If your favorite team plays in the NL Central and they’re not the St. Louis Cardinals is the best outcome you can hope for 2nd place already this season. When the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the season with a torn Achilles I actually thought they might fall back to the other teams in the NL Central. Instead St. Louis is looking like the best team in baseball. They have the best record in baseball at 20-6 and are currently on an 8 game winning streak. Last night (Tuesday) St. Louis won a game started by Tyler Lyons. Lyons has 13 career starts; he is 2-8 with an ERA of 4.69 over 94 career innings. Now by no means was Lyons great last night against the Chicago Cubs he did keep the game close enough for the Cardinals to find a way to win the game. Lyons pitched 4 1/3rd innings giving up 6 hits, 4 runs 3 of which were earned. Lyons did strikeout 7 Cubs while walking 2 and did throw a wild pitch. Not the starting pitcher stat line you’d want every game for your team, but it was good enough last night. Of course it helps that the bullpen came through with 4 2/3rd scoreless innings. Mitch Harris picked up the win, Kevin Siegrist and Miguel Socolovich each qualified for a hold and Trevor Rosenthal close the game out to get his 9th save of the season. Down the road the Cardinals will have to find someone to be that 5th starter. Before Lyons, Tim Cooney got a start that didn’t go so well. Cooney lasted just 2 1/3rd innings giving up 7 hits, 3 runs all earned while walking 1 striking out 3 and giving up a home run. Will that 5th spot go to Marco Gonzales who almost won the spot out of spring training or will Jamie Garcia step back into the rotation once he recovers from injury. Garcia threw 70 pitches in an extended Spring Training game on Tuesday and is set to go out on a rehab assignment early next week. Gonzales has made 3 starts for Triple A Memphis this season. In 16 innings his ERA is 4.50 giving up 20 hits and 8 runs while walking 3 and striking out 13. Those are a couple of the options St. Louis might use as a 5th starter. There’s also a chance they’ll go out and make a trade a little later in the season, but St. Louis always seems to be able to fill these spots from within their organization.
On the other end of the standings from the Cardinals, but in the NL East are the Philadelphia Phillies. Philadelphia is 10-18 through this early part of the season, but they still have the best trade piece on their roster. That begs the question; why is Cole Hamels still in a Phillies uniform? Is Philadelphia;s asking price still to high for Hamels? There have been some rumors that the Los Angeles Dodgers have kicked the tires on a deal involving Hamels. The report is that the Phillies asked for two of the three Dodgers top prospects plus. That would mean the Dodgers would have to move two of these three Joc Pedersen, Corey Seager or Julio Urias plus whatever you might have to toss in to fill out the deal. Is Hamels worth that? Don’t forget Hamels is signed through 2018 with an option for 2019. He’ll make $23.5 million every season and the 2019 option is for $20 million. Their is an option that will make his 2019 salary $24 million if it’s reached and there is also a $6 million buy out if his team doesn’t want to pick up that option. That sounds like a lot to ask for a pitcher who in 6 starts is 1-3 with an ERA of 4.14.
How much do the Cleveland Cavaliers miss Kevin Love? The Cavaliers dropped Game 1 of their 2nd round series to the Chicago Bulls at home 99-92. Cleveland will try to even up the series tonight. The Bulls where 10 of 18 (55.6%) from behind the 3-point line and 40 for 80 (50%) from the field. Can just a little better defense from Cleveland or a worse shooting night from the Bulls even this series up. The Bulls about rebounded the Cavaliers 42-39. If Love was healthy would he have altered this total. Love averaged 9.7 rebounds a game during the regular season and 7 per game in the 1st round playoff series. Or is all the Cavaliers need is J.R. Smith to return to the lineup. Smith was serving a suspension from the Cavaliers 1st round series and missed Game 1. Maybe if LeBron James just shoots better the Cavaliers will even this series. James was 9 for 22 (40.9%) from the field and didn’t make any of the his 3-point attempts; he took 3 in the game. James did have 15 rebounds and 9 assists in Game 1. Love injury is tough to factor into this series as it seemed like he never truly fit into the system. Is Cleveland having the best player in the NBA enough to get them past the Bulls in Round 2?
The other game tonight has the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Houston Rockets. The Clippers took Game 1 of this series on the road 117-101. The other two series are tied at 1-1 as the Atlanta Hawks handed the Washington Wizards their first playoff loss 106-90 in Tuesday’s first game. In the nightcap the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Golden State Warriors 97-90 to give the Warriors their first playoff loss. I’ve never liked the way the NBA handles their playoff scheduling and this is one of the reasons why. The Hawks/Wizards series and the Warriors/Grizzlies series are off until Saturday. So all 4 teams played on Tuesday night and then they’re giving a 3 day break while the Bulls/Cavaliers series and the Rockets/Clippers series come back to play on Friday and then on Sunday. It just seems odd to me that two of the four series play every other day and the other two series manage to get a three day break in between games 3 and 4. Of course this is part of the reason that the NBA playoffs run so long and by the time they actually crown a champion most of the casual fans no longer care who wins.
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