Here is my "Three Up, Three Down" for the month of June. It's hard to believe that we’re already halfway done with the 2016 season!
The Cleveland curse has been reversed. The Indians have been the best team in baseball over the last month, going 22-6 and rattling off 14 wins in a row (and counting). How have they done it? Lights out starting pitching and a couple young studs. Over the last 30 days, Indians’ starters have a 2.74 ERA and 2.09 BB/9 (both league leading). With that type of run-prevention all you need are a couple solid hitters, which the Indians have in Francisco Lindor (.308/.376/.468), Jason Kipnis (.267/.323/..439), and Jose Ramirez (.292/.352/.425).
Anyone who stayed up to watch the Cubs/Reds 15 inning affair on Tuesday night was rewarded with quite a treat. In the bottom of 13th inning, Maddon replaced left fielder Chris Coghlan with left-handed reliever Travis Wood. With the Reds sending the middle of their lineup up to the plate in the 14th, Maddon was able to use right-hander Spencer Patton on righty Brandon Phillips, then send Patton to left field and bring in Wood to pitch to lefty Jay Bruce, and flip the two again so that Patton could pitch to righty Adam Duvall. Fortunately for the Cubs, no balls were hit to left field and Wood batting 3rd in the 14th didn’t hurt their offense. Although he probably gets a little more credit from the media than he deserves, it’s hard not to love Maddon.
Warriors’ fans that needed a pick-me-up after Golden State’s collapse against the Cavs didn’t have to look any further than across the bay. The Giants have been on a great run over the last month and a half, winning over 70% of their games (27-10). Other than the Cubs, the Giants have the most well-rounded team in baseball (ranking in the upper-echelon of the NL in offense, pitching, and defense). Although it’s far too early to write off the Mets or Nationals, a Cubs-Giants NLCS looks to be a good bet at this point in the season.
Royals Starting Pitchers
The fact that the defending World Champions have used Kris Medlen and Chris Young for a combined 17 starts is stunning. In 11 starts Young (7.07) has given up 3.81 home runs per 9 innings, while Medlen (7.77 ERA) has a WHIP over 2 in six 6 starts. Throw in one of the worst starts in MLB history by Edison Volquez (first pitcher ever to give up 12 runs in 1 inning or less), and you have the 4th worst starting rotation in baseball (based on ERA).
For a team that is supposedly on the cutting edge of medical baseball research, the Dodgers have run into an injury buzz saw over the last two seasons. Clayton Kershaw (lower back) is the headliner and most recent DL designee, but the list of currently injured Dodgers includes Brandon McCarthy (elbow), Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder), Frankie Montas (rib), Brett Anderson (bulging disc), Andre Ethier (tibia), Kike Hernandez (rib), and Alex Wood (elbow). The Dodgers have more depth than most teams, but without a healthy Kershaw they may well find themselves sitting out this postseason.
Over the last 30 days, Ryan Zimmerman has struck out over 30% of the time and has the second worst OPS in all of baseball. With Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos prime for 2nd half regression, it would be in the best interest of the Nationals to trade for another bat and use Zimmerman as a part-time player. The 6 year, $100 million dollar contract Zimmerman signed in 2014 is looking like a likely candidate for one of the worst contracts in baseball over the next 3 years.