Baseball Press presents ''The 606'', a look into the three most intriguing pitching matchups of the day, with a final prediction of the winning pitcher. You may be asking yourself ''What exactly does The 606 mean? There's no major league baseball for that area code- it's in Eastern Kentucky!'' BBP isn't listing players from Eastern Kentucky either. The 606 is short for 60 feet and 6 inches. If you still don't understand, I direct your attention to Official Rule 1.07 from Major League Baseball, referring to the distance from the pitching mound to home plate. Now that we've got that squared away, let's take a look at some pitching matchups for Monday, April 12th.
Reggie continued The 606's hot streak yesterday on the back of a complete game shutout by Roy Halladay, along also a very nice debut from Mike Leake. One week into the regular season, today we get the chance to see a mix of #2 and #3 starters go head-to-head, as well as the opening of Minnesota's Target Field. Let's go to the results from Sunday.
Win: Roy Halladay (9 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0.78 WHIP)
Loss: Joe Saunders (6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0.83 WHIP)
No Decision: Mike Leake (6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7 BB, 5 K, 1.65 WHIP)
The 606 Season-To-Date Record (W-L-ND): 6-5-10, 3.09 ERA (45 ER in 131 IP)
LHP Jon Lester - BOS (0-0) vs. RHP Carl Pavano - MIN (1-0)
Jon Lester had a rough first outing of the season at home against the Yankees, and looks to bounce back against an improved Minnesota offense. This will be the first regular season game ever played at the newly-minted Target Field, so emotions will be running high. While the conventional wisdom points to Target Field playing as a more hitter-friendly park than the Metrodome, it'll be a few seasons before we have any solid data to back up the speculation. While Lester has never registered a quality start against the Twins, he's too good a pitcher to not back him. With a lineup containing only one batter Justin Morneau who has had consistent success against Lester, I like him to pitch well enough to beat the Twins.
Carl Pavano, dubbed ‘'American Idle'' for his inability to pitch (let alone pitch well) during his tenure in New York, found new life last season with the Indians and Twins. While his ERA was a disappointing 5.10 last season, he had a 4.00 FIP. The discrepancy largely due to an unlucky strand rate and batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Last week he picked up right where he left off last season, with a strong first start (7 IP, 6 hits, no walks, 6 strikeouts) against the anemic (so far) offense of the Los Angeles Angels (can we get some Mike Napoli in that lineup already?). Boston hitters have had success against Pavano over the years, to the tune of a .976 OPS. Look for a big day from J.D. Drew, who is 6 for 11 in his career off of Pavano.
Final Prediction: Jon Lester
RHP Rich Harden - TEX (0-0) vs. RHP Fausto Carmona - CLE (1-0)
After a great spring (1.38 ERA in 26 innings and 12 strikeouts to only 2 walks), Carmona is back on fantasy radars, with owners hoping he can replicate his 2007 form. He only gave up 3 runs over 6 innings in his first start...but walked 6, struck out only 1, and gave up a homer. I'm not ready to write off his spring stats just yet, but fantasy owners should have a short lease on Fausto - a leash which may shorten even more this coming week in light of the fact that a number of Rangers have succeeded against Carmona in the past (then again, who hasn't?).
Free agent signing Rich Harden's first start with the Rangers was classic Harden: lots of Ks, not a lot of innings. In fact, Harden managed to record only 8 outs...but ALL of them came via the strikeout. The current Indians haven't seen much of Harden (only 26 combined plate appearances), but Cleveland's offense has been unremarkable this year, and I'm not confident that Carmona can hold down the hot hitting Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz. For those reasons, we're backing Harden on the road over Carmona at home.
Final Prediction: Rich Harden
RHP Johnny Cueto - CIN (0-0) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco - FLA (0-0)
Despite an ugly 5.06 ERA last season, Nolasco was drafted to be a solid #2 or #3 fantasy starter because he actually pitched quite well in 2009: more than 4 strikeouts for every walk, and better than 9 strikeouts per 9 innings. He left his first start of 2010 with a 6-2 lead before the bullpen let him down (though the Marlins did win in extra innings). In his career, Ricky has done a nice job of keeping this crop of Reds hitters at bay: in 61 plate appearances, they've managed only a .233 OBP, though they have showed a bit of pop (.429 SLG). The Reds offense has been terrible this year, with their 4 through 6 hitters producing with a solid 5 for 45 start to the year.
Cueto has only faced the Marlins once in his career - in 2008 he picked up a win over the Fish by striking out 8 over 6 innings. In his first start this season, he lasted 6 innings against St. Louis, giving up 2 runs, while striking out and walking 3 batters. Blessed with great stuff, Cueto has yet to harness it enough to find consistent success in the majors. Home runs have been an issue the past 2 seasons, and pitching at Sun Life Stadium won't help that problem this week. Look for the Fish to take the victory in this one.
Final Prediction: Ricky Nolasco