Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

Hating on Haters, Statistical Style

April 22, 2012

Through 16 games, my Dodgers are looking pretty sexy. A mark of 12-4 is very impressive, and it is tied for the second best record in the Majors, behind the two-time defending A.L. champion Texas Rangers and their terrifying offensive juggernaut.

Even better, is sole possession of first place in the N.L. West and a 3.5 game lead this early in the season. However, haters gonna hate, so I’m here to dispel a couple of rumors. Namely, the argument against their success regarding strength of schedule.

So the sixteen opponents have lined up as follows:

– Seven against the San Diego Padres (last place in the N.L. West; Dodgers are 6-1)

– Three against the Pittsburgh Pirates (6-9 record; Dodgers are 3-0)

– Three against the Houston Astros (somewhere in the clusterfreak of N.L. Central teams; Dodgers are 2-1)

– Three against the Milwaukee Brewers (defending N.L. Central champions; Dodgers are 1-2)

Obviously, the Padres, Pirates and Astros aren’t necessarily tearing it up this year. I do fully expect the Pirates to challenge for their first winning season in a million years, but right now their offense couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn…or anything within a mile of said barn.

And the Brew Crew, though still a playoff-caliber team in the N.L., lost the heart and soul to free agency when Prince Fielder signed a mega-deal with Detroit this offseason. Does anything still think Ryan Braun was as good as advertised now that Fielder isn’t protecting him? Or deserving of an MVP award last year? Please refrain from steroid jokes. Just kidding, go right ahead.

So, granted, in the long haul these are four teams that are either at or below .500 probably. And in Milwaukee’s case, maybe an 85-win season is in order, but that’s not exceptional. You could say the Dodgers won’t have a true test until Atlanta and Washington, the next two series on their radar.

I’m not going to speculate, but the offense and the pitching the Dodgers have presented thus far in 2012 should stand up to both those teams – they will be fantastic contests.

What I CAN do, is talk about what’s already happened. People will look at the schedule so far and say two things: One, you haven’t played anyone. To that, I wonder about their sanity. Clearly we’ve played someone. If we had played nobody, the record would be 0-0. Okay, annoying logic aside, good teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat. You think the Yankees got to where they are by just beating up on the bad teams a lot and then coasting into the playoffs? No. They took care of business no matter the opponent.

Secondly, haters gonna hate by saying the only good team we’ve played so far (Milwaukee), beat us two out of three. Wall hateraders, you obviously didn’t watch that series. Clayton Kershaw didn’t pitch, yet Milwaukee had two of their aces (Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke) pitch games one and two. We lost those two. On walk-offs. By one run.

We were up in both games, but James Loney ran into a couple rally-killing outs on the base paths in the first game, and errors and walks on defense ruined game two. We beat ourselves. The record indicates a 2-1 series loss. If you ask me, the Dodgers won 25 of the 27 innings in that series. I’ll count that as a win, and expect the bullpen to shore up for next time we play.

So. Your team isn’t 12-4. I get it. You’re jealous. If the Dodgers get spanked in the next two series, I’ll give what the haters are saying a second thought. But for now, I’m not going to apologize for a team that is beating the shit out of the lesser teams, and looking damn good doing it.

Until tomorrow, enjoy last place, go Dodgers, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman! Thanks for reading.

Opening Day Predictions

April 4, 2012

Okay, okay. I know the A’s and Mariners played in Japan and the defending-champion Cardinals already defeated the Marlins at the new stadium earlier tonight. But a big slate of games is finally set for tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

We’ve got seven games lined up for tomorrow, capped off with reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and my Dodger squaring off against the Padres in San Diego. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for tomorrow’s games:

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers: This is the first of the great pitching matchups we’ll see over the first weekend of play, but it might just be the best one. Jon Lester will take the hill against last year’s Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Normally, I’d expect a pitcher’s duel, but Lester is a notorious slow starter, so look for a big game from Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and the Tigers to take the home opener 5-2. (Side note: Jose Valverde will get his 51st straight save, creeping slowly towards the record of 84)

Atlanta Braves at New York Mets: I like this pitching matchup for a number of different reasons. First of all, I really enjoy watching Tommy Hanson pitch. If he’s healthy for Atlanta this year, it’s going to be huge for their playoff aspirations. But the real story here is Johan Santana’s return to the hill after a multitude of injuries have crippled the former Cy Young winner. I’m going to take my first upset, but don’t expect the Mets’ winning streak to last long. Give me the Mets 3-2.

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates: Another former ace takes the hill on Opening Day, hoping to rebound. Erik Bedard won’t have as much success as Johan does in New York, although I do expect an above average season out of the lefty in 2012. Roy Halladay is going to be too much for the young Pirates offense, and the Phils take it on the road 5-0.

Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs: Raise your hand if you’re as excited to see Stephen Strasburg on the mound tomorrow as I am! He takes on the re-tooled Cubs and Ryan Dempster at Wrigley. And I’m sorry Cubbie fans, but the curse will continue, starting with an ugly loss at the hands of the Nats. I’m going to enjoy watching Strasburg go 8 innings with 10 strikeouts in a 7-1 win.

Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians: This might be the most underrated pitching matchup of the day. If you like young, up-and-coming stars on the bump, this is the game for you. Ricky Romero is my dark horse candidate for A.L. Cy Young this year, and Justin Masterson for Cleveland isn’t far behind. I think this is going to be the best pitching duel of the day. Toronto takes it 1-0 on a late solo homer by Jose Bautista.

Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds: One of the Marlins’ big free agent acquisitions is opening this series, and Mark Buerhle can certainly be trusted to give a quality outing. Johnny Cueto gets the ball for Cincy and two very strong offenses will have their respective hands full. Give me the wily veteran for the new-look Marlins’ first win in a 4-3 game.

Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres: You know this is the one I’ve been waiting to talk about. You’ve gotta like the young lefty Kershaw to start defending his Cy Young title with a pretty dominant win at Petco Park. I think the Dodgers put up a five spot on Edinson Volquez early and chase him from the game. I want to give the Padres a pity run to sound unbiased, but they just aren’t a good enough team to score against Kershaw. Final score: 6-0 Dodgers.

That’s all folks! Call in sick tomorrow, ditch school, and watch MLB Network all day to see my picks put into motion. Happy baseball! Peace.


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