With a third of the season in the bag, there's a lot to talk about this coming week, but I'd like to start by pointing out that there are a disproportionate number of really exciting pitching matchups slated for the first week of June, so if you're like me and you love nothing more than a pitchers duel, here's how you should set your calender for the first half of the week:
Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies) 9-1, 0.88 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 61 K, 71 1/3 IP
Tim Lincecum (Giants) 5-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 80 K, 66 IP
We kick it off with what should really be billed as "the main event," the two-time reigning NL Cy Young against his heir apparent, both pitching for teams in the thick of the NL West race. Lincecum is in a miniature slump (11 ER, 11 BB in last two starts), but I'm willing to bet he's primed to bounce back. Jimenez has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any start!
Cole Hamels (Phillies) 5-3, 3.82 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 63 K, 63 2/3 IP
Tim Hudson (Braves) 5-1, 2.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 27 K, 64 1/3 IP
Again we've got a pair of division rivals, this time featuring a pair of rebounding Aces. They also happen to represent two wildly different approaches. Hudson has quietly been among the best pitchers in the NL, despite carrying one of baseball's lowest strikeout rates (3.78 K/9). He attacks the strike zone and has hitters pounding his sinker into the ground. His groundball rate (67.3%) is the highest in baseball and he's tied for tops in the NL at inducing double plays. Hamels, on the other hand, has the ninth highest strikeout rate in the NL (8.91 K/9) and is far more prone to flyball, which is part of the reason he's already allowed ten dingers this season. Hamels is also in the midst of a serious hot streak. In May he went 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA.
David Price (Rays) 7-2, 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 50 K, 66 2/3 IP
Shaun Marcum (Jays) 5-1, 2.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 60 K, 73 IP
The Jays and Rays are two of the most surprising teams in the American League, due in no small part to the performance of these two young Aces. The 28-year-old Marcum returned from a season lost to injury and has been downright dominant from the outset. He's second in the AL in innings, fifth in ERA, third in WHIP, seventh in batting average against, and eighth in strikeouts. The 24-year-old Price has been his equal in almost every respect. He leads the AL in wins, is second in batting average against, ninth in WHIP, tenth in innings, and fourth in ERA. This matchup takes on an additional interest because both teams boast powerhouse offenses, ranked #2 and #4 in scoring.
Jered Weaver (Angels) 4-2, 3.01 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 74 K, 68 2/3 IP
Zack Greinke (Royals) 1-5, 3.60 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 52 K, 65 IP
Greinke and Weaver have more experience than Price and Marcum, but are still both in their mid-twenties. And, to a significant extent, they are similar pitchers, both on the level of talent and approach. They balance a terrifying arsenal of pitches with tremendous control and, as a result, both are in the top five in the American League in K/BB rate. They are also both extreme flyball pitchers, ranking #1 and #2 in the AL in that category.