In big-time sports, we see players, managers and front office personnel fired all the time. But it’s a bit rarer for these well-paid folks to quit. For that reason, last week was notable as two high-profile baseball men decided to walk away from their jobs.
Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The club has been dysfunctional for some time, and he just didn’t want any more of it. The departure of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim General Manager Jerry DiPoto was more dramatic. He had an ongoing feud with club skipper Mike Scioscia. When DiPoto tried to bypass Scioscia and give players scouting information directly, team owner Arte Moreno sided with the manager and chastised his GM. So DiPoto packed his stuff and left. Thankfully, there will be no quitting on this column, here’s Week 14 of the MLB season:
Hot pitchers: There are definitely bigger names among baseball pitchers, but there are few hotter than the Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Carrasco and the Houston Astros’ Dallas Keuchel. Carrasco owns a 2-0 record and a 1.62 ERA over his past two starts. In his last outing, he carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning before allowing a single base hit. Keuchel has been even better of late. In his past two starts, he didn’t give up a single run (in 17 total innings). During that stretch he allowed a paltry 13 hits and one walk. The upshot: plan for a pitchers’ duel when these two face off in Cleveland on Monday. Now, admittedly, Progressive Park has been a hitters’ paradise this year and both these pitchers throw better in different environs (Carrasco has been more masterful on the road and Keuchel at home). Still, the dispositive factor here is that each has been dominating against this specific opposition in 2015. In Carrasco’s one start versus the Astros this year, he threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing no runs and just three hits and one walk while striking out ten. Keuchel’s line against the Indians: 7 innings, zero runs, three hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
Toronto advantage: When the Toronto Blue Jays host the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday look for the home team to prevail. The Blue Jays have a number of pros in this matchup. The first is the respective quality of these two teams’ lineups. They are literally offensive bookends. Toronto ranks first in the Major Leagues in run-scoring, while Chicago is dead last in that category. The Blue Jays’ hitters should have no trouble with White Sox starter John Danks. Overall, Danks has a 4.95 ERA in 15 starts, but he’s been particularly bad when forced to pitch on the road (5.68 ERA in eight appearances). In contrast, Drew Hutchison, who gets the assignment for the Blue Jays, is a vastly better pitcher at home (2.12 ERA in eight starts) than anywhere else (9.00 ERA in nine games).
Game score: We continue our weekly look at Bill James Game Score projections. A brief reminder: this statistic combines historical and recent performances to offer a single number that predicts starting pitcher performance. A score below 50 in this category means you should expect a less-than-quality start, while anything over 70 is defined as a dominant performance. With that in mind, be ready for a high-scoring affair when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim visit the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. The Rockies’ starter Chad Bettis is looking at a Game Score of 41, while Angels’ pitcher Andrew Heaney is down for a subpar 49.