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 Tuesday, April 13th.
Loss: Jon Lester (5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2.40 WHIP)
No Decision: Rich Harden (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1.33 WHIP)
No Decision: Ricky Nolasco (6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1.67 WHIP)
The 606 Season-To-Date Record (W-L-ND): 6-6-12, 3.41 ERA (56 ER in 148 IP)
RHP Ervin Santana - LAA (0-1, 6.00 ERA) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte - NYY (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
In 2008, Ervin Santana struck out nearly a batter per inning, while posting a 4.55 K/BB. Seriously, 4.55. Injuries derailed most of his 2009 campaign, though he did start to show flashes of brilliance in the 2nd half of the season, largely due to an increase in the velocity of his fastball (fairly normal for a player recovering from arm injuries). In his first start in 2010, Santana struck out 4, walking only 1, but allowed 4 earned in 6 innings pitched at home against the Twins. For his encore, he gets a trip to New Yankees Stadium, to match up with the Modern Day Bronx Bombers.
Hideki Matsui returns to the Bronx for the first time as a member of the Angels, and on Tuesday he'll face former teammate Andy Pettitte. Pettitte is an un-exciting, but reliable, fantasy option. Long gone are the days of 20 wins and Cy Young contention, but solid control and a good offense behind him makes Andy Pettitte a player to consider streaming. It will be interesting to see if Mike Napoli gets a rare start behind the dish, as he's seen quite a bit of success against Pettitte in his career (5 for 9). Other than Napoli and Erick Aybar (7 for 16), Pettitte has fared well against this crop of Angles. Combine the Yankees' history against Santana (.820 combined OPS), with their hot play of late, and you've got an easy choice.
Final Prediction: Andy Pettitte
RHP Ian Kennedy - ARI (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw - LAD (0-0, 5.79 ERA)
Former Yankee-farmhand Ian Kennedy showed some real potential in his first start for the Diamondbacks, striking out the side in the 1st inning, and amassing 8 strikeouts in only 5 innings. He was never able to crack the rotation in New York, but has always put up gaudy numbers at Triple A. Is this the year he finally breaks out? He's worth a flier in fantasy leagues, but the number of right-handed pitchers who succeed in the majors with a fastball that averages under 90 mph (like Kennedy) is, by my count, one (San Diego's Chris Young).
After a rough first outing of the season, against Pittsburgh no less, Kershaw's control is still a work in progress. He walked 6 in 4.2 innings last week, and had a 4.79 BB/9 mark in 2009. This control problem led many to wonder if Kershaw could replicate last season's shiny 2.79 ERA. He's always going to be an exciting pitcher. He's left-handed, blessed with just plain filthy stuff (see, e.g., his 9.74 K/9 mark last season), and pitches for one of the historically great franchises. But whether he turns into Sandy Koufax, or Oliver Perez, is yet to be seen.
Final Prediction: Clayton Kershaw
RHP Jeff Niemann - TB (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Matusz - BAL (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
A rematch of their April 8 matchup, Niemann and Matusz are two bright young pitching prospects that should be battling each other in the AL East for years to come. After taking a hard liner off his pitching shoulder, Niemann left his first start of the season after only 4 outs, and was initially questionable for this start. However, Niemann told reporters that he's "good to go" after a successful bullpen session this weekend. Last season, Niemann won 13 games with an ERA under 4.00. Not a small feat in the AL East these days. With Brian Roberts out, we'll roll the dice that a fresh Niemann can take down the O's.
Brian Matusz showed his strikeout potential by punching out 7 Rays in his 2010 debut. That said, he also walked 5 on his way to his first big league win. Baseball America's #5 prospect heading into 2010, the ceiling is high, but expectations for Matusz need to be tempered. He's still a rookie, he still has to pitch against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, and still has a mediocre defense behind him. While Niemann's bruised shoulder gives me pause, I don't think a rookie pitcher for the Orioles can take down the Rays twice inside of a week.
Final Prediction: Jeff Niemann