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Chipper, Strasburg, Medlen and Pujols - MLB Weekend Notes

9/9/12 in MLB   |   This_is_Rick   |   265 respect

The biggest decision this weekend in the MLB may just be Bruce Bochy's indecision. During Saturday's game against the Dodgers, after a double by Juan Rivera and sacrifice to third, Bochy failed to get Affeldt, or anyone for that matter, up in time to possibly face hitters. Bochy decided to leave Cain in the game, a mistake that quickly cost them when the Giants starter threw a wild-pitch, allowing pinch-runner, Alex Castellanos, to score from third. 

The game can be lost in the 8th just as easily as the 9th. By the time Ramirez hit the game-winning double in the 9th to score Gonzalez, the damage had already been done. The win should have been sealed in the 8th.

San Fran still holds a lead against Los Angeles - 4.5 games - but by no means comfortable. The Giants know that their southern rivalries may be a pest down the stretch, and every member of the team will need to be on top of their game in order to win - including the coach. 
August 29, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (left) takes the ball from pitcher Barry Zito (right) during a pitching change in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

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Albert Pujols

Give yourself a large pat on the back if you argued that Albert Pujols would turn his season, post April/May, into a successful one. While many experts bet on black - explaining Pujols was under too much pressure to perform - the smart choice was to cash in on red - Angels Red - and you did. Congrats! You are now an expert. 

But does Albert's one-eighty give him the mulligan he needed, badly, early in the season? It may not be over, yet, but it's never too early to begin the dissection.

His numbers rank in the tops of all Major League players; 40th in batting average - .289, 12th in home-runs - 29 and 10th in R.B.I's - 94. However, if the team does not make the playoffs, the numbers - great, but not Pujols-great - will be completely overlooked as he takes a major portion of the blame. In the same breath, players like fan-favorite, Mike Trout, and whatever means of pitching that got them there, will get the credit If the Angels do make the playoffs.

Being the star, overpaid or not, is never easy. Pujols has allowed his talent to take over, finally, but it looks to be too little too late - a lot of money on the table just to be a role player. Pujols is not in the line-up tonight with a hamstring issue, but it will be interesting to see how his first year ends-  for the team and personally. 
Sept.8, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA;   Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) scores a run in the game against the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Goodbye Chipper.

Chipper Jones " Farewell to you, MLB" is almost at the end as the bus pulls into New York. Jones is a hall-of-famer and deserves credit for the game he brought to the MLB, but the accomplishments, especially against the Mets in the early 2000's, are for another article, another time. The Braves have more serious business to protect in September - namely, the Wild Card. 

The remaining schedule for the Braves is very favorable; other than a Nationals series, it's the Pirates, Marlins, Phillies and Mets in their path. As I had written, previously, the season-ending series against the Pirates is one worth watching in regards to the Wild Card, but there is no reason Atlanta should not clean up the rest of their schedule, making that series nothing more than a tune-up for the playoffs. 

To do that, Chipper will need to keep the team focused - not on him, but winning games.

Pitchers.

Strasburg is done, sealed and shut down for the season, but other pitchers have stepped in his place as questions in September.

Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his start tonight against the Giants with a sore hip. It's news that has everyone in Los Angeles worried, and wondering what it means. Hips can be a delicate injury when considering the amount of torque and stress a throwing-motion can have on a pitcher. If the Dodgers are going to succeed, Kershaw will need to be healthy. Unless Josh Beckett can regain his dominance as an "ace." 
Sept. 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) during the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Kris Medlen is the biggest pitching story of the fall - if there was no Strasburg debacle. Now,  he may just be the story of October.  With an 8-1 record, coming off of 40-plus scoreless innings, Medlen has a fresh, live arm that can provide quality innings down the stretch. He was rested early -unlike Strasburg - so he will be ready to go the rest of the season.

How interesting would it be if the Nationals lose the Division - based perhaps on pitching without Strasburg - and the Braves win the Division - based on pitching with Medlen? 

Rest early, or shut down late? That could be the debate off the off-season.


This_is_Rick
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9/10/12   |   mcleodglen   |   32 respect

How interesting would it be if the Nationals lose the Division... I think that would be a big if.