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MLB: Locals set for second half

Five SCV athletes will play a role for teams within four games of playoffs

Posted: July 14, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 14, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Arizona Diamondback and Hart High graduate Trevor Bauer has pitched in three games for the big league club this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA. Arizona Diamondback and Hart High graduate Trevor Bauer has pitched in three games for the big league club this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA.
Arizona Diamondback and Hart High graduate Trevor Bauer has pitched in three games for the big league club this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA.

With baseball’s second half just getting underway, there is one position player and a quartet of local major league pitchers taking to fields across the country with an opportunity to help their team push for a playoff spot over the season’s final months.

Hart graduates James Shields (Tampa Bay Rays) and Trevor Bauer (Arizona Diamondbacks), Saugus graduate Tom Milone (Oakland Athletics), Valencia’s Danny Worth (Detroit Tigers) and College of the Canyons product Dana Eveland (Baltimore Orioles) have all seen action this season, and start the second half within four games of a postseason berth.

All have seen varying degrees of success, with a look at how all five of the local products have done over the season’s first half broken down below.

Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pitcher
For all of the success Santa Clarita Valley’s baseball players have had so far this season, none have made as many recent headlines over the last month as the 21-year-old rookie out of UCLA.

The Hart graduate and UCLA product was called up to the Diamondbacks on June 28 to start against the Atlanta Braves, and has posted a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA.

But it was his last start that gives Arizona fans reason to believe.

In the Diamondbacks’ final game before the All-Star break, Bauer took to the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitched six scoreless innings to earn the first victory of his career.

That win pulled the Diamondbacks within four games of L.A. in the National League West, and 3.5 games back of the Giants.

With Daniel Hudson out for the season, Bauer is expected to stick with the big league club for the remainder of 2012, and he could prove to be instrumental if Arizona is to make a run at a postseason spot.

It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing for Bauer so far, though, as he has struggled with his control (eight walks in 13 1/3 innings pitched). But with his 8.78 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate, he has shown the overpowering stuff that has been a signature since high school.

James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays, Pitcher
Shields, a 2000 Hart High graduate, has struggled to return to his 2011 All-Star form so far in 2012.

His 4.17 ERA over the season’s first half is his third-highest pre-All-Star break ERA of his career, after posting a 2.33 ERA before the break last season.

And considering Shields hasn’t recorded a lower ERA after the break than before since 2008, there’s plenty of work left for the right-hander to do.

The 30-year-old pitcher has allowed four or more runs in his last three starts, going 1-1 across that span.

In two starts in July, he posted a 5.14 ERA in 14 innings pitched, and allowed double-digit hits in both starts, though he managed a win and no decision across the two contests.

But Shields has proven himself in the past, and if he can match the success of last season over the final months of the season, he could be a big boost to the Rays’ playoff hopes.

In 2011, Shields pitched the most complete games in the American League, and at 18 starts through the first half of 2012, he has already started the second-most games in the league.

If he is on his game, he provides Tampa Bay with an innings-eating, All-Star caliber player, something that could help push Tampa Bay ahead of other playoff contenders.

Tampa Bay has made the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons, and Shields has been a big part of that success — including a win in the 2008 World Series.

The Rays, 45-42, sit 8.5 games back of the Yankees in the American League East, but just a half-game out of a Wild Card spot.

Dana Eveland, Baltimore Orioles, Pitcher
The College of the Canyons product was traded from the Dodgers to Baltimore in late 2011 and has become a serviceable pitcher so far in 2012.

His ERA of 3.98 and 1.33 WHIP are in line with the league averages of 4.00 and 1.31, respectively. Eveland has pitched 31 2/3 innings over the first half of the season with 18 strikeouts and an 0-1 record.

He is especially adept at keeping the ball in the yard, allowing just two home runs this season for a rate of 0.536 home runs per nine innings pitched, second best in the American League.

On June 30, Eveland took the mound for his first start since a May 11 no decision in which the Orioles won 4-3 over Tampa Bay.

This time around, things went sour as Eveland couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, throwing 3 2/3 innings and allowing five runs in an 11-5 loss to Cleveland for his first loss of the season.

His move back to a starting role was short lived as the Orioles replaced Eveland with Miguel Gonzalez for his previously scheduled July 5 start and put the former Cougar back in the bullpen.

His role as a long reliever appears set for now, but Eveland has shown an ability to start should the Orioles need him.

He rebounded in his final outing before the break, throwing a scoreless, three-up, three-down inning against the Angels in a 3-0 loss on July 7.

The Orioles are tied with the Angels for the American League Wild Card lead.

Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics, Pitcher
The Saugus graduate has come on strong in 2012, after being traded to Oakland from Washington during the offseason.

He’s been especially productive in front of the Athletics’ home crowd, posting a 1.03 home ERA, tops in the Majors over the first half, and lowered his season ERA to 3.57 by posting a stellar 0.96 ERA over his final four starts before the All-Star break.

In his final outing of the first half, Milone, a 2008 10th-round draftee out of USC, went seven innings, allowing one run with nine strikeouts in a victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Through 17 starts this season, Milone has an 8-6 record with 72 strikeouts, 2.077 walks per nine and 1.18 WHIP (both good for eighth in the American League) in 108 1/3 innings pitched.

The Athletics might be a longshot to make the postseason, nine games back of Texas and five games back of the Angels in the American League West, but with two Wild Card spots in each league this season, and Oakland 2.5 games back in that race, anything is possible.

But wherever Oakland ends up this season, at only 25 years old and not eligible for free agency until 2018, Milone looks to be a pivotal piece for the Athletics for years to come.

Danny Worth, Detroit Tigers, Infielder
Worth has spent time with both the Detroit Tigers and the Triple-A affiliate Toledo Mud Hens in 2012.

The Valencia High graduate was recalled back to the Major League club on July 13 — the last day before the All-Star Break — after being sent back to Toledo on July 3.

In 30 games with the Tigers, Worth posted a .182 batting average and has zero home runs and two RBIs.
He’s actually fared better on the road this season, batting .226 in 31 road at bats with seven hits and an RBI, compared with a .125 average and three hits in 24 home at bats.

He won’t be expected to take on an everyday playing role, but should continue his utility role now that he is back with the Tigers.

Drafted in the second round by the Tigers in 2007 out of Pepperdine University, Worth is on pace to play the most games of his Major League career this season, after playing in 30 games in 2011 (.270 average, three RBIs, no home runs) and 39 games in 2010 (.255/8/2).

In 24 games with the Mud Hens this year, Worth hit .295 with eight RBIs and four home runs with a .376 on-base percentage.


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