A tale of two starts should bring into focus the type of pitching analysis that makes the most sense in the long run. Pitcher number one pitched six innings, struck out eight and walked two. He gave up three hits, but two happened to be two-run home runs, so he gave up four runs on five baserunners. Look up the player's statistics and you can see he has an excellent swinging strike rate and doesn't give up walks, like ever. Pitcher number two pitched one out short of a complete game, but only struck out four. He allowed 23 balls into play, and only two fell for hits. That's how he gave up no runs and almost threw a no-hitter. Look up his statistics and you see he doesn't get swinging strikes, has mediocre control, and is an extreme fly ball pitcher.
Of course, once you knew that pitcher number one was Justin Verlander (who won his 22nd) and pitcher number two was Guillermo Moscoso (who won his eighth), you would have known that there was a stark difference in talent. But the exercise still teaches us that there are skills that we want to look beyond just the results. Yes, Moscoso almost threw a no-hitter. No, he's not a great pitcher.
Matt Cain continued his run of pitching well and losing, as he allowed two runs in seven innings and lost to the Padres. He's much better than 11-10, but you've probably noticed by now that we don't talk about wins very much here. Don't chase them or you'll end up with A.J. Burnett (who set a major league record with the eighth game of his career with three or more wild pitches on Wednesday) and nobody wants that. Brandon Beachy and Roy Oswalt both struck out seven, but Beachy did it in four outs fewer and only walked one batter. Oswalt got the win, but both should be owned in all leagues.
In the 'bad' paragraph, Brad Hand might seem out of place. He only allowed one run in six innings against the Mets. But he also walked four and didn't strike out a batter. Yuck. J.A. Happ gave up four runs in five innings against the Pirates on Wednesday, and it was the second time he's given up more than four walks in the three starts since he's returned from the DL. Since he doesn't get strikeouts or ground balls, this control problem makes him unstartable in any format. Brandon Morrow lives here but even when he gets lit up like he did by the Sox on Wednesday (eight runs and two home runs in 4 1/3 innings), he gets strikeouts (five Wednesday). The problem is he's also a fly ball pitcher with bad control many days. He's just always going to be volatile.
* There's always time to check in with the doctor. Jimmy Rollins does it every day. The most recent update says he can field ground balls but not run yet. Teammate Chase Utley will get familiar with the doctors over the next couple of weeks as he left the game with a possible mild concussion after being hit by a pitch in the helmet. Clay Buchholz played catch with no issues and wants to be back as a starter, not a reliever. Mike Stanton pinch-hit Wednesday and should be back in the lineup Friday. Denard Span and Justin Morneau took batting practice but his concussion issues will keep them out a while longer. Morneau is closer to a return. If Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano return this year, it will be in relief. They can be dropped. Carlos Quentin could return this weekend, so pick him up if someone dropped him. Rickie Weeks was scheduled to run the bases Wednesday, and would be a huge boon down the stretch for his real-life and fantasy teams. Tommy Hanson's shoulder felt good after a second long-toss session. He wants to rejoin the rotation mid-month.
* Nolan Reimold gets to head up the hitting paragraph after hitting a two-run homer, walking four times and stealing two bases against the Yankees. He's playing most days and could be an interesting late-round pick next year. Cameron Maybin doubled and tripled Wednesday to snap out of a little cold funk. He can do what he's doing now for a while, but will have some years with a worse batting average given his contact rates. Coco Crisp stole his 40th, which is at least somewhat surprising, given his health issues. Desmond Jennings walked them off Wednesday and has enough power to put up a Jacoby Ellsbury-like season in his best full year. (Ellsbury himself had four hits Wednesday, including his 25th home run.) Ian Kinsler hit two homers in that game, one off of Kyle Farnsworth. He's a great player with a mediocre batting average.
* Bullpen upheaval! Manny Acosta got the save for the Mets on Wednesday night and Terry Collins said he was going to do that before the game. That's bad news for the struggling Bobby Parnell, but Captain Fastball is still the guy with the triple-digit heater. He's not done yet. Jim Johnson got the save in Baltimore, and is a better pitcher than Kevin Gregg, but he only got the save because Gregg had pitched earlier in the extra-inning game. Brian Wilson threw another bullpen session Wednesday and aired it out. He could take the job back from the committee led by Sergio Romo soon.
National League Quick Hits: Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs Wednesday night against the Astros … Johnny Cueto gave up three earned in seven innings and the regression is officially on … Carlos Pena hit his 26th and in leagues that don't use batting average, he's been great … Ryan Ludwick was activated from the DL and will take over for Jose Tabata while he recovers from his fractured left hand … Brett Pill had two hits (one a solo homer) in his second straight start, and he might just wrest first base for himself for the rest of the year … Ryan Dempster gave up three runs in six innings to the Reds but only struck out two, which isn't a good sign … Mike Leake will only make one more start … Knuckle-ballers are always hard to predict, but R.A. Dickey has been good and continued his run with seven scoreless against the Marlins … Joe Saunders allowed three runs in six innings against the Rockies and that's about the best you can expect from him … Wilin Rosario had two hits in his second major leg game, but he's all power and no plate discipline and needs refinement … Emo Juan Uribe (hernia) will have season-ending surgery soon … Jeff Locke will make his debut on Saturday against the Marlins for the Pirates so that Charlie Morton can rest, but neither is very attractive in any fantasy league.
American League Quick Hits: Nelson Cruz did some sprits at 60-70% effort … Jesus Montero looks like he'll DH against lefties, which means he won't save many fantasy teams (this year) … Johnny Damon (leg) missed his third-straight game since being hit with a pitch Sunday … Trayvon Robinson hit a solo home run and has power and speed, but watch that batting average fall if he doesn't make more contact … Jerome Williams struck out five Mariners, walked one, and held the team to one run in eight innings, and he's changed his pitching mix since he last pitched in the majors, so we'll have to wait for more information … Opponent Charlie Furbush gave up three runs in 7 1/3 innings with three strikeouts at home against the Angels, and if that's about the best you can expect from him, he's not a great play in most leagues … Carl Pavano only gave up one earned run against the White Sox, but also ten hits, and that'll happen with his high-contact approach … Trevor Crowe is back from the DL but might only be a fourth outfielder on this revamped Indians team … Chris Davis got to the plate six times and struck out five times (and grounded out once); ouch … Casper Wells' elbow is still tender … J.D. Drew (finger) is not close to returning … Chris Parmelee hit his first major league home run in his second major league game, but it's unclear if he'll have the power to man first base in real life or fantasy.