Big League Stew - MLB

Since we don't want to be accused of always being negative Nellies here in the Stew, here's the opposite of The SlumpBot .200. Each Friday, BLS contributor Nick Friedell will go through the quad and into the gymnasium to look at five of the hottest players in baseball and their chances of keeping it going ...

Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks

The Naked Truth: 8-0, 2.41 ERA

Having a nice little Saturday: Webb has been dominant so far this season, going at least six innings each time out, including a complete game, 8-3 win, yesterday over the Phillies. It was the right-hander's 13th career complete game, and he became the first pitcher since the White Sox Jon Garland in 2005 to win his first eight starts, and the first NL pitcher since Pedro Martinez did it for the Expos in 1997, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

You're my boy, Blue!: "Everything has to go your way for these things to work," Webb said. "Guys hitting in situations and making plays. The bullpen has been coming through. Everything has to fall in place and it has whenever I've been out there." (AP)

Think KFC will still be open?: There is no reason why Webb can't keep this up. Since 2004, the former Cy Young award winner has gone at least 208 innings and has started at least 33 games every year. That durabilty, plus outings like he had yesterday, is only driving up the price on his next contract, something the D'backs would be wise to wrap up soon. especially considering how much of a bargain they are getting Webb for right now. The starter is making $5.5 million this year, $6.5 million next year, and the team has a club option at $8.5 million in 2010. Webb seems to believe that talks are going in the right direction, ""We've been talking a little bit and, hopefully, it's not something that drags out too long," Webb said. "We'll get something done." (East Valley Tribune)

***

Chipper Jones, Braves

The Naked Truth: .419 average, 10 HR, 29 RBI

Having a nice little Saturday: When you get a hit and your average actually drops 10 points, then you must be having a pretty good season. That's exactly what happened to Jones in yesterday's 5-4 win over the Padres. Chipper is 17-for-41 over his last 10 games with 4 HR and 10 RBI.

You're my boy, Blue!: Jones has been so dominant lately, it's easy to forget that he recently turned 36 years old. It's doesn't seem to be affecting him much at all though. "Once you get that mentality and that confidence that every time you walk to the plate you can do something . . . there's not a better feeling in the world than swinging a bat and bringing 50,000 people out of their seats," he said. "All of those things really drive me to continue doing what I've done." (AJC)

Think KFC will still be open?: Jones is having an MVP season ... but can he stay healthy? In 2004, he played in 137 games, 109 in '05, 110 in '06, 134 in '07, and 31 so far this season. Right now, nobody can get him out, but it might be wise to at least consider some trade options, in the next month or two, because recent history has shown he can't stay healthy for an entire season. There's a good chance of him staying hot tonight, though. He is 3-for-9, with an HR, and 2 RBI against Pirates' starter Ian Snell.

***

Aaron Rowand, Giants

The Naked Truth: .336 average, 3 HR, 15 RBI

Having a nice little Saturday: Rowand is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak, having gone 14-for-32 since April 28 with 2 HR and 5 RBI.

You're my boy, Blue!: The hard-nosed Rowand believes the team can still climb back into the race, despite a 14-21 record. "I don't think anybody in here (cares) where anybody else thinks we'll finish," Rowand said. "It's the media that expects us to finish last, not the people in this clubhouse. We're 25 guys pulling on the same rope." (The Mercury News)

Think KFC will still be open?: Rowand has crushed the ball on the road, hitting .403, with 2 HR, and 7 RBI, but at home, it is a different story. He is hitting .244 with 1 HR, and 8 RBI at AT&T Park. Considering the Giants start a 10-game homestand tonight against the Phillies, it might be a good time to give him a rest some time over the next week or so.

***

Lance Berkman, Astros

The Naked Truth: .368 average, 11 HR, 33 RBI

Having a nice little Saturday: Big Puma is 16-for-24 with 3 HR, and 8 RBI over the last week.

You're my boy, Blue!: Berkman tied a franchise record on Wednesday night, after getting a hit in his eight consecutive plate appearance. As usual though, the laid-back Texan took it all in stride, "I wasn't thinking about (the record)," Berkman said. "I was like, 'This thing's got to end, and I hope it doesn't end when I'm in a big spot with the bases loaded.' " (Houston Chronicle)

Think KFC will still be open?: Berkman is on fire, but there's a little danger ahead, starting on Monday. That's because the Astros open up a four-game set against the Giants at AT&T Park, and Berkman has really struggled there in his career. In 22 games in San Francisco, he has a .213 average, with 4 HR, and 17 K's.

***

Cliff Lee, Indians

The Naked Truth: 6-0, 0.81 ERA, 39 K's, 2 walks

Having a nice little Saturday: Lee has been the most impressive pitcher in the AL, throughout the first month of the season. The left-hander went seven innings on Wednesday, giving up just six hits and no runs, in a 3-0 win over Chien-Ming Wang and the Yankees.

You're my boy, Blue!: ''Obviously I can't expect to put up zeros every single time but it's my job to put up as many as I can and get deep into the game and give the team a chance to win," Lee said.
(USA Today)

Think KFC will still be open?: Nobody is touching Lee right now, but, one team he has always struggled against is the Toronto Blue Jays, and Lee is scheduled to face them on Monday. In five career starts against the Jays, the lefty is 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA. So if you were for some stupid reason thinking about sitting Lee down for a start, Monday might be the night to do it.

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