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Pitching Primer: Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum Square Off in Cy Young Matchup

Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum each have two Cy Young Awards on their resume, but the pitchers have gone in separate directions so far in 2012.

Halladay has been masterful for the Philadelphia Phillies, giving up just one earned run over 15 innings, surrendering seven hits and one walk whiles striking out seven. Lincecum has been dreadful for the San Francisco Giants, getting rocked for 11 runs over just 7.2 innings pitched.

The two will face off tonight at AT&T Park, where recent history suggest there will be an advantage for The Freak. Lincecum was dominant in his two starts against the Phillies last season, going 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA. In his two starts at San Francisco over his career, Halladay has a 7.30 ERA. That’s clearly a small sample, but you rarely see any poor numbers when you scour Halladay’s stats, no matter the size.

Lincecum won back-to-back awards in 2008 and ‘09 before Halladay won the award in 2010. Halladay won his first Cy Young with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003.

Today’s action begins a bit earlier than usual with the Boston Red Sox Patriot’s Day game at 11 a.m. Eastern. The focus will be on Daniel Bard, who will be making his second career start. I watched Bard’s first start and thought he looked good through five innings, but he started the sixth and fell apart. The stuff is there, he has the pitches, Bard just needs to learn how to manage his pitch count.

He’d be wise to pay attention when the Red Sox are hitting, as James Shields will be pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays. He is one of the more efficient pitchers in baseball, throwing 11 complete games last season, six more than any other pitcher, to go with 249.1 innings. Shields got roughed up in his first start, but last time out held the Detroit Tigers to two runs over eight innings pitched.

I’d be more than willing to give Bard another mulligan if he looks rough around the edges again today. The early start time coupled with the fact that Bard will be battling emotions in his first start at Fenway will make this a tough assignment for him. Red Sox won the first three games of the series 31-11.

It may be Patriot’s Day in Boston, but it’s Strasmas in Washington. Stephen Strasburg will be making his third start for the Nationals. He struck out nine is his last outing, and has a 0.69 ERA and 0.85 WHIP on the season.

Also today, Justin Verlander looks for his first win for the Detroit Tigers against Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals. Verlander has pitched brilliantly for the most part, going at least eight innings in both his first two starts. Duffy is coming off the best start of his career, throwing six scoreless innings of one-hit ball. He struck out eight batters but also walked four.

Another ace going today is Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels. He’ll be pitching at Angel Stadium, where his ERA is over a full run better (2.66) than his road mark (3.94). Weaver has 17 strikeouts and one walk over 14 innings this season.

The Angels are 3-6, but aren’t going into panic mode just yet. Here’s what Howkie Kendrick told the Associated Press about their slow start:

“It’s only nine games in. I guess if we were playing a 10-game season, we’d be in trouble.”

Rays (Shields) at Red Sox (Bard), 11:05 a.m. ET
Astros (Weiland) at Nationals (Strasburg), 7:05
Twins (Pavano) at Yankees (Garcia), 7:05
Mets (Gee) at Braves (Hanson), 7:10
Orioles (Arrieta) at White Sox (Humber), 8:10
Tigers (Verlander) at Royals (Duffy), 8:10
Padres (Luebke) at Rockies (Guthrie), 8:40
Pirates (Bedard) at Diamondbacks (Saunders), 9:40
Athletics (McCarthy) at Angels (Weaver), 10:05
Phillies (Halladay) at Giants (Lincecum), 10:15

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