Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bartolo Colon: a Plethora of Fastballs

Tim Hudson (6-2, 1.75 ERA) is on the hill for the streaking Giants tonight, and he wants revenge. The last time he faced the Mets, while playing for Atlanta, he cruised through 7 2/3 innings of 2-run ball, only to fracture his ankle during at play at first base. 

Fortunately for Hudson, Mets batters aren't hard to retire. They rank 28th in the league with a .233 team batting average. Hudson is already having a great year throwing his patented sinker in San Francisco's gigantic park, so look for him to toss another gem tonight.

On the other hand, the Giants are trying to figure out which Bartolo Colon will show up for the Mets. Colon (5-5, 4.52 ERA), hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in a start since May 17th. In the three starts before that though, the veteran righty was tagged for 16 total runs. 

It's hard to believe, but 85.1% of Colon's pitches are straight fastballs. When he's able to paint the corners, and stay low in the strike-zone, he'll challenge every batter he faces. But if he makes mistakes up in the zone, San Francisco will take batting practice on him.

On the offensive side, the Mets are flat out awful at producing runs, while the Giants will be looking to jump on the predictably plentiful fastballs in every at-bat. Our prediction? Look for the long-ball to change the game tonight in favor of the Giants.

Be sure to tune in at 10:00 PM EST when coverage begins on SnapCall!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Young Stars in Hollywood Tonight

Two of MLB’s young dynamos hit the field in Los Angeles this evening with their clubs hovering around .500. Both Mike Trout and Jose Abreu have been nagged by injuries recently, but their talents will be on display tonight. Which budding star is more valuable to their teams’ playoff chances? Let’s go to the numbers.

The White Sox are 2nd in the AL Central, sitting 2.5 games behind the Tigers. Likewise, the Angels are also 2nd in the AL West, but are sputtering and have fallen 5.5 games back of the A’s. Despite Trout’s struggles at the plate in May, a recent surge has his slash line up to .295/.379/.557 (batting average/on-base %/slugging %), which puts him back in a statistical realm similar to his first two big-league seasons.

Meanwhile, since returning from the Disabled List on Tuesday, Jose Abreu has driven in five of the team’s eight runs while going 4-for-11 with a pair of home-runs. The 27-year-old Cuban defector ranks third in the American League in HRs, and sixth in RBIs. That said, there’s still one thing preventing him from breaking into the upper echelon of batsmen. While the truly elite hitters in the league already have 30-40 walks this season, Abreu has just 11 free passes. That’s tied for 111th in the AL. While his OBP is just .318, Abreu is still an impressive run producer. Once the inexperienced masher learns to be a bit more selective, he'll take off as a slugger.

In tonight's matchup, look for Angels' ace Jered Weaver (6-4, 3.33 ERA) to pitch around Abreu whenever possible. Chicago will do their best to get base-runners on ahead of the young slugger, forcing Weaver to pitch to the Cuban rookie more often than not. The pressure will be on the top of their lineup to set the table. 

Call the action on SnapCall as the Angels host the White Sox tonight at 10pm!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Heat vs. Spurs: Take Two

Call it “The Rematch.” Call it whatever you want, but this is what fans deserves. Anytime you get two all-time legends, and multiple Hall-of-Famers on the same court for two NBA Finals in a row, it's time to rejoice. How can the Spurs and Heat top their 7-game classic from last season? The total score of last year's series was 684-679, with the Spurs on top. There were 47 ties and 42 lead changes. It really couldn't have been much closer. However, with such razor thin margins, it may only take a tweak or two for us to see a completely different outcome. So, what do the Spurs have to do to hoist the title in 2014?

First, the play of Manu Ginobili is paramount. Aside from his rookie season, the Argentinian had the worst postseason of his career in 2013, averaging fewer than 12 points and shooting just 30% from beyond the arc. The fact that San Antonio came within a defensive rebound of another title, while Ginobili played so poorly, has to be a silver lining to still-bitter Spurs fans. Ginobili has picked up his play this time around, hitting nearly 40% of his three-point opportunities in these playoffs. He'll be the driving force behind San Antonio's second unit, which has to make its mark when LeBron takes a seat on the bench.

Another key player for the Spurs will be Boris Diaw. Tiago Splitter played more minutes than Diaw in last year's Finals, but expect that to change this time around. After the Spurs lost all momentum in the Western Conference Finals when Serge Ibaka returned to the floor, Pop turned to the veteran Frenchman for some big minutes to close out the Thunder. Diaw can space the floor better than Splitter, which will prevent Miami from packing the paint against San Antonio's big lineups.

What are your keys to this series? Sound off and tune into SnapCall's coverage tonight starting at 9pm for all the action!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Can Kluber Avoid Contact in Cleveland?

It's not hard to understand how the defending champions could be just 27-31, and rank 19th in the league with a paltry .246 batting average. Take a quick look at their injury report, and it all makes sense:
  • Shane Victorino: 15-Day DL
  • Mike Carp: 15-Day DL
  • Clay Buchholz: 15-Day DL
  • Mike Napoli: 15-Day DL
  • Will Middlebrooks: 15-Day DL
  • Dustin Pedroia: Day-To-Day
Hurting or not, Boston will have to find a way to get on base against one of the league's hottest pitchers tonight. Corey Kluber (6-3, 3.04 ERA) is tied for the Major League lead with 95 strikeouts on the year. So how exactly is the Indians' youngster getting it done? One word: command.

Kluber walks fewer than two batters per game. Additionally, 75.6% of his pitches are either straight fastballs or cut fastballs. He'll sprinkle a curve in here and there, but if the weakened Boston lineup wants to put some runs on the board, they'll have to jump on the fastball early in counts. When batters manage to put the ball in play against Kluber, they reach base a whopping 34.7% of the time. Easier said than done, but it may just be the recipe for success for Boston to steal a win against a hot team.

Be sure to get on your devices tonight for this exciting match-up. SnapCall coverage starts at 7:00 PM EST!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bay Area Bats Come to the Bronx

Oakland's offensive talent is undeniable. They lead the league in runs scored and on base percentage. Their run differential this season is +115. The next best team in the AL is Toronto with a +39. This is no fluke, the team can hit. If the Yankees want any chance at winning tonight, Hiroki Kuroda (4-3, 4.57 ERA) needs to have his sinker working. 

After being re-signed by the Yanks, Kuroda has struggled mightily at home, earning a 5.60 ERA. He's given up eight HRs in just six starts at Yankee Stadium in 2014. For a ground ball pitcher, that's never going to cut it. If he can keep the ball low tonight, he can avoid some damage from Oakland's big bats.

Who are these sluggers from the Bay? One name to get familiar with is 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson. Believe it or not, this guy finished fourth in MVP voting last season, and he's at it again. The 28 year old is fourth in the AL with 15 HRs, and third with 48 RBIs. 

So, how does this relate to the Yankees' starter? Well, Donaldson's home run to fly ball ratio is an astonishing 16.5%. That basically means that for every six fly balls he hits, one gets out of the park. That's better than the odds of flopping a set in poker. Kuroda can't let the Athletics' big gun get to him, or it could be a long night in the Bronx. If he keeps the ball down, the Yanks have a chance to give Oakland their 5th straight road loss.