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Cullen: Lind slugging like he did in '09

Scott Cullen
6/6/2011 11:23:32 AM
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Adam Lind, who is returning to form, returns to the Jays' lineup, the Yankees bullpen is getting the job done, steals are picking up, the MLB Draft, Albert Pujols heating up and more.

1. Toronto 1B Adam Lind returned from the DL Saturday then erupted on Sunday for four hits and two home runs, lifting his OPS to .921, not far off the .932 he posted in 2009 and a whole lot better than last year's meagre .721.

Interestingly, while plate discipline and patience are often the keys to sustained success, Lind's been more aggressive this season than in any of his prior major league seasons, facing 3.50 pitches per plate appearance (his career average is 3.85), but his approach is paying off with better contact; his line-drive rate (25.2%) is the highest of his career, while his ground-ball rate (35.7%) is his lowest, according to the numbers on www.fangraphs.com.

2. A's ace LHP Brett Anderson has struggled in back-to-back starts, allowing 14 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings, after allowing ten earned runs in the previous five starts combined.

There are a few factors at play here. Anderson's command is a little off this season, compared to previous years, but he's been done in by the long ball lately, giving up four home runs in the last two starts after surrendering four homers in his first nine starts. It also needs to be noted that Anderson's last two starts have come against the Red Sox and Yankees, two of the premier lineups in the American League.

3. White Sox RHP Jake Peavy was forced to leave Sunday's game against Detroit with a groin problem, after allowing six earned runs through four innings. Peavy had a 3.24 ERA in his first four starts of the season, before getting rocked Sunday, so he still has some game, but he's not overpowering, with his lowest strikeout rate of his career, as he's throwing fewer fastballs than ever before and more change-ups than he has in the last five seasons.

If Peavy is going to miss more time, the White Sox do have the luxury of being able to turn to Philip Humber and Humber (2.88 ERA in ten starts) merely has the best ERA of White Sox starters this season.

4. While the Yankees' off-season bullpen addition of Rafael Soriano hasn't paid dividends, they are still getting effective setup work from David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain, who have 10 and 12 holds, respectively. They're the only teammates to have at least ten holds at this point in the season (and Soriano, for his struggles, does have nine holds).

5. He can blow up, having allowed more than five earned runs twice in his last five starts, but Rockies RHP Jason Hammel can also go into lock-down mode. He's surrendered one earned run or fewer in five of his last nine starts.

6. As pitching takes over Major League Baseball, it seems the stolen base is making a comeback. Astros CF Michael Bourn has seven steals in the last seven games; Rangers SS Elvis Andrus has four in the last five games; Nationals CF Roger Bernadina is seven-for-seven in stolen base attempts since getting called up a month ago; Blue Jays CF Rajai Davis has five steals in the last nine games; Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins has five steals in the last seven games.

7. Speaking of Rollins, he was reportedly limping thanks to a knee injury following Sunday's loss at Pittsburgh. He ranks seventh among shortstops with 32 runs scored and is tied for fourth with 14 stolen bases on the season.

8. Monday is the MLB Draft, with UCLA righthanders Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer as well Rice 3B Anthony Rendon and Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen leading the collegiate talent, while top high-schoolers include CF Bubba Starling, RHP Dylan Bundy and RHP Archie Bradley. Of course, the MLB Draft doesn't provide immediate help. Here's a look at last year's Top 11 and where they are this year:

Player MLB Team Pos. 2011 Pro Stats Level
Bryce Harper Washington OF 13 HR, 41 RBI, .338 AVG, 1.044 OPS A
Jameson Taillon Pittsburgh RHP 2-1, 3.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 27 K, 34 IP A
Manny Machado Baltimore SS 5 HR, 21 RBI, .330 AVG, 1.039 OPS A
Christian Colon Kansas City SS 3 HR, 28 RBI, .242 AVG, .639 OPS AA
Drew Pomeranz Cleveland LHP 1-1, 1.85 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 58 K, 43 2/3 IP A+
Barret Loux Arizona RHP 4-3, 3.90 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 61 K, 55 1/3 IP A+
Matt Harvey N.Y. Mets RHP 6-2, 2.44 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 71 K, 59 IP A+
Delino DeShields Jr. Houston 2B 5 HR, 23 RBI, 10 SB, .222 AVG, 50 GP A
Karsten Whitson San Diego RHP N/A NCAA
Michael Choice Oakland 18 11 HR, 34 RBI, .246 AVG, .824 OPS A+
Deck McGuire Toronto RHP 3-3, 3.24 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 52 K, 58 1/3 IP A+

* Loux is an interesting case in that he failed his physical with Arizona, so he didn't sign and then Texas signed him as a free agent. Whitson didn't sign with San Diego, either, opting to attend the University of Florida when a deal couldn't be reached.

9. San Francisco's inconsistent offence can wreak havoc on their pitchers' won-loss records -- it's plagued Matt Cain for years -- and this year it appear that Madison Burmgarner is the one to be victimized.

Through a dozen starts, Bumgarner is 2-7 despite a 3.42 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts, yet has just two wins.

10. He started the season slower than he has at any point in his career, but Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols is finally showing his typical form. In the last week, Pujols is 10-for-23 (.435) with four home runs and a 1.043 OPS. For all his struggles, Pujols ranks second among first basemen with 13 home runs and second in runs scored with 42.

Monday's Best Pitching Matchups:
LA (Ted Lilly) at PHI (Cliff Lee)
OAK (Gio Gonzalez) at BAL (Brian Matusz)
DET (Max Scherzer) at TEX (Colby Lewis)

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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