Injuries are starting to mount for some teams as the push towards the playoffs gets into full swing with just seven weeks left in the season. The New York Yankees have been hit particularly hard on the mound, and must travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins in a crucial AL series without their big hurler Job Chamberlain. Could this be the beginning of the end to New York's 13-year postseason streak?
It must be August already. You can tell, because MLB pitchers are dropping like Fannie Mae. Chris Carpenter and Jose Contreras had short comebacks from injury. Tim Wakefield is on the shelf. Dustin McGowan, Tim Hudson, John Smoltz – all out for the season.
The good news for handicappers is that these injuries add volatility to the betting market. If you see an unfamiliar name in the pitching projections, you pounce and find out everything you can about that person. Everything else about these injuries is bad news. Pitchers are pushing themselves, and are being pushed, beyond their physical capacity. If these were racehorses, suffice to say they wouldn’t be looking at Tommy John surgery.
Modern medicine continues to make huge strides when it comes to injuries like torn labrums and frayed rotator cuffs. Meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve seen or heard the word “prehab” in four years. I know it’s out there… here we go, a blog entry about Joba Chamberlain over at the New York Times. In the refreshingly smart comments. Judging by Chamberlain’s physique, I’d say his prehab routine included funnel cakes.
Yankees at Twins
Game 1: Monday, 8:10 p.m. Eastern
NYY: Sidney Ponson
MIN: Glen Perkins
Game 2: Tuesday, 8:10 p.m.
NYY: Mike Mussina
MIN: Nick Blackburn
Game 3: Wednesday, 1:10 p.m.
NYY: Darrell Rasner
MIN: Kevin Slowey
With Chamberlain and Chien-Ming Wang on the DL, the Yankees are in danger of losing touch in the AL East. They’ve fallen to 63-55 (-10.73 units), 8.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and four games off the pace in the Wild Card race. Ian Kennedy wasn’t the answer, so Darrell Rasner (5.28 ERA, 4.77 xFIP) is the projected pitcher for Wednesday’s game. That’s assuming they don’t pull the trigger on a Jarrod Washburn trade, or bring in Freddy Garcia.
The Twins were swept three straight at Yankee Stadium last month, but they’re 10-6 since then, feeding off a steady diet of also-rans like Cleveland and Seattle. Still, Minnesota has played well enough this year to rack up 18.12 units in profits on the moneyline and a tremendous 27.53 units on the runline. The Twins are also –125 favorites for the series opener with a total of 9.5 runs. That might be a little kind to Glen Perkins; he might be 8-3, but his 4.38 ERA and 4.91 xFIP are not much better than Sir Sidney Ponson (4.72 ERA, 5.09 xFIP for New York). Mmmm, funnel cakes.
Phillies at Dodgers
Game 1: Monday, 10:10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
PHI: Kyle Kendrick
LAD: Derek Lowe
Game 2: Tuesday, 10:10 p.m.
PHI: Cole Hamels
LAD: Clayton Kershaw
Game 3: Wednesday, 10:10 p.m.
PHI: Joe Blanton
LAD: Brad Penny
Game 4: Thursday, 10:10 p.m.
PHI: Mike Myers
LAD: Hiroki Kuroda
At least there’s some good news on the injury front. Brad Penny (5.66 ERA, 5.02 xFIP) is making his second start since coming off the DL; in his first, he allowed one run to the Giants on one hit and three walks in five innings. It was a relatively short outing – 76 pitches – but it was much more like the Penny who went to the All-Star Game in 2006 and 2007.
If the Dodgers have their pitching sorted out, they’re gold for the rest of the season. Manny Ramirez has been even better than could be hoped for, going 17-for-37 in nine games with four home runs and a 1.350 OPS. However, the Dodgers dropped two of three to both the Cardinals and Giants on their six-game road swing, and are now 1.5 games out of first place in the National League West at 58-59 (-8.77 units).
Philadelphia (64-53, -0.71 units) is two games up in the NL East and pegged at +120 in Monday’s opener, with a total of eight runs. The Phillies are coming off a 3-3 home stand, capped off by a pair of wins over Pittsburgh.