|Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: John Lackey vs. Kevin Correia||05.09.13 at 10:38 am ET|
John Lackey will close out the Red Sox’ series with the Twins on Thursday at 7:10 p.m., as Kevin Correia looks to continue his strong start for Minnesota.
Since returning from a biceps injury that sidelined him for most of April, Lackey has made two starts. He looked solid against the Astros on April 28, allowing one run on five hits over six innings as the Sox won, 6-1.
Things didn’t go quite as well his next time out, when Lackey needed 98 pitches to get through just five innings against the Rangers. He gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, allowing a home run, and the Sox lost 5-1, although Lackey’s pitching was less of a problem overall than the Sox’ lack of offense.
Over his three starts (totaling 15 1/3 innings, as he was lifted during the fifth inning of his first start with pain in his biceps), Lackey has 16 strikeouts and six walks, with a 1.44 WHIP and 3.52 ERA.
Lackey has made 15 career starts against the Twins, with a 1.25 WHIP and a 3.68 ERA. He’s struck out just 72 in 102 2/3 innings against Minnesota.
The last time he saw the Twins was on April 14, 2010. In his only outing against them in that season, he threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and four walks.
Correia is with his third team in the last four years, and he’s been the Twins’ best starter early this season, with a 1.14 WHIP and a 2.83 ERA through his first six outings. He went at least seven innings in each of his first five starts before lasting only five in his most recent appearance, a 7-3 loss to the Indians.
Correia has never been an overwhelming strikeout pitcher — since 2011, he’s averaged fewer than five K’s per nine innings, and he’s fanned just 19 through his first 41 1/3 innings. But he’s kept his walks under control and worked efficiently this year, outside of his last start, when he threw 102 pitches through five innings.
Correia saw plenty of Stephen Drew when they were both in the NL West, as Correia pitched for the Giants and Padres while Drew was a Diamondback. Drew has a .278 OBP against him with one home run and three doubles in 54 appearances. (Another longtime National Leaguer, Ryan Dempster, has also come to the plate against Correia nine times, going hitless with three strikeouts.)
Of the Twins’ two biggest names, Lackey has handled Justin Morneau well, limiting him to two extra-base hits and a .286 OBP in 35 PAs. Joe Mauer has fared better against Lackey, hitting .435/.458/.696 with two homers in 24 PAs.
|Buster Olney on M&M: Junichi Tazawa has ‘probably the best stuff in that bullpen’||05.08.13 at 1:32 pm ET|
Buster Olney of ESPN spoke with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the potential for protective caps for pitchers after the Jays’ J.A. Happ took a line drive to the head Tuesday, the state of the Red Sox pitching, and the constant suspicion that players are using performance-enhancing drugs if their performance improves.
In the wake of Happ’s injury, the discussion about requiring protective headgear for pitchers has come up again. Olney noted some of the issues that would make it hard to implement such a rule, including the effect it would have on pitchers’ mechanics and the players’ general resistance to change.
“The number of instances of this happening is actually on the increase, according to research that Willie [Weinbaum, of ESPN] has done,” Olney said. “Major League Baseball, for good reason, is concerned, because the 60 feet, 6 inches is not going to change. What Willie has found is that they’re having a difficult time coming up with a lined cap, and if you go beyond a lined cap — maybe even with a lined cap I think you’re going to get the initial response from a lot of players, which is, I don’t know if I want to wear that, that looks kind of weird. When David Wright wore that oversized helmet, there was definitely that old-school pushback on style.
“In 2007, Mike Coolbaugh, who was a coach in the minor leagues, was killed by a line drive, and after that Major League Baseball basically made a rule saying all the base coaches have to wear a helmet. And initially there was pushback on that, and now we don’t even notice. I think when you’re talking about pitchers going out there wearing some kind of a cage, like cricket batters, I think that we are a long, long way from players ever agreeing to do something like that. And hopefully it doesn’t take some terrible accident where they’re taking that more seriously.”
Olney said headgear for pitchers likely would have to be implemented first at the youth level.
“Any type of change would have to literally take place with kids who are learning how to throw the ball,” he said. “It’s not only a style component, but let’s pick out someone older, say, Ryan Dempster. Let’s say MLB said we want to have head protection on a pitcher. There’s a mechanical issue there, too. The way you use your hands, you draw your hands over your head, and suddenly you have some kind of headgear device — that would not be something that could be embraced overnight by anybody, no matter what the risk was. It would literally alter how these guys would have to throw the baseball. If in fact there are changes, and the velocity keeps accelerating and we get more and more of these kinds of things, it’s only natural that his conversation’s going to take place. It would have to first take place in Little League.”
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Allen Webster vs. Pedro Hernandez||05.08.13 at 10:48 am ET|
The Red Sox will get another look at Allen Webster as he takes Felix Doubront‘s place in the rotation on Wednesday. Pedro Hernandez will start the third game of the series for the Twins.
Doubront is heading to the bullpen to replace the injured Joel Hanrahan, while Webster, one of the Sox’ most promising pitching prospects, will make his second major league start.
The 23-year-old Webster impressed in his first outing in Boston on April 21, striking out five Royals over six innings. He averaged 95 mph with his fastball, at times throwing it as hard as 98 mph. He also used his offspeed pitches confidently, mixing in his curveball and changeup with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs.
Webster allowed three runs, two earned, in that start. Both earned runs came via solo homers in the fifth inning, to Alex Gordon and George Kottaras.
Over 20 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket this year, Webster has 26 strikeouts and six walks. He’s started four games and posted a 2.70 ERA. Control was something of a problem for him in the past, as he averaged more than four walks per nine innings in 24 minor league starts last year. Through the first five weeks of this season, though, he seems to have put those issues behind him.
Hernandez has done a little of everything for the Twins this year. He’s made three starts along with two relief appearances — one in long relief when Vance Worley lasted only one inning against the Mets on April 12, the other when he pitched the ninth inning of an 8-5 loss to the Marlins.
The 24-year-old Hernandez has a 3.92 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP through 20 2/3 innings. Last year, he pitched just one game for the White Sox, which happened to be against the Red Sox on July 18.
In that game, Hernandez lasted four innings, giving up eight runs on 12 hits, three of which were home runs. Cody Ross homered off him twice, and Adrian Gonzalez went deep once.
|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Scott Diamond||05.07.13 at 9:29 am ET|
Ryan Dempster will face off against one of the only other Canadian starting pitchers in the majors, Scott Diamond of the Twins, at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Dempster picked up his second win on May 2 as the Sox beat the Blue Jays, 3-1. He struck out just four, his lowest strikeout total of the year, but allowed only one run on four hits and three walks over six innings.
With the Sox bullpen struggling of late, the team will hope for Dempster to pitch as far into Tuesday’s game as he can. This year, he’s twice gone five innings, twice six and twice seven, last finishing the seventh inning on April 21 against the Royals.
Dempster has started just three games against the Twins in his career, two of them last year with the Rangers. He struck out 13 over 14 innings in those two starts and allowed just two runs, picking up wins in both games.
Diamond has put together a string of three solid starts since starting off on shaky ground this season. He’s pitched at least six innings in each of his last three starts, and most recently gave up two runs over six, striking out three and walking one, as the Twins beat the Tigers, 6-2, on May 1.
Diamond emerged as a decent starter for the Twins last year in his first full season in the big leagues. Over 27 starts, he posted a 3.54 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. His strikeout numbers were underwhelming (just 4.7 per nine innings, the second-lowest rate in the American League) but he balanced that out with the lowest walk rate in the AL, walking 1.6 batters per nine innings.
Diamond has never pitched against the Red Sox. The only current Sox who have faced him are Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino, both of whom are hitless against him in three plate appearances each.
Apart from Jamey Carroll, who owns a .467 OBP against him in 15 PAs, Dempster has fared well against most current Twins. Justin Morneau has a solo home run against him, but Joe Mauer has had trouble with Dempster, striking out five times in seven appearances against him.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Vance Worley||05.06.13 at 9:40 am ET|
Clay Buchholz will aim to continue his dominant start to the season against the Twins on Monday as the Sox return home from trips to Toronto and Texas. Vance Worley will start for the Rangers in the 7:10 p.m. game.
Buchholz has been one of the best starters in baseball over the first month of the season. His 1.01 ERA is the best in the majors, and his 0.96 WHIP is fifth best in the American League.
He is stranding an uncommonly high number of baserunners — 91.4 percent compared to the league average of 73.4 percent — and that number likely will come down as the season goes on. But he’s also striking out 9.47 batters per nine innings, and he’s consistently pitching deep into games. All of his starts have lasted at least seven innings.
After Buchholz beat the Blue Jays in Toronto on May 1 — striking out eight, walking three and shutting out the Jays over seven innings — Toronto broadcasters Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst suggested that Buchholz was using an illegal substance to doctor the ball.
Sox manager John Farrell called the accusations “unfounded”, and Buchholz said he was just using rosin to help him grip the ball.
Buchholz has made five career starts against the Twins, with mediocre results. He has a 1.45 WHIP and a 4.25 ERA against them in 29 2/3 innings. Last season he saw them twice, pitching 12 1/3 innings and giving up six runs (five earned) on 17 hits and four walks.
Worley’s season has been the opposite of Buchholz’ in just about every way. He’s tied for the worst ERA in the majors, 7.22, and owns the worst WHIP, 1.92, through six starts. He’s struck out just 17 batters in 28 2/3 innings and is averaging less than five innings per start, although that average is dragged down somewhat by his worst outing, in which he gave up nine runs (seven earned) in just one inning against the Mets on April 12.
Last time out, Worley made it through just 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers, giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk as the Twins lost, 6-1, on April 30.
Worley has faced the Red Sox only once, as a Phillie back in 2011. He lasted seven innings and gave up just one run, striking out five as the Phillies won, 2-1.
The current Sox have barely seen Worley at all — this is his first season in the AL, and none have faced him more than three times. The Twins are slightly more familiar with Buchholz, and Justin Morneau is hitting .500 against him in 14 plate appearances with an RBI.
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Jon Lester vs. Yu Darvish||05.05.13 at 8:47 am ET|
Jon Lester will look to move past his recent shaky starts on Sunday in Texas, facing Yu Darvish and the Rangers at 3:05 p.m.
After opening the year impressively, Lester’s performance fell off somewhat in his last two appearances. He walked six over 5 2/3 innings against the A’s on April 24, although he limited the damage to three runs and still picked up the win as the Sox offense helped him out.
Then, in his last start, Lester had his worst outing of the year, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks over six innings as the Sox lost to the Blue Jays, 9-7, on April 30.
Lester still has a 1.14 WHIP and a 3.11 ERA through his first six starts of the year. He’s struck out 33 and walked 12 in 37 2/3 innings.
The Rangers haven’t been the most pleasant opponent for Lester to face over his career. He’s made 10 starts against them since 2006 and has a 4.57 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. His worst struggles came last year, as he only logged 8 2/3 innings in total over two starts and gave up 11 runs on 14 hits and six walks.
Darvish’s only career outing against the Sox ended in a loss, as he allowed six runs in 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 6, 2012. The 26-year-old from Japan is off to an excellent start in his second season with the Rangers, though, with a 2.33 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP through six April starts.
In five of his six starts, Darvish has struck out at least eight batters. Last time out, he fanned nine and walked three, allowing four runs as the Rangers beat the White Sox, 10-6.
Of the current Sox, Darvish has taken a beating from Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury has two doubles in his four appearances against Darvish, and Pedroia has three in the same number of PAs.
Nelson Cruz has dominated Lester in 18 PAs against him, hitting .529/.556/.941 with a home run, a triple and two doubles. Ian Kinsler has homered twice off of Lester in his 26 appearances.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. J.A. Happ||05.02.13 at 9:42 am ET|
Ryan Dempster will start at Toronto’s Rogers Centre for the first time in his 16-year career on Thursday, facing J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays in the final game of the series.
Dempster has struck out at least seven batters in each of his first five starts with the Red Sox, and he’s twice fanned 10, with 43 punchouts to go with 14 walks on the year.
In his last start, against the Astros on April 26, Dempster gave up two runs on four hits over six innings, walking three and striking out 10. He’s averaged six innings per start as he’s put together a 3.30 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
Happ made his first start of this year against the Red Sox back on April 5. He struck out six and walked three over 5 1/3 innings, holding the Sox scoreless, but exited in the sixth after throwing 99 pitches to that point.
Happ allowed four and five runs in his next two starts after that one, but he has been better over his last two outings. He got a no-decision in his last start, on April 27 against the Yankees, when he allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings.
In three career starts, plus one relief appearance, against the Red Sox, Happ has a 4.91 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Those numbers are largely due to two rocky starts he made against them in 2009 and 2011, giving up five runs in each of those outings.
Originally, Happ had been scheduled to pitch the Jays’ series opener against the Mariners on Friday, but he moved up a day because of an injury to Josh Johnson.
Dempster last faced the Blue Jays in 2005, as a Cub in interleague play. None of the current Toronto hitters who have faced him at least 10 times have hit him very well. Jose Bautista, who’s seen him 12 times, is hitting .200 with one double against him.
Jacoby Ellsbury has enjoyed some success against Happ, hitting .333/.364/.556 in 11 plate appearances with two doubles.
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