All the Bases

Baseball Insight and Analysis

Diamond Thoughts 5/3/2011

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 3, 2011

Welcome to today’s Diamond Thoughts.

andre_ethier.jpg

Andre Ethier has hit in 28 straight games. He’s halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak. Can he do it? When is a good time to get excited about a hit streak? I think the halfway point is the time to really start paying attention. 40 players have gotten to 28 games in a row, but only 17 then made it to 30. That means 23 didn’t get a hit in the next two games they played. DiMaggio’s streak is one of two records I don’t believe will ever be broken (not talking about records like Cy Young’s 511 wins – just records that players actually have a legit shot at). The other is Johnny Van De Meer’s back-to-back no hitters. I just believe that the press coverage once a player gets closer to 40 games will be too much for any player to handle, not too mention hitting in that many games in a row is just unreal. All it takes is one great defensive play and the streak is over – that’s how DiMaggio’s 56 came to an end, defensive plays. Here’s hoping Ethier makes it interesting and at least surpasses Pete Rose’s 44 (the closest anyone’s come to breaking the streak).

Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels finally lost. The Boston Red Sox got the best starting pitcher in the American League this season to give up three runs, six hits and one walk over six innings and beat the Angels 9-5. This was important because no pitcher had gone 7-0 by May 2nd since 1891 (Sadie McMahon). Think about that for a second. Think about all the great pitchers who have thrown a pitch since 1891. How many names did you come up with? Not a single one had gone 7-0 by May 2nd. Granted, pitchers don’t get as many chances now with the five-man rotation but they generally get 7 starts on the books in April but this wasn’t always the case. Pitchers like Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson etc, never went 7-0 by the beginning of May.

Some good news for Yankees fans. Phil Hughes underwent tests on Monday for thoracic outlet syndrome (which have caused pitchers such as Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman issues and requires surgery to fix) and the results were good. The tests were negative. However, this means that Hughes’ loss of velocity and "dead arm" is still a mystery. So, with that ruled out, hopefully they can figure out why Hughes hasn’t been the same this season.

Neftali Feliz, the closer for the Texas Rangers who saved 40 games for them last season (a rookie record), has said he wants to remain a closer for the rest of his career. This spring, the Rangers gave him three starts, but immediately moved him back to the closer’s role. "The team has told me that next year I would still have the chance to start, but I don’t want to do it anymore," Feliz told USA Today on Sunday. "This year my arm didn’t feel good after they moved me from the rotation back to closing, so I don’t want to go through that again and risk the same thing happening." In my opinion, if you can find yourself a lock down closer, you need to keep him there. The biggest problem teams have seemed to have in the playoffs recently is closers blowing games. Yes, you need good/great starting pitching to succeed, however, if you’re closer can’t do the job when called upon, how your starter does is irrelevant. Feliz is a tremendous closer and if the Rangers have the chance to have the same success the Yankees have had with their converted-starter-to-closer Mariano Rivera, you take it. While the Rangers may want to try him as a starter again, I say you find someone else to fill that starting slot and leave Feliz as the closer.

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