Archive for July, 2008

Rich Hill Really IS improving…I Think

Monday, July 7th, 2008

News & Notes

  • Mitch Atkins pitched 7.1 scoreless innings
  • Chris Siegfried pitched 5.0 scoreless innings
  • Carlos Perez hit 2 extra-base hits
  • Tyler Colvin was 4-for-5
  • Kevin Hart allowed 3 runs in 5 innings pitched
  • Micah Hoffpauir was 3-for-5 with a home run

Player Tracker

Game Recaps

Boise 7, Vancouver 10 – (Box Score

) – Jason Christian went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI’s as the Vancouver Canadians knocked off the Boise Hawks, 10-6, before 1,923 at Memorial Stadium.

Hector Garcia scattered four hits to get the win, allowing just one run, that coming on a solo homer from Rebel Ridling, his fourth of the year.

A three-run third gave the C’s the lead for good, keyed by RBI singles from Dusty Napoleon, Dante Love, and Christian. Vancouver would take a 7-1 lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by David Thomas and a Marco Luis single.

Boise would make it interesting, closing to 8-4 in the eighth on Kurt Calvert’s first professional homer, and 10-6 in the ninth on Marwin Gonzalez’s two-run double and a bases loaded walk to pinch hitter Josh Harrison. However, Fabian Gomez got Josh Vitters to ground out to end the game.

Ridling and Jake Opitz each went 2-for-4 in the loss, as the Hawks went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position tonight.

Mike Lissman, Love, Jarreck West, and Jeremy Barfield each had two hits for the C’s.

The rubber-game of the series is tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m. with Casey Coleman meeting Ronny Morla.

Iowa 12, Oklahoma 5 – (Box Score )

Tennessee 8, Carolina – (Box Score )

Daytona 7, Brevard County – (Box Score )

Peoria 1, Quad Cities 0 – (Box Score )

AZ Cubs 6, AZ Brewers 1 – (Box Score )

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Now it’s our turn

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

First Star – Sean Marshall (.259)

Second Star – Aramis Ramirez (.151)

Third Star – Adam Kennedy (.116)


Alright, Milwaukee makes the first chess move, so now how do we counter? Every show I watch and podcast I listen to has the Cubs needing a lefty in the pen as well as a starter in the rotation, but I gotta ask, what’s wrong with Neal Cotts? Has no one noticed that in his last nine outings, Cotts hasn’t allowed a run? Some of those appearances have been more than just LOOGY appearances. Why can’t he be that second lefty in the pen once Scott Eyre comes back from the DL? I’d rather not see us go out and spend prospects to bring in someone in the pen when we can use some of those resources to bring in the starter in the rotation we need to counter.

I’ll be honest with you. Milwaukee picking up Sabathia doesn’t scare me all that much for the simple reason that I believe Ben Sheets will go down before the season’s out. If that becomes the case then the Brewers are back to where they started before getting Sabathia. They would have a dominant starter and that’s it. That doesn’t scare me. Let’s not worry until we have something to worry about. Right now, at the end of the day, we’re still on top of the division. That’s what matters.

Sean Marshall looked real good again today and appears to be making his case for why he deserves a regular spot in a Major League rotation without having to prove himself in the minors any more. He’s more developed than Sean Gallagher, but with a slightly lower ceiling. I think it’s important to keep him in that rotation and eventually move Jason Marquis out of the rotation in favor of Gallagher. With those two at the back of the rotation, it really turns into a very serviceable five pitchers to run out there day after day. Marshall impressed me today by getting ahead of the hitters, especially Albert Pujols, and making the pitches he needed to make to be successful. He did give up a home run to Ryan Ludwick, but it was with the bases empty and did little damage in the grand scheme of things.

On the offensive side of the ball, I was very pleased with the ways we scored runs today. We capitalized on a Cardinal error, drove in runs with extra base hits and even picked up another home run by Geo. It was important to get on top early and set the tone after the tough loss yesterday and that’s what they did. Now it’s time to take a day off and head home for a very winnable six game home stint before the break. Is it out of the question to ask for a 6 game sweep before the break? I don’t think it is.

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Rich Hill improving?

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Question of the Day

I asked the question yesterday, but with the holiday, didn’t get the amount of responses I had hoped so I’ll ask it again.

If you could go back and attend any sporting event in history, what would it be? As a bonus, if you could attend any event in history, regardless of sports, what would it be?

We had a couple of good ones in the comments, but I want more from you.

Scouting Today’s Starters

Ted Lilly – Continuing his streak of success on the road, Lilly went eight-plus innings in his last start in San Francisco and didn’t allow any runs until the final frame. Lilly has allowed just four runs in his previous three road starts. Against the Giants, he was throwing three pitches — fastball, curveball, changeup — for strikes, and he allowed just seven hits while striking out five.

  • Lilly is that rare pitcher who can throw with control and power and all with his left arm. Can pitch well late into his starts and is rough on left-handed hitters.
  • In general, Lilly has very good stuff but when he gets hit, he gets hit hard, mostly because he offers too many pitches up in the zone that hitters can drive. Also has trouble with right-handed hitters.
  • Decent mid-rotation lefty.
  • 3-0, 2.93 in last 27.2 IP
  • Pitches – Fastball (49% / 87 mph), Slider (23%, 82 mph), Curveball (11% / 70 mph), Changeup (18% / 78 mph)

Kyle Lohse – Over the offseason, several teams passed up on Lohse rather than take him off the free agent market. The Cardinals took a $4.25 million chance on him during Spring Training and their investment has more than paid off. At 10-2, Lohse has already won as many games as he did last season and has the fourth-highest win total of any Major League pitcher. Four wins short of a career high, Lohse has catapulted himself into All-Star consideration and looked sharp in his recent outing against the Mets. Lohse struck out four over seven innings and allowed an unearned run in his last start.

  • Though he has low 90′s heat, it’s his curveball that does most of the damage, particularly against right-handed hitters. Knows his limitations.
  • Left-handed hitters smack him around mercilessly. Needs to work on his endurance, because he clearly gets weaker after the fifth inning.
  • A decent back-of-the-rotation starter.
  • 1-0, 4.09 in last 11 IP
  • Pitches – Fastball (60% / 91 mph), Slider (23% / 84 mph), Changeup (10% / 83 mph), Curveball (7% / 76 mph)

Scouting Info taken from MLB.com / TSN.ca / Fan Graphs

News & Notes

  • Arizona Phil mentioned that Rich Hill threw a simulated game that featured a new delivery. Apparently it went well for him. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best. Getting him back to form would be like making a trade for a good starter. It would also up his stock if we wanted to include him in a package for a starter down the stretch. (Source)
  • Joe Borowski was designated for assignment by the Indians. Anyone want a sweaty closer that can barely hit 80 mph? Anyone? – (Source)
  • Milwaukee is apparently willing to offer Matt LaPorta and J.J. Hardy in a deal for C.C. Sabathia. I don’t want to break your spirits, but if the Brew Crew is willing to throw names like that around, we’re not going to get Sabathia and may want to turn our attention elsewhere.
  • Gian Guzman hit 2 home runs
  • Luis Bautista hit 2 home runs
  • Rebel Ridling was 3-for-4
  • Nathan Samson was 3-for-5
  • Israel Camacaro allowed 1 hit in 4 innings pitched
  • Jake Fox hit 2 doubles
  • Jeff Samardzija allowed 4 runs in 6 innings pitched
  • Micah Hoffpauir hit a home run and drove in 4 runs
  • Felix Pie was 4-for-5
  • Eric Patterson was 1-for-4 with a double

Minor League Player Tracker

Game Recaps

Tennessee 6, Carolina 0 - (Box Score) – The Tennessee Smokies (38-49, 11-6) took on the Carolina Mudcats (47-40, 9-8), from Five County Stadium in an Independence Day Night showdown Friday Night in front of 8,769. The night was owned by the Mudcats Josh Johnson who was 2-for-3 at the plate with a homerun and three runs driven home, while shutting out Tennessee through eight innings in the start in a 6-0 win.

The loss for Tennessee allowed Carolina to climb to within two games of their first place second half lead. The Smokies did not score a run for the second straight game and have gone eighteen innings without touching home.

Mudcats All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez gave the sellout home crowd something to cheer about in the bottom of the first as he had an opposite field homerun. The line drive over the right field wall gave Carolina a 1-0 lead.

Carolina added a second run in the third inning to push ahead 2-0. Pitcher Josh Joshson got things started with a double and would score on a single by Chris Coghlan.

Josh Johnson would revisit the plate in the fourth inning and again touch up Caridad. He crushed a 1-2 pitch over the leftfield wall for a three-run homerun. The hit was only his second of the season and Carolina took a commanding 5-0.

Esmailin Caridad pitched 5.2/3 innings in the start which resulted in his first loss of the season. Caridad allowed six runs on ten hits with three homeruns. He didn’t walk a batter and had two strikeouts.

Josh Johnson not only had a huge offensive game as a hitter, he was stellar in the start on the mound. Johnson pitched eight shutout innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. He was making a Major League Baseball rehab start and looked ready to head back to the Marlins.

Boise 4, Vancouver 0 – (Box Score) – Four Boise pitchers combined on a six-hit shutout as the Hawks blanked the Vancouver Canadians 3-0 before a sell-out crowd of 3,911 at Memorial Stadium.

Israel Camacaro fanned five batters in four one-hit innings for the Hawks, who tossed their first shutout of the season. Justin Bristow struck out four in his two innings of relief to notch his first professional win.

Boise scored an unearned run in the first and added two more in the fourth on a Rebel Ridling two-run homer, part of his 3-for-4 night. It would get tight in the ninth, as the C’s brought the tying run to the plate, but Ryan Sontag caught Dante Love’s long drive at the wall in left to send the Hawks in the win column.

Game 3 of the series is tomorrow night, with Harol Tolentino meeting Carlos Hernandez at 7:15 p.m.

Iowa 11, Oklahoma 5 – (Box Score)

Daytona 1, Brevard County 4 – (Box Score)

Peoria 9, Wisconsin 7 – (Box Score)

AZ Cubs 3, AZ Athletics 2 – (Box Score)

DSL Cubs 1, DSL Twins 2 – (Box Score)

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Carlos Makes Everything All Better

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

First Star – Carlos Zambrano (.374)

Second Star – Kerry Wood (.208)

Third Star – Geovany Soto (.128)

 


It’s amazing how good I can feel about a team by seeing one player come off the disabled list. If Zambrano coming back can do that for me, a fan not actively involved with the team, imagine what a mental boost it has to be for the actual team. Throw in the fact that he comes back with six shutout innings of work in which he kept runners off base in bunches and low stress. If there was ever a better time for him to come back, I can’t think of what it would be. After going 2-5 on the road trip so far, this team needed a boost and he provided it. The win last night guarantees that we leave St. Louis with the lead in the division.

 

Geo hit another homer last night and is on pace to break the Cubs rookie homerun record. I marvel sometimes at how wrong people were on this guy. Let me give you some examples:

2006 – “Unless he retools his swing dramatically, he won’t hit many homers…All in all, he’d make a useful backup catcher for the right team.” ~ John Sickels

2007 – “With two seasons in Triple-A under his belt, it’s now clear what kind of skills Geovany Soto brings to the game…his level swing will not produce many home runs, and he won’t hit enough to force his way into a regular job. I wouldn’t mind giving him a shot as a reserve catcher.” ~ John Sickels

I don’t know if I’d go on record just yet and predict a 30 homer season by Geo, but that would be pretty sweet as long as he doesn’t turn into Rick Wilkins. Kosuke picked up the other Cub home run, but I’m still a little worried about him. He is starting to strike out way too much. Take a look at the at bats per strikeout rates by month for our Japanese import.

March/April – 6.5
May – 7.8
June – 4.8
July – 2.8

Since the month of May, he’s been striking out at alarming rates. Just to give you a little perspective on these rates, Ryan Howard has a career rate of 3.5. I don’t know that a player striking out that much is someone we need at the number two spot in the order. I think Ryan Theriot would be better suited there right now, with Fukudome moving to 6th or even 7th behind Edmonds and Geo.

Bobby Howry was outstanding aside from one pitch to Pujols that left the yard for the only other run in the game. I was glad to see Lou use Howry for the two inning stint rather than bring in Marmol. Even after Howry gave up the homer he went to Neal Cotts, which makes me happy. It’s time for Lou to begin developing confidence in other members of this bullpen and it starts by using them in critical situations and allowing them to prove themselves.

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If you could attend any event in history….

Friday, July 4th, 2008

It’s July 4th. Carlos Zambrano returns from the DL tonight and I want to change the subject to celebrate. I have an interesting question for you and I’m curious to see what people think.

If you could go back and attend any sporting event in history, what would it be? As a bonus, if you could attend any event in history, regardless of sports, what would it be?

Driven dvdrip For me, my sporting event would be February 22, 1980. I would love to go back and attend the Miracle on Ice live and in person.

As for the non-sports event, it would have to be the signing of the constitution. That would be unbelievable.


Headed into the Fourth of July weekend, “The Pitch” — presented by Liveboard — celebrates the Rays’ ridiculous run to the best record in baseball by eating crow for host Brandon Rosage’s 2006 comments ridiculing Tampa Bay for changing its team name. The tribute comes a day after the Rays finished off another sweep of the Red Sox with a come-from-behind winner at home.

The guys then discuss two urgent matters facing the business of baseball: MLB’s accusations against the FBI and Joe Buck’s hatred for his job as a baseball broadcaster.

And there’s plenty of trade deadline chatter about C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Daniel Cabrera and the Mariners seeking new ownership. But none of it compares to the pain of weighing the two or three worst injuries in baseball, as outlined by host Joe Aiello. We’ll spare you descriptions here, but let’s just say Joe makes a lot of references to ailing crotches and rear-ends.

Plus, we set up a new month of the “Pick-Off” competition with a free Liveboard up for the taking. Enjoy and interact via e-mail at thepitch@mvn.com or via phone at 360-450-MVN3.

Shorts on dvd

Download the MP3

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Sean Gallagher vs. Tim Lincecum – Scouting Reports

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Sean Gallagher – did not get a decision in his last outing against the White Sox, but learned some valuable lessons. The right-hander gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings, and matched a season high with eight strikeouts. He also threw a season-high 121 pitches. He got an earful from Lou Piniella in the second inning, and settled down. He escaped a tough jam in the fifth when the Sox had two on and one out, and struck out the next two batters. He’s still going through growing pains.

  • A late-inning reliever or mid-rotation starter.
  • Has great stuff and can rack up strikeouts with relative ease. Is well suited for short relief, but can also start if needed.
  • Is still a little too wild for a short relief role, and he needs to improve his command in order to maximize his big-league potential.
  • 0-0, 3.75 in last 12 IP
  • Pitch Usage – Fastball (69%), Curve (19%), Slider (11%), Changeup (2%)

Tim Lincecum – After one of his worst starts of the year against Kansas City, Lincecum had his best game of the season in his last outing, against the cross-bay A?s. In seven innings, Lincecum allowed no runs on five hits. He tied a season high with 11 strikeouts and threw strikes on 77 of his 116 pitches. It was his third double-digit strikeout game of the year.

  • Has excellent heat, tremendous deception and an almost picture-perfect delivery that may avoid injuries over time. Is a pure strikeout artist.
  • Has to answer durability questions, mainly due to his slight frame (5-11, 170 pounds). Needs to keep the ball in the park with greater frequency.
  • A budding star pitcher.
  • 1-0, 4.26 in last 19 IP
  • Pitch Usage – Fastball (68%), Changeup (13%), Curve (10%), Slider (9%)
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Rebel Ridling Named Player of the Week

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

News & Notes

  • Boise Hawks first baseman Rebel Ridling was named the NWL Player of the week
  • Marco Carrillo pitched 8.0 scoreless innings
  • Brandon Guyer hit 3 extra-base hits
  • Marquez Smith hit 2 extra-base hits

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  • Robert Hernandez struck out 5 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs over 5.0 innings pitched yesterday
  • Justin Berg walked 6 batters and allowed one run in 5 innings pitched

Player Tracker

Game Recaps

Iowa 6, Omaha 5 - (Box Score) – Bobby Scales drove home Luis Figueroa in the bottom of the 15th inning for the Iowa Cubs to top the Omaha Royals 6-5 Wednesday night at Principal Park in a four hour and twenty minute contest. Omaha took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 11th inning when Mitch Maier and Shane Costa hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning. Mike Stodolka hit a sacrifice fly to give the Royals their first lead since the third inning. Iowa answered back when Micah Hoffpauir and Ben Broussard singled to lead off Iowa’s half of the 11th before Casey McGehee drove in the pair to tie the game at five.

The game would remain tied 5-5 until Scales drove in the winning run in the 15th inning. Trailing 3-1, Omaha rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game 3-3. Reliever Carmen Pignatiello walked two of the three batters he faced before Jim Brower allowed an RBI single to Brayan Pena. Jason Smith then connected on a sacrifice fly for the tie. Omaha struck early with a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Chris Lubanski was driven in by Pena. Iowa centerfielder Felix Pie saved a run in the third inning when he caught a fly ball and threw home to Koyie Hill to nab Omaha’s Maier at home for the double play. McGehee gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning when he drove in Ben Broussard and Scales with a double. Hill answered back for Iowa with a solo home run, his fifth, in the third inning to tie the game 1-1. Hill was 2-for-5 on the night. Blanco, Hoffpauir and McGehee also added a pair of hits in the win while Broussard tallied three. Iowa starter Justin Berg threw five innings, allowing one run while striking out four Omaha batters. Reliever Jesse Estrada (2-0) pitched five innings, striking out six, to earn the win. Omaha’s Brad Salmon (5-3) was tagged with the loss.

Tennessee 6, Huntsville 5 – (Box Score) – Doug Deeds crushed a storybook two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to propel the Tennessee Smokies over the Huntsville Stars by the score of 6-5. The crowd of 2,884 at Smokies Park went wild as the Smokies improved to 11-4 for the second half of the season.

Deeds came to the plate after Matt Craig hit a two-out single to left field with the Smokies down 5-4. On a 0-1 pitch from Stars closer Juan Sandoval (1-3), Deeds tattooed his seventh home run of the season over the right field wall and out of the stadium to notch the victory. The entire Smokies dugout mobbed Deeds at home plate in taking their second game in a row against visiting Huntsville.

The game did not go quite as well early on, as the Stars jumped out to a 4-0 lead off Smokies starter Donnie Veal. He allowed one run to score in the first, then was tagged with three more runs by Huntsville in the top of the 2nd inning, including Chris Errecart’s thirteenth home run of the season. Tennessee struck back with a run in the bottom of the second to pull to within 4-1.

The Smokies began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the fifth. After Sam Fuld walked with one out, Matt Camp smacked a triple to the gap in left center field to score a run. Camp then came across the plate on an RBI sacrifice fly by Tyler Colvin to pull Tennessee to within one run.

Matt Avery came on in relief of Veal, who went five innings allowing nine hits and four runs to score. Avery was very effective in keeping the Smokies in the game, with Tennessee tying things up in the sixth. A Camp double to center field brought Mark Reed across the plate on a close play at home to knot the game up at 4-4. Huntsville got to Avery in the seventh, however, plating one run to take a 5-4 advantage into the late innings of the game.

Rocky Roquet (3-1) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to set the stage for Deeds’ heroics. He ended up going four for five on the night, scoring two runs and driving in two. Camp also drove in two runs of his own with a triple and a double on the night, with Craig and Nate Spears also having multiple hit nights for the Smokies offense.

The four game series concludes at Smokies Park on Thursday night with a patriotic fireworks show following the game at 7:15 pm. The Smokies will look to newly acquired starter Alex Maestri (0-0, 7.20) to the mound to face off against Stars right-hander Nic Ungs (0-0, 1.80). The Smokies will then take to the road for a four-game set against the Carolina Mudcats, returning home on Tuesday July 8th.

Daytona 5, St. Lucie 0 – (Box Score)

Peoria 8, Wisconsin 4 – (Box Score)

Boise 0, Tri-City 13 – (Box Score)

AZ Cubs 7, AZ Mariners – (Box Score)

DSL Cubs 4, DSL White Sox 5 – (Box Score)

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Seriously, when do we start worrying?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

First Star – Ray Durham (.480)

Second Star – Mike Fontenot (.241)

Third Star – Jim Edmonds (.232)

I’m scared to death that Carlos Marmol was a fluke last year. Who’s with me? Oh, don’t lie to yourself. You know there is that little part of you that’s worried about Marmol over the last month or so.

In the month of June, Marmol had an ERA of 7.36. What makes me confused is where it’s coming from. Guys are still not hitting him hard. He held hitters to a .143 batting average against, in part because he’s still getting his strikeouts. The ball, when put in play, has been finding it’s way through the holes. On top of that, Marmol has been killing himself with walks, allowing 9 in the eleven innings of work. I really hope the time off for the all star break is what he needs because he looked terrible last night again and almost cost us the game. I don’t think we said that statement all last year. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. It really can happen in a heartbeat. Just ask Rich Hill and Rick Ankiel.

Ryan Dempster rebounded from his terrible outing at US Cellular, but wasn’t able to pick up that first win on the road. He tossed up a quality start that Marmol decided didn’t merit a win. Instead, Marmol is credited with the win that he did nothing to earn. Explain how that’s fair? Sometimes I think there should be a scorekeeper’s escape clause when assigning things like wins and losses. It doesn’t seem right to hang a loss on a guy that throws eight or nine innings of two hit ball and loses 1-0. It also doesn’t seem right for Dempster to not get a win that Marmol was credited with. If you’re not going to give it to Ryan, at least keep it away from Carlos. That’s all I’m saying.

Props to Mike Fontenot for coming up clutch with the long ball. Sometimes I forget that he was part of the package we received for Sammy Sosa. At the time, I had no idea who Fontenot was, but now I’m glad he’s here. He’s a vital part of the bench along with Jim “I hate the Cardinals” Edmonds.

This was a big win last night because we’ve got a stud on the mound against us tonight in Tim Lincecum. If you’ve never seen him throw, it’s a treat if he’s not facing your team. Hopefully we can get to him early and rough him up.

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Ryan Dempster vs. Kevin Correia

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Ryan Dempster – is still looking for that first road win. He’s 9-0 at Wrigley, and 0-3 in seven starts on the road. His last outing against the White Sox was the first time he’d been roughed up. The right-hander gave up eight runs on seven hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. The problem was that he couldn’t get away with any mistakes.

  • His slider devastates both righties and lefties and he smokes a sinking fastball past hitters at 92-94 mph. He has a deceptive delivery that helps both when going to the plate and keeping runners honest.
  • Sometimes his abundant energy gets in the way; he’ll find himself too pumped up early on and get knocked around a bit. He has some problems with his command and gets in homer trouble when he leaves his fastball dangling up in the zone.
  • Quality starter and/or reliever.
  • 1-1, 7.84 in last 10.1IP
  • Pitch Usage – Fastball (53%), Slider (28%), Changeup (17%), Other (2%)

Kevin Correia – A solid five innings of work weren’t enough to net Correia a victory in last appearance. Against the cross-bay rival Athletics, Correia allowed just one run and four hits, but his pitch count (102) was high and he was pulled before the sixth in a tie game. After missing more than six weeks with a strained muscle in his left side, Correia has been healthy for his last three turns in the rotation. He has improved in each of those appearances, allowing five, three and one run, respectively.

  • Has a good sinking fastball in the low-90′s, plus a solid change-up and slider. Pitches with good command. Is aggressive against right-handed hitters.
  • None of his pitches strikes great fear into hitters, so he needs his mechanics and command to be fine-tuned. Struggles to get left-handed hitters out.
  • A decent bottom-of-the-rotation starter.
  • 0-1, 3.60 in last 10IP
  • Pitch Usage – Fastball (63%), Slider (26%), Changeup (10%), Curve (1%)

All scouting information taken from MLB.com, TSN.ca, and ESPN.com

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