2009 MLB National League West Notebook
The wait turned out to be worth it for Randy Johnson. The San Francisco left-hander notched his 300th career win on June 4 in Washington, a day after his start was washed out. He went six innings in the 5-1 win over the Nationals.
Johnson became the 24th pitcher in history to reach the milestone but did it oddly enough by beating the organization that he broke into the game with. Johnson began his career in 1988 with Montreal. The Expos later moved to Washington.
Now, the debate will surface if Johnson is the best left-hander the game has ever seen. You can put his name against Steve Carlton, Warren Spahn and Lefty Grove. The debate will never end but Johnson is second all-time in strikeouts with 4,845 and his .647 winning percentage (300-164) is one of the best ever.
At least, you can say he is likely one of the top 10-15 who ever threw a pitch.
Consider the plight of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. He is leading the major leagues in home runs with 22 and is batting a very robust .289, and he just came off a stretch where he homered in four consecutive games.
But Gonzalez plays for a team that scores very few runs. The Padres are battling San Francisco for scoring the fewest in the game this year. Plus, Gonzalez's overall power is a bit deceptive because he only has four doubles.
As for the long ball, you wonder how teams will approach him for the immediate future. He does not have much protection around him, so the question will be how many good pitches will he see?
Home is definitely not where the heart is for the Diamondbacks pitching staff. This group has clearly not taken advantage of Chase Field.
When they are at home, the Diamondbacks have a team ERA of 5.41. When they are on the road, they have a team ERA of 3.18. Needless to say, the 2.23 ERA differential is the highest in the National League. They will get to improve on those numbers with a four-game series in San Diego.
Outfielder Brad Hawpe is turning into one of the better players in the game you don't know about. Hawpe is in his sixth full season with the Rockies and is projected to have his best season ever.
At .346 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs, Hawpe is projected to hit .348 with a career high in RBIs (138). Hawpe is also expected to hit about 27 home runs, which is two shy of his career high of 29 hit in 2007.
Hawpe continues to be the primary power source for the light-hitting Rockies. No one is at double figures in home runs this season.
Left-hander Eric Milton's return to the game after missing the 2008 season has been a slow and steady return. Milton made his fourth start for the Dodgers June 5 against Philadelphia.
Through his first three starts, he had done more than even what the Dodgers had hoped. His pitch counts have been kept below 90. He's thrown for 4 innings, 5 1/3 innings and 5 innings and is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA.
Milton has been dogged by injuries throughout his career, so the Dodgers are hoping by bringing him along in this delicate path, he will continue to build arm strength, stamina and reliability.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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