Pitching, it’s all about the pitching @ MLBRT 3/23


Pitching, pitching, pitching. It’s all about the pitching for the most part at the Roundtable this week.

A little offense thrown in there, but, yeah, it is mostly about the pitching.

Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

1) Bryce Harper and Manny Machado appear destined to be free agents in 2018 and the game many media outlets appear to be playing is: If, you are a GM of a team which player would be the better one to sign? 

So, let’s join in on the fun…

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado: Who would you rather have and why? 

Archie: Machado for one reason and one reason only: leadership. I feel that he has more of a club house presence with the other players than Harper does. I guess both have their arrogant side but I have never heard any player from the Nats step forward and praise Harper for being a team leader. He has always seemed like a “me first” type of guy.

Machado MIGHT be the same way I just don’t know that much about him.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado on MASN

Earl: I’d sign Bryce in a heartbeat. No disrespect to Machado who is also a phenomenal player but if you’re a big market team, you have to be salivating over signing a guy like Bryce who can thrive in your market and be your centerpiece for years to come. Bryce’s big bat, and skills would make any team better.

Steve: Both are incredible baseball players, but, I think ultimately I would go with Harper.

Harper seems like he is just the better teammate overall, not saying that Machado is not a good teammate, but, I think, Harper has that drive and determination and just loves the game. You can tell by his on the field play and with the hustle. Harper not only is one of the most talented players in the league, he even has the look of a baseball player.

It’s just personal preference, as you can’t go wrong with either player.

2) After putting forth one of the best seasons of his 13-year career in 2015 (ERA 1.66/Whip 0.844), 33-year old Zack Greinke was signed to a very lucrative free agent contract by the Arizona D’backs… 6 years/$206.5 million. Greinke then had one of his worst seasons (ERA 4.37/Whip 1.273) and struggled with injuries for the first time in three years to boot.

Do you see him returning to his All-Star form in 2017? Or. will he continue to struggle in Arizona?

Archie: It’s kind of funny; when I was younger it seemed like every WITH health issues moved either to Florida or Arizona and let the warm weather heal their pains. But, in the baseball world it seems like Arizona is the place athletes go to grow old and get injuries.

Zack SHOULD bounce back IF his injuries have all been addressed and taken care of. He KNOWS how to pitch and I don’t think Zona is the reason for his ailments. He is getting older, however, and, maybe the years are starting to catch up to him. He will turn 34 this season and he will have to use all of his pitches to continue with the success he has garnered in the past.

Earl: He’s only 33 so a return to form is entirely possible, but I don’t think he gets back to that stellar form that he had with the Dodgers. I think that season with the Dodgers he had a team built for defense and a stadium that played to his strengths. He has neither in Arizona.

Steve: I think that Greinke still has something left in the tank. Sure, he had his struggles in his first year at Arizona, but, it was a new team; a new stadium. I look for him to have a great year this season putting up 16 or more wins, and, returning to form.

Will he ever match his 2015 campaign? That’s a little hard considering he had such a massive season that year, but I think he can get back to being a top pitcher in the league.

3) Speaking of All-Star pitchers, Felix Hernandez also struggled in 2016 with probably his worst season in a decade… the 2010 Cy Young winner and six-time All-Star went 11-8 with a 3.82 ERA. He also was hit with injury bug as he landed on the DL for nearly two months with an injured right calf. After 8 straight seasons of throwing at least 200 innings some  say the wear and tear are beginning to take its toll on the soon to be 31-year old righthander. 

Can King Felix return to his throne as one of the best hurlers in the game?

Archie: Unlike some of the others Felix has always been more inconsistent when it comes to putting together good seasons versus great seasons. In his rookie season he posted a 158 ERA+ then it took him four more years to break the 130 mark.  After posting back to back ERA+ of 171 and  174, he then went on to not break 130 again for another 3 seasons. Then, magically, like he got it all back, he threw another 170 ERA+ in ’14 only to drop off again in 15 and 16.

So, who knows, this season could go either way.

Earl: If healthy, yes. King Felix has the skills and the talent but when you’re hurt, you are going to “fall off” like he did last season.

I’d imagine if he is healthy he will return to his standard form.

Steve: This is a guy who I have a lot of respect for, but, you cannot continue that kind of pace for a long time without wear and tear on your arm. I think he can come back and have a respectable season, but, I don’t see him ever returning to the near dominance that he displayed this decade.

It was evident in the WBC, he just does not have that fire that he once had, as he got lit up in 2/3 of an inning before being pulled.

Mets pitchers (l to r) Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and catcher Travis d’Arnaud

4) Which starting rotation would you rather have and why? Washington Nationals… Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Joe Ross or NY Mets… Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, Stephen Matz, Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman. 

Archie: I’ll go with the Mets.

Why? I don’t like the Nationals. IMO, they have been the biggest underachievers for the past five years.

Earl: The Mets because the Mets have depth. Besides the five pitchers named here they also have Seth Lugo and Zach Wheeler who could slot into the rotation. The Mets could go 7 deep and that flexibility should help their star arms from having to pitch too many innings.

Nationals’ rotation

Steve: Can I say none of the above? I would much rather have the starting rotation of the Chicago Cubs. I will defer though, and say between the two, I go with the New York Mets.

Scherzer is your only sure bet for the Nationals as he has shown consistency over the past several years not only with the Nats, but, the Tigers as well. Strasburg has injury issues, and cannot be relied upon for a full season. Gio Gonzales is a solid pitcher, but, seems to be on the decline of his career. Roark is a good 4 or 5, but, does not put that scare into hitters. And, I don’t know enough about Ross to really make an educated guess on him.

As far as the Mets, these are four of the hottest pitchers in baseball, at least they have the potential to be. If, they can stay away from arm problems, and other injuries, this could be the best starting tandem in all of baseball.

But, seeing they can be injury prone, that is why I go with the Cubs pitching rotation over both.

5) Minor-league outfielder Tim Tebow has at least twice been said to be done playing in MLB-level spring training games by manager Terry Collins, but he keeps appearing in the Mets’ lineup and after starting out o-fer 9 at the plate his bat has heated up and he is now hitting .235 and its been against some actual Major League level pitching. He still has no chance to make the Mets’ roster but (1) Are you surprised that Tebow hasn’t totally embarrassed himself with his spring training showing and (2) does he at least have a shot at moving up through the minors and maybe having a career in baseball?

Archie: The Tebow project is simply for fanfare to me. Media hype. Put AIS, He will not see active time this season on a MLB diamond unless the team gets decimated by injuries and they become irrelevant in the race for a playoff spot.

Earl: Tebow is an organizational player and the minor leagues are full of guys who will never even sniff the major leagues so I have no problem with Tebow wanting to play, and being an attraction at every field he shows up at. This was a publicity stunt for the Mets. They can sell Tebow shirts, and he’ll be a draw for the team. That’s it and that’s all.

Steve: Am I surprised? Not really. Tebow has some baseball experience, and, has shown that he can compete. Tebow is one of the greatest competitors I have ever seen and will work harder than anyone else to achieve his goals. So, with a few more at-bats, Tebow could show a bit of respectability in the game of Baseball.

As for moving up in the ranks. I can’t see him anywhere past Double-A ball. Tebow can play and is an attraction, so, even if it is to boost ticket sales at the next level, I can see him moving at best to the Double-A level. Nowhere past that though, as that is where things start to get more intense.

Extra Innings…

No more Spring training…  No more World Baseball Classic…

Major League Baseball starts for real on Sunday, April 2.

Three games kick off opening day when the Yankees play the Rays at 1:10, followed by the Giants and Diamondbacks at 4:10 and  the Cubs and Cardinals at 8:35.

The rest of MLB begins on April 3rd.




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