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 Friday, April 16th.
Well the 606 was at the wrong end of a dominant performance in the Boston-Minnesota matchup yesterday, as Francisco Liriano impressed for 7 innings (4 H, 2 BB, 8 K) and Tim Wakefield failed to "knuckle up" and struggled (see below), taking the loss. However, a solid season debut from Phil Hughes and a superb display of strikeout artistry by Florida ace Josh Johnson managed to salvage the day with a pair of wins.
Today's 606 features an AL East matchup between a young hotshot prospect and an established winner, as well as a young ace in the AL West and some other hurlers looking to make their mark and find continued successes in 2010.
Win: Phil Hughes (5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 1.60 WHIP)
Loss: Tim Wakefield (5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.15 WHIP)
Win: Josh Johnson (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1.00 WHIP)
The 606 Season-To-Date Record (W-L-ND): 11-9-11, 3.40 ERA (76 ER in 201 IP)
RHP Wade Davis - TB (0-1, 6.00 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Beckett - BOS (1-0, 6.17 ERA)
This is a classic matchup of a young aspiring rookie against an established major league ace. There are high hopes in 2010 for Tampa Bay hurler Wade Davis, who looks like a future star and is on many pre-season lists as a potential American League Rookie of the Year candidate. Davis impressed in 6 starts last season, going 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 36 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. However, one team he was not impressive against in 2009 was Boston; in his lone start against the Red Sox, Davis was rocked for 8 earned runs in just 2.2 innings, by far the worst start of his young major league career. In his defense, he did follow that up with a complete game shutout and 10 strikeouts against the Orioles. Davis is hoping his second career start in Boston has more favorable results, but as it tends to be in the AL East, it's an uphill battle.
Boston ace Josh Beckett was less than impressive in his season debut against the Yankees (4.2 IP, 5 ER), but followed that up with a victorious outing against the Kansas City Royals (7 IP, 3 ER). He'll be facing the Rays on Friday, and he surely hopes he'll fare better against them than he did in 5 starts last season. In those 5 starts, Beckett was 2-1 but had a shaky 5.02 ERA with 10 walks, 29 hits, and 3 home runs allowed in 28.2 innings. He should be capable of handling the Rays and their rookie starter, but you can bet he's not taking them for granted.
Final Prediction: Josh Beckett
RHP Jered Weaver - LAA (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Shaun Marcum - TOR (0-0, 3.46 ERA)
Angels righty Jered Weaver is looking to assert himself as the team ace in 2010, taking that role after the free agent departure of John Lackey. Weaver has been pretty impressive in his first two starts this year, his latest being a 6 inning outing where he allowed just 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out four. He got a no decision for that effort, but still stands at 1-0 and has struck out an impressive 13 hitters in 12 innings of work. He is controlling the strike zone and not allowing baserunners, something He'll have to continue if he hopes to succeed against a Toronto team that has hit well to start the season. In 6 career starts against the Blue Jays, Weaver is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA, so he'll look to build on that.
Shaun Marcum has impressed in the Toronto rotation since his return from injury and a season lost to Tommy John surgery. He's posted back-to-back quality starts to open the season, and has allowed just 10 hits and 2 walks in 13 innings, good for a 0.92 WHIP. Toronto is 7-3 and one of the surprise teams in this young season, so Marcum is certainly hoping for some run support and defensive help against an Angels team that he's had pretty good past success against. In 4 starts against them, Marcum is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, so that bodes well for his chances.
Final Prediction: Shaun Marcum
RHP Mike Leake - CIN (0-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. LHP Zach Duke - PIT (2-0, 3.00 ERA)
Cincinnati righthander Mike Leake has a rare distinction, jumping directly from Arizona State to the Reds and bypassing the minor leagues completely. There are questions about whether the talented San Diego native can hang in the majors, but an impressive pro debut has given hope to Reds fans. In his first start, Leake held the Cubs to 1 run over 6.2 innings, allowing 4 hits and striking out 5, but also walking 7. Leake's walks are alarming to some, but his control kept most of his misses low and around the zone, thus he wasn't hit with more than just the one run. It'll be interesting to see if Leake will build on that outing or regress in his next start on Friday against the Pirates.
The 2010 season couldn't have started much better for Pittsburgh lefty Zach Duke, as he's 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and has shown much of the talent that made him such a promising pitcher earlier in his career. Against division rival Cincinnati in 2009, Duke was 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA and abysmal 1.52 WHIP, so he's definitely hoping to change that trend in his third start of the year. To get the victory, Duke will have to slow down Joey Votto who, in 16 career at-bats against Duke, has 10 hits (5 of them doubles). He seems up to the task and, if he can keep the baserunners to a minimum, the 26 year-old Duke could be 3-0 and on his way to the best season of his career.
Final Prediction: Zach Duke