One Night Only!

Like with Transformers, there’s more than meets the eye in this edition of One Night Only.

Also like Transformers, this edition of One Night Only will someday be made into a giant Hollywood film starring Megan Fox.

(Games listed in order of likely awesomeness. NERD scores in parentheses.)

Featured Games
New York Americans (7) at Tampa Bay (10), 7:10pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Ivan Nova (7) and Matt Garza (5). Nova has impressed in limited time this season, posting a line that looks precisely like this: 24.2 IP, 6.20 K/9, 2.19 BB/9, 49.4% GB, 3.89 xFIP. Though his curve is getting all the love from our pitch-type linear weights (+1.43 per 100 thrown), it’s his change that makes for the most compelling viewing. He throws it around 87 mph, and it just disappears. I mean it: this guy’s like frigging Gob Bluth over here.
• At the team level, it’s a fact: these teams are at the top of the AL East standings. After last night’s victory, Tampa Bay now has a 0.5-game lead.
• You should take note of Joe Girardi’s bullpen management. Last night, in the bottom of the 11th inning, in a tie game, he bypassed Living Legend Mariano Rivera in favor of Merely Decent Sergio Mitre. The first batter of that inning, Fresh Faced Reid Brignac, hit a 3-2 change for a home run.

San Diego (10) at Colorado (6), 8:40pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Jon Garland (3) and Jason Hammel (7). Allow me to admit this: I didn’t know the difference between Hammel and former Rays’ teammate Jeff Niemann until maybe late June or early July of this year — i.e. when his (i.e. Hammel’s) name became a fixture atop the NERD leaderboards. In reality, he’s doing the same thing this year as last. Seriously. Here’s 2009: 176.2 IP, 6.78 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 46.2% GB, 3.81 xFIP. Now here’s this year: 161.2 IP, 7.35 K/9, 2.39 BB/9, 46.3% GB, 3.75 xFIP. I mean it: this guy’s a frigging metronome over here.
• At the team level, we have here two clubs that are trying to assassinate each other.
• You should take note of Colorado’s leadoff spot, on account of it’s been occupied by Eric Young since mid-August. There’s no guarantee he has even a league-average bat (90 wRC+ currently) or that his speed will translate into runs (16-for-21 on SB attempts, maybe slightly better than breakeven), but there’s something terribly exciting about a rookie leading off for a team that has recently — and dramatically — clawed its way back into playoff contention.

Philadelphia (4) at Florida (7), 7:10pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Cole Hamels (9) and Adalberto Mendez (N/A). Who’s Mendez? That’s the exact question I asked Michael Jong of Marlin Maniac. He said, and I quote:

Adalberto Mendez is a career minor leaguer saddled with the great burden of having a cool first name. If not cool, certainly long. He has bounced around a couple organizations due to the fact that he cannot control his pitches, with a career minor league walk rate of 10.3%. He only recently reached the Triple-A level with some semblance of permanence, and only this season has he pitched fairly well. He has fairly mundane stuff (fastball/slider mostly, as he has worked primarily out of the bullpen) and has a flyball-heavy batted ball profile. In other words, if the Marlins weren’t down their top two starters, he probably wouldn’t be making his second major league start.

Here’s Mendez’ line at Triple-A New Orleans: 71.2 IP, 9.17 K/9, 3.64 BB/9, 3.77 FIP. Also, as Jong notes, the righty’s approach is flyball heavy: Mendez has routinely posted minor league groundball rates in the mid-30% region.
• At the team level — well, I don’t know if you’d call it the team level or what, but it’s a fact, nonetheless: Marlin coach Edwin Rodriguez has batted Emilio Bonifacio leadoff for about the last week or so. One the one hand, yes, Bonifacio is currently doing this: .320/.360/.416, .357 wOBA, 124 wRC+. On the other hand, he’s currently sporting a .385 BABIP. And also, he did this exact thing last year — i.e. get lucky on balls in play — before seriously regressing and ending up with a 66 wRC+ and -0.8 WAR in 509 PAs.
• You should (continue to) take note of the Marlin outfield, which features in Mike Stanton a 20-year-old who’s currently third in the NL in ISO (among anyone with more than 300 PAs).

Also Playing
These games are very likely playing at some kind of sporty channel near you.

pNERD = Pitcher NERD
Game = Time and Average NERD for Game
* = Estimated NERD

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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