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The 606 - May 27, 2010
Dan Port | Thursday May 27th, 2010
Cole Hamels and Mike Pelfrey square off for NL East supremacy (AP)
Cole Hamels and Mike Pelfrey square off for NL East supremacy (AP)
Hamels and Pelfrey square off for NL East supremacy. (AP)

Baseball Press presents "The 606", a look into the three most intriguing pitching matchups of the day, with a final prediction of the winning pitcher. You may be asking yourself "What exactly does The 606 mean? There's no major league baseball for that area code- it's in Eastern Kentucky!" BBP isn't listing players from Eastern Kentucky either. The 606 is short for 60 feet and 6 inches. If you still don't understand, I direct your attention to Official Rule 1.07 from Major League Baseball, referring to the distance from the pitching mound to home plate. Now that we've got that squared away, let's take a look at some pitching matchups for Thursday, May 27th.

Yesterday, the 606 took a couple on the chin, with a season-worst 6 run outing from Tampa's Matt Garza and the Cubs' Tom Gorzelanny posting a 5 earned run start against the Dodgers.  However, Yankee Andy Pettitte led his team to victory with 8 strong innings and notched his sixth win of the season.

Today's 606 features a big NL East showdown, with the Phillies and Mets squaring off again in New York, along with a Yankee hurler looking to continue his climb back into winning ways and a veteran Atlanta Brave who is showing no signs of stopping a torrid comeback from an injury-shortened 2009 season.

Yesterday's Results:

Win: Andy Pettitte (8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1.00 WHIP)
Loss: Matt Garza (5 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 2.00 WHIP)
Loss: Tom Gorzelanny
(5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2.00 WHIP)

The 606 Season-to-Date Record (W-L-ND): 55-52-39, 3.85 ERA (379 ER in 886 IP)


LHP Cole Hamels - PHI (5-2, 3.92 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey - NYM (6-1, 2.86 ERA)
Fresh off of a 606 pick and a strong 7 inning, 1 run victory against the Red Sox in interleague play, Cole Hamels will be looking for his fourth straight win Thursday against the Mets.  Hamels struck out 8 and allowed just 3 hits and 1 walk in that win against Boston in his last start, and with 60 strikeouts in 57.1 innings this season, he is resembling the ace and World Series hero the Phillies thought they had back in 2008.  He's faced the Mets 9 times in his career, going 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA and an alarmingly high 1.57 WHIP in 54.2 innings, and with the Mets on the rise in 2010, this could be a difficult one for him.  Furthermore, Hamels' road ERA this year is 5.32, compared to his 2.94 home mark, and his 2009 ERA was over a full point better at home as well, so road starts have certainly given him problems recently.

Mets fans might take solace in knowing that starter Mike Pelfrey has had really just one bad start in 2010.  Unfortunately, that start was against the Phillies, whom he must face this Thursday.  Pelfrey entered his May 1st start against Philadelphia with a 0.69 ERA, only to have the Phils hang 6 runs and 8 hits on him in just 4 innings of work, leading to a 10-0 loss at the hands of Roy Halladay .  In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Pelfrey is 4-3 but has a 5.43 ERA and 1.54 WHIP.  He's allowed 10 home runs in those 56.1 innings of work, most of those coming off the bat of Chase Utley , who is 8 for 25 versus Pelfrey (a .320 average) with 4 home runs and 8 RBI.  Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has also had good success against Pelfrey, with 11 hits in 25 at-bats (a .440 average).

Final Prediction: Cole Hamels


RHP Javier Vazquez - NYY (3-4, 6.69 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Blackburn - MIN (5-1, 4.50 ERA)
Just when it looked like Yankee hurler Javier Vazquez's 2010 season was going to be a completely hopeless disaster, the righthander strings together a couple of good starts and makes everyone believe again that this is the same guy who finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting just last season.  In his last start, Vazquez tossed 6 innings of 1-hit baseball against the Mets, logging just 70 pitches.  The diminished workload appears to be doing him good, and he's allowed just 2 runs in his last 13.1 innings of work, striking out 14 with 6 hits and only 4 walks allowed.  If this rebound is to continue, however, he'll need to tame a ballclub that gave him plenty of problems in his prior seasons in the American League.  In 16 career starts against the Minnesota Twins, Vazquez is 6-6 with a 5.11 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, covering 100.1 innings.  The biggest thorn in his side has been slugger Justin Morneau , who is 14 for 40 (a .350 average) against Vazquez with 6 home runs and 13 RBI, plus 7 walks (2 intentional).

Straight off back-to-back 11-11 seasons, Nick Blackburn is a surprising 5-1 in the first two months of the 2010 season, well on his way to increasing that win total and breaking that trend.  His ERA in those seasons is also remarkably similar, with a 4.05 mark in 2008 and a 4.03 mark in 2009, so his track record seems to favor this fast start as circumstance and not a shift in performance.  Nevertheless, the crafty Blackburn, who relies on batted balls and has just 217 strikeouts in 464.2 career innings (4.2 K/9), has been very hot lately, winning his last four starts and working at least 7 innings in all of those, including a 6-3 victory on May 16th against the same Yankees he'll be facing on Thursday.  In 5 career starts against the Yankees, Blackburn is 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA and 1.70 WHIP, but the way he's streaking right now, it's tough to imagine him not posting a solid start.

Final Prediction: Nick Blackburn


RHP Tim Hudson - ATL (5-1, 2.09 ERA) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco - FLA (4-3, 4.50 ERA) 
Coming off of some serious missed time due to injury, Tim Hudson has wasted no time this season asserting himself as the ace of the Atlanta Braves rotation and a force on the mounds across the National League.  His 2.09 ERA has been achieved via remarkable consistency, as Hudson has allowed more than 2 runs in a start just once this year, and even that was just a 3-run outing in a 6 inning no decision against the Cardinals on April 26th.  He's won his last 3 starts and worked 8 innings in each of his last two, so Hudson is arguably the hottest pitcher in the National League right now and a strong force for a Braves team that has seen struggles from some of its other starting pitchers, including young phenom Tommy Hanson .  In his career against the Marlins, Hudson has been excellent, posting an 8-2 record in 15 starts, with a 2.92 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts in 92.1 innings.  He'll look to continue his success on Thursday.

Coming off of an unusual 2009 season in which he posted 13 wins and 195 strikeouts in 195 innings but finished with a 5.06 ERA, many thought Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco would rebound big time in 2010, but he's had his share of ups and downs thus far.  Nolasco has posted 41 strikeouts in 58 innings this year, not bad but certainly well off of the pace he set in 2008 and 2009, when he topped 185 strikeouts each season.  His latest game was an 8 run, 10 hit, 5.1 inning disaster against the Chicago White Sox, a game that came on the heels of wins in back-to-back starts for Nolasco.  Effective but inconsistent, Nolasco will look to get back on a winning track, but has just a 6.14 ERA in four home starts this year, plus a 4.43 ERA lifetime against the Braves.  To have any chance of a victory, he'll need to stifle Brian McCann and Chipper Jones , who have a combined 8 home runs and 19 RBI in just 57 combined career at-bats against Nolasco.

Final Prediction: Tim Hudson

Dan PortDan Port has been a writer and article editor for Baseball Press since the fall of 2009. He's a Wisconsin native and Los Angeles resident, as well as an aspiring novelist, moderately successful gambler, and avid craft beer aficionado. You can reach him at dan@baseballpress.com or check him out on Twitter @danport and at DanielPort.com.