Plenty of hope for us sub-6-footers in Houston last night where Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt put in a show. Roy went 5.2 IP without allowing a hit. In the end he went 7 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and two walks while striking out 6. Roy also collected 10 GBOs meaning that he got 16 of his 21 outs via the K or on the ground. Oswalt seems to have found a little something over the last couple of starts, fanning 13 in 13 IP. In his last 4 starts he has given up 6 runs in 28 IP (1.92) on 22 hits and 6 walks (1.00). Obviously the reports of Roy's demise were a bit premature. We get a encore of this great matchup on Tuesday in San Francisco.
Shawn Chacon picked up Tony Armas and the Pirates with 5 shutout innings of relief against the Marlins on Thursday. He allowed just 2 hits and a walk and fanned 3 while earning his first win and lowering his ERA to 2.84. Chacon got through his 5 IP in less pitches (70) than Armas needed (77) to get 9 outs. Armas' ERA bloats to 8.46 after he gives up 2 runs in 3 IP on 3 hits and 2 walks in his start. Tony's grip on a rotation spot may be slipping and Chacon could be his replacement. Shawn had 2 4-inning outings in April but this was the first time he was asked to go 5 and his performance indicated that he could be stretched out if Jim Tracy wants to go that way. The Bucs also have Bryan Bullington and John Van Benschoten percolating quite nicely at AAA as well.
Livan Hernandez went seven strong innings against the Rockies in Coors last night allowing 1 earned run on hits. Now he walked 4 as well and only fanned 2 en route to his 4th win against 2 losses. He lowered his ERA to 4.02 on the year. Livan was very effective and kept the D-Backs off stride throughout his 116-pitch performance. This of course is a nice rebound from his 8 earned runs in 4 IP at Houston in his last outing. Take that start out and in the other 4 starts around it he has allowed 6 runs in 27 IP (2.00) on 20 hits. The issue in that span is the 16 walks of course (1.28 WHIP). Even though his GB split was level last night he did get 9 GBOs whish help mitigate his low K rate (12 over those 28 IP). Some pitchers can make a high BB rate and low K rate work if they throw ground balls. But as we have told you in the past, that leaves a very slim margin for error. That slim margin results in outings in which you allow 8 runs in 4 IP, or 7 runs in 5 IP as he did on 4/19 at Petco. Guys with this profile are just going to torch you on occasion. That makes them a bit dangerous and that's why when wins and ERA are equal you take the guy who punches more hitters out and/or issues less walks.
Now this is what we are talking about. Tim Lincecum went 7 strong innings against the Astros, allowing one unearned run on just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 10. Tim was aggressive and seems to already understand the value of the first-pitch strike. Tim has now posted two very good starts as this follows his start in Colorado in which he gave up 2 runs in 7 IP on 7 hits and a walk while striking out 6. In three starts he's fanned 21 against just 7 walks and 5 of those came in his first start. He's allowed 14 hits in 19.1 IP. Welcome to the show, kid. Tim is more than ready for your lineup against the Astros at home next week.
Ben Sheets has got a roll going. He allowed the Phillies 2 runs in 7.2 IP last night giving up 5 hits and a walk while striking out 8. He has given up more than 2 runs just once in his last six starts and walked more than two hitters just once. But what we like about last night's game was his 8 Ks, a season high. That follows two games in which he fanned 5, which were season highs to that point. These 8 Ks are much more in line with his career 7.68 K/9 which we have become accustom to. His K rate sat at 5.4/9 going into last night. His HR rate is up as well this year 1.2 over his 1.0 career rate and the fact that he got to a 1.00 GB rate is encouraging as well. We'd like to see him get back to his 2004 rate of 1.20 but it's a process. He improves to 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA. But this is a good illustration how only slight slips in a pitcher's BB rate, GB rate, HR rate and a drop in K rate can be the difference between an Ace and a good starter.
Ryan Dempster just imploded at Shea yesterday allowing the Mets 5 runs on 3 hits and two walks, all of which was tightly packed in 1 out of work. He walked the bases loaded, was dressed down on the mound by Lou Piniella and then proceeded to walk home a run before the wheels fell off. "I just lost the game. There's not much to say," Dempster said. "It's tough for the other guys to clean up my garbage." Of course when a team goes as bad as the Cubs have gone lately things start to go viral. Ryan has been pretty good around this outing and the three runs he gave up to the Cards back on April 22nd. That's 8 of the 10 eraned runs he's allowed to this point this year. He's allowed just 2 in the other 18 innings he's pitched. This was also just first 2-walk outing so other than having Sweet Lou climbing up and down his back there isn't too much to worry about in terms of performance. Of course Lou lost it a bit yesterday and that means that he's susceptible to a little emotional chaos in his decision making at this point.
Jon Rauch picked up his third save of the year on Thursday with a strong 9th that included a strikeout. The Nationals are working Chad Cordero back in slowly after his return from bereavement leave. They need to maintain Cordero's trade value so it is highly unlikely they'd even consider a change at closer right now. Still, they have to be pleased with Raunch's performance in that role and Jon might be a good player to have in your pocket through the trade deadline.
There are over 100 player news blurbs posted in the member area each morning, members can read the rest of today's player news by clicking here: www.fantistics.com/baseball00/. Not a member? Join today: www.fantistics.com/join/join.php3