Baseball Press presents "The 606", a look at the most intriguing pitching matchup 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 today's featured pitching matchup for Thursday, September 2nd.
Win: Roy Oswalt (6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 6 K, 0.95 WHIP)
The 606 Season-to-Date Record (W-L-ND): 102-86-63, 3.72 ERA (648 ER in 1569 IP)
In today's 606, a pair of veterans toe the mound in an NL East showdown, as the Mets finish up their series in Atlanta against the division-leading Braves.
LHP Johan Santana - NYM (10-9 3.02 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Hudson - ATL (15-5, 2.24 ERA)
Once universally recognized as the top pitcher in Major League Baseball, Mets lefty Johan Santana has declined somewhat from that level in recent years, and especially in this one. His 10-9 record this season, a .526 winning percentage, would be the worst mark of his career as a full-time starter, with his 15-13 season of 2007 coming closest. However, his ERA sits just above 3.00 and his 17 quality starts so far in 2010 already matches his total from last season. His strikeout rate sits at 6.5 per nine innings, which would be another full-season starter low, but his WHIP this year is 1.19 and he's allowed just 176 hits in 194 innings, very respectable numbers that put him just outside of some of the elite this year. Simply put: Santana is no longer the dominant force he was in his Cy Young seasons, but he is still a very good major league starter and is capable of a big outing at any time. He's lost his last 4 outings and was just 2-4 in August, but he's posted a 2.40 ERA since July 1st and has cracked double digit strikeouts twice during that time, including an 11 strikeout performance in Atlanta on August 2nd. He's done some of his best work this season against the Braves, and in 3 starts he is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 20 strikeouts against just 19 hits and 7 walks in 21 innings of work, and in his career he has a 2.31 ERA against them. He'll look to build on those good numbers Thursday against another solid veteran. In a bit of interesting trivia, Braves outfielder Matt Diaz , who is hitting just .239 this year, is 16 for 30 with 3 doubles, a home run, and 3 RBI against Santana lifetime.
One never expects a baseball player to have the best season of his career at the age of 35, but that is exactly what is happening with Atlanta Braves righthander Tim Hudson
this season. In his 20s, Hudson posted some stellar years with is first team, the Oakland Athletics, including a 20-6 year as a 25 year-old back in 2000 (when he finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting) and 16-7, 2.70 ERA campaign in 2003 at the age of 28. However, Hudson hasn't had a season ERA under 3.00 since that year, and the level of dominance he's shown for the NL East-leading Braves has been amazing in this year. He recently made his first All-Star game since 2004, and his 2.24 ERA ranks as tops in the National League, even in such a strong pitching-centric year. Hudson's .663 career winning percentage currently ranks 16th all-time and is the top mark among qualifying active pitchers, proof positive that despite some career ups and downs, he still finds a way to rack up wins. He may garner Hall of Fame consideration when all is said and done, and his fantastic 2010 performance could be the topper to an excellent career, particularly if he can lead his squad to a strong playoff push. First, he'll need to battle the Mets on Thursday, a team that he's dominated in 2 starts this year, going 2-0 with just 1 run allowed in 13 total innings, and in 18 career outings against them he is 12-5 with a 3.43 ERA. The most troublesome hitter for Hudson against the Mets in the past has clearly been outfielder Carlos Beltran
who, though he's really struggled this season since his return from injury, is 24 for 63 lifetime against Hudson, with 4 homers, 15 RBI, and a .458 on-base percentage.
Final Prediction: Tim Hudson