The Marlins promoted slugging outfielder Michael Stanton and were promptly rewarded with a 3-for-5 performance. The Pirates hope that an infusion of youth will give their fans something to look forward to. And rookie outfielders Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch continue to carry the Tigers.
See how those teams and all the others stack up in this week's edition of MLB Power Rankings.
Jeff Niemann tossed his first complete-game shutout of the season on Tuesday. The Rays have won each of the righty's past seven starts and 10 of his last 11.
The Yankees are two games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East standings, and the biggest difference between them is that New York is 9-1 against the lowly Orioles, while Boston is 4-5.
Pitchers with mediocre strikeout rates tend to be more vulnerable to disastrous outings, and that's precisely the fate that Nick Blackburn — owner of a minuscule 17 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings — has suffered over his last two starts. Blackburn has been knocked around for 10 runs in his last 7 1/3 innings on the mound, shooting his ERA up from 4.27 to 5.21.
Bobby Cox's team is a phenomenal 19-6 at Turner Field this season, but just 15-19 on the road. Fortunately, after this week's trip, the Braves will play 15 of their next 18 games in Atlanta.
David Ortiz continues to be an enigma. After a scorching hot streak during the month of May, Big Papi has managed only one hit in his last 20 at-bats.
Andre Ethier hasn't homered since returning from the disabled list, but perhaps his mere presence is enough to inspire the Dodgers. Joe Torre's squad is 14-3 over the last 17 games in which Ethier has been in the lineup.
If the Reds are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995, they'll need to do so with pitching. That means they need 24-year-old Johnny Cueto to be at his best, and the youngster has been far too hittable lately, surrendering 20 knocks and 12 runs over his last 11 innings of work.
Luke Gregerson has been the best setup man in the NL to date, posting a ridiculous 36-to-2 K/BB ratio, while clamping down on opposing batters to the tune of just 12 hits allowed in 31 1/3 innings.
The Phillies' recent skid has coincided with an incredibly cold stretch from Chase Utley, whose last home run came way back on May 20. Utley has gone deep just twice since May 4.
The Cardinals are the only team with more than one starter in the top 12 of the league's ERA rankings, and they actually have three. The continued success of rookie Jaime Garcia (1.47) and veterans Adam Wainwright (2.05) and Chris Carpenter (2.54) is a testament to the efforts of pitching coach Dave Duncan.
After scuffling to a lowly .255 average through the first month of the season, Michael Young is tied for the AL lead with 51 hits since May 1.
Although Austin Jackson has lived up to his billing as Detroit's center fielder of the future, fellow rookie outfielder Brennan Boesch may be turning even more heads. Boesch has hit .341 with 13 doubles, three triples and six homers since he was promoted on April 23.
Tim Lincecum still isn't quite right, but Matt Cain has certainly picked up the slack for San Francisco's rotation. The big righty has held opposing offenses to just one earned run in his last 35 innings of work — a span of four starts that includes two complete game shutouts.
The Angels have won eight of their past 10 games, but it's important to remember that those contests were against the Royals, the Mariners and the banged-up A's. Hence, we can't declare Mike Scioscia's team a legitimate contender unless that success continues against the Dodgers and Rockies in interleague action later this month.
Who needs Carlos Beltran when you have Angel Pagan? With Beltran still nursing an injury, Pagan is batting .294 with a .794 OPS and 11 stolen bases. He has also played outstanding defense in Citi Field's vast pastures.
There's no doubt that Brett Anderson is the A's best young pitcher, but don't forget about righty Trevor Cahill. The 22-year-old still isn't striking out enough hitters (just 26 in 47 2/3 innings), but if he's able to get ground balls at a greater than 50 percent clip, he'll continue to contribute valuable innings for Oakland.
When discussing the AL's Cy Young candidates, Shaun Marcum doesn't normally come to mind. But the rebounding righty's 2.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 11 quality starts in 12 tries might change that.
After a rough start to the season, Jason Hammel has pitched well in each of his last four outings, dropping his ERA from 9.16 to 5.23. The Rockies — lacking in rotation depth with Jorge De La Rosa on the disabled list — need a healthy and effective Hammel to keep pace with their NL West rivals.
On Tuesday night in D.C., Stephen Strasburg became the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 14 batters without issuing a walk in his debut. Yeah, he's good.
The last time Josh Johnson squared off against Roy Halladay, he allowed only an unearned run over seven innings, but was forced to tip his cap to Halladay's perfect game. They'll meet again on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
GM Kenny Williams drew plenty of ire for picking up Alex Rios' contract from the White Sox in a waiver deal last summer, but he's currently getting the last laugh. Rios is batting .317 with 12 homers and 18 stolen bases. He has been one of the most valuable players in the AL so far.
Yovani Gallardo continues to develop into one of the league's better starters — both on the mound and at the plate. He has served up only four homers this season, while cranking two out of the ballpark himself.
Zack Greinke has pitched rather poorly of late, but if frustration is an excuse, his struggles are certainly forgivable. The Royals' offense hasn't scored a run while Greinke has been in the game in any of his last four starts.
With all the hubbub about Michael Stanton and Stephen Strasburg, the spotlight has moved off rookie shortstop Starlin Castro. That's a good thing for the youngster, because his double on Tuesday night was his first extra-base hit since May 22.
The Pirates aren't going anywhere this season, so they might as well get a glimpse into their future. Top prospects Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata will each make their MLB debut on Wednesday night against the Nationals.
A strikeout-to-walk ratio of two is average, three is good, four is great, and anything better than that is outstanding. So what does that make Cliff Lee's 57-to-4 (14.25) mark?
Maybe the Astros aren't historically bad after all, as they've won seven of their past 10 games. Fans in Houston had better pray that doesn't give owner Drayton McLane any false hope of contention though, because an eventual rebuilding process is inevitable.
At some point, even the pitching-strapped Diamondbacks are going to have to stop giving reliever Juan Gutierrez chances to blow games. The hard-throwing righty has allowed at least one run in eight of his last 12 appearances, bringing his record on the season to 0-5, and upping his ERA to an unsightly 10.24.
Fausto Carmona has logged a 3.49 ERA through 12 starts this season, giving Indians fans hope that he might have turned a corner. Unfortunately, even the nastiest sinker in the world won't save Carmona from an awful 38-to-32 K/BB ratio. If he doesn't stop walking batters, Carmona is virtually certain to come back down to earth.
The Orioles are 1-3 and have allowed 34 runs in the four games since Juan Samuel took over for Dave Trembley as the team's interim manager. There may not be a skipper in the world who could make do with a bullpen as ineffective as Baltimore's.
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