MLB Weekly Round-up — 01 June 2011

Each Week I recap the top 10 storylines from the week, whether they are about a team, player, owner, fan, equipment, or whatever else is impacting the game. It was a long holiday weekend, so we’ll cover the last 8 days. Consider it bonus time.

From Jorge to Buster, here is your painful week 8 Disabled List – I mean, recap:

10.  Jorge De La Rosa – SP – Colorado Rockies

Jorge De La Rosa was off to a phenomenal start for Colorado. He was picking up Ubaldo Jimenez’s slack, and he was carrying a 3.34 ERA into the week. On Tuesday, his season made an epic hairpin turn, and crashed hard.

He had been getting lit up for 2 1/3 innings, before suddenly going down with an elbow injury. After a closer inspection, it was confirmed that he will need Tommy John surgery. He will now be out until the middle of next season, at the very least.

9. Cleveland Indians

After accounting for nearly every spot in my review of last week, I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of them this week. The Indians are falling, and they’re falling harder than expected. Their 31-run margin of defeat for the week was by far the worst in baseball (by 14 runs), and they now sit just 5 games ahead of the Tigers.

I previously predicted that they would take the division race down to the wire, but the Tiger takeover could occur sooner than planned. Keep an eye on this one folks; it’s going to get messy.

8.  David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

David Price only pitched once over the last 8 days, but he made the most of it. In 7 innings of work, he managed to strike out 12 batters, while giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks. His strikeouts were just plain dirty, too. Keep in mind, David Price basically only has one pitch. He works in a slider, a change, and some curveballs, but 73% of his pitches are fastballs.

He was consistently hitting 95-96 on the gun, and at one point, he threw the absolute perfect 0-2 pitch.  It was an outside fastball that broke in on a right handed batter and caught the very corner of the plate.  You shouldn’t be throwing strikes on an 0-2 count, but this pitch was simply unhittable.  It looked like a ball, and he got the batter to chase, but it had so much movement that it would have been a called strike 3 if the batter chose not to swing.

In other news, David Price is my new favorite player.

7.  Yovani Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers

Yovani Gallardo had a bit of a rough first month of the season. His walks were high, and he was giving up hits like nobody’s business. He’s turned it around on May 7th, however, and he’s been electric ever since. This week, he pitched 15 innings, allowing just 1 run, 9 hits, and 2 walks.

Walks have always been his own personal nemesis, so it’s nice to see him walk just 1 batter in each outing. It’s also good to see that he’s striking out anyone and everyone, once again. Over his last 3 games, he’s posted a K:9 of 9.86. With the Brewers’ suspect defense behind him, he’s going to need to keep his strikeouts high.

Don’t look now, but the Brewers have won 15 of their last 20 on the backs of Gallardo, Marcum, and Greinke. They sit just 2.5 games behind the Cardinals, and look like very serious contenders.

6.  Jair Jurrjens – SP – Atlanta Braves

Jair Jurrjens has given the Braves everything they’ve hoped to get out of him, and then some. He spent the first two weeks of the season on the DL preparing to dominate. He will carry a 1.51 ERA into June, and he hasn’t shown signs of slowing up.

He hasn’t been striking out the world, as his 5.21 K:9 is the lowest of his career, but he’s succeeded by relying on his control (1.51 BB/9). His BABIP has been low, but is largely a product of playing in Turner Field, as well as his 47% GB rate.

His FIP is 2.91, so luck has probably been a factor.  However, a FIP under 3.00 indicates that he has the talent to be a top tier NL pitcher. Unfortunately for him, he’ll never become a household name. Not because of his talent, but because of his name itself.

5.  Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson has done his time on the Disabled List, but he’s not done yet.  Last weekend, the Marlins placed him on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation, retroactive to May 17th. The news has continued to get worse for the Cy Young candidate, as his recovery timeline continues to be pushed back. His soreness has yet to subside, and the June 1st return date was pushed back to June 7th earlier in the week.  As the week progressed faster than his health, that date was also moved back.

Hopefully Johnson will return sooner than later, because his pitching has been remarkable in 2011. But even if he does return, I’m sure he will be on a very cautious pitch count for the rest of the season.

4.  Arizona Diamondbacks

By far, the hottest team in the league right now is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sure, they only had to play the Rockies, Astros, and Marlins, but they were 7-1 this week. They’ve won 15 of their last 17 games, and are now alone in 1st place in the NL West.

Kelly Johnson raised his batting average 34 points, Miguel Montero hit .360 with 11 RBIs, and Justin Upton hit .417 with 5 SB and a 5-hit game. In all, the Diamondbacks have put up 54 runs this week, the most in the majors. That’s 5 more runs than both the Phillies and the Red Sox.

3.  Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have finally worked their way out of the proverbial hole that they dug themselves at the beginning of the season. Behind the bat of Carl Crawford and his back-to-back 4-hit games, the Red Sox climbed their way atop the AL East standings. By Saturday, they had a 2 game lead over the Yankees. After two losses, and two Yankee wins, they now find themselves tied for first.

The Red Sox scored 32 more runs than their opponents last week, the largest margin of victory of any team. I probably shouldn’t have used the word ‘finally’ in the paragraph above, because I certainly didn’t expect the Red Sox to make up so much ground by June. They’re now in the driver’s seat, with the pedal to the floor, and it’s likely that nothing short of injuries will stop them.

2.  Jay Bruce – OF – Cincinnati Reds

Although the Reds had a forgettable week, going 3-5 and losing 3 games by just 1 run, they still have something to be happy about. Jay Bruce is red hot. Bruce hit .429 with 5 homers and 16 RBIs over the 8-game stretch. He’s hit 12 home runs in May, and there is virtually no way he won’t win the player of the month award.

1.  Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants

As Bob Uecker put it, you’ve probably already heard, or you’ve been out of the country, that Buster Posey broke his leg while covering the plate, and is done for the year. The play was gruesome, and it was played all over the news, so I won’t bother with a link to the video. Surely, though, this is a huge blow to the Giants hopes of becoming back-to-back champs.

The Giants still have a good chance of winning their division. They remain in second place behind the surging Diamondbacks, and losing De La Rosa for the season will certainly hurt the Rockies.

If they want to make a serious push, though, the Giants are going to need Brandon Belt to prove to be the rookie everyone was expecting. He doesn’t necessarily need to put up Posey type numbers, but he’s going to need to produce. And in order for him to produce, he’s going to need to get playing time. Bochy has said that he wants to play him primarily in the outfield, as Aubrey Huff is getting hot, but Belt has only played one game since being called up this week.

It’s a tight race in a weak division, so virtually anything could happen. Anything aside from a Padres’ pennant, that is.

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Tim Young is a Civil Engineer away from MLBSoup, but at the site he heads the pre-season fantasy baseball draft guide and reviews each week in the big leagues with his weekly round-up report. His heavily math-based background shows up in his writing, as he likes to keep a focus on numbers, and dig deeper than the usual surface scratching.

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