We’re nearly at the end of June, and 23 of the 30 major league teams are within six games of a playoff spot. If you like parity, 2009 is your kind of season. Let’s see what we learned last week.
Chad Gaudin is still talented.
The well traveled Gaudin had his two best starts of the season last week, shutting down the Mariners and Rangers in succession. His line for the week: 15 IP, 5 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 20 K. His FIP for the season now stands at 3.76, and he’s stayed healthy enough to throw 71 innings in the first half of the year. The Padres have thrown a lot of spaghetti at the wall in assembling their pitching staff, and Gaudin looks like he’s going to be one of the pieces that sticks.
We might have to start taking Joel Pineiro‘s sinker seriously.
After years of struggling to find himself, it looks like Pineiro’s decision to become an extreme groundball pitcher has taken hold. Between two starts last week, 76% of his batted balls were hit on the ground, just a ridiculous total. He now has the highest groundball rate in the majors, at 61.9%, despite never being over 50% before. Whatever Dave Duncan had him adjust, it’s working tremendously well, and his renovation of his approach is one of the reasons St. Louis is fighting for the NL Central title.
Franklin Gutierrez isn’t just a glove guy.
After being given the Mariners center field job, Gutierrez has thrust himself into the conversation for the title of best defensive outfielder in baseball. He’s earned the nickname “Death To Flying Things” by catching practically every fly ball hit against Seattle. However, Gutierrez’s bat has been the aspect of his game making noise in the last week, as he’s hit .391/.462/.609 in the last seven days. When a gold glove center fielder posts a .472 wOBA, that’s a pretty awesome week, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the Mariners have been winning games of late – their center fielder is playing like an MVP lately.
A strange season for Ethier continued this week, as he went 3 for 18, but all three hits were home runs, and he hit them in the same game. He also drew four walks and struck out five times, so half of his 24 plate appearances ended with one of the three true outcomes. Up until this year, Ethier has always been more of a gap power/solid defense kind of player, but now his strikeouts are up, his home runs are up, and his UZR is way, way down. It will be interesting to see how he finishes the season, because it’s a bit strange to see guys just totally switch skillsets mid-career.