December 9, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Do you ever look at a major league roster and wonder how so-and-so got there? For me this is usually accompanied by angrily mumbling the names of 10 Triple-A players who deserve the spot more than so-and-so, and today that so-and-so is Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Josh Stinson, who will start today against Toronto.
Just how Stinson became a major leaguer, let alone a starting pitcher, is sort of baffling. Stinson was drafted by the New York Mets in the 37th round of the 2006 draft out of high school in Louisiana. A righty with a big frame (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), Stinson worked his way up the minor league ladder, dabbling in the bullpen and as a starter and maintaining mediocre to solid numbers. When I did a list of the best Mets prospects back in 2009, Stinson couldn't crack the Top 40 (or the honorable mentions).
Stinson eventually hit Double-A Binghamton in 2010, still splitting time starting and relieving, and found success: a 4.24 ERA and 9-3 record overshadowed a poor 68:50 K:BB ratio in ~110 innings. This earned him a brief trip to Triple-A Buffalo, where he had some of his best outings yet, finishing with a 2.57 ERA (despite a 4.88 FIP) in just 28 innings. This earned him a trip back to Buffalo for 2011, and there his poor K:BB finally haunted him: he posted a 7.44 ERA and walked more batters than he struck out in ~61 innings before he got sent back down to Binghamton.
He improved significantly at Double-A, lowering his FIP to 3.09 by striking out 39 in ~47 innings. When the rosters expanded in September, the Mets rewarded Stinson with a call-up to the big leagues, willing to take a shot given their poor record and even worse bullpen. Stinston started out hot, not giving up an earned run in his first five appearances. Eventually he got hit hard, and in 13 innings finished with a 6.92 ERA, despite a respectable 4.41 FIP (4.57 xFIP). Here was one big league scouting report on him:
And while he didn’t quite put up the prettiest numbers in Queens—or in Buffalo for that matter—the 6’4" righty did showcase the kind of stuff that gives him every chance to stick in the Met ‘pen long-term. Namely, Stinson features an excellent hard-sinking fastball which he can regularly dial up to the mid-90’s when he pitches in short spurts. While his secondary offerings—namely a slider/curve mix—are rather pedestrian, his fastball alone has driven superb ground ball rates at virtually every level.
As the 2012 season was set to begin, Stinson was placed on waivers by the Mets and claimed by Milwaukee, who sent him to Double-A Huntsville. Stinson primarily started (24 times in 29 appearances), but a 3.16 ERA in ~145 innings looked prettier than his underlying stats reveal; he still was walking too many (4.40/9) and striking out too few (5.64/9). Still, the Brewers called him up for some coffee at the end of the year, and in 9.1 innings he held a 0.96 ERA despite terrible 5.79 xFIP.
This past March, Stinson was claimed off waivers by the A's, who quickly put him on waivers again. He got snagged by Baltimore. After two starts in Triple-A (where he had a 0.77 ERA and 7.71:3.09 K:BB ration in 11.2 innings), Stinson got his first early season call to the majors. He'll pitch for Baltimore this afternoon.
The book is still completely out on Stinson, but at 25 and with plenty of high-level playing experience, the numbers just don't look good. Despite decent stuff, Stinson does not miss bats and walks far too many. Steamer currently has him projected for a 5.04 ERA and 4.84 FIP, which are both below replacement level. We'll see how his first outing goes today.
Angels 5, Rangers 4: Howie Kendrick with two homers, including the walkoff in the 11th. Kendrick after the game:
"It's a great feeling to know that you can leave the other team on the field"
I hope someone brings the Rangers some food overnight. Maybe go back to their hotel, get guys a change of clothes or something.
Cardinals 2, Nationals 0: Adam Wainwright threw eight and a third scoreless innings striking out nine, and improved to 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA on the season. The Nats have lost eight of 11.
Pirates 2, Phillies 0: Jeff Locke and four relievers combine to shut out the Phillies. Michael Young kept his hitting streak alive—it's now at four games—but an otherwise forgettable offensive night.
Twins 4, Marlins 3; Marlins 8, Twins 5: Oswaldo Arcia hit a massive homer in the first game. Right before he did it. Bert Blyleven speculated on-air as to whether Ron Gardenhire would have him bunt. Methinks that with that guy's power that, no, Gardenhire is not gonna have him bunt. The Marlins take the nightcap with 16 hits. Which is probably their month's supply of hits. Royals lead the division by a game with the Twins right on their tail. This is kinda fun while it's lasting.
Athletics 13, Red Sox 0: Rain-shortened game or mercy rule invoked? NO MAN CAN SAY. Everyone will talk about how putrid Alfredo Aceves was—and after the game he had the nerve to ask why his teammates didn't hit—but how about seven, three-hit shutout innings from Bartolo Colon?
Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: It's kinda early in the morning so my critical thinking skills aren't totally sharp yet today, but when I see this in the game story:
It was the 100th consecutive game the Orioles have won when leading after seven innings
My b.s. detector starts to go off. Not because it's not true—it is, in fact, a fact—but because it sounds too superficially impressive a feat for a team that, while good last year, hasn't been dominant or anything. Someone can check it and tell me I'm wrong, but this smells like "a triple short of the cycle!" Meaning: a fact that sounds kind of impressive but actually describes something that happens quite a lot.
Yankees 4, Rays 3: Ichiro had a two-run, RBI single in the ninth and, though he did not get the win, I think it's fair to say that Phil Hughes out-dueled David Price. Has a lower ERA on the season than Price does, too, if you care about such things (5.14 vs. 5.52).
Braves 4, Rockies 3; Braves 10, Rockies 2 : Atlanta takes the first chilly one thanks to homers from Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla. The Braves take the second one thanks to homers from Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Juan Francisco. It's almost like this team hits a lot of homers or something.
Cubs 4, Reds 2: Carlos Marmol blew the save but got the win. He now leads the Cubs in wins. That's fun. I'm sure no one else on the team thinks that's fun but him, but it is fun.
Dodgers 7, Mets 2: Two homers for Mark Ellis. Clayton Kershaw was no great shakes, but after Jon Niese left in the third with a leg contusion, it was too much to ask for five Mets relievers to hold on.
Brewers 6, Padres 3: Nine in a row. Clayton Richard was a disaster in the first two innings and after that it was academic.
Astros 3, Mariners 2: Astros and Marlins win on the same day. Bet that doesn't happen a lot this summer. Sadly, what proved to be the winning run came at the expense of Justin Maxwell's broken hand on a HBP in the third.
Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4: J.J. Putz blew a two-run lead in the ninth—and a four-run lead overall—but the D-backs gritted this one out and won in 11, thanks to some heads-up base running by Didi Gregorius. He took second base on what should have only been a single after Andres Torres lollygagged his way to the ball, then scored the tying run on a wild pitch. And if you think I'm beating this grit thing into the ground, well, I'll stop when Diamondbacks players stop saying stuff like this after the game:
"That's the spirit of this team," [Brad] Ziegler said. "We'd prefer to jump out to a big lead early and kind of coast to the victory, but when that doesn't happen, we know we have a lot of guys on this team that are going to fight to the last out."
Indians vs. White Sox: POSTPONED: April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.
Royals vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: For the seven lakes, and by no man these verses. Rain; empty river; a voyage. Fire from frozen cloud, heavy rain in the twilight. Under the cabin roof was one lantern. The reeds are heavy; bent; and the bamboos speak as if weeping.