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Pitchers rule and the rookies are hot

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Need a little more baseball water cooler talk? Feel like the playoffs will never be here or have you already started thinking college football and the NFL? This is the time of year where the true baseball fans stand out. With one of the longest regular seasons in all of sports, Major League Baseball is in the final stretch and there is still plenty of drama.

The National and American League have the chance to rejuvenate their teams with young talent and veteran rehabbers from their minor league system as of September 1st. The September call-ups allow some teams to add to their already potent lineup while other teams are trying to piece together a team to fight their way into the playoffs or just end the season in a respectable manner. All teams, whether they are in playoff contention or not, get this opportunity to preview their future.

2010 is being considered the Year of the Pitcher and has already seen three no hitters and two perfect games (three perfect games, if it weren’t for a blown call by an umpire…see earlier post). The breakout of players like Ubaldo Jiminez of the Rockies, CJ Wilson of the Rangers, and Mat Latos of the Padres has gotten people’s attention. The revival of players like Tim Hudson of the Braves, Bronson Arroyo of the Reds, and Carl Pavano of the Twins have been an inspiration. Then there are the mainstays like Roy Halladay of the Phillies, Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals, and CC Sabathia of the Yankees who always seem to be in the Cy Young race.

The Year of the Pitcher hasn’t been without a down side. Last year’s Cy Young winners Tim Linecum of the Giants and Zack Greinke (above) of the Royals are not performing very well and neither are in contention for repeating as winner of the prestigious pitching award they won in 2009. After leaving the San Diego Padres Jake Peavy finally had a shot at the playoffs as the ace of the Chicago White Sox this year, but injuries and season ending surgery have kept him on the bench, and the Sox are on the playoff bubble. Ironically the Padres are playing their best baseball in years and appear to be headed to the post-season. The emergence of Stephen Strasburg generated plenty of excitement around the sport and sparked interest in a struggling Washington Nationals team but just as quickly as he burst onto the scene, he was gone. Season ending surgery on Strasburg’s elbow will keep him on the sidelines at least until the middle of the 2012 season…ouch!

I think 2010 could also be considered the Year of the Rookie. This crop of new comers is one of the best in years. The National League East alone has three solid candidates in Jason Heyward of the Braves, Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins, Ike Davis of the Mets. Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro with the Cubs and Jamie Garcia with the Cardinals are also candidates that will be competing for the NL Rookie title this year. The American League rookie race isn’t as log jammed as the NL but there are still some very talented youngsters that could win the title. The Detroit Tigers have two great chances with Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson, while Neftali Feliz of the Rangers and Wade Davis of the Rays will also have a good chance to be the AL Rookie of the Year.

The summer is almost over but things are heating up in the Major Leagues.

Stay tuned.

Low and inside,

Kevin Hart

Editor's note: Kevin Hart writes the blog My Boyfriend Likes Baseball.