This week Major League Baseball’s interleague play returns in earnest. While having fifteen teams in each league means that there is always one contest featuring a team from the American League squaring off against a National League squad, starting Monday we’ll see a mass of these games for the first time in 2015. Whether you like it or not, this is a part of the sport that’s here to stay. Since interleague started in 1997, more than 4,500 of these sort of games have been played. For those keeping score at home, the American League holds a solid all-time advantage in the win-loss column. What else to consider for week six:
Red Sox pitching woes continue: Last week, the Boston Red Sox sacked their pitching coach Juan Nieves and hired Carl Willis, who was serving as a minor league instructor for the Cleveland Indians. Don’t expect a pitching improvement overnight. Boston has the worst ERA in the American League, and, while most of that is down to their starting rotation, the bullpen, which is better, has been severely taxed. Currently, Boston relief pitchers rank near the top of the league in the number of innings they’ve pitched. No pitching coach change will immediately solve mechanical problems plaguing the team’s starters or suddenly reinvigorate an exhausted bullpen. As a result, look for a high run scoring affair when Boston visits the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.
On that day, the Red Sox will send Justin Masterson to the pitcher’s mound. Masterson has always been one of baseball’s most mechanically fragile players. In other words, when something goes wrong in his delivery, he struggles mightily. Considering his 5.88 ERA for 2014 and a 5.18 ERA in six starts this year, it’s hard to expect this to be the start where he steadies the ship. Even if it is, the A’s are slated to go with Drew Pomeranz to start. Pomeranz hasn’t enjoyed a quality start (six innings or more pitched, three runs or fewer allowed) in five straight starts. With Hanley Ramirez back in Boston’s lineup, the Red Sox should be ready to swing their bats.
The return of Archie Bradley: Be primed for Arizona Diamondback Archie Bradley’s return from the Disabled List. As you may remember, Bradley was smacked by a line drive on April 28 and suffered a sinus fracture. He’ll make his first start since that injury on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies and should be well-positioned to win. Usually, I like to give a starting pitcher one outing after a DL stint to get back in the groove, but as the nature of Bradley’s injury has nothing to do with the process of pitching (it wasn’t an arm, core or leg injury), I believe he’ll be on form, which was really good before the fluke malady. He’d throw four straight quality starts prior to the line drive. Considering he’s facing a Phillies team that ranks last in the National League in run scoring, he shouldn’t have too much trouble giving his team, which comes into the week second in the NL in run production, a good chance to win.
- New manager, same results: The Milwaukee Brewers fired manager Ron Roenicke last week and installed Craig Counsell as its new skipper. The change shouldn’t immediately change the trajectory of the Brewers – especially on Tuesday when a loss to the Chicago White Sox is quite likely. A big problem for Milwaukee in this one is the pitching matchup. The Brewers will go with Mike Friers, who is off to a miserable 2015 start. In six starts, he’s 1-4 with a 5.46 ERA. He’s coming off a drubbing by the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he allowed five runs in five innings of work. The White Sox will counter by giving Chris Sale the pitching assignment. While Sale has had two straight shaky starts, he’s enjoyed some extra rest coming into this game (he was suspended for five games for an altercation in a brawl with the Kansas City Royals), the left-hander should be back on form.