We're now down to only one sport around here for first time since last August. And with spotlight shining on baseball alone now (ok, we did just have the NFL draft, the ongoing lockout saga and important New York Knick decisions in the news), it was a good time for the New York Mets to start winning. That is, until they started losing. Starting pitching for both teams was the dominating theme this week. That is, until Mike Pelfrey took the mound (Mike, Mike, Mike--what are we going to do with you?). At any rate, it's almost an all-baseball edition of the Player of the Week, but a couple of football newcomers have snuck their way in. The biggest highlight of the week was the "USA!" chants at the Mets-Phillies game on Sunday night, though, and the real player of the week was the guy who gunned down Osama bin Laden. But in our little sports world, the Player of the Week is . . .
Bartolo Colon: Sure, he may be shaped exactly like the old McDonald's character The Grimace, but he doesn't pitch like him. After not throwing one pitch in 2010, Colon has been a godsend for the Yankees. With Phil Hughes off to the disabled list (and his status for the rest of the season now in doubt), Colon is needed more than ever. On Wednesday, he lasted a bullpen-saving eight innings, only allowed one run, struck out six, walked one and scattered seven hits. And he was hitting the mid-90s on the radar gun. The 37-year-old has a 2.73 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 26 innings. Who saw this coming?
Runners Up & Other Notables
Ivan Nova: The young Yankee hurler may have pitched the two best games of his career this past week. He's often had trouble getting through a lineup multiple times and lasting past the fifth inning, but he went six 1/3 innings in both of his outings, a tough-luck loss on Tuesday and a win on Sunday. He had an easier time of it in the game against the White Sox, but any pitcher can look good when everything's going right. He struggled on Sunday, but worked through his troubles, which is what pitching is all about--making adjustments on the fly and being successful while overcoming adversity. It was a good sign for Nova and the Yankees.
Chris Young: After struggling in his first game back from the DL on Tuesday, Young was brilliant on Sunday night. He pitched seven shutout innings, only giving up two hits. He's a pure craftsman on the mound, making hitters look uncomfortable with his deceptive delivery even though he only throws in the mid-80s. Shutting down the Phillies offense in tiny Citizens Bank Park when you're a fly ball pitcher says all you need to know about whether Young knows what he's doing on the mound. On the season he has a 1.88 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. It's all about health for the Met pitcher.
CC Sabathia: The big lug picked up his second consecutive win on Thursday, going seven innings, allowing no earned runs (three unearned), striking out six, while only walking one. His ERA was whittled down to 2.25 (with a 1.22 WHIP). He's pitched like an ace ever since he came to New York, and he just keeps on rolling.
R.A. Dickey/Jon Niese: The knuckleballer is beginning to settle in to last year's form. One of the key's to his 2010 success was his ability to throw strikes with the fluttering, who-knows-where-it-goes pitch and keep walks to a minimum. In his first three starts this season, Dickey walked 12 batters, but in his last two, he's only put three batters on base via a walk. On Wednesday, he lasted six and 2/3 innings, only allowing two runs. He gave his team a chance to win, and win they did with a dramatic, inspiring comeback. Niese did the same in his outing on Saturday, with an almost identical performance to Dickey's: Six 1/3 innings and two runs allowed. Only this time the outcome was different, as his two runs against were one too many.
A.J. Burnett: Here's another Yankee starter who makes the list. Burnett pitched two games this week. On Monday, he was the hard-luck loser after throwing his best game of the year (eight innings, one run), and on Saturday he pitched just good enough to win, and his team did win. That's how baseball works sometimes (or many times). He didn't have his best curveball going, but instead of imploding he gutted out six innings, and helped his own cause by picking off a runner on first. He's had a great April but we've seen this before. Can he do it for five (or six) more months, though?
Ike Davis/Robinson Cano: We need to at least include a couple of position players, so we'll choose the two best players on each team, who will be the Players of the Month. The Met first baseman is now the best player on the Amazin's. He's their best fielder, he gets on base more than any of his teammates, he has more power, he's driven in more runs and he's even running the bases with aggressive aplomb (does that exist?) and intelligence. He just finished another excellent week in his (so far) excellent season, and after one month of the season he has a .963 OPS with five home runs and 20 RBIs. Cano has been the most consistent Yankee, as well as the most productive. And he led the Yankees' home run parade this week, with four long balls, and drove in seven runs. For the year, he has a .970 OPS with eight homers and 21 RBIs. The only blemish on his season? Only three walks? That's almost incredible. But he's paid to hit and drive in runs, not take a leisurely stroll to first. A handful of other players deserve a little recognition, as Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, Daniel Murphy and Ronny Paulino all had big hits this week, which led to a few victories.
Prince Amukamara/Muhammad Wilkerson: My instant analysis of the New York Giants' first-round selection: All the family photos from draft day of Big Blue's new cornerback look like a scene from the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America. At any rate, welcome to New York (and New Jersey) Amukamara and Wilkerson! Will this duo join the long list of successful first-round selections by the Giants and New York Jets, such as Kyle Rote, Frank Gifford, Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Rodney Hampton, Hakeem Nicks, Matt Snell, Joe Namath, John Riggins, Marty Lyons, Al Toon, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis? Or will they end up lumped in with this dubious group of first-rounders: Tucker Fredrickson, Rocky Thompson, Ron Dayne, William Joseph, Lee White, Lam Jones, Blair Thomas and Vernon Gholston?