either bobbled it, made a bad throw or committed some other miscue on a play that would normally be made successfully. The fielder screwed up, and he should be penalized for it; hence, he is charged with an error.

However, there are well-documented issues with using errors to evaluate fielders. For starters, there is often room for disagreement in the official scorer's ruling. Additionally, errors don't appropriately account for a fielder's range; if a shortstop is a step slow and doesn't reach a ground ball through the hole, he's not likely to be charged with an error, although other shortstops might have made the play.

Many analysts have attempted to accommodate these concerns. For example, Bill James decided to focus on the plays a fielder does make, rather than the plays he does not. Along these lines, he proposed the original range factor formula, which simply counts the number of assists and putouts per nine innings. Players with great range tend to reach more balls and have a higher range factor than others at their position.

While an improvement over Fielding Percentage, range factor still has a few complicating factors. For instance, a shortstop behind a ground-ball pitcher would have more opportunities than a fly-ball pitcher.

Phillies pitchers have induced a ton of ground balls this year. The league batting average on ground balls is .227. The Phillies have allowed a .248 average on grounders, the third-worst in baseball behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs. This is a strong indication that Philadelphia infielders are not getting to that many ground balls, and you can't make an error on a ball you don't get to.

Additionally, ground balls are not all equal. Obviously, a hard-hit ball in the hole is a much tougher play than a routine three-hopper right at the shortstop. Additionally, as discussed recently in an article about batting average on balls in play, ground-ball specialists like Trevor Cahill tend to allow a lower batting average than other pitchers on their ground balls. This unevenness is not guaranteed to even out over the course of the season.

That's why Baseball Info Solutions' video scouts plot the location and velocity (hard, medium or soft) of each ground ball over the course of the season. With this information, we can approximate the difficulty of each ball in play (not just ground balls) for each fielder. That's exactly what John Dewan did with the plus/minus system.

Given the location and velocity of the ground balls allowed by the Phillies' pitching staff year, a lineup of average infielders would have made about 627 plays. The Phillies' infield actually made 587 plays, a 40-play difference. Converting 40 outs into hits makes a difference of about 30 runs. Despite their low error total, the Phillies' infield has cost the pitching staff about 40 outs and 30 runs this year. Check out the chart below, which shows the teams with the biggest gap between their infield's ranking in fielding percentage and plus/minus.

The Phillies are an excellent team that will very likely win the National League East again. But that doesn't mean they have a good infield defense. In fact, despite what fielding percentage might tell you, they have a poor one.



Deserving All-Star relievers.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

If the American League has a lead in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game next month, you can be pretty confident that Mariano Rivera will be coming out of the bullpen to get the last three outs. Rivera has become a staple at the event, making the team in 11 of his 16 career seasons, and is pitching well enough this year to justify yet another selection.

However, if the managers and players select the most worthy candidates to fill the other spots dedicated to relief pitchers, Rivera might be the only guy you recognize in that bullpen. If 2010 was the year of the pitcher, 2011 is the year of the unknown reliever. Let's look at four nearly anonymous bullpen arms who have pitched well enough to earn a spot at the Midsummer Classic.

David Pauley, RHP, Seattle Mariners

You could win a lot of bar bets by asking your friends which pitcher leads all American League relievers in both ERA (1.14) and innings pitched (39 1/3). Unless your friends are nerdy Mariners fans, odds are pretty good they won't guess that Pauley is the guy pulling off that trick at the moment. By dramatically cutting his walk rate and inducing a lot of ground balls, Pauley has developed into a solid late-innings option for Eric Wedge after beginning the year penciled into the long-relief role.

Hardly a typical flamethrower, he has used his excellent changeup to keep hitters off balance and has generated ground balls more than 50 percent of the time. He's almost certainly not going to keep pitching as well as he has so far, but for the first several months of the 2011 season, he's been as effective as any reliever in baseball.

Eric O'Flaherty, LHP, Atlanta Braves

Teammate Jonny Venters has overshadowed almost every other reliever in baseball this year, but O'Flaherty is quietly becoming a vital member of the Braves' bullpen as well. His slider has always allowed him to neutralize left-handed batters, but by relying more heavily on a fastball (70.5 percent of his pitches this year) that he's learned how to command down in the zone, he's become more than just a specialist.

Among left-handed relievers in the NL, only Venters has faced more batters. He might not have the same jaw-dropping stuff, but O'Flaherty has given Fredi Gonzalez a second left-hander who can go full innings while keeping runs off the board, as his 1.38 ERA indicates. That flexibility has allowed the Braves to save George Sherrill for simple left-on-left matchups, giving Atlanta a significant edge in games that come down to a battle of the bullpens. While Venters is a near-lock to represent the National League, O'Flaherty deserves to make the trip as well.

Fernando Salas, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

At FanGraphs, we have two related metrics that help track how well a reliever has done at preserving leads in critical situations -- shutdowns and meltdowns. Cardinals fans who endured the first few weeks of the season will not be surprised to learn that Ryan Franklin is among the league leaders in meltdowns, and his problems led to an emergency search for a new closer in St. Louis. After experimenting with hard-throwers Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez, the Cardinals found a gem in Fernando Salas.

Despite beginning the season in Triple-A, Salas' 15 shutdowns against just two meltdowns gives him one of the best ratios of any reliever in baseball. He's mixed all three of his pitches well, and most importantly, he's kept the ball in the yard; after giving up four home runs in a comparable amount of innings last year, the home run he allowed to Danny Espinosa last night was the first one he has given up all season. Combined with 3.44 strikeouts for every walk, it's easy to see why Salas has been able to be the savior of the Cardinals' bullpen this season.

Tyler Clippard, RHP, Washington Nationals

With Ryan Zimmerman spending a large portion of the first half of the season on the disabled list, there isn't an obvious All-Star representative for the Nationals, though the rules state that they have to send at least one player. However, Clippard wouldn't just be a token choice to fulfill the requirement -- he's actually pitched like an All-Star.

With 51 strikeouts, he's tied with Craig Kimbrel for the National League lead among relievers, but unlike Kimbrel, Clippard does it with soft stuff: 28 percent of his pitches have been changeups this year, and he's not afraid to use it in any count. He throws it at least 20 percent of the time in every count except 3-0 and 0-2. By featuring his changeup so regularly, he's been able to rack up the strikeouts without a power fastball or a big breaking ball. The whiffs have kept his ERA under 2.00 despite being one of the most frequently used pitchers in the National League, and because of his success, the Nationals have a deserving candidate for the All-Star roster, even with their highest-profile players spending time on the DL.



Desperate Marlins.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Richard Nixon was president when Jack McKeon managed his first game in Major League Baseball during Watergate in 1973, and now, at 80 years old, sources indicate McKeon will become the second-oldest manager in history. The oldest manager ever, Connie Mack, owned the team.

mlb_g_marlins1_sw_300.jpg
Getty ImagesThey may be excited for a new park, but the Marlins look increasingly desperate.

Logic tells us that this won't work. Logic tells us that this is just the latest impetuosity of Jeffrey Loria, who runs his team very similar to how George Steinbrenner did in the mid-'80s minus the big checks. McKeon's life in baseball has been filled with successes, but as one player said Sunday, you wonder how McKeon will relate to young men who could be his great-grandchildren. This all seems a little crazy.

But we should keep in mind: Loria is in a desperate situation with a whole lot at stake. He has a new ballpark opening next year, and the Marlins want and need to ride some momentum into next spring. Instead, the Marlins are in an historic collapse, with one win in 19 June games; their signature star, Hanley Ramirez, is playing so badly that rival evaluators are beginning to ask the question of whether he will be the same again.

In hiring McKeon, Loria is playing a card that has worked for him before. The Marlins were in a very similar situation in 2003, a young and talented team seemingly drifting out of the race early in the season, then McKeon was hired and suddenly Florida started winning. By the end of the year, Loria was running around the bases at Yankee Stadium, giddily celebrating the Marlins' World Series victory over the Yankees.

Steinbrenner was incredibly superstitious, and when the team was playing badly or faced a big game, he would call Yogi Berra to throw out a game's first pitch, believing that this could change the mojo in favor of the Yankees. For Loria, McKeon has been a lucky charm, and Loria needs him now, even if he realizes that hiring McKeon doesn't represent a long-term plan.

From Elias: the oldest to manage a game in MLB history:

Connie Mack: 87 years, 283 days
Casey Stengel: 74, 359
Jack McKeon: 74, 313
Felipe Alou: 71, 142
Frank Robinson: 71, 31

Bringing back Jack McKeon isn't as crazy as it sounds, writes Mike Berardino.

Edwin Rodriguez shocked the Marlins with his resignation, write Ted Hutton and Juan Rodriguez. The Marlins' slide hasn't been his fault, writes Greg Stoda.

Notables

Albert Pujols was injured and gave the St. Louis fans quite a scare, writes Bernie Miklasz. What we remember of injuries like his, on plays like this, is the worst: Cliff Floyd had his wrist shattered and his career altered, and Derrek Lee got hurt and never regained his power.

We don't know yet what exactly is wrong with Pujols, so it could be much less serious than Floyd's injury. But I was with a couple of players when they showed a replay of what happened to him, and simultaneously, they said the same thing: "Bottom hand." It was his left hand that was injured, the bottom hand in his swing, the more important hand to what he does.

There's nothing to do now but wait and see what the doctors learn about a player who has a lot at stake this year, as he barrels toward the free agency he wants to test after turning down a Cardinals offer this past winter.

• You can't stop the Mariners; you can only hope to contain them: Jason Vargas shut down the Phillies, and Seattle took two of three from the Phillies. Greg Halman helped Vargas.

Phil Hughes had a very good first step, reaching 95 mph in his velocity. One of the Yankees' greatest questions about Hughes is how he can maintain his velocity throughout a start, and Hughes' work on Sunday was a really good sign. Hughes felt good, writes Kevin Kernan:

Hughes, wearing No. 53 instead of his usual 65, hit 95 mph on the radar gun early and was sitting from 90-93 the first three innings. His velocity dropped as low as 87 in the final inning and a third. Hughes has to maintain velocity, but that's why they are called rehab starts.

• From ESPN Stats & Information, the interleague tote board. The Junior Circuit again proved it can play with the big boys, winning 11 of Sunday's 14 interleague contests, including a 5-3 advantage in National League ballparks. So far this year, the AL holds a 50-34 edge in the win-loss category, outscoring the NL 378-293 and throwing eight shutouts to three.

Moves, deals and decisions


1. The other day, the Marlins announced they had demoted Chris Coghlan to the minors. But sources say that in the aftermath of that decision, Coghlan told the Marlins that he has an injured knee, so he has been shifted to the disabled list.

2. The Indians fired their hitting coach, writes Paul Hoynes.

3. The Reds aren't ready to say what's next for Aroldis Chapman.

Dings and dents


1. A couple of Rangers were treated for dehydration.

2. The Dodgers placed catcher Rod Barajas on the disabled list.

3. Alex Rodriguez says he doesn't have a shoulder strain.

4. It looks as though Bruce Chen will be activated on Tuesday.

5. The Nationals placed Rick Ankiel on the disabled list.

Sunday's games


1. James Shields continued to make a case as a candidate to start the All-Star Game, dominating the Marlins. From Stats & Info: Tampa Bay starter James Shields made quick work of the Marlins, going 110 pitches, recording 10 strikeouts and allowing just one unearned run to notch his fifth complete game already this season. Shields had five complete games in his previous five major league seasons combined.

In two interleague starts this season -- both against the Marlins -- Shields has 23 strikeouts and just one walk. He's among the current pitchers with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in interleague play:

Josh Beckett: 5.40
Felix Hernandez: 5.10
Zack Greinke: 4.48
James Shields: 4.14

Pitchers with five complete games by June 19 since 1998:

James Shields: '11
Roy Halladay: '10, '08, '05
Zack Greinke: '09
Bartolo Colon: '03, '98
Mark Mulder: '03
Randy Johnson: '00
Curt Schilling: '99 (6), '98 (7)

2. Justin Verlander stopped the bleeding for the Tigers. From ESPN Stats & Info, how Verlander shut down the Rockies:

• He finished hitters off: Verlander took 14 hitters to a two-strike count and didn't allow a hit or walk anyone. Only a hit-by-pitch kept him from retiring all 14 hitters. It was his first start this season in which he didn't allow a hit or walk a batter after going to two strikes.

• After throwing his changeup a season-high 32 percent of the time with two strikes during his past start, Verlander threw it a season-low 7 percent of the time on Sunday. Instead, he relied on his fastball and curveball more than usual. Eleven of his 13 outs with two strikes came on those two pitches, including four of his five strikeouts.

• Verlander induced contact more often than usual with two strikes. Rockies hitters put eight of their 13 swings in play with two strikes, the highest percentage (61.5) against Verlander in any of his starts the past three seasons. Only one of those eight balls in play left the infield.

3. The Astros didn't lend any support for Bud Norris.

4. The Braves salvaged the final game of their series against Texas, David O'Brien writes, but they have to start hitting, writes Mark Bradley.

5. Alexi Ogando lost his second straight start.

6. Hiroki Kuroda threw well and got some unexpected help from Dioner Navarro.

7. Landon Powell finished off the Giants, writes John Shea. Trevor Cahill just threw the ball.

8. Cord Phelps was The Man for the Indians.

9. Miguel Cairo rescued the Reds, John Fay writes.

10. The Rockies were dominated.

11. Nick Swisher made the Cubs pay for a decision, Ben Shpigel writes.

12. Jon Niese stumbled against the Angels.

13. The Padres were error-prone and got swept by the Twins -- and now they head into Boston. This feels like a boxing match between a heavyweight and a flyweight, considering the respective lineups.

14. The Red Sox put up a lot of runs again in blowing out Milwaukee. Adrian Gonzalez posted hit No. 1,000.

15. The Twins seemingly never lose these days, and on Sunday, they were led by unheralded players. Drew Butera found the perfect Father's Day gift, writes Jim Souhan.

16. Washington's winning streak ended.

post #1680 of 77578
Thread Starter 

Why the Phillies defense is so bad.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

In the piece I wrote last week about Cliff Lee's struggles, I pointed out that a lot of his problems had to do with the Phillies' poor defense. This led one commenter to write:

"This article seems to forget that the Phillies are the team with the second least amount of errors in baseball. Poor defense? No. Defensive runs saved is a very flawed statistic."

The commenter is correct about the errors. The Philadelphia Phillies have made the third-fewest errors and have the highest fielding percentage in the baseball this season. By this logic, you might be fooled into thinking they're a great defensive team behind their superb pitching staff. But there is so much more to good defense than not making errors.

Errors provide useful information. When the official scorer assigns an error, we know that the fielder has gotten to the ball and either bobbled it, made a bad throw or committed some other miscue on a play that would normally be made successfully. The fielder screwed up, and he should be penalized for it; hence, he is charged with an error.

However, there are well-documented issues with using errors to evaluate fielders. For starters, there is often room for disagreement in the official scorer's ruling. Additionally, errors don't appropriately account for a fielder's range; if a shortstop is a step slow and doesn't reach a ground ball through the hole, he's not likely to be charged with an error, although other shortstops might have made the play.

Many analysts have attempted to accommodate these concerns. For example, Bill James decided to focus on the plays a fielder does make, rather than the plays he does not. Along these lines, he proposed the original range factor formula, which simply counts the number of assists and putouts per nine innings. Players with great range tend to reach more balls and have a higher range factor than others at their position.

While an improvement over Fielding Percentage, range factor still has a few complicating factors. For instance, a shortstop behind a ground-ball pitcher would have more opportunities than a fly-ball pitcher.

Phillies pitchers have induced a ton of ground balls this year. The league batting average on ground balls is .227. The Phillies have allowed a .248 average on grounders, the third-worst in baseball behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs. This is a strong indication that Philadelphia infielders are not getting to that many ground balls, and you can't make an error on a ball you don't get to.

Additionally, ground balls are not all equal. Obviously, a hard-hit ball in the hole is a much tougher play than a routine three-hopper right at the shortstop. Additionally, as discussed recently in an article about batting average on balls in play, ground-ball specialists like Trevor Cahill tend to allow a lower batting average than other pitchers on their ground balls. This unevenness is not guaranteed to even out over the course of the season.

That's why Baseball Info Solutions' video scouts plot the location and velocity (hard, medium or soft) of each ground ball over the course of the season. With this information, we can approximate the difficulty of each ball in play (not just ground balls) for each fielder. That's exactly what John Dewan did with the plus/minus system.

Given the location and velocity of the ground balls allowed by the Phillies' pitching staff year, a lineup of average infielders would have made about 627 plays. The Phillies' infield actually made 587 plays, a 40-play difference. Converting 40 outs into hits makes a difference of about 30 runs. Despite their low error total, the Phillies' infield has cost the pitching staff about 40 outs and 30 runs this year. Check out the chart below, which shows the teams with the biggest gap between their infield's ranking in fielding percentage and plus/minus.

The Phillies are an excellent team that will very likely win the National League East again. But that doesn't mean they have a good infield defense. In fact, despite what fielding percentage might tell you, they have a poor one.



Deserving All-Star relievers.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

If the American League has a lead in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game next month, you can be pretty confident that Mariano Rivera will be coming out of the bullpen to get the last three outs. Rivera has become a staple at the event, making the team in 11 of his 16 career seasons, and is pitching well enough this year to justify yet another selection.

However, if the managers and players select the most worthy candidates to fill the other spots dedicated to relief pitchers, Rivera might be the only guy you recognize in that bullpen. If 2010 was the year of the pitcher, 2011 is the year of the unknown reliever. Let's look at four nearly anonymous bullpen arms who have pitched well enough to earn a spot at the Midsummer Classic.

David Pauley, RHP, Seattle Mariners

You could win a lot of bar bets by asking your friends which pitcher leads all American League relievers in both ERA (1.14) and innings pitched (39 1/3). Unless your friends are nerdy Mariners fans, odds are pretty good they won't guess that Pauley is the guy pulling off that trick at the moment. By dramatically cutting his walk rate and inducing a lot of ground balls, Pauley has developed into a solid late-innings option for Eric Wedge after beginning the year penciled into the long-relief role.

Hardly a typical flamethrower, he has used his excellent changeup to keep hitters off balance and has generated ground balls more than 50 percent of the time. He's almost certainly not going to keep pitching as well as he has so far, but for the first several months of the 2011 season, he's been as effective as any reliever in baseball.

Eric O'Flaherty, LHP, Atlanta Braves

Teammate Jonny Venters has overshadowed almost every other reliever in baseball this year, but O'Flaherty is quietly becoming a vital member of the Braves' bullpen as well. His slider has always allowed him to neutralize left-handed batters, but by relying more heavily on a fastball (70.5 percent of his pitches this year) that he's learned how to command down in the zone, he's become more than just a specialist.

Among left-handed relievers in the NL, only Venters has faced more batters. He might not have the same jaw-dropping stuff, but O'Flaherty has given Fredi Gonzalez a second left-hander who can go full innings while keeping runs off the board, as his 1.38 ERA indicates. That flexibility has allowed the Braves to save George Sherrill for simple left-on-left matchups, giving Atlanta a significant edge in games that come down to a battle of the bullpens. While Venters is a near-lock to represent the National League, O'Flaherty deserves to make the trip as well.

Fernando Salas, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

At FanGraphs, we have two related metrics that help track how well a reliever has done at preserving leads in critical situations -- shutdowns and meltdowns. Cardinals fans who endured the first few weeks of the season will not be surprised to learn that Ryan Franklin is among the league leaders in meltdowns, and his problems led to an emergency search for a new closer in St. Louis. After experimenting with hard-throwers Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez, the Cardinals found a gem in Fernando Salas.

Despite beginning the season in Triple-A, Salas' 15 shutdowns against just two meltdowns gives him one of the best ratios of any reliever in baseball. He's mixed all three of his pitches well, and most importantly, he's kept the ball in the yard; after giving up four home runs in a comparable amount of innings last year, the home run he allowed to Danny Espinosa last night was the first one he has given up all season. Combined with 3.44 strikeouts for every walk, it's easy to see why Salas has been able to be the savior of the Cardinals' bullpen this season.

Tyler Clippard, RHP, Washington Nationals

With Ryan Zimmerman spending a large portion of the first half of the season on the disabled list, there isn't an obvious All-Star representative for the Nationals, though the rules state that they have to send at least one player. However, Clippard wouldn't just be a token choice to fulfill the requirement -- he's actually pitched like an All-Star.

With 51 strikeouts, he's tied with Craig Kimbrel for the National League lead among relievers, but unlike Kimbrel, Clippard does it with soft stuff: 28 percent of his pitches have been changeups this year, and he's not afraid to use it in any count. He throws it at least 20 percent of the time in every count except 3-0 and 0-2. By featuring his changeup so regularly, he's been able to rack up the strikeouts without a power fastball or a big breaking ball. The whiffs have kept his ERA under 2.00 despite being one of the most frequently used pitchers in the National League, and because of his success, the Nationals have a deserving candidate for the All-Star roster, even with their highest-profile players spending time on the DL.



Desperate Marlins.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Richard Nixon was president when Jack McKeon managed his first game in Major League Baseball during Watergate in 1973, and now, at 80 years old, sources indicate McKeon will become the second-oldest manager in history. The oldest manager ever, Connie Mack, owned the team.

mlb_g_marlins1_sw_300.jpg
Getty ImagesThey may be excited for a new park, but the Marlins look increasingly desperate.

Logic tells us that this won't work. Logic tells us that this is just the latest impetuosity of Jeffrey Loria, who runs his team very similar to how George Steinbrenner did in the mid-'80s minus the big checks. McKeon's life in baseball has been filled with successes, but as one player said Sunday, you wonder how McKeon will relate to young men who could be his great-grandchildren. This all seems a little crazy.

But we should keep in mind: Loria is in a desperate situation with a whole lot at stake. He has a new ballpark opening next year, and the Marlins want and need to ride some momentum into next spring. Instead, the Marlins are in an historic collapse, with one win in 19 June games; their signature star, Hanley Ramirez, is playing so badly that rival evaluators are beginning to ask the question of whether he will be the same again.

In hiring McKeon, Loria is playing a card that has worked for him before. The Marlins were in a very similar situation in 2003, a young and talented team seemingly drifting out of the race early in the season, then McKeon was hired and suddenly Florida started winning. By the end of the year, Loria was running around the bases at Yankee Stadium, giddily celebrating the Marlins' World Series victory over the Yankees.

Steinbrenner was incredibly superstitious, and when the team was playing badly or faced a big game, he would call Yogi Berra to throw out a game's first pitch, believing that this could change the mojo in favor of the Yankees. For Loria, McKeon has been a lucky charm, and Loria needs him now, even if he realizes that hiring McKeon doesn't represent a long-term plan.

From Elias: the oldest to manage a game in MLB history:

Connie Mack: 87 years, 283 days
Casey Stengel: 74, 359
Jack McKeon: 74, 313
Felipe Alou: 71, 142
Frank Robinson: 71, 31

Bringing back Jack McKeon isn't as crazy as it sounds, writes Mike Berardino.

Edwin Rodriguez shocked the Marlins with his resignation, write Ted Hutton and Juan Rodriguez. The Marlins' slide hasn't been his fault, writes Greg Stoda.

Notables

Albert Pujols was injured and gave the St. Louis fans quite a scare, writes Bernie Miklasz. What we remember of injuries like his, on plays like this, is the worst: Cliff Floyd had his wrist shattered and his career altered, and Derrek Lee got hurt and never regained his power.

We don't know yet what exactly is wrong with Pujols, so it could be much less serious than Floyd's injury. But I was with a couple of players when they showed a replay of what happened to him, and simultaneously, they said the same thing: "Bottom hand." It was his left hand that was injured, the bottom hand in his swing, the more important hand to what he does.

There's nothing to do now but wait and see what the doctors learn about a player who has a lot at stake this year, as he barrels toward the free agency he wants to test after turning down a Cardinals offer this past winter.

• You can't stop the Mariners; you can only hope to contain them: Jason Vargas shut down the Phillies, and Seattle took two of three from the Phillies. Greg Halman helped Vargas.

Phil Hughes had a very good first step, reaching 95 mph in his velocity. One of the Yankees' greatest questions about Hughes is how he can maintain his velocity throughout a start, and Hughes' work on Sunday was a really good sign. Hughes felt good, writes Kevin Kernan:

Hughes, wearing No. 53 instead of his usual 65, hit 95 mph on the radar gun early and was sitting from 90-93 the first three innings. His velocity dropped as low as 87 in the final inning and a third. Hughes has to maintain velocity, but that's why they are called rehab starts.

• From ESPN Stats & Information, the interleague tote board. The Junior Circuit again proved it can play with the big boys, winning 11 of Sunday's 14 interleague contests, including a 5-3 advantage in National League ballparks. So far this year, the AL holds a 50-34 edge in the win-loss category, outscoring the NL 378-293 and throwing eight shutouts to three.

Moves, deals and decisions


1. The other day, the Marlins announced they had demoted Chris Coghlan to the minors. But sources say that in the aftermath of that decision, Coghlan told the Marlins that he has an injured knee, so he has been shifted to the disabled list.

2. The Indians fired their hitting coach, writes Paul Hoynes.

3. The Reds aren't ready to say what's next for Aroldis Chapman.

Dings and dents


1. A couple of Rangers were treated for dehydration.

2. The Dodgers placed catcher Rod Barajas on the disabled list.

3. Alex Rodriguez says he doesn't have a shoulder strain.

4. It looks as though Bruce Chen will be activated on Tuesday.

5. The Nationals placed Rick Ankiel on the disabled list.

Sunday's games


1. James Shields continued to make a case as a candidate to start the All-Star Game, dominating the Marlins. From Stats & Info: Tampa Bay starter James Shields made quick work of the Marlins, going 110 pitches, recording 10 strikeouts and allowing just one unearned run to notch his fifth complete game already this season. Shields had five complete games in his previous five major league seasons combined.

In two interleague starts this season -- both against the Marlins -- Shields has 23 strikeouts and just one walk. He's among the current pitchers with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in interleague play:

Josh Beckett: 5.40
Felix Hernandez: 5.10
Zack Greinke: 4.48
James Shields: 4.14

Pitchers with five complete games by June 19 since 1998:

James Shields: '11
Roy Halladay: '10, '08, '05
Zack Greinke: '09
Bartolo Colon: '03, '98
Mark Mulder: '03
Randy Johnson: '00
Curt Schilling: '99 (6), '98 (7)

2. Justin Verlander stopped the bleeding for the Tigers. From ESPN Stats & Info, how Verlander shut down the Rockies:

• He finished hitters off: Verlander took 14 hitters to a two-strike count and didn't allow a hit or walk anyone. Only a hit-by-pitch kept him from retiring all 14 hitters. It was his first start this season in which he didn't allow a hit or walk a batter after going to two strikes.

• After throwing his changeup a season-high 32 percent of the time with two strikes during his past start, Verlander threw it a season-low 7 percent of the time on Sunday. Instead, he relied on his fastball and curveball more than usual. Eleven of his 13 outs with two strikes came on those two pitches, including four of his five strikeouts.

• Verlander induced contact more often than usual with two strikes. Rockies hitters put eight of their 13 swings in play with two strikes, the highest percentage (61.5) against Verlander in any of his starts the past three seasons. Only one of those eight balls in play left the infield.

3. The Astros didn't lend any support for Bud Norris.

4. The Braves salvaged the final game of their series against Texas, David O'Brien writes, but they have to start hitting, writes Mark Bradley.

5. Alexi Ogando lost his second straight start.

6. Hiroki Kuroda threw well and got some unexpected help from Dioner Navarro.

7. Landon Powell finished off the Giants, writes John Shea. Trevor Cahill just threw the ball.

8. Cord Phelps was The Man for the Indians.

9. Miguel Cairo rescued the Reds, John Fay writes.

10. The Rockies were dominated.

11. Nick Swisher made the Cubs pay for a decision, Ben Shpigel writes.

12. Jon Niese stumbled against the Angels.

13. The Padres were error-prone and got swept by the Twins -- and now they head into Boston. This feels like a boxing match between a heavyweight and a flyweight, considering the respective lineups.

14. The Red Sox put up a lot of runs again in blowing out Milwaukee. Adrian Gonzalez posted hit No. 1,000.

15. The Twins seemingly never lose these days, and on Sunday, they were led by unheralded players. Drew Butera found the perfect Father's Day gift, writes Jim Souhan.

16. Washington's winning streak ended.

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