Jake Arrieta is making a very strong push to be considered the National League Cy Young recipient this season, but Clayton Kershaw might have something to say about that. Is it too little, too late? And hey, it’s September; that means rosters expand and some other notable prospects (Corey Seager) get their cup of coffee in the majors for about a month or soa��though some of these names already have.
Lastly, it’s about to get messy with the Mets. Buckle up, kids.
Arrieta Is Unstoppable
Right now, at least.
Last Sunday, the Chicago Cubs ace did something the Los Angeles Dodgers offense has become quite familiar with over the past couple weeks: he didn’t allow a hit. In what was his 14th consecutive quality start of the season, Arrieta struck out 12 Dodgers en route to his historic performance. The last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter? Carlos Zambrano in 2008. Against Houston. In Miller Park. Yeah, weird, right?
The 29-year-old is in the middle of his second straight sensational season, but this year he is finally getting the attention he deserves. If it were up to me who to start in a one-game playoff between Arrieta and teammate Jon Lester, it’d be a no-brainer. Through 28 starts on the season he holds a 2.03 ERAa��second only to Zack Greinke’s otherworldly mark of 1.59a��to go along with a 2.47 FIP. Compare this to Lester’s 3.59 ERA and 3.08 FIP; what do you think?
Last night, he continued his torrid streak against the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching eight innings of shutout baseball while allowing four hits, no walks, and striking out seven. While the a�?quality starta�? statistic itself can be very misleading (a 4.50 ERA isn’t quality in any form), Arrieta has earned every bit of his a�?quality startsa�? this season.
Right now, the Cubs are 77-57; if they were in any other division except the AL Central (KC, 82-53), they’d be leading. Unless, of course, the Pittsburgh Pirates (80-54) were with them. It looks more and more likely that the Cubsa��who currently hold a 7.5-game lead on the Nationals for the second wild card spota��will be playing on the road in Pittsburgh for that potential elimination game.
Joe Maddon has a big decision to make, but it should be an easy one.
Corey Seager Gets His Shot
September is typically the month for call-ups around Major League Baseball, but what happens when most of the a�?top prospectsa�? have already made it? Well, consensus top-ten prospect Corey Seager of the Dodgersa��one of the few big names still in the minors up until a few days agoa��finally got his shot. He is primarily a shortstop but as we’ve seen in just his three games thus far, he can be played at third base as well.
He debuted with a couple of hits, following that up the next night with two more, and figures to get plenty of playing time the rest of the way with the Dodgers making a push to secure the NL West over the San Francisco Giantsa��whom they currently hold a 7.5-game lead over. For the Dodgers, it may not be a matter of if they make the postseason, but rather when they qualify. That time is drawing nearer.
Seager will help solidify a lineup that has struggled with consistency lately, but it’s never easy to gauge how a prospect is going to perform during his first big league stint. Throwing him straight into the deep end of the pool only serves to intensify things.
As for other notable call-ups across the majors: Matt Moore (TBR)a��who has been abysmal in the big leagues since returning from Tommy John surgery, Zach Davies (MIL)a��brought over from Baltimore in the Gerardo Parra trade, as well as power hitters Javier Baez (CHC), and Joey Gallo (TEX)a��among others. Of those four teams, three are still right in the thick of some sort of playoff race. Without looking, can you guess who isn’t?
I’d be an easy professor, all.
Who’s Tony Zych?
He’s just some 25-year-old reliever who pitches for the Seattle Mariners. He’s not spectacular, but in 31.2 innings at Triple-A Tacoma he registered a 3.41 ERA while striking opposing hitters out at an impressive rate (10.2 K/9), for a total of 37.
What’s really significant about Zych, however, is that with his debut he becomes the last player on MLB’s alphabetical list. The first player on that list? Reliever David Aardsma, who pitched for the Mariners between 2009 and 2010. Their catcher, Mike Zunino, is just five spots away from Zych. Why does any of this matter?
It doesn’t, but didn’t it help distract you from such a disappointing season, Seattle fans? If only for a moment.
Clayton Kershaw is not of This World
Whether you like the Dodgers or not, whether you’re upset your team boasts an ace-caliber pitcher or not, we should all be able to admit one thing: Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. In fact, we ran out of things to say about him long ago. Is he the Mike Trout of pitchers? Well actually, Kershaw came first, so I suppose it’d only be fair to label Trout the Kershaw of hitters.
Regardless, one of LA’s two aces had an ERA of 4.32 on May 21 after making his ninth start of the season. 18 starts later, and that number is down to 2.18 to go along with a 2.03 FIP. He leads the league in innings pitched (194), strikeouts (251), the aforementioned FIP, and K/9 (11.6)a��up from his career best 10.8 one season ago.
There’s a chance, albeit a slight one, that he records a sub-2.00 ERA for a third consecutive season. If not for Arrieta and teammate Greinke, he’d be leading that category for the fifth season in a row. Now, he’s only 27 years old, and it might just be my imagination but I think he’s getting better. He’s won the Cy Young twice in a row, three of the last four yearsa��finishing second in 2012a��and also claimed last season’s NL MVP Award.
Again, if not for Greinke and suddenly this last surge from Chicago’s Arrieta, he’d be a lock for a third straight. Now despite LA’s No. 2 (I guess?) and his staggering ERA of 1.59, his FIP is just a little more than a full run higher at 2.63. That’s still great, mind you, but not Kershaw level. That’s because FIP is weighted more towards strikeouts, however. He’s allowed fewest H/9 though (6.1), leads the league in WHIP (.085), all the while dealing with a decreasing strikeout rate (8.1 this season compared to 9.2 one year ago).
Suddenly, the NL Cy Young race has become very interesting.
You Knew this was Coming, Right?
Matt Harvey is an amazing starting pitcher for the New York Mets. Matt Harvey is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Typically, that means an innings limit in their first season back on the mound (see: Strasburg, Stephen). Matt Harvey’s agent is Scott Boras, who will stop at nothing to get the most money available for his client, himself, and so on (see: everyone represented by Boras).
So with Harvey firing on all cylinders, despite showing signs of fatigue after his last time out, something interesting came up: his innings limit. According to Boras, per Harvey’s doctors, that limit seems to be 180. He’s currently at 166.1, which erm… umm, might be a problem come postseason timea��you know, because the Mets are leading the NL East and all.
Sure there are multiple studs behind Harvey, but when you go into the postseason one year, there’s no guarantees of next season being similar (see: Nationals, Washington with Strasburg). a�?The Dark Knighta�? currently holds an ERA and FIP of 2.60 and 3.34, respectively, with 158 strikeouts over 25 starts. As for his thoughts on the limit and the postseason, he didn’t exactly answer:
a�?Right now, I’m focused on Tuesday… I’m the type of person that I never want to put the ball down. I hired Scott (Boras), my agent, and went with Dr. Andrews as my surgeon because I trusted them to keep my career going and keep me healthy… I’m healthy.a�?
Not exactly the heroic answer Mets fans neither needed, Matt. And boy oh boy, are the takes scorching. For the record, anyone using the a�?just pitch, pansya�? approach should probably sit the next couple plays out. So what about GM Sandy Alderson? Well, it looks like he won’t be backing down from Boras, noting that he’s had a plan this whole time and isn’t going to change it now:
Person close to Alderson: “Sandy won’t roll over for Boras (re:Harvey) the way Rizzo did (w/Strasburg). He’s not changing the plan now.”
a�� John Harper (@NYDNHarper) September 4, 2015
But should he? Wait, are we sure Alderson isn’t The Dark Knight while Harvey isa��you guessed ita��Harvey Two-Face? I mean, this gentleman seems to have connected the dots already:
@jazayerli the Dark Knight turns out to be Harvey two-face. Abandons the team for his own gain.
a�� Andrew McDonald (@Amac424) September 5, 2015
Actually, of course, I don’t think any of this as that simple. Ignoring the hot takes (I know, it’s difficult), it appears this is a mess from all angles. Wasn’t there a plan from Alderson earlier in the season, innings wise? How is this just now becoming an issue? Oh, because the Mets are in a playoff race. Does everyone realize this is about business on both sides of the ball? The Mets want to (and are in pole position to) win now, but at what cost? Harvey, who is making just north of $614,000, isn’t eligible for arbitration until the upcoming offseason. You can be sure that he and Boras want their due; that’s just business. An athlete’s long-term health is obviously very important.
For what it’s worth, and though it’s absolutely clear Harvey wouldn’t have risked his health if that were a possibility, he’s not entirely blameless here. He did say he wanted to pitch at the end of last year after undergoing surgery in October of 2013. He was also against (and vocal about) the Mets use of a six-man rotation earlier in the season that served to keep him fresher.
So, New York, what decision do you deserve? Did he pitch long enough to now see himself become the villain? I mean, he is teammates with Thor; surely those universes could never co-exist.
All joking asidea��actually, this is too much fun. Even when the Mets are doing well something has to go wrong. This is going to get much worse until it gets better, especially with four weeks of the season still to come. In the meantime, I’ll just be sitting here, watching the worlda��well, you get it.