Tagged: Josh Johnson

The melting pot: Reds win, Loshe returns, Albert’s on fire & more Cy Young talk

Ugh.  The Reds beat the Marlins 5-4.  Maybe the Fish were watching the
Cardinals game because with two walks and a base hit, they loaded the
bases in the 9th with nobody out.  Unfortunately, they only squeezed out
one run on a double play ball.  Uggla then popped up to end the game
which let Cincinnati pull back even with the ‘Birds.  Seems like
whatever we do, we just can’t shake this team.  I’d love to put some
distance between us, but it seems like one of those years where it just
might come down to the wire.

In other news, Wainwright’s top two competitors for the Cy Young award pitched yesterday and today.  I already talked yesterday
about how Josh Johnson was roughed up pretty bad by the Reds.  He took
himself out of my top 3, for the time being, with my 3rd place vote now
going to Atlanta’s Tim Hudson.  He’s been quietly putting together a
pretty decent season.  Hudson is now 2nd in ERA and 4th in wins.  The
only thing that hurts him is the low strikeout total.  But outs are outs
and he’s definitely in the running to finish in the top 3.

Halladay, however, threw another excellent game and put the pressure
squarely back on Wainwright.  Those two are neck and neck.  Halladay
went 8 innings today, allowing no runs and striking out 7.  For awhile,
it seemed like he might have another complete game shutout to add to his
resume, but luckily his pitch count was 113 and he was pulled after 8

Still, Halladay managed to increase support for his case
for the NL Cy Young by lowering his ERA to 2.24 and picking up his 15th
win.  And did I mention those 7 strikeouts?  Wow, this guy really does
it all.  He’s now 3rd in ERA, 3rd in wins and remains 1st in strikeouts
by a ton.

At this point in time, I still give the edge to Wainwright (as I did here)
because I think being 1st in wins and ERA goes a long way, but it’s not
over by a long shot.  If Wainwright’s ERA drops a lot in next couple
starts and he fails to get to that magic number of 20 wins, Halladay
could surpass him.  But hopefully Adam will deliver another
Wainwright-esque performance and this could be a fun battle to watch all
the way through September.

As for tomorrow’s game, Kyle Loshe
returns to pitch for the first time since May 22nd.  He was far from
impressive in those 9 starts, so let’s hope he comes back bigger and
better that ever.  Here’s also hoping that Albert continue to rake. 
He’s always tended to get hot in August and this year is no exception. 
He’s only gone hitless one game this month and is hitting .447 and
slugging .830 for the month.  Are you kidding???  He’s also already gone
deep 5 times with 13 ribbies and scored 15 runs.  I think it’s safe to
say he’s feeling good at the plate right now.  His average is up to
.313, instead of hovering around the .300 mark as it has been so long. 
He’s back in the top 5 in the league for average and of course continues
to be at the top in home runs and RBIs.  Albert for MVP and Wainwright
for Cy Young could be a perfect addition to World Series win #11,
right?  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First things first.  And that
first thing is Loshe getting us the series win against the Cubbies.

Wanting to see a healthy Loshe do his thing,

Westbrook finally gets his W

The Cubs have a way of coming out all guns blazing against us.  And then I found out that Derrek Lee was back in the lineup and he always plays tough against us as well.  And the Cubs were true to those expectations for the first inning.  After a leadoff out, they got four straight hits to go up 2-0.  I’ll admit it.  I was worried.

But luckily, it was only two runs as Westbrook wiggled out of that jam and the Cubs strandedjake westbrook.jpg two.  Westbrook settled down after that though and ended up going 6 innings, giving up 2 earned runs and struck out 3 for his first Cardinal win.  I am definitely happy with that.  Surprisingly, he was not the “star of the game” tonight on the post-game show.  Not only did he earn his first win with his new team, he had quite the day at the plate too.  A guy who only had 2 career hits, hit a double down the line and scored his first ever career run.  Probably pretty exciting for this life long American Leaguer.

His first win couldn’t have come at a better time as we take the first of this crucial 3 game set and hand Chicago their 10th loss of the year.  The Reds made it clear tonight they have no plans in slowing down as they took being swept out on the Florida Marlins.  I mentioned yesterday how they were going against a guy who’s competing for the NL Cy Young, Josh Johnson.  He was leading the league in ERA.  I say “was” because the Reds hung 6 runs on him and they did it early.

In fact, this is the only good news in the Cincinnati win.  With Johnson’s ERA quickly rising, Cardinal star Adam Wainwright is now in possession of 1st place in ERA.  Combine that with his 1st place wins and he looks better than ever to take home the Cy Young home trophy, as I argued for in this post.

We are still up 1 game in the central and with every game, the race intensifies more and more.  You gotta feel good with Carp going tomorrow.  I really can’t stand Carlos Zambrano (he’s a bigger idiot than Brandon Phillips in my book), so it would be nice to rough him up a bit.  Although that could lead to another scuffle 🙂

Speaking of Phillips, one fan at the game tonight showed a sign addressed to him, saying “thank you” to him with love from Cardinal fans.  Gotta love it.  As expected, Yadier Molina got a standing ovation tonight from the crowd and he didn’t disappoint.  He started off the night with a base hit and ended 1 for 2 with two RBI sac flies tonight.

Two other notes of interest:  Colby Rasmus walked four times tonight, including one intentional pass.  And the big guns, Pujols and Holiday combined to go 5 for 9, with 2 RBI and 4 runs scored.  Pujols also went deep the first inning to give him 29 on the year and 495 lifetime home runs.  A couple more and he’ll be in the top 50 of all-time.  Crazy.

Wesbrook lookin’ good in Cardinal red,

Who the heck is Thomas Diamond?

After the whole high-intensity, playoff atmosphere in the series against the Reds, it would normally be anti-climatic to play a team that is 19 games under .500 and sitting 17 games back.  But this is the Chicago Cubs we are talking about.  There is always an implied rivalry with them.

It probably wouldn’t be so bad, but here’s the thing.  I live in West Central Illinois.  And what that means is I am smack dab in the middle of a very heated Cardinal / Cub rivaled fan base.  It’s split about 50-50.  And Cubs fans are so annoying.  I haven’t heard anything from them all season long.  And then they beat us two games in a row and they start crawling out of the woodwork crying, “Sweep!  Sweep!”  No matter that they are completely out of the postseason race.  No matter that they have had horrible pitching all year.  No matter that they are completely irrelevant.  No matter that they haven’t won a World Series in over a century.  If they beat the Cardinals, all they do is talk smack.

So it goes without saying that I desperately want to beat them this series.  So far in 2010, we have gone 3-3 with them, but listen to a Cubs fan and you would think that they were on the brink of a championship.  In any event, we cannot squander the lead we gained by squashing the Reds.

First up for the Redbirds will be Jake Westbrook.  He hasn’t won a game in a Cardinal uniform yet, but he has pitched well enough to be a number 4 guy.  Hopefully, he’ll get his first win against the Cubbies who are sending Thomas Diamond to the hill.  Um, wait….who????  Well, he’s thrown a grand total of 187 pitches in the big leagues.  And he has an ERA of 8.00.  Surely we can beat this guy, especially with the bats starting to come alive.  But don’t be mistaken.  The Cubs will be up and ready to play against us.  Every one of those rookies.  I seriously don’t even know half of the Cubs team anymore it feels like.

The other good news is that the Reds will be playing the Florida Marlins.  And facing not just any Florida Marlin, but the Florida Marlin with the best ERA in baseball.  None other than Josh Johnson.  And we already know what happened when the Reds bats came into contact with the league’s 2nd best ERA pitcher, Adam Wainwright.  If we hit well and back up Westbrook, we could easily be a couple games up in the division.

Let’s add to our lead boys,

P.S.  Did anybody else see that Loshe is scheduled to start Sunday?  That experiment could go either way, so all the more incentive to wrap up the first two securely.

How is the NL CY Young front runner even a question?

Hey Phillips, how’s that broom taste?  Victory is sweet indeed.  And even sweeter when it comes on the heels of some idiotic comments by the Reds second baseman.  Man, I love baseball.

Well, today’s an off-day.  Normally, I hate off-days.  I love watching Cardinal baseball.  But today is good timing for one because I can continue to play catch up with my blog and talk about something that is driving me crazy as I read various message boards or articles that are out there.

I’m hearing a lot of people saying that Josh Johnson is the best Cy Young award candidate right now.  Really?  Come on.  I know that wins aren’t everything (which is why Jimenez is gone from contention, in my opinion, despite the 17 wins), but Johnson with his 10 wins is only leading in ERA and it’s not by much.

In my opinion, if the award was to be handed out today, you have to go with Wainwright.  Maybe I’m biased and feel free to tell me if I am, but I don’t see how you can’t make a case for Wainwright as the number 1 candidate.  And honestly, number 2?  Not Johnson.  I would pick Roy Halladay, who is also surprisingly getting not much attention.  And then Johnson would be third.

I mean what else does the guy have to do?  If he didn’t have you convinced before, he’s trying everything he can now.  In his last 3 starts, he has pitched 23 innings (including a complete game), gave up 1 (yes, ONE) earned run and struck out 16.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s called DOMINATION.  If it wasn’t for that blasted rain delay, he’d probably have another compete game, shutout and a few more Ks.

But, it’s a year long award (as the one-hit wonder Ubaldo is finding out), not a 3 game long award.  And there is more baseball left to play.  Things could change over the next month and a half, but handing it out today, it’s Wainwright’s to lose.  As a Cardinal fan, I love knowing that Wainwright is taking the ball.  Just like I loved knowing he was closing it out in 2006.  I trust him the way I have very few Cardinal pitchers in my lifetime.  You just know he’s going to get the job done.  Of course I will admit, that is all very subjective.  I have rarely seen Johnson pitch and my observance of Halladay has been sparse as well and I see Wainwright pitch all the time.  I know how he buckles knees with that big sweeping curve and gets Major Leaguers to look like little leaguers as they swing at balls in the dirt.  It’s beautiful.  So I have to go on stats and stats alone.  And still Wainwright gets my vote.

Let’s break it down.

First, the famous “triple crown” categories for each of the contenders.

                           W          ERA           K
Jiminez              17          2.55         143       
Wainwright        17          1.99         158
Halladay            14          2.34         168
Johnson            10          1.97         156

Looking at these numbers, Ubaldo Jimenez is immediately out of it.  All he has going for him is his wins, most of which he got the first half of the season when he was better than he is now.  His ERA and strikeouts, while good in any other context, are laughable for a Cy Young winner, when you look at the other 3 pitchers stats.  Still, I include him because some people just LOVE wins and if he starts tearing up and the other 3 have a meltdown, I suppose he could have a chance.

So now you have 3 pitchers, all with very good stats.  Wainwright leads in wins, Johnson with ERA and Halladay with strikeouts.  When you put it like that, it looks to be a close race.  But how about looking at it like this?

  • Wainwright is 1st in wins, 2nd in ERA and 3rd in strikeouts
  • Halladay is 3rd in wins, 4th in ERA and 1st in strikeouts
  • Johnson is 14th in wins,1st in ERA and 4th in strikeouts

In my opinion, this eliminates Johnson and gives Wainwright a slight edge of Halladay.  I will admit it’s close.  Halladay is right there with Wainwright.  Looking at other non conventional stats, such as WHIP, we see the numbers break down like this:

  • Wainwright has a WHIP of 0.97 (1st in the league)
  • Halladay has a WHIP of 1.03 (still good, but edged out again by Waino)

And then the numbers that very few are talking about.  And if Halladay would get voted in over Wainwright, this is the only reason I could see why.

                                      IP              CG              SHO
Wainwright                  176.1            5                   2
Halladay                      185               8                   3

Roy Halladay is clearly an innings eater monster, throwing 8 complete games.  That’s the kind of thing that keeps your team in it for the season, saves a bullpen, etc. etc.  Wainwright’s doesn’t look too shabby though.  5 complete games is nothing to sneeze at.  Nobody else is even in the discussion here.  If it wasn’t for LaRuss’a crazy love for the “right matchup” Wainwright probably would have a few more.

But the shutout stat is basically dead even, with a slight edge to Halladay.  But combining these numbers with the previous, Wainwright gets my vote at this point in the season, not to mention when you look at things like Wainwright is undefeated when given 4 or more runs.

The question is what will happen the rest of the way.  Johnson starts tomorrow and Halladay on Saturday.  Let’s talk again after those starts and see where we stand.

Feel free to comment if you agree / disagree.  I’d love to hear who you think I missed or overlooked.  Hudson?  Latos?  Which boy on your team is not getting the media love?

Hoping Phillips is using his offday to realize that he’s a tool,