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 Saturday, April 17th.
Well the 606 and featured selection Josh Beckett had a pretty good day on the stat sheet, but didn't have much to show for it yesterday. Beckett certainly deserved a better fate than a no decision, and Marcum had his moments against the Angels. Zach Duke was impressive through seven innings tonight but the bullpen blew the lead (they won in the bottom of the 9th). Even with the no decision for Duke, he is certainly someone to keep an eye on as the season moves forward.
Today's 606 features an east-west clash of potential playoff teams, as well as a matchup of vastly contrasting styles in Los Angeles and a pair of hurlers looking to find their footing in 2010. The San Francisco-Los Angeles game is of particular interest, as it isn't often that you get to see a knuckleballer taking on a fireballing two-time Cy Young Award winner. Pop the popcorn, kids; it should be one heck of a weekend.
No Decision: Josh Beckett (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.71 WHIP)
Loss: Shaun Marcum (7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1.14 WHIP)
No Decision: Zach Duke (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1.29 WHIP)
The 606 Season-To-Date Record (W-L-ND): 11-10-13, 3.28 ERA (81 ER in 222 IP)
RHP Scott Feldman - TEX (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett - NYY (1-0, 3.75 ERA)
West meets east- who will prevail? The Rangers are hoping to make a big impact in the AL West this season, and they're certainly hoping that Scott Feldman, who won 17 games last season, can continue to be successful in 2010. Feldman got a victory in his lone start versus the Yanks last year, going 6.1 innings and allowing 5 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs while striking out 5. He'll have to watch out for the long ball, however. Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez have a combined 4 homers against Feldman in just 27 at-bats.
A.J. Burnett earned his first victory of the year in his last start, giving up just 2 runs over 7 innings against the Rays. He'll look to get another win in New York on Saturday, matching up against Texas. In 3 starts against the Rangers last year, Burnett was 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 19 innings. His strikeout style fits well against the Rangers, and the current group of Texas hitter has just a .232 career batting line against him (155 at-bats). He has a 4.05 ERA against the team in his career, so he should be able to piece together a solid outing in his home ballpark.
Final Prediction: A.J. Burnett
RHP Tim Lincecum - SF (2-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. RHP Charlie Haeger - LAD (0-0, 3.86 ERA)
This is a contrast of styles at the most extreme, with a hard-tossing ace taking on a soft-tossing journeyman knuckleballer. On the one hand, we have the winner of the last two NL Cy Young Awards, Tim Lincecum, who's led the NL in strikeouts in the last two seasons as well. In his career against the Dodgers, Lincecum is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 42.2 innings. That ERA mark is several ticks higher than his career mark of 2.86. None of the current Dodgers have much success against Lincecum, save for Andre Ethier and his .294 batting mark (1 home run, 4 RBI) in 17 at-bats. Tiny Tim should be able to handle the Dodgers and get a win, provided his teammates provide him with some run support.
Charlie Haeger is far from old (just 26 years young) but he's already with his third major league organization, the previous two being the White Sox and the Padres. The knuckleballer has shown success recently, posting a 3.32 ERA in 19 innings last season, and a very strong showing in his first start of the season against the Marlins on April 11th. In that game, Haeger went 6 innings and allowed 3 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs (3 earned), but the big news was his 12 strikeouts. The knuckleball is a fickle thing- dominant one day and useless on another- but if Haeger can get the Giants hitters to flail at it the way the Marlins did, the Dodgers might sneak a victory from the reigning Cy Young winner.
Final Prediction: Tim Lincecum
RHP Justin Verlander - DET (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith - SEA (0-1)
Another year, another bad beginning of the season for Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Verlander has allowed 10 runs through his first 2 starts this year (10 innings) and some are concerned that he may not be up to the task of leading Detroit's pitching staff, but Verlander had similar results last season (a 6.75 ERA in 5 April starts in 2009) and had the best season of his career, so one has to think he'll be okay. It's probably just a matter of "when" and not "if" he'll get it going in 2010, and it may very well be against the Mariners on Saturday night. In his career against the Mariners, Verlander is 6-3 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, so he's definitely looking to continue that success and start winning this year. He'll have to watch out for Ichiro Suzuki though, as the speedy outfielder is a career .367 against him (30 at-bats).
The hyphenated one makes his third start of the season on Saturday, and he's hoping to put his 5.25 ERA behind him and build on the success of last season. The Austrailian has been knocked around a bit by the Tigers, posting a 5.17 ERA in 15.2 career innings (2 starts, no decisions), but his 3.74 ERA in 15 starts last season has many Mariners fans optimistic for his chances in 2010. None of the current tigers have more than 7 career at-bats against Rowland-Smith, and the team is just a combined 7 for 40 (.175) against him lifetime. However, Tigers outfielder Ryan Raburn has been successful in those few opportunities against Rowland-Smith, with 3 hits and 2 home runs in just 5 at-bats.
Final Prediction: Justin Verlander