What you’re getting here is two games for each of the next three days. It’s all part of FanGraphs’ “commitment to service.”
(Games listed by day and in order of likely awesomeness. NERD scores in parentheses.)
Friday, August 27th
Philadelphia (3) at San Diego (10), 10:05pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Roy Oswalt (9) and Mat Latos (10). One of them’s likely to play left field at some point tonight. So, heads up on that, is what I’m saying.
• At the team level, the Phillies are currently undervalued by NERD, on account of the injury situation (and subsequent returns). Second baseman Chase Utley remains both handsome and talented, however.
• You should take note of Padre Chris Denorfia, who’s not only slashing 289/.354/.483, and not only an alumnus of Choate, but whose family settled in Bristol, Connecticut — i.e. the American city with the highest density of Cistullis per capita.*
*It occurs to me that this may interest you zero percentedly, but maybe you can at least benefit from some of that vicarious joy.
Boston (7) at Tampa Bay (10), 7:05pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Jon Lester (7) and David Price (10), both of whom are so competent as to almost entirely lose my interest.
• At the team level, the Rays are currently the best baserunning team in the majors — at least by NERD’s rigorous standards.
• You should take note of the radio broadcast from the Boston side — especially if you want to hear exactly one thousand local auto glass commercials.
Saturday, August 28th
Arizona (9) at San Francisco (4), 9:05pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Dan Hudson (9) and Matt Cain (6). Hudson, only 23, is sporting a 8.84 K/9 against only a 1.47 BB/9 through his first five Diamondback starts. For all their questionable maneuvers of late, this move appears not to be one of them.
• At the team level, the Giants have recently distinguished themselves: with the acquistion earlier this week of Cody Ross, they become one of the few teams in major league history to feature a roster composed entirely of outfielders.
• You should take note of Andres Torres, who is threatening Chase Utely in terms of the old handsome/talented combo deal. (Torres’ line this season: 480 PA, .287/.368/.501, .352 BABIP, .382 wOBA, 140 wRC+, 5.7 WAR.)
Pittsburgh (6) at Milwaukee (8), 7:10pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Zach Duke (5) and Chris Capuano (???). I originally gave Capuano an estimated NERD of 1 (see the full daily schedules down below), but, at second glance, that’s probably way unfair. Not only is Capuano sporting a 3.52 xFIP, but he’s also clawed his way back into the rotation after undergoing two consecutive Tommy John procedures. Feel that, America? That’s your heart being warmed.
• At the team level, the Brewers are currently fourth in all of baseball at 69.0 park-adjusted runs above average on the season — trailing only the Yankees, Twins, and Red Sox. Of the 596 runs they’ve scored this year only like 517 of them were scored against the Pirates.
• You should take note of Lorenzo Cain if and when he appears in this game. I’m led to believe that he only started playing baseball in high school. Also — and perhaps related — he kinda runs like a giant, incredibly fast puppy.
Sunday, August 29th
New York Americans (6) at Chicago Americans (5), 2:05pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Ivan Nova (7*) and Gavin Floyd (7). The former of those guys, Nova, made his first career start on Monday. He was was efficient — 5.1 IP, 22 TBF, 3 K, 1 BB, 9 GB on 18 BIP (50%) — if not overpowering, but he’s noteworthy for another reason, which is that he features a change-up with rather startling movement. While his fastball sits around 94-95 mph, he throws his changepiece pretty close to that in terms of velocity — around 87 mph. But while (per Texas Leaguers) the average major league change-up features about 6.5 inches of armside run (i.e. toward a righthanded batter), Nova’s change moves over 10 inches. And it’s pretty obvious even while watching the game on a netbook.
• How about instead of discussing either club on a team level, we just pop up some poppycorn and watch this video of Nova’s first start.
• You should take note of around the 0:27 mark in that same video, where Nova throws a 97 mph fastball by Adam Lind.
Houston (0) at New York Nationals (3), 1:10pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Bud Norris (9) and R.A. Dickey (10). That’s not actually the NERD score that Dickey would receive by the current formula, but a number of readers lobbied on his behalf and I totally completely wanted them to stop doing that.
• At the team level, one nice thing you can say about the Mets is that they’re not the Astros. Seriously, the only thing the Astros do well is steal oftener than average — which, that’s not really a skill, per se.
• You should take note of how the Astros replaced their old-ish and mostly chunky first baseman with a much younger, but still equally chunky, first baseman.
These games are very likely playing at some kind of sporty channel near you.
(Note: I don’t know how Hammel got listed as a 1. Ignore that. But also, probably don’t watch that game, either.)
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