Fresh off my first defeat of the season, my team bounced back in fine fashion. Matched up against the sixteenth ranked team in the league, I handled them fairly easily and enjoyed a comfortable lead all week long.
My offense struggled for a second consecutive week and heading into the home stretch, that’s beginning to become worrisome. I lost four of the six categories winning only runs and RBI. Dan Uggla was a big reason why, scoring six times and driving in seven while hitting .391/.481 with a pair of homers. Denard Span (.316) was the only other player to crack the .300 mark while Ben Zobrist (.062) and Jorge Posada (.154) really contributed to my .214 average for the week. I lost stolen bases 2-to-1 with my one steal coming from the unlikeliest of players – Jorge Posada. It was actually his second steal of the year, and puts him one behind his career high of three.
My pitchers saved the week by sweeping all six pitching categories with relative ease. Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson and Felix Hernandez combined for four quality starts, three wins and an ERA of zero. Hernandez and Wainwright each threw two-hit shutouts while Hudson went eight scoreless in his only start this week. Josh Johnson was bombed in his start, but after the season he’s had, one bad start is excusable, especially when the rest of my staff picked him up. David Aardsma had three saves in three perfect innings and Ryan Franklin picked up a pair of saves.
Nyjer Morgan hit the DL this week with a hip problem, so I had to scramble to find a replacement outfielder – not an enviable proposition when your offense has been slumping for several weeks now. I grabbed Chris Heisey from Cincinnati, but his everyday job was gone when the Reds traded for Jim Edmonds a day later. So I replaced him with Jarrod Saltalamacchia when Boston called him up so I’m back to carrying a caddy for days Posada gets off – which should be several in the August heat.
After a bad loss last week, an 8-4 win was a nice bounceback, even if it was against a bad team. The week pushed my record to 148-67-13 on the year and kept me in first place, although a half a game was shaved off my lead, cutting it down to 8.5 games with two weeks to play. Up next for me is Brandon’s Bombers who I beat 11-0 in the season’s first week. Brandon’s Bombers are 74-131-23 for the season and coming off a 11-1 loss this week. Hopefully my offense starts to heat up and my pitchers continue to bring the heat.
Another week, another win. I didn’t have a great offensive start to the week, but my hitters had a pretty good weekend and managed to win four while losing two offensive categories. I also took four of the pitching ones, lost one and tied the last one. I’ll take an 8-3-1 week any time, but two of the teams chasing me finished the week 11-1, so they managed to chew into my lead.
Nobody particularly stood out on my offense during a week that only saw me hit a pair of homers, one by Scott Rolen and one by Gaby Sanchez. Prince Fielder outhomered my entire team for my opponent this week, leading to my losing that category. I also dropped runs, as nobody on my team scored more than three times, while my opponent had a pair of guys scored six or more times. I did excel in RBIs this week, with six guys driving in at least three runs and Scott Rolen and Denard Span driving in six runs apiece. Brennan Boesch hit .400 this week, and he was joined by Ben Zobrist and Gaby Sanchez in posting on-base percentages of .400 or better. The only category in which I outperformed my usual numbers was stolen bases, as my team swiped seven bases. Nyjer Morgan and Ben Zobrist each swiped two, but I was helped out by Jeff Keppinger’s second stolen base of the season and Nick Swisher’s first (and possibly last). Denard Span also had one.
My pitching on the other hand had arguably their best week to date. True, they only went 4-1-1, but ran into some bad luck. My starters finally got some run support (everyone but Josh Johnson) and recorded six wins in eight starts. The two performances that didn’t earn wins were Johnson’s 6IP, 1R performance and Tim Hudson’s second start of the week in which he went eight innings and allowed three runs in a 3-2 Atlanta loss. Adam Wainwright posted two quality starts, including a complete game win on Sunday that put his ERA for the week at 0.59 and gave him a 0.85 WHIP. Felix Hernandez twirled a two-hit shutout against the Yankees in which he struck out eleven and Jamie Garcia tossed seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts himself. My starters gave up seven runs this week in 59 innings. My relievers gave up seven runs in 7.2 innings. All told, it resulted in a 1.99 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. All eight starts made by my starters were quality ones and I ran away with that category, winning 8-2. Despite all that pitching dominance, I still only managed a tie in wins, because my opponent vultured three wins from his bullpen and got a win apiece from Hisanori Takahashi and Paul Maholm, despite them pitching to ERAs of 7.59 and 6.55 respectively.
I made only one move this week, dropping Edgar Renteria after finally getting tired of his poor performances. He had a nice little hot streak the first few weeks of the season that helped me tremendously, but since coming back from various injuries, he’s been killing me in average and OBP, the only two categories he’s passable in. He doesn’t score or drive in a whole lot of runs and he’s not a stolen base threat. With one home run, he’s certainly not contributing to my power numbers.
I picked up Seattle setup man Brandon League to replace him, for two reasons. First, I’m wavering on whether to drop Tyler Clippard who has been shaky of late so League could give me several innings and strikeouts per week with a low ERA and WHIP. Secondly, Seattle’s closer David Aardsma, who I also own, may very well be traded to a contender who would use him as a setup man down the stretch run. Should that happen, I’m hedging my bets that League picks up the save opportunities and I won’t lose those saves.
The 8-3-1 week pushes my overall record to 106-41-9, making me the first team in the league to 100 victories. It keeps me in first place, but 11-1 weeks by two of the three teams directly behind me knocks a few games off my lead. Up next for me is Honey Nut Ichiros, who is in fifth place overall and coming off a 10-0 week that moved their overall record to 85-59-12.
While things looked bleak throughout the first few days of Week 8, my team managed to scrape through the end of the week and keep themselves unbeaten through the season’s first eight weeks.
An absolutely brutal week for my offense, as they started off horribly and finished only slightly less so. After hitting the midway point of the week hitting .075, I consider it a small miracle that I managed to finish the week at .220/.258. I went 2-4 overall in the hitting stats, winning runs and home runs, thanks in part to my opponent putting up a zero in the home run column this week. I had six hitters record sub .200 averages and Nick Swisher and Scott Rolen were my only men to hit a homer or drive in more than two runs.
While my offense stumbled, my pitchers kept up the ridiculous performance I’ve come to expect from them. Five of the seven starts they made were of the quality type, and all five of those might have well been labeled as extra-quality. Even with Tim Hudson’s rain shortened affair and Matt Garza’s clunker in Boston (5IP, 6ER) my staff put up a 2.36 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Both numbers are slightly inflated from David Aardsma crapping the bed Sunday afternoon (1/3 IP, 3ER). Again, my closers failed to garner many opportunities and Ryan Franklin was shutout completely, pitching two perfect innings in his only appearance this week.
Despite all the phenomenal pitching performances, my guys still only managed one win as they received nearly no run support. Adam Wainwright lost by giving up one run in seven innings in which he struck out a cool dozen. Josh Johnson took a loss by allowing the unearned run that kept Roy Halladay’s perfect game from going into extra innings. Jamie Garcia tossed six shutout innings but the Cardinals didn’t score any runs at all. Felix Hernandez pitched eight innings of one-run ball only to see his bullpen give up four runs in the ninth to lose the game.
Transactions-wise this week, Edgar Renteria played one game, went 2-for-3 and then promptly landed himself back on the disabled list, prompting me to pick up Houston infielder Jeff Keppinger. Definitely a downgrade and not a flashy player, but one who is a capable backup that I can play matchups with and who is eligible at third, shortstop and second. Coco Crisp also landed himself back on the DL after only being active for three games and instead of disabling him, I simply dropped him for Florida catcher Ronny Paulino – who you may now know as the guy who made the last out in Roy Halladay’s perfect game.
I finished up winning four and losing two of the pitching categories and managed to scrape a tie after trailing significantly for most of the week. Up next for me is division rival Whipple23, who improved to 51-38-7 after an impressive Week 8 showing, moving him up to fifth place overall in the league. My 6-6-0 week moved my overall record to 64-24-8, which was enough to keep me in first place, although it did allow some of the top teams, including Whipple23 to get within striking distance of me.
The National League Cy Young will be awarded tomorrow and there are three pitchers with any semblance of a chance at the thing – two of them Cardinals. Unfortunately for the St. Louis faithful, one scrawny kid from San Francisco deserves to win. Again.
While both Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter piled up wins, Tim Lincecum went about his own business establishing himself as the best pitcher in the National League. He led the league in strikeouts (261) and K/9 (10.42!!). He allowed under seven hits per nine and opponents hit only .206/.271/.290 off him. Basically, he turned everyone he saw into Jose Molina.
While Carpenter bested Lincecum in ERA, a more traditional measure of a pitcher’s ability, Lincecum outperformed Carpenter in FIP, a statistic that takes into account things that a pitcher is specifically responsible. FIP is a better judge of how a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded behind him. Lincecum’s FIP of 2.38 was not only lower than his actual ERA, denoting that he pitched better than his ERA dictated, but it was also significantly lower than Carpenter’s FIP of 2.82.
Voters proved they are moving in the right direction regarding these votes by awarding the AL Cy Young to Zack Grienke, who did not have the gaudy win total that Cy Young winners typically have, but rather packed a punch in the categories that are better determinants of how good a pitcher was in a given year.
And so, my vote goes to San Fran’s Tim Lincecum, just as my vote went to Zack Greinke. Hopefully the writers go two-for-two on these and reward the two best pitchers in both leagues. Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals all had outstanding seasons, but Tim Lincecum was far and away the most impressive pitcher in the National League this season.