Misery (Hates) Company: Shaky Run Support Not Just a Cole Hamels Problem

Misery (Hates) Company: Shaky Run Support Not Just a Cole Hamels Problem

This year, the Braves, one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball, are providing ace Kris Medlen with a Salvation Army-generous... 2.86 runs of support per game.

The Giants, meanwhile, have plated just above the major league average for runs scored, but for top starter Matt Cain, have only mustered 3.14 runs of support.

At 2.86 runs of support per game, Cole Hamels, again the victim in last night's 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, falls in between.

So no, he's not alone.

You can hypothesize the reasons. Maybe it's that offenses actively coast when top starters take the hill. Or maybe they're just spent from trying to get their teams through the back ends of their rotations.

Whatever the case, fact is, Hamels' plight isn't just his.

Sure it's been bad for him this year. Despite a 2.41 ERA in his last six starts, Hamels is 1-3 in them because he's gotten two runs of support or fewer in four. On the year, the team is just 1-7 when their $144 million man gets the ball.

But what about Medlen? He's punched a a 3.25 ERA, and yet he's only 1-4. Worse, the Braves, only a half game under the Cardinals for the best record in the league, are only 2-5 in his starts. And remember: Medlen didn't have any sweep-this-under-the-rug starts like Hamels did.

And before you say that Jeff Samardzija is 1-4 and the Cubs are 2-6 in his starts despite his 3.09 ERA because Chicago doesn't score or win for anybody, keep in mind that they do, in fact, score for Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.70 ERA) and Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02 ERA), who've pulled 4.67 and 4.57 runs of support per nine -- more than anybody on the Phillies but Kyle Kendrick.

Speaking of: Kendrick so far has been a sweet surprise. But he's still been a surprise, right? (Right.) It stands to reason, then, that whether it's conscious or not, lineups bring their best stuff when they know they have to.

Look at the top 10: Jonathon Niese (NYM), Jon Garland (COL), Julio Teheran (ATL), Lance Lynn (STL), Yovani Gallardo (MIL), Juan Nicasio (COL), Adam Wainwright (STL), Tim Lincecum (SFG), Mike Leake (CIN), Patrick Corbin (think you're acquainted now).

With few exceptions, all are either back-end types (Gallardo, Nicasio, Leake), really young (Teheran, Corbin) or have no business being a 1 but were thrust there because the Mets are terrible.

Lincecum offers an interesting look, because he's a rare find: a once-at-the-top-of-his-game ace now reduced to so-called replacement level. His run support was decent in his back-to-back Cy Young years (4.57 in both). But with each passing year, during all of which he was still San Fran's opening day starter, his run support dwindled, all the way down to 2.81 in 2011.

Then, he unravels and gets relegated to the 'pen last year, and poof -- the run support returns.

Some guys have overcome it. Clayton Kershaw's only getting 2.38 RS/9, the fourth-worst in the league. But with the fourth-best ERA, he's 3-2 and Dodgers are at least 4-4 when he starts. Madison Bumgarner's 2.31 ERA has been enough to get him a 3-1 mark despite the sixth-fewest RS/9 in the NL.

Others just get it good. Wainwright, already the owner of a 2.72 ERA and the best K/BB ratio in baseball, gets 5.53 runs per game -- seventh-best in the NL. But Wainwright seems the exception.

For everyone dubbing Cole Hamels, "Cliff Lee 2.0," recall that Lee could be his own next generation. Lee this year is only getting 0.26 RS/9 more than Hamels, for the difference of 41 vs. T-47 on this list of 60.

Though at this rate, Phillies starters should be happy to get anything.

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Former University of Kansas basketball player Josh Jackson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor traffic violation for backing into a car and driving away.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jackson entered his plea Tuesday in Lawrence Municipal Court to striking an unattended vehicle. Two other charges, inattentive driving and improper backing, were dismissed.

Jackson, who is expected to be a top draft pick in next month's NBA draft, will be on probation for six months and must pay a $250 fine. If he violates his probation, Jackson would have to serve 30 days in jail.

Coach Bill Self suspended Jackson for the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament because of the incident.

The 6-foot-8 Jackson has now resolved two cases that had dogged him during his lone year at Kansas. He earlier reached a diversion agreement that requires him to attend anger management classes, write a letter of apology and refrain from using alcohol or recreational drugs for a year for his confrontation with a Jayhawks women's basketball player last year.

Jackson had pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage after he argued with McKenzie Calvert on Dec. 9 outside a bar in Lawrence. He signed the diversion agreement on April 26.

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sits out OTAs after minor car crash

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sits out OTAs after minor car crash

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was a passenger in a minor car accident and is missing the first three offseason practices as a precaution.

Elliott, the 2016 NFL rushing champion as a rookie, bumped his head in the crash Sunday night, but running backs coach Gary Brown said Wednesday that Elliott doesn't have a concussion.

Coach Jason Garrett said Elliott would miss the third practice of the week Thursday after sitting the first two sessions with soreness and neck stiffness. Garrett said Elliott was expected to practice next week.

Elliott, who made the All-Pro team after Dallas drafted him No. 4 overall last year, finished with 1,631 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns, both club rookie records.

Redskins: Cousins expects negotiations to go to deadline
ASHBURN, Va. -- Kirk Cousins is getting valuable snaps on the practice field going into his third season as a starter. The Washington Redskins quarterback is also getting just as many chances to answer questions about a long-term contract.

Cousins is facing the prospect of playing a second consecutive season on the franchise tag with a July 15 deadline looming for he and the Redskins to agree on a deal. With less than two months until the deadline, he doesn't seem concerned and doesn't expect anything to happen until the calendar flips to July.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said Wednesday after the team's second session of organized team activities. "That's just kind of a rule in negotiating, so why would something happen way before a deadline? It just doesn't make sense. I'm not in a hurry, they're not in a hurry, so we'll just see how things go. I'm being patient."

Cousins said July 15 will be a "telling date" as it was last summer when there was no deal done and he was locked into playing on the franchise tag . After breaking his own franchise record with 4,917 passing yards while making just under $20 million last season, the Michigan State product would make about $24 million this year if he doesn't get a long-term contract.

Cousins one-year salary would be the second-highest of any NFL QB, behind only Cam Newton. But a multi-year agreement would speak volumes about what the organization thinks of the 28-year-old Cousins. Team president Bruce Allen said Monday there is a "constant dialogue" with agent Mike McCartney and that the July 15 deadline would be the driver toward a deal.

Cousins described the talks as "positive," and Allen said he was still optimistic about getting a deal done (see full story).

Browns: Top pick Garrett sits out with a ‘little nick’
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns are not taking any chances with Myles Garrett, their No. 1 draft pick and $30 million investment.

Garrett is being kept off the practice field by the team this week because of an unspecified injury. The former Texas A&M star would not disclose his medical issue on Wednesday, but said it's nothing significant.

"They just wanted to be cautious about a little nick," Garrett said. "But I'll be back out there next week. I want to be out there. They're holding me right now. But I'll be out there full tilt next week."

Garrett signed a four-year, $30 million contract last week and the Browns aren't taking any chances with their prized first selection. Coach Hue Jackson indicated Garrett might be dealing with something following last week's rookie minicamp, but he didn't reveal Garrett's problem.

"He'll be fine," Jackson said. "Obviously I'm just going to very cautious with guys. Anytime guys have a little soreness, I want to make sure we're totally healthy. I think when we had the rookie minicamp there was a little soreness. I just wanted to make sure that was out before we stuck him out there again" (see full story).

Vikings: Bridgewater recovery still uncertain despite progress
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Teddy Bridgewater has reached the point in rehabilitation where he's able to drop back to pass on his surgically repaired left knee.

Just when the 24-year-old quarterback might return to live action with the Minnesota Vikings remains largely unknown.

"Just hoping that eventually he'll be able to come back on the field, but that's still the unknown," said general manager Rick Spielman, who clarified Wednesday that Bridgewater has not been given the green light for full practice.

That's predictable, considering he's less than nine months removed from the dislocation, torn ACL and other ligament damage that occurred to his knee during a non-contact drill .

But the Vikings raised some optimism about Bridgewater's recovery Tuesday by posting to their website a 38-second, slow-motion video clip of him taking a handful of drop-backs and throws. Their first organized on-field offseason workout was closed to the media.

"We wanted to at least put something out there to show that this is part of his rehab," Spielman said (see full story).

NFL: Pro Bowl returning to Orlando for second consecutive year
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

Orlando will host the Pro Bowl on Jan. 28, 2018, at 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN and ABC, the NFL announced Wednesday. Last season, the NFL played its all-star game in Orlando for the first time at Camping World Stadium.

The NFL has a two-year deal with an option for a third year to play the Pro Bowl in Orlando.

The 2018 game will feature the AFC vs. NFC format, which returned last season.