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World Series 2013: Key Adjustments That Will Decide Fall Classic

The Boston Red Sox took Game 1 in dominant fashion, and the St. Louis Cardinals used opportunistic base-running to win Game 2.

Now, the 2013 World Series is tied at 1-1.

A pair of dramatic games has put the series in toss-up position, as neither team has a true advantage.

The question is, what adjustments much each team make to earn the advantage in the World Series?


Who’s at First?

As the World Series shifts to St. Louis, the most notable change will be the elimination of the designated hitter. Anyone who has ever watched baseball knows just how important the change will be, specifically for the American League champions.

In this instance, Boston will need to find a way to incorporate their top two run producers in the batting lineup.

During the 2013 postseason, designated hitter David Ortiz continues to build upon his Hall of Fame resume.

Current first baseman Mike Napoli, meanwhile, has finally found his hitting stroke, consistently generating runs.

Per Rob Bradford of, the Red Sox will take a gamble by starting Ortiz at first base in at least one game.

This is an even more rare decision than you may think.

Ortiz has played 32 games at first base since 2007, seeing time at the position in just six outings during the 2013 regular season. Napoli did play catcher earlier in his career, but he didn’t play a single game at the position during the 2013 regular season.

In other words, it’s looking like a “one or the other” type of scenario.

Ortiz is hitting .268 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 12 postseason games. Napoli has two home runs and five RBI in his past six appearances.

One way or another, a valuable player will be out of Boston’s starting lineup during its three-game road stint.


Using Allen Craig

During the 2013 regular season, Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig hit .315 with 13 home runs and a team-high 97 RBI.

During the postseason, Craig has played in just two games due to injury, hitting .286 with a walk and two strikeouts in eight plate appearances.

Craig has been playing at designated hitter during the World Series, and St. Louis will now need to determine just how much it can trust him as a fielder.

Craig isn’t incompetent, but he is coming off of a foot injury and hasn’t played the field since the regular season.

There’s no shortage of defensive versatility when it comes to the 29-year-old RBI machine.

He played 95 games at first base, 25 in left field and 22 in right field, which makes it easier for manager Mike Matheny to plug Craig in.

It simply can’t be ignored that he’s coming off of a foot injury that forced him to miss the NLDS and NLCS.

Should St. Louis place Craig in the outfield, Matheny would need to move either Matt Holliday or Carlos Beltran to keep them in the lineup. First base seems to be the most logical decision, but it depends heavily on how well Craig can field ground balls.

Matheny has a critical decision ahead of him.


Defense, Defense, Defense

If you haven’t noticed already, the most significant adjustments for both teams will be made on defense.

This isn’t just a reaction to the absence of the designated hitter but to the sloppy style of play that both teams have exhibited in the World Series.

It all starts with preventing unforced errors.

A case could be made that Game 2 was won by St. Louis’ opportunistic base running and Boston’s defensive mishaps.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Craig Breslow both made costly errors, thus resulting in St. Louis coming back from down 2-1 to ahead 4-2.

Game 1 wasn’t any different.

Pete Kozma committed two costly errors for St. Louis, and David Freese made one for the Cardinals.

Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina also let an easy pop fly drop between them, displaying just how influential defense has been in this series.

Whether Matheny and John Farrell opt to shift players around or simply try different formations, something needs to change.

Both teams have left errors decide the outcome of games, and that simply isn’t acceptable on this stage.

Both Boston and St. Louis have key adjustments to make.

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Cardinals vs. Red Sox: Players Under Most Pressure as World Series Progresses

The 2013 World Series is all knotted up after the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals split the first two games. With the series now shifting to St. Louis, both teams are in desperation mode, as a 1-1 series signals the opportunity for momentum to be won in Game 3.

The question is, which players are under the most pressure to lead their teams as the World Series progresses?

It’s difficult to place too much blame on individual players, but neither team is without the presence of players who must step up. Both squads have received underwhelming production from some of their top stars, and as the series moves forward, said athletes must step up.

It all starts with the pitchers.

The question is, who are the players that will be under the most pressure?


Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox

During Game 2, no individual player experienced as much of the blame for Boston’s loss as reliever Craig Breslow. He entered the game with two batters on base, but star John Lackey had been masterful, and a series of poor pitches and errant throws led to St. Louis’ win.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox fans hoping to bench the 33-year-old, there’s one fact that they can’t ignore: Boston needs Breslow in this series.

According to ESPN, the Cardinals hit .238 against left-handed pitchers during the 2013 regular season. There are specific players on the team who hit lefties well, but for the most part, the Cardinals were rendered helpless against southpaws.

For Boston, Breslow and Franklin Morales are the only left-handed relievers on its World Series roster.

Breslow will see action again, and more likely than not, he’ll be used sooner rather than later. Once he enters the game, Breslow will need to settle down, leave the fielding to the position players and shut down the opposing hitters.

If he can’t, the Bo Sox will only have one left-handed reliever to believe in. That’s no slight on Morales, but he does have a 6.75 ERA during the playoffs.

Breslow needs to put a disastrous Game 2 behind him as soon as possible.


Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

During the 2013 regular season, Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter led the MLB in hits, doubles and runs scored. During Game 2, Carpenter came up with a key sacrifice fly that drove in the RBI that ended up tying the game.

Unfortunately, Carpenter has been downright horrendous as a hitter during the postseason. This all comes just one month after a legendary season.

It’s been as bad in the playoffs as it was great during the regular season.

Thus far, Carpenter has hit .160 with a .228 on-base percentage and a .240 slugging percentage. He has eight hits in 50 at-bats, four walks and three RBI, which has been a major reason the Cardinals have struggled to hit as a team.

As it presently stands, St. Louis is hitting .210 as a squad.

Carpenter was one of the rare Cardinals players to hit well against lefties, going .294 with four home runs and 22 RBI in 197 at-bats. Going up against a Red Sox rotation that will start Jon Lester again, it’s imperative that Carpenter gets his bat going quick.

If he doesn’t, the Cardinals’ momentum won in Game 2 will quickly dissipate.


Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are a team that grinds out at-bats and turns to its pitching staff to shut down opposing lineups. Entering the postseason, the one player that Boston could label as a regular season ace was right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz.

During the postseason, he just hasn’t been the same player.

Buchholz was 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 16 games started. Buchholz threw 108.1 innings in those appearances, 101.8 pitches per contest and absolutely dominated every opponent that he came across with world-class precision.

In the 2013 playoffs, Buchollz has been playing like its 2012.

Buchholz has made three postseason starts in 2013, going 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. He’s struggled with his command, has allowed key runs during close games and is displaying signs of fatigue that should concern every Red Sox fan.

Buchholz has been prone to injuries, and thus far, it doesn’t look like he’s made a full recovery.


Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals

During Game 4 of the World Series, the Cardinals will trust Lance Lynn to take the mound and lead St. Louis to a home win. Lynn was 15-10 with a 3.97 ERA, but during the past two postseasons, Lynn has an ERA of 5.56 in nine appearances and four starts.

The pressure is mounting.

Lynn will go toe-to-toe with Buchholz, which presents the opportunity for one struggling star pitcher to recover. Both men are All-Stars, but in Lynn’s case, masterful first halves of the 2012 and 2013 seasons seem to be a distant memory.

Two straight years of hot starts and slow finishes marks a player who deserves to be labeled as inconsistent.

Lynn allowed five runs in 4.1 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates but has allowed two runs over his past 7.1 innings. He’s certainly settled down, but the big picture isn’t easy to overlook for a pitcher who has struggled on the grandest stage.

Going up against a pitcher, Buchholz, who is due for redemption, this will be a dangerous game for Lynn to play in.

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MLB Playoffs 2013: Predictions for Major Stars This Postseason

The 2013 MLB postseason is officially upon us, as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 in a one-game playoff to reach the Wild Card Round. The games will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 8:07 p.m. ET, and the pressure will build for the best in the world.

The question is, how will the major stars fare during the postseason?

The Wild Card Round will see the Cincinnati Reds travel to play the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League and the Tampa Bay Rays hit the road to face the Cleveland Indians in the American League. The winners of the one-game playoff will advance to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL and Boston Red Sox in the AL.

The question is, what will happen once the lights start shining and the stars are under pressure?


Big Papi Will Rebound

David Ortiz is one of the most revered postseason performers in the history of professional baseball, and rightfully so. He played a critical role in the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series title since 1918 in 2004 and again stepped up in 2007.

In his two postseason appearances since ’07, Ortiz is hitting .164 with one home run and five RBI in 14 games.

Before you write him off, remember that this is the same player who hit .381 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 31 postseason games from 2004 to 2007. It’s also worth noting that Ortiz hit .264 and .238, respectively, during 2008 and 2009—the two years in which he collapsed.

In 2013, Ortiz hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI—his third consecutive season with a batting average above .300.

In 2013, Ortiz and the Red Sox will either face the Indians or Rays during the ALDS. Ortiz hasn’t been at his best against those teams, but both have a legitimate opportunity to upset Boston and that places Ortiz under pressure.

Who better to face pressure than Big Papi?


Matt Holliday Will Be St. Louis’ Postseason Star

During the 2011 MLB playoffs, David Freese emerged as a postseason hero with five home runs, 21 RBI and a .397 batting average in 18 games played. He stepped up in the clutch on more than one occasion and became the face of an unlikely run to the World Series title by the short-handed St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2013, expect Matt Holliday to be the star that attempts to lead St. Louis to that same result.

Holliday is one of the most consistent players in all of baseball, posting more than 20 home runs and 90 RBI in six of his past eight seasons. Holliday has also hit .295 or better in all 10 of his MLB years, finishing at an even .300 in 2013.

After a disappointing postseason performance in 2012, the six-time All-Star is due for a rebound performance.

According to Jenifer Langosch of, Allen Craig is unlikely to be available for the NLDS due to a foot injury. With the team’s leader in RBI absent, the door is open for Holliday to step up and both drive in runs and hit for average.

Carlos Beltran is another option, but Holliday has something to prove in 2013.


Kershaw, Puig Will Shine

It’s fair to say that no player has generated as much attention over the past few months as Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig. With superstar Matt Kemp sidelined by a string of injuries, Puig hit .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI in 104 games, also making extraordinary defensive plays.

Puig will continue his monster rookie season during the playoffs.

Puig is this year’s Mike Trout, making defensive plays that are worth marveling and coming up with big hits at every turn. It’s also worth noting that, before Puig‘s arrival, the Dodgers were 23-32, and after he arrived in the lineup, L.A. went 69-38.

Now, the 22-year-old will prove that he can continue to lead the team on the biggest stage of all.

Joining Puig as an L.A. star is Clayton Kershaw, who led the MLB in strikeouts, ERA and WHIP in 2013. With no rational reason to give the Cy Young award to anyone else, it’s now on the Dodgers’ ace to prove that he can pitch in the playoffs.

With a career postseason ERA of 5.87 through five games played and two starts, there’s certainly reason to doubt him.

Fortunately, Kershaw has been pitching with minimal run support throughout his career, finding his way out of jams and dominating even the best of hitters. He’s separated himself from the rest of the MLB’s left-handed pitchers and may just be the top pitcher in the MLB.

For what it’s worth, Kershaw has held the Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers’ NLDS opponent, to a .214 batting average over the past three seasons.


Justin Verlander Will Re-Emerge as Detroit’s Ace

During the 2013 MLB regular season, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander finished at 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA and 217 strikeouts. It was the first time since 2010 that Verlander finished with an ERA above 3.00 and the first time since 2008 that he managed fewer than 17 wins.

During the 2013 playoffs, expect Verlander to re-emerge as Detroit’s ace.

Max Scherzer stepped up in Verlander’s place, leading the league in wins at 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts. In turn, Scherzer has effectively become the most consistent pitcher on Detroit’s staff, even if reputation would tell us to favor Verlander.

Expect a reality check during the playoffs.

This is no slight on Scherzer, but if Detroit is facing elimination, the ball must go to Verlander. The 2011 AL MVP struggled during his first two postseasons, but he went 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA during the 2012 playoffs, leading the Tigers to the World Series.

Scherzer pitched just as well, but after a disappointing regular season, Verlander is in store for a postseason of magnificent performances.

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Terry Collins Reportedly Agrees to 2-Year Contract Extension with New York Mets

The New York Mets are a franchise that has struggled to develop a sense of consistency in any area of the organization. From injury-prone stars to changes up top, the Mets have been in a constant state of turmoil for the better part of a decade.

The Mets took a major step toward assuring a change for the better by signing manager Terry Collins to a two-year contract extension, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

Collins is 224-260 in three years as the Mets’ manager.

With a very underwhelming roster, Collins has managed to keep the Mets above the 70-win mark in a deep NL East in each of his three seasons.

Collins will be under contract in 2014 and 2015 with a team option for the 2016 season. This is a rare example of New York displaying trust in a manager after going through four from 2002 to 2010.

Collins has been picked as a coach at two consecutive MLB All-Star Games, with Tony La Russa selecting him in 2012 and Bruce Bochy in 2013, showing he’s respected by his peers. 

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, star third baseman David Wright has been vocal about his desire to see Collins receive a contract extension:

It’s well-documented that there’s been probably a lot more talent on teams that are in our division. And I think he’s done a nice job keeping the young players motivated. And just, all in all, I think he deserves to be back. And then hopefully—with the money we have to spend and some of the trade opportunities—we’re a better team for him to manage.

It’s not hard to see why Wright is so supportive.

Working with one of the least impressive rosters in the National League, Collins led the Mets to a record of 41-40 on the road in 2013. That’s a major step in the right direction for a team with relatively young complementary pieces.

For the first time since Bobby Valentine was manager from 1996 to 2002, the Mets will have kept a skipper for more than three seasons.

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Yusmeiro Petit’s Bid for Perfect Game Ends on 2-out Single in 9th Inning

In just his third start and fourth appearance of the 2013 MLB regular season, 28-year-old San Francisco Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit was one out away from a perfect game. Petit struck out seven batters in the complete-game, 95-pitch effort, leading the Giants to a 3-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Perfect or not, it was an absolutely sensational pitching performance.

Regardless of the ninth-inning misfortune, Petit had the outing of a lifetime.

As disappointing as it may be, Petit was outstanding.

The Venezuelan right-hander silenced the Diamondbacks’ bats for 8.2 innings, ultimately giving way to an Eric Chavez single. Rather than backing down once his bid for perfection was ended, he shut down the next hitter he faced and completed the shutout.

Even still, we can’t help but harp on what could’ve been.

Inches separated Petit from greatness.

With Chavez’s perfection-ending single, Petit becomes the second player in 2013 to lose a perfect game with one out remaining. The other player to face that fate was Cy Young award nominee Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.

Pleasant company for an unpleasant reason.

This is a continuation of what has been a breakout month for Petit, as the 28-year-old has been stellar in limited action. Through four appearances and three starts, he is now 3-0 with an ERA of 2.05.

In his previous start, Petit shut down the Diamondbacks during an 8-2 win on Sept. 1. He went 6.0 innings, allowing two earned runs and struck out a career-high 10 batters en route to the victory.

There’s just something about playing the Diamondbacks that brings the best out of him.

Petit last served as a full-time starter in 2009 for, perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the Diamondbacks. He went 3-10 that season with a 5.82 ERA in 17 starts. He made one MLB appearance between then and this season, coming last year with the Giants.

Perhaps this was a measure of revenge against his former club. Perhaps it was destiny.

One way or another, it was unforeseen.

If that’s not enough for you, try the fact that Petit hadn’t played an MLB game since 2009 before this season.

Petit may not have completed the perfect game, but this is why we love sports.

This would’ve marked MLB’s first perfect game since Felix Hernandez blanked the Tampa Bay Rays during the Seattle Mariners’ 1-0 win on Aug. 15, 2012. He would’ve been the first National League player to achieve the feat since teammate Matt Cain shut down the Houston Astros during a 10-0 win on Jun. 13, 2012.

Instead, Petit walks away with the pride of dominating a division rival and giving his fan base something to cheer for in a down season.

This is the second time this season a struggling Giants pitcher has thrived, as Tim Lincecum no-hit the San Diego Padres during a 9-0 win on Jul. 13, 2013. While it hasn’t been a spectacular season for the Giants, this is a glimmering sign of hope.

If not, it’s a piece of baseball history, as Petit came one pitch away from completing a perfect game.

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Bud Norris Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Houston Pitcher’s Potential Destinations

As the 2013 MLB trade deadline approaches, one of the players most commonly associated with a potential trade is Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris. As a strong right-handed starter who can contribute in the middle of a rotation, Norris certainly could attract a contender.

The question is, where might he up and how would he fit?

According to Brian McTaggart of, three teams have been identified as potential suitors. Those teams are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, who all have postseason dreams and a need for pitching.

Per Jeff Passan of CBS Sports, Norris won’t be in Houston for much longer.

McTaggart reports that Norris has been scratched from his start on Tuesday, July 30.

It’s hardly surprising that Houston, a team far from postseason contention, would be willing to move a quality pitcher in his prime. Thus far in 2013, the 28-year-old is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 21 appearances.

The belief around the league, however, is that Norris will see significantly better results with an upgraded defense and more run support—something each of the teams interested in him would provide.


Arizona Diamondbacks

W-L Record: 54-51 (2nd in NL West)


It’s no secret that the Diamondbacks are looking to add arms. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that they’re the front-runners to land Jake Peavy. Should that plan fall through, however, Arizona’s commitment to pursuing Norris makes a powerful statement.

The Diamondbacks are not satisfied with the aces they already have and believe they can make a real push for the postseason—and they can.

Arizona is led by 24-year-old All-Star Patrick Corbin, who is 12-2 with an ERA of 2.24, a WHIP of 0.99 and 123 strikeouts. Behind the lefty is Wade Miley, who is 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA, having lowered that number in nine of his past 11 starts.

Beyond them, there really isn’t much to say.

Trevor Cahill is injured, but even if he does return, he’d bring a record of 3-10 with a 4.66 ERA to the table. Ian Kennedy, who won 36 combined games in 2011 and 2012, is 3-7 with a dreadful 5.35 ERA.

Even still, Arizona is within 2.5 games of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

Norris may not fare much better than Miley, but if he’s able to add a stabilizing arm in front of Cahill and Kennedy, Arizona would reap the benefits. Paul Goldschmidt is playing at a superstar level offensively, and the Diamondbacks’ bullpen has lethal arms.

It wouldn’t be a World Series clincher, but adding Norris would be a major step in the right direction.


Baltimore Orioles

W-L Record: 58-48 (3rd in AL East)


The Orioles have the tall task of chasing the hottest teams in baseball as the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays trade the AL East lead. As the most powerful team in baseball—Baltimore ranks No. 1 with a .443 slugging percentage—they certainly have a way to get back into the race.

It’s all about adding reliable arms to a less-than-dependable rotation.

The Orioles are 20th or worse in quality starts, WHIP, opponent batting average and team ERA. Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez have been very strong for Baltimore, but no other player with at least five starts has an ERA lower than 5.12.

That’s what you call urgency.

Norris would be a welcome addition. His ERA would float somewhere between 3.70 and 4.00. That may not be an elite number, but it’s a substantial upgrade over what Baltimore currently puts forth.

Optimism tells us Norris may actually improve with a move to the AL East, as Baltimore’s defense would offer far more support than Houston’s.

The key here is that Baltimore has a core of Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis to support Norris. Even when a game gets out of hand, the Orioles can get back into it with their bats.

That would offer a form of confidence that Norris hasn’t felt in quite some time.


Pittsburgh Pirates

W-L Record: 62-42 (2nd in NL Central)


If the season ended yesterday, the Pirates would earn a wild-card spot in the 2013 MLB playoffs. They’re tied for the most wins in the National League, sitting just .5 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

Did we mention that Pittsburgh has turned some of the most inconsistent arms in MLB into the most dominant pitching staff in baseball? Their rankings of No. 1 in team ERA and opponent batting average supports that statement.

Why can’t Norris be the next player to break out in Pittsburgh?

The Pirates are led by a veteran cast of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez, along with 25-year-old breakout star Jeff Jocke. Those names suggest bottom-10 potential, but pitching coach Ray Searage has worked absolute magic.

With Jason Grilli converting 30 saves in 31 opportunities, this team truly is the all-unbelievable team.

It’s worth noting that Norris has posted a 2.33 ERA at PNC Park since 2011, playing his division rival multiple times per year. It’s also important to factor in that Norris was teammates with Rodriguez for three-and-a-half seasons and Mark Melancon for one-and-a-half.

It’s unclear where Norris will end up, but Pittsburgh certainly sounds like the most ideal destination.

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All-Star Game Start Time: When and Where to Watch Midsummer Classic

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is finally upon us, as the festivities have ended and the fight for home-field advantage in the World Series will soon commence. While everyone knows that the game will transpire, there’s one question that everyone needs answered.

When and where can we watch the game?

The Midsummer Classic has long been the most competitive All-Star Game of America’s big four sports. With the stipulations involved, both sides have something to play for, as home-field advantage is critical come the World Series.

To ensure you don’t miss a second of the action, all of the viewing information can be found in the following article. From start times to rosters, we have it all.

What a game this should be.


Date: Tuesday, July 16

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

Venue: Citi Field in Flushing Meadows, Queens, N.Y.


American League: Starting Lineup

  Player Team Position
1. Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels LF
2. Robinson Cano New York Yankees 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers 3B
4. Chris Davis Baltimore Orioles 1B
5. Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays RF
6. David Ortiz Boston Red Sox DH
7. Adam Jones Baltimore Orioles CF
8. Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins C
9. J.J. Hardy Baltimore Orioles SS
N/A Max Scherzer Detroit Tigers SP


If we could only pick one aspect of the 2013 MLB All-Star Game to marvel over, it would be the top of the order for the American League. From MVP candidates to phenoms to home run masters, you have the most fearsome one-through-four in recent memory.

Mike Trout, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis—who do you want to pitch to?

Behind them are sluggers Jose Bautista and David Ortiz, as well as do-it-all center fielder Adam Jones and future Hall of Famer Joe Mauer. To cap it all off, they have J.J. Hardy hitting ninth, which sets the stage for a tough go-round once you reach the top of the lineup again.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Max Scherzer is the one pitching.

Scherzer is currently 13-1, leading the MLB in wins and ranking second to Yu Darvish in strikeouts. While no one expects this to be a collective shutout, Scherzer is the front-runner to win the Cy Young at this stage of the season.

With the run support he’s bound to get, who’s putting their money against him?


American League: Reserves

Player Team Position
Jason Castro Houston Astros C
Nelson Cruz Texas Rangers OF
Edwin Encarnacion Toronto Blue Jays 1B/DH
Prince Fielder Detroit Tigers 1B
Alex Gordon Kansas City Royals OF
Torii Hunter Detroit Tigers OF
Jason Kipnis Cleveland Indians 2B
Manny Machado Baltimore Orioles 3B
Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox 2B
Jhonny Peralta Detroit Tigers SS
Salvator Perez Kansas City Royals C
Ben Zobrist Tampa Bay Rays UTIL


The American League reserves are highlighted by some big names, including Nelson Cruz, Prince Fielder and Dustin Pedroia. There are also rising stars, with Alex Gordon, Jason Kipnis and Manny Machado all making their first career appearances.

The only question at this point is how will the American League fit all these high-profile players into one game?

Veterans Edwin Encarnacion and Torii Hunter are players worth watching, as each has something to prove. Both have been relatively under-appreciated for their level of play in 2013, and each has the opportunity to break through for the American League.

With superstars surrounding them, a home run here and a stellar catch there could remind us of why they’re two of the best players in baseball.

With all of that being established, the world is waiting to see Fielder’s power and Machado‘s—well, everything. Barehanded grabs along the third-base line and extra-base hits are what the fans want, and if the American League is hoping to win, it’s what it will need.

The starting lineup may be substantially better than the reserves, but there are players who are of a starter’s caliber scattered throughout the reserves.


American League: Pitchers 

Player Team Position
Clay Buchholz Boston Red Sox RHP
Brett Cecil Toronto Blue Jays LHP
Bartolo Colon Oakland Athletics RHP
Jesse Crain Chicago White Sox RHP
Yu Darvish Texas Rangers RHP
Felix Hernandez Seattle Mariners RHP
Hisashi Iwakuma Seattle Mariners RHP
Justin Masterson Cleveland Indians RHP
Joe Nathan Texas Rangers RHP
Glen Perkins Minnesota Twins LHP
Mariano Rivera New York Yankees RHP
Chris Sale Chicago White Sox LHP
Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers RHP


Bartolo Colon has been a revelation, Hisashi Iwakuma is becoming a dominant force and both Jesse Crain and Glen Perkins have been pleasant surprises. Felix Hernandez remains an ace, and both Chris Sale and Justin Verlander are superstars.

Regardless of what else is going on with the American League, though, this one is all about Mariano Rivera.

The greatest closer in the history of professional baseball will be playing in his final All-Star Game. The 43-year-old certainly deserves to be here, as he’s second in the MLB with 30 saves on an ERA of 1.83 with just two blown opportunities.

According to Scott Boeck of USA Today Sports, American League manager Jim Leyland made sure there was no question about Rivera’s availability in this game. Rivera chimed in, too:

“You can rest assured (Rivera) will be on the mound at some point and you will see him pitch,” [Jim] Leyland said.

“It would be great,” said Rivera about the opportunity of closing out the game. “This is home, even though this is the Mets stadium. This is New York City. It’s home for us. It would be a beautiful thing.”

We may be in New York Mets territory, but every person in the world will be giving Rivera a standing ovation after this one.

Rivera has distanced himself from the all-time greats and moved into his place as the most dominant relief pitcher to ever live. He has 13 All-Star Game appearances, five World Series championships and a World Series MVP award, to list only a few of his career achievements.

He also holds the MLB record with 638 career saves. The AL will be hoping to give him an unofficial one during the All-Star Game in what should be the most memorable moment of the evening.


National League: Starting Lineup

  Player Team Position
1. Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds 2B
2. Carlos Beltran St. Louis Cardinals RF
3. Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds 1B
4. David Wright New York Mets 3B
5. Carlos Gonzalez Colorado Rockies LF
6. Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals C
7. Troy Tulowitzki Colorado Rockies SS
8. Michael Cuddyer Colorado Rockies DH
9. Bryce Harper Washington Nationals CF
N/A Matt Harvey New York Mets SP


The National League may lack the star power that the AL possesses, but that doesn’t mean these hitters will be easy outs. With players in the middle of the lineup consisting of Joey Votto, David Wright and Carlos Gonzalez, it will be anything but manageable for American League ace Max Scherzer.

With that being said, all eyes will be set on hometown pitcher Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.

Harvey is currently 7-2 with an ERA of 2.35 and a WHIP of 0.92, also posting an NL-best 147 strikeouts. At Citi Field, he’s posted an ERA of 2.21 and held batters to a batting average of .191.

Between him and Wright, Mets fans will be in for an evening to remember.

Fresh off of a loss in the Home Run Derby final, it will be interesting to see how Bryce Harper fares against the American League. With his elite level production dipping in recent weeks, Harper has dropped all the way to No. 9 in the NL starting lineup.

Plain and simple, all eyes are on the young guns.


National League: Reserves

Player Team Position
Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates 3B
Domonic Brown Philadelphia Phillies OF
Everth Cabrera San Diego Padres SS
Matt Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals 2B
Allen Craig St. Louis Cardinals 1B
Paul Goldschmidt Arizona Diamondbacks 1B
Carlos Gomez Milwaukee Brwers OF
Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates OF
Buster Posey San Francisco Giants C
Jean Segura Milwaukee Brewers SS
Marco Scutaro San Francisco Giants 2B


Believe it or not, there’s an equal level of name value amongst the National League reserves as there is the starters. When your bench is highlighted by reigning regular-season MVP Buster Posey, superstar Andrew McCutchen and 2012 NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro, it’s hard to debate that statement.

The question is, how quickly will they get the National League bats off of the bench?

There’s an abundance of power with this team, as Pedro Alvarez, Domonic Brown and Paul Goldschmidt have emerged as three of the top home run hitters in baseball. With McCutchen and Posey being able to do it all, and Allen Craig serving as an RBI machine, we could see a high-scoring affair.

Surprisingly, it hasn’t been the big names who have dominated the saber-metrics prior to the All-Star Game—it’s been Carlos Gomez.

Gomez currently leads the MLB in the vaunted wins shares statistic, clocking at 5.7. He also leads all outfielders in defensive win shares, flashing his glove and becoming a SportsCenter mainstay with his home run saving catches.

If you’re looking for entertainment, Gomez is the player to watch.


National League: Pitchers

Player Team Position
Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants LHP
Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds LHP
Patrick Corbin Arizona Diamondbacks LHP
Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins RHP
Jason Grilli Pittsburgh Pirates RHP
Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers LHP
Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves RHP
Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies LHP
Jeff Locke Pittsburgh Pirates LHP
Adam Wainwright St. Louis Cardinals RHP
Travis Wood Chicago Cubs LHP
Jordan Zimmerman Washington Nationals RHP


When Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee and Adam Wainwright are coming out of your bullpen, you know you have something special going. When Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel comprise the back end of your bullpen, you have reason to believe you can shut anyone down.

And we haven’t even touched on the presence of Madison Bumgarner, Patrick Corbin and Jordan Zimmerman.

The American League may own an edge with its hitting, but there should be no question about who has more depth in the bullpen. The National League boasts Cy Young award winners, lockdown relievers and some of the most powerful arms in all of baseball.

They may not have the legendary Mariano Rivera, but hitting off of Chapman, Jason Grilli or Kimbrel will be no walk in the park.

If the NL is going to pull off this victory and achieve home-field advantage in the World Series, it will need its pitchers to step up in a major way. The American League may not have the same pitching depth, but it still boasts stars and its hitters are world class.

With Matt Harvey, Kershaw, Lee, Wainwright and Bumgarner working through the early and middle innings, something tells us the NL will be just fine.

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Josh Wall to Marlins: 3 Things You Need to Know About Miami’s New Prospect

According to a report released via MLB, citing Joe Frisaro, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins have agreed to a multiplayer trade. The Dodgers will receive Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, while Miami will receive multiple prospects.

A high-profile trade centered around L.A.’s need for instant pitching improvement and Miami’s desire to improve its farm system.

One of those players is right-handed pitcher Josh Wall. The question is, what do we need to know about Miami’s newest pitching prospect?

Let’s find out.


1. Future Closer

Wall isn’t the most consistent player in MLB, and that’s more of a compliment than an insult at this stage. He can’t seem to keep pitches over the plate, and when he does, he lets them hang and thus pays the price.

Just don’t debate the upside.

Wall was selected in the second round of the 2005 MLB draft by the Dodgers as a potential closer. While he may not have panned out in his early MLB career, Wall clearly has the upside to be something special.

It all starts with his size and power.


2. Size and Power

If there’s one thing you need to know about Wall, it’s that he’s a 6’5″ and 207-pound righty. While his control has been questionable in his short MLB career, he uses that supreme size to power pitches over the plate.

As a relief pitcher, that’s a trait that is undeniably attractive.

With the rise of power relievers such as Aroldis Chapman and Joel Hanrahan, Wall could be something special. Teams clearly value closers who can catch batters off balance with their power, and Wall certainly has nasty stuff.

That alone could make him a player receiving early playing time.

While he’s far from a long reliever and not quite a setup man, Wall can contribute in the sixth or seventh inning. Not only can he keep an offense at bay, but with the proper development of his breaking ball, Wall could make a powerful impact.

Unfortunately, he’s struggling to piece quality outings together.


3. Terrible Start to MLB Career

Thus far in 2013, Wall is 0-1 with an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 3.29 in six appearances. While his statistics may be underwhelming, there’s no question that Wall has the upside to be a strong arm in any bullpen.

With his combination of size and power, pitching for short periods of time could be up his alley—the question is, how telling are these numbers?

For a Marlins team that’s short on arms, Wall is worth the risk, as he truly can’t hurt Miami any more than it’s already reeling. Not only can he help with a bullpen that has been inconsistent, at best, but he has the long-term upside of a strong closer in the MLB.

With the price it paid, it’s clear Miami believes in Wall’s future.

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Yasiel Puig Deserves to Be a National League All-Star After Torrid Start

According to a release by the official MLB Twitter, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig has been omitted from the 2013 National League All-Star team. This comes after one of the most impressive beginnings to a career that we’ve ever witnessed.

There may be some opposing his selection, but Puig deserves to be a National League All-Star after his torrid start.

Puig is the latest five-tool player to enter the MLB, displaying elite abilities in every facet of the game. While some believe his numbers have been inflated by a brief career, one thing can quiet the naysayers.

The fans.

I suggest you vote for the phenom to make the All-Star Game.

Puig has been nothing short of remarkable, but that doesn’t always translate to recognition. With just 30 games under his belt, there is reason to believe that he’s yet to prove his worth.

Or has he?


Record-Setting Start

Jonathan Papelbon can debate this all he wants, but few players have ever started a season as well as Puig has. In fact, Puig‘s first 30 games have put him into the exalted company of Joe DiMaggio and Roy Weatherly.

Need we say more?

If we do, we will.

Puig is currently hitting .417 with eight home runs, 19 RBI and 24 runs in just 30 games. This limited playing time may lead to questions of his validity, but the fact that Puig is being mentioned in the same sentence as DiMaggio should tell you something.

So should Puig‘s impact on his team.


Turning a Season Around

Prior to Puig‘s MLB debut, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 23-32 overall and drifting further away from postseason contention. Since he has entered the league, however, the Dodgers have been a different kind of animal.

LA is 18-12 with Puig in the lineup.

Not only has he helped the Dodgers turn their season around, but he’s provided a much-needed five-tool presence with Matt Kemp battling injuries. In a star-studded lineup without consistency, Puig has even emerged as the most productive player on the team.

Last time I checked, a player locks in an All-Star berth when he combines elite production with a powerful impact on his team.

That’s exactly what Puig has given the Dodgers, who have fed off his energy both at the plate and in the field. From a cannon of an arm to an explosive swing, Puig has been a walking highlight reel with a significant team influence to boot.

Someone tell me what isn’t All-Star worthy about that.


The Trout Factor

In 2012, Mike Trout took the world by storm, dominating in every facet of the game and helping the Los Angeles Angels turn their season around. One year later, Puig is following down a similar path with the Dodgers.

So why was Trout an All-Star, and Puig isn’t?

This is not to sell Trout’s stellar play short by any stretch of the imagination, as he’s played elite baseball since he first set foot on an MLB field. With that being said, Trout’s brief career—albeit longer than Puig‘s—was of little influence to voters.

They saw a standout performer and rewarded him with an All-Star Game appearance.

Puig is becoming the face of an injury-plagued season. As many players have looked to get in with strong play, few—if any—have given MLB the popularity boost that Puig has provided.

Both on the field and off it, Puig has been elite. It’s only fair for MLB to reward him.

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Miami Marlins Defeat New York Mets 2-1 in Epic 20-Inning Game

The phrase “pitcher’s duel” has been redefined.  

The Miami Marlins defeated the New York Mets by a score of 2-1 in an epic 20-inning game. Sixteen pitchers saw action for these two teams, with four throwing at least six innings of action.

In the end, this ended up being one of the longest games in the history of the Mets franchise.

That’s what you call a fatiguing battle.

Kevin Slowey picked up the win for the Marlins, with Steve Cishek picking up the save. For the Mets, Shaun Marcum was charged with the unfortunate loss.

Those terms need to be defined.

Slowey picked up the win after throwing seven shutout innings in relief, while Marcum lost after going eight innings and allowing just one run. In turn, Slowey moved to 2-5 on the season, while Marcum dropped to 0-7 and Cishek picked up his sixth save.

The Marlins are now 17-44, and the Mets have fallen to 23-34.

Most intriguing of all is the fact that the Mets and Marlins weren’t the only two teams to play a marathon game. In fact, their game barely outlasted one played by two of their American League counterparts.

The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers in 18 innings earlier today.

In total, the two sides combined for 38 innings and an accumulation of more than four full games.

Adeiny Hechavarria drove in the game-winning run for the Marlins, singling to center field and sending Placido Polanco around for the deciding run. Chris Coghlan also drove in a run for Miami, with Juan Lagares driving in the lone run for the Mets.

Matt Harvey was the starter for New York, going seven innings and allowing just one run to six strikeouts. For the Marlins, Jose Fernandez threw six innings of one-run ball and struck out seven batters.

Unfortunately, Harvey left the game with an injury.

Nothing has been able to touch Harvey thus far in 2013. Hopefully an injury isn’t what brings him down.

The Mets left 22 runners in scoring position, displaying just how many chances they had to achieve victory.

The Marlins, on the other hand, had just four opportunities to drive in runners in scoring position. They converted two of those chances, resulting in one of the most awe-inspiring pitcher’s duels you’ll ever see.

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