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What We Learned In Week Eight

Quick Note: After the post on Friday about Fernando Martinez, Tim Marchman emailed me to say the headline was a joke. Whoops. Sorry about that, Tim – keep up the good work.

We’re now at the 50 game mark for most teams, which essentially represents the first third of the season. We’re getting away from performances that can be explained using “small sample size!”, and starting to get to the point where contenders and looking to upgrade at the expense of rebuilders. What did we learn last week?

The Rays will be fine without Akinori Iwamura.

When Tampa lost their starting second baseman for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, the rumor guys went into hyperdrive in suggesting that Andrew Friedman would be in the market for a veteran infielder to help fill the hole. However, the Rays stated they would fill the void from within, and it seems fairly apparent that they’ll be able to do just that. The injury makes Ben Zobrist a full-time player, and given how he’s playing, that might make Tampa a better team overall. He hit .417 with six extra base hits and seven walks last week, continuing a breakout that isn’t losing any steam as the season goes on.

Maybe Kenny Williams should be looking for hitters?

After having Jake Peavy decline an invitation to join the White Sox, Kenny Williams has reportedly set his sights on other front line starting pitchers to bolster his rotation for the second half of the year. However, the guys he’s looking to replace (Clayton Richard and Bartolo Colon) have been just fine and continued to make strong cases for themselves last week with quality starts. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin has landed on the disabled list and the team still has significant holes at 2B, 3B, and CF. A good starting pitcher would be nice, but perhaps Chicago should focus on fixing the leaks on the boat before they start upgrading the furniture?

Ervin Santana should still be rehabbing.

The Angels got two starts out of Santana last week, and they weren’t pretty – 6 1/3 innings, 19 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 3 home runs – a 21.62 ERA supported by a 10.64 FIP. His average fastball is 90.7 MPH since returning from the DL, a far cry from last year’s 94.4 MPH average. Just take a look at his Pitch F/x velocity chart:


Even if his elbow doesn’t hurt anymore, perhaps sending him back to the minors to build some arm strength might be a decent idea?

Josh Outman‘s quiet breakout continues.

Heading into the season, the kids getting all the attention in the A’s rotation were Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, but Outman is quickly establishing himself as a peer to his more hyped rotation mates. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider, he blew opposing hitters away again last week, striking out nine in 6 2/3 innings. In 73 major league innings since being acquired for Joe Blanton, Outman has posted a 4.06 FIP, and his stuff shows the potential for much more if he can harness his command. Blanton pitched well for Philadelphia in the playoffs last year, but you have to think that pitching starved Phillies wouldn’t mind having Outman back at this point.

Marco Scutaro is having a hilarious season.

Part of the Blue Jays strong start to the season was the out-of-nowhere offensive surge from Scutaro, who starting hitting for power and drawing walks like a clean-up hitter rather than a 33-year-old journeyman infielder. Given his historical performances, regression to the mean was inevitable, and last week, Scutaro drew just one walk and didn’t hit a single home run in 30 plate appearances. Instead, he made up for it by hitting .483. When one flukey performance wears out, he just finds another.