Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner gets the start Wednesday night in the Opening Series finale against the Dodgers, a team he's not only familiar with but one he has had a great deal of success against in his career.
Despite a 1-2 record in 17 games -- including six starts -- Cashner has a dandy 1.53 ERA in 53 innings against the Dodgers, with 45 strikeouts.
He'll be opposed by Brandon McCarthy, who knows something about success against the Padres. A season ago, he had a 2.61 ERA in three starts against San Diego, tossing seven scoreless innings in a win in May and allowing one run over seven innings in a victory in June.
These two teams will meet again on April 24, when the Dodgers come to Petco Park for a three-game series.
Things to know
1. In Monday's opener, San Diego had eight different players make their Padres debut (Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks, Clint Barmes, James Shields and Shawn Kelley). That's the second-highest number of team debuts in the same game in franchise history, trailing only the opener in 2011 (nine players).
2. Wonder just how busy Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been? Since the end of the 2014 season, he's made 10 trades that have involved 38 players (coming and going) and made four free-agent signings of players who are on the 40-man roster.
3. McCarthy, signed to a four-year, $48 million contract in the offseason, moves up to the third starter spot usually manned by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is likely to miss the month of April with a shoulder injury.
4. Former Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal got the start for the Dodgers on Tuesday, his first of the season. A.J. Ellis caught Clayton Kershaw in the opener. Grandal is expected to get the bulk of the starts behind the plate, but don't be surprised if Ellis starts Wednesday, as he's 5-for-10 lifetime against Cashner.
The season-opening three-game series pitting the Angels and Mariners at Safeco Field comes to an end Wednesday, with a matchup between Matt Shoemaker and Hisashi Iwakuma.
If history is any indication, we're in for a pitchers' duel.
Iwakuma had one bad start against the Angels last year -- when he gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings at Angel Stadium on Sept. 15 -- but has gone 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) against them. Shoemaker, meanwhile, has a 1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 career innings vs. the Mariners, striking out 18 and walking two.
THINGS TO KNOW
• With right-handers on the mound, both teams likely will return to their Opening Day lineups. That means Matt Joyce plays left field and bats fourth for the Angels, and Dustin Ackley (left) and Seth Smith (right) play the corner-outfield spots for the Mariners.
• Mike Trout is one home run away from 100 in his career. When he hits it, he'll likely become the youngest player to reach the 100-homer, 100-steal threshold. The current record holder is Alex Rodriguez, who got there at 23 years and 309 days in 1999. Trout, with 102 career steals, turned 23 last August.
• Nelson Cruz, signed to a four-year, $57 million contract with Seattle in the offseason, is the sixth player over the last 100 years to change teams after leading the Majors in home runs, according to Stats Inc. Cruz belted 40 homers for the Orioles last season.
A pair of left-handers will be on the mound when the Rangers and A's play the third of their four-game series at the Coliseum.
Ross Detwiler is making his first start for the Rangers after being acquired from the Nationals this winter and winning a rotation spot in Spring Training. This will be his second career appearance against the Athletics.
Scott Kazmir will be pitching for Oakland. He won 15 games last season and is 9-5 with a 3.32 ERA in 18 career starts against the Rangers.
The Athletics had trouble when the opposition threw a left-hander last season. They were 24-25 against lefties and 64-49 when opponents started a right-hander. The Rangers were 22-29 against left-handers.
Things to know
• Shin-Soo Choo is 6-for-16 off of Kazmir. That .375 batting average is his second highest against the 24 left-handed pitchers he has at least 11 at-bats against. His five walks off Kazmir are his most against any left-hander.
• Craig Gentry should be back at the top of the lineup Wednesday for the Athletics. He was in the ninth spot against right-hander Colby Lewis on Tuesday.
• Rangers manager Jeff Banister could set extra right-handers into the lineup against Kazmir. Adam Rosales is 7-for-17 with a home run against Kazmir in his career and Jake Smolinski is 2-for-5 with a home run. This will be the first time the Athletics face a left-hander, so catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Mark Canha may be in the lineup.
Giants catcher Buster Posey and D-backs right-hander Jeremy Hellickson probably won't regard their confrontations as a novelty when they stare each other down at a distance of 60 feet, six inches in Wednesday's San Francisco-Arizona series finale.
But showdowns between Rookie of the Year Award winners don't happen every day. Posey, who might start at first base to fill in for Brandon Belt (strained right groin), won the National League honor in 2010. Hellickson captured the American League distinction a year later while pitching for Tampa Bay.
Given the competitive nature of this series, it's more likely that other factors will determine the outcome. Still, the Posey-against-Hellickson moments should be worth watching.
Things to know about this game:
• San Francisco's Angel Pagan has a 13-game hitting streak against the D-backs. He last went hitless against them on Sept. 7, 2013.
• This will be the first time that Hellickson has faced the Giants. He has pitched only one regular-season game in his career at Chase Field and allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings.
• Posey's homer Tuesday night continued a career-long trend. He has hit 51 home runs on the road, compared to 33 at home. Additionally, he has connected for 56 of his homers in night games, compared with 28 during matinees.
Two straight down games on offense have the Brewers needing one of their biggest stars -- Ryan Braun -- back in the lineup for Wednesday night's series finale against the Rockies at Miller Park. Braun suffered a right rib-cage strain while catching a Justin Morneau fly ball on Opening Day on Monday, which the Rockies won, 10-0. But he checked out much better Tuesday and could be back Wednesday. It took until the fifth inning of the second game for the Brewers to score their first runs of 2015, so they could use all their bats.
Three things to know about this game
• Rockies right-hander Eddie Butler posted a 1.80 ERA and struck out 143 batters in 149 2/3 innings in the Minor Leagues in 2013. But last year, when he appeared in the Majors, shoulder trouble limited the Rockies' No. 2 prospect to three big league starts (1-1, 6.75 ERA). A healthy offseason and development have him feeling he's back to the old effectiveness. He made the season-opening rotation, and Wednesday night will be his first start.
• Wily Peralta's bid to build on a breakthrough 2014 season begins Wednesday. Peralta won the team's most valuable pitcher award last year after leading the club in wins (17), innings (198 2/3), strikeouts (154) and quality starts (22), all career highs. In those quality starts (six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs), Peralta had a 1.95 ERA.
• No matter the result, the Brewers will be happy when Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki boards the plane after Wednesday night's game. In his career, Tulowitzki is 70-for-170 (.412) against Milwaukee.
Following Monday's masterful pitching duel between Houston's Dallas Keuchel and Cleveland's Corey Kluber, the Indians and Astros will enjoy a day off on Tuesday. The clubs will renew their season-opening three-game set on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park. Houston will send right-hander Scott Feldman to the mound in a matchup against Indians righty Carlos Carrasco, who spun a 1.30 ERA in his final 10 starts last season.
Things to know about this game
• With a right-hander on the mound for Houston, expect Indians outfielder Brandon Moss to slide into the fifth spot of the lineup. In Monday's opener, Moss hit sixth and catcher Yan Gomes moved up to the five-hole against Astros lefty Keuchel.
• Astros manager A.J. Hinch may be itching to get outfielder Robbie Grossman and/or outfielder-infielder Jonathan Villar into the game Wednesday. Each had a great spring and both were on the bench in Monday's season opener, so Hinch will have to pick his spots, considering they're facing a right-hander for second game in a row.
• Moss has the most experience against Feldman among Tribe hitters with 22 plate appearances, but he's hit just .235 (4-for-17) off the righty. Houston's lineup has limited experience against Carrasco, though Jose Altuve has hit .333 (2-for-6) off the Indians starter.
The pomp and circumstance of Opening Day and the Royals being recognized as the 2014 American League champions now stand as distant memories. The second contest of this three-game series features two of the more underrated lefty hurlers in Chicago's Jose Quintana and Kansas City's Danny Duffy.
Per weather.com, Wednesday's forecast calls for a balmy 84 degrees but also a 50 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
Things to know
• Quintana needs just 12 starts after Wednesday's trip to the mound to reach 100 for his career. He needs 77 strikeouts to hit 500.
• The next home run Alexei Ramirez hits will be the 100th of his career. Ramirez is 3-for-8, with no extra-base hits, lifetime against Duffy.
• Duffy, through 29 career games within the American League Central Division, has posted a 2.80 ERA.
• Left-handed-hitting Mike Moustakas is one of the Royals' best hitters against Quintana. Moustakas has a .333 career average and two home runs against the left-hander. Moustakas went 2-for-3 with an opposite-field home run in Monday's season opener.
Young Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole gets an early chance to reaffirm his early reputation as a stopper when the Pirates and Reds continue their season-opening series on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. ET following Tuesday's off-day. Cole, who will be matched against Cincinnati right-hander Mike Leake, is tasked with avoiding the Bucs' first 0-2 start since 2006, when they went 0-6 out of the gate. In Cole's first season-and-a-half in the Majors, 11 of his 21 wins have followed losses.
Things to know about this game
• The Pirates have performed well in games following scheduled off-days, since manager Clint Hurdle made it a project: 10-6 in 2014, and 22-11 the last two seasons.
• Leake has not been handed a loss vs. the Pirates since May 5, 2012, and he has a 5-0 record and 3.42 ERA in the last 13 games he started against them. He was 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in five 2014 starts vs. Pittsburgh, but the Reds dropped all four of his no-decisions.
• Jay Bruce was in the six-hole, hitting behind Marlon Byrd, in the Reds' batting order Monday against left-hander Francisco Liriano, and the two will swap slots for the righty Cole.
The Orioles and Rays will conclude their Opening Series on Wednesday night, with O's righty Miguel Gonzalez opposing Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi.
Baltimore, which welcomed Chris Davis back from the restricted list, is expected to have the slugger play first base, while Tampa Bay will wait to see the availability of James Loney, who was a late scratch from Tuesday's starting lineup.
Things to know about this game
• Odorizzi will make his first start of the season after completing his first full season in the Major Leagues in 2014. His season total of 174 strikeouts fell one shy of Matt Moore's club rookie record set in 2012. He last faced the Orioles on Aug. 25 at Baltimore when he allowed career highs in hits (11), runs (8), and homers (4). In that game, he became the first Ray to allow four home runs in a game since James Shields on June 2, 2011, at Seattle.
• With John Jaso on the shelf nursing a left-wrist contusion, the Rays will use David DeJesus at DH Wednesday night.
• Orioles manager Buck Showalter wants to get everyone involved before the team heads back north to Baltimore and -- in addition to Davis in the field -- is leaning toward backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway getting the nod on Wednesday.
• Gonzalez was matched up with the Rays because of how well he's pitched at their home dome. In five starts at Tropicana Field, the right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA.
Looking to open the season with a three-game sweep, the Braves will send Shelby Miller to the mound for Wednesday night's series finale against the Marlins at Marlins Park. Miller, who was acquired from the Cardinals in November, will attempt to add to the strong pitching performances the Braves have received while winning the first two games of the season.
Miami will counter with Tom Koehler, who will attempt to repeat the early-season success he had last year, when he produced a 1.99 ERA through his first seven starts.
Three things to know about this game:
1. The Marlins last started off 0-3 in 2013, when they were swept in Washington, being outscored, 11-1, in the series. The last time the Marlins opened 0-3 at home was in '01, when they dropped three straight to the Phillies.
2. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said left fielder Jonny Gomes, catcher A.J. Pierzynski and center fielder Cameron Maybin will make their first starts of the season on Wednesday. With Maybin replacing Eric Young Jr., Gonzalez said he might use Jace Peterson as his leadoff hitter.
3. Miller proved to be more of a thrower than a pitcher as he struggled through last season's first four months. But after adding a sinker to his repertoire in August, the 24-year-old right-hander produced a 2.08 ERA over his final seven regular-season starts.
The Yankees and Blue Jays will continue their season-opening series when Michael Pineda and R.A. Dickey take the mound on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
This series marks the third time in history that the American League East rivals were matched up against each other at the start of a season. New York won each of the previous two series.
Three things to know about this game:
1. Pineda has faced the Blue Jays more than any other team in the Majors. He is 1-2 with a 4.22 ERA against Toronto in his career, which includes an 0-2 record with a 2.25 ERA in 2014. Last year at home, Pineda held opponents to a .186 batting average and posted a 1.59 ERA in six starts.
2. With scattered showers and cool weather scheduled for Wednesday night, it's not going to be an ideal situation for Dickey. The cold temperatures could cause issues with Dickey's grip on the knuckleball, and one of the reasons he became the Blue Jays' No. 2 starter was so he could avoid a similar situation this weekend in Baltimore.
3. New York City hasn't been very kind to the Blue Jays for more than a decade. Toronto hasn't won a season series in the Big Apple since 2003, and since that time has posted a 33-70 record. There was a stretch from Sept. 19, 2012-July 25, 2014 when the Blue Jays lost 17 consecutive games in New York.
One certainty in any series between the Mets and Nationals is starting pitching. Following an off-day Tuesday, each team will reload with one of its best for Wednesday's second game of the season, with the Nationals sending right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to the mound and the Mets countering with reigning National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.
Three things to know:
• Though Zimmermann has mostly owned the Mets over the years, posting a 2.98 ERA in 20 career starts, second baseman Daniel Murphy and third baseman David Wright have hit a combined .304 against him with five home runs in 92 at-bats. No other current Mets player has homered off Zimmermann, who threw a no-hitter the last time he took the mound in the regular season, Sept. 28 vs. Miami.
• What enabled deGrom to take such a significant step forward last summer was his ability to generate strikeouts at an elite rate. After averaging 7.44 strikeouts per nine innings as a Minor Leaguer, deGrom transformed into a swing-and-miss machine in the big leagues, fanning 9.24 batters per nine.
• The Mets went 4-15 against the Nationals last season, tying their most losses to the Expos/Nationals in any single season. New York went 15-41 (.366) against Washington from 2012-14.
After the Red Sox's revamped lineup cruised to an 8-0 Opening Day win on Monday, Game 2 of this three-game series features two veteran right-handers making debuts for their new team.
Rick Porcello, who is being counted on to be a big part of Boston's starting rotation, will make his first career start for someone other than the Detroit Tigers. The well-traveled Aaron Harang pitched for the Athletics, Reds, Dodgers, Padres, Mariners, Mets and Braves before coming to the Phillies.
Things to know about this game.
• Porcello is coming off a career year, as he established personal bests in wins (15), ERA (3.43) and innings (204 2/3). The righty looked solid during Spring Training, and he has looked comfortable blending in with his new teammates. This is the earliest Porcello has ever pitched in a season. He pitched the fourth game five times for the Tigers and the third game once.
• Harang signed a one-year, $5 million contract this offseason to provide a little more depth to the Phillies' rotation. He became much more important with Cliff Lee's nearly certain season-ending elbow injury. Harang battled back problems early in camp, but he finished the Grapefruit League schedule without further issues. The best-case scenario for the Phillies might be that Harang pitches well and becomes an attractive trade chip before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
• Red Sox cleanup man Hanley Ramirez has feasted against Harang in his career, going 10-for-29 with five homers and seven RBIs. David Ortiz has had similar success, going 5-for-11 with three doubles and a homer. Phillies leadoff man Ben Revere has done well against Porcello, going 7-for-19.
Following the pomp and circumstance that enveloped Opening Night on Sunday, the Cubs and Cardinals have had to wait two days to resume their rivalry series. The teams enjoyed a scheduled off-day on Monday before the threat of rain and sub-freezing wind chills caused a postponement on Tuesday. Wednesday's series finale at Wrigley Field will feature the two starters -- Chicago's Jake Arrieta and St. Louis' Lance Lynn -- who were supposed to meet a day earlier.
Things to know about the game:
• At 0-for-11, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter has more hitless at-bats against Arrieta than against any other pitcher in baseball. The drought is especially surprising given Carpenter's career .301 average against right-handed pitchers. In fact, Arrieta is the only right-hander Carpenter has faced at least seven times without recording a hit.
• Last season, Arrieta did not make his first Major League start until May 3, spending Spring Training rehabbing a tight right shoulder. This spring was different, and he feels like he's further along than he was last year. His goal is to pitch 200 innings this season, something he has yet to accomplish in his career.
• Expect changes to manager Mike Matheny's batting order, as he has indicated that he will try to split up his left-handed bats with a right-hander on the mound for Chicago. Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams, who batted fourth and fifth, respectively, on Sunday, are likely to swap spots. Yadier Molina might drop as low as seventh so Matheny can separate the left-handed-hitting Jon Jay and Kolten Wong.
A pair of former Marlins teammates, Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco and Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, are set to take the mound in the second game of the season for Minnesota and Detroit on Wednesday at Comerica Park. Nolasco and Sanchez remain close friends and went to dinner together Sunday night before Opening Day.
Things to know about the game:
• Right-hander Ervin Santana was scheduled to start for the Twins, but will miss the first 80 games of the season after being suspended for using a performance-enhancing drug. Nolasco will take the mound instead, which lines him up for Minnesota's home opener against the Royals on April 13. Nolasco is looking to bounce back after posting a 5.38 ERA in his first season with the Twins last year.
• Sanchez has been solid against the Twins since joining the Tigers, as he's posted a 2.60 ERA in 52 innings against them dating back to 2012. He nearly threw a no-hitter against them in '13, but Joe Mauer broke up the no-hit bid with a single in the ninth inning.
• Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez has hit Nolasco hard. The switch-hitter is 5-for-7 with two walks against him in his career. But Nolasco has fared well against former Marlins teammate Miguel Cabrera, as he's held the slugger to just two singles in nine at-bats.