Seemingly as soon as Tom Glavine won his 300th game a week ago, speculation began as to who would be the major leagues’ next 300-game winner. Or if there would be another one at all.
File it under talk for talk’s sake.
For one thing, it is difficult if not impossible to logically plot the future. When Glavine began, no one would have predicted he would reach 300. He thrives on location with a change-up that is his best pitch, and that usually does not translate into dominance.
For another thing, there is Randy Johnson.
Johnson is one of eight active pitchers with 200 or more victories, and the only hindrance to him reaching 300 is health.
With 284 victories, Johnson is one full, productive season away from that plateau, and if results from earlier this year are any indication, he could get there with a few starts to spare in 2008.
Johnson had a remarkable six-start run beginning May 9 against Philadelphia, going 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA that skewed high when all three runners he let on base against the Phillies that day scored. (Without that, his ERA was 1.26.)
Johnson had 51 strikeouts and five walks in 35 2/3 innings, a rate of 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Taking all the numbers into account, only San Diego’s Jake Peavy has had a better six-game run this season.
Peavy’s stretch began with the April 25 game here in which he struck out 16 in seven innings but did not get a decision when Stephen Drew hit a walkoff homer against Trevor Hoffman for a 3-2 D-Backs victory.
Peavy was 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA, striking out 57 and walking 11 in 41 innings.
Dan Haren (4-0, 1.21), Johan Santana (5-0, 1.29), John Smoltz (5-1, 1.30) and Carlos Zambrano (5-1, 1.42) had a better ERA in a string of six starts, but only Zambrano was close when factoring in strikeouts and walks. He struck out 51 and walked 17 in 44 1/3 innings.
Peavy and Zambrano are among the top two candidates for the NL Cy Young Award this season, and Johnson was just as good before his herniated disk began to complicate matters and eventually force him into season-ending surgery.
The other seven active pitchers with more than 200 victories are Mike Mussina (246), David Wells (235), Jamie Moyer (226), Curt Schilling (213), Kenny Rogers (210), Pedro Martinez (206) and Smoltz (203).
While most of them are nearing the end of their careers, pitchers like Roy Oswalt, C.C. Sabathia, Jon Garland, Santana and Mark Buehrle are candidates to reach the mark.
Oswalt has 110 victories at age 29, while Buehrle (a location guy like Glavine) has 106 at 28. Sabathia, 26, has 95. Santana (28) and Garland (27) both have 90.
WORKING WITH THE BEST
Jeff Pentland, who joined Seattle as a hitting coach this season, has had three of his pupils account for 1,841 major league home runs.
Pentland was the Chicago Cubs’ hitting coach from 1997-2002, when Sammy Sosa was in his prime. He was the Florida Marlins’ hitting coach from 1992-96 with Gary Sheffield. And Pentland was Arizona State’s hitting coach when Barry Bonds was in school in the early 1980s.
“People don’t realize how hard these guys worked,” Pentland said. “The level of their baseball intelligence was so far ahead of everyone else’s. (Bonds) is probably the smartest, most instinctive hitter. He could set up pitchers.”
All three have been linked to steroids, and Pentland admitted that he was questioned last year by lawyers from the Mitchell commission investigating the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs.
“I’m prejudiced for Barry,” Pentland said. “I know there are probably more pitchers doing that kind of stuff than anybody else, because I saw big a increase in velocity over the years.”
HITTING EIGHTH, PITCHER …
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa has reprised a stratagem he first employed in 1998, batting the pitcher eighth in the order with a position player ninth.
The theory is to get more RBI opportunities for his No. 3 hitter, which was Mark McGwire in 1998 and is Albert Pujols now.
The Cardinals were 44-33 in the second half of 1998. They are 3-4 so far this season with second baseman Adam Kennedy hitting ninth.
“Initially it’s a little shot to your confidence, to your ego,” Kennedy said. “It’s a little embarrassing at first, but it’s not worth making an issue of it. Whatever it takes to get us going.”
“We all loved Boomer here. I know Boomer gave us all he had. A lot of teams talk about his antics and his beer drinking and this and that, but there’s something to be said for being wanted for 20 years on a major league roster. That’s pretty special.”
SAN DIEGO PITCHER, AFTER TEAMMATE DAVID WELLS (PICTURED) WAS DESIGNATED FOR ASSIGNMENT
Coming through: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has produced six walkoff victories in his two full seasons with Washington, tying Minnesota’s Justin Morneau for the major league high. Zimmerman has done it with three home runs, two singles and a bases-loaded walk, the last a game-winning single last Friday in St. Louis.
Flying with the stork: Seattle’s Ben Broussard made the team flight to Baltimore on Monday morning, then flew back to Seattle a few hours later after his pregnant wife went into labor. He made it to Seattle in time for the delivery, then caught a return flight to Baltimore on Wednesday, arriving about an hour before the game. “I can’t wait to hit the sack,” Broussard said.
Tell your statistics to shut up
Milwaukee left-hander Chris Capuano’s winless streak reached 14 consecutive starts when he lost to Colorado 11-4 on Tuesday. He threw five shutout innings before failing to retire any of the four batters he faced in the sixth. He is 0-9 with a 6.30 ERA during the stretch and is 6-17 with a 5.68 ERA since making the 2006 All-Star team. Capuano, right photo, sits on the ground after missing a ground ball hit by Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs during Tuesday’s game.
Slumping Detroit gets no respite, playing at Cleveland and the New York Yankees this week.