This blog obsessively follows the Cleveland Indians baseball team. It is a lot more active during the regular season, but addresses team issues with analytical humor, humorous analysis, and a lot of calling bad players "fungi." You can subscribe to its RSS feed here:
How do you turn a 62% strike rate into only 1 walk?
1) Blippy blips
Remember yesterday when I said that no team makes 162 Quality Starts?This is pretty much what I was talking about.
The interesting thing about Justin Masterson’s “terrible” start is that is wasn’t truly terrible: he had one real Inning of Crap™, and even that was essentially a bunch of singles strung together.Yes, giving up Reid Brignac’s first extra-base hit since the Johnson* Administration and a two-run single to Sam Fuld are not good results, but Brignac’s double was the only extra-base hit Masterson allowed and Fuld’s single came with two outs, meaning a little better pitch there and he’s out of the inning with 2 runs allowed.
No, the real problem was that Masterson flung the ball around like so many monkeys at the zoo with surplus excrement.He started but NINE of his twenty-seven batters with a first-pitch strike, threw a lame-assed 57.4% of his pitches for strikes, and walked four guys in 5 2/3 innings.To say he did not have his best command is to denigrate the very meaning of the word “command.”
And yet, he still got ground balls (even some singles were essentially ground balls), and he struck out 6 guys, more than one an inning.He got a fortuitous double play on a liner that caught Evan Longoria off first, but generally speaking, even when Justin Masterson flings excrement through cage bars at small children holding balloons and popcorn, he remains fundamentally Justin Masterson.
Anyway, he wasn’t good, and I’m kinda tired of talking about it already.
2) Theory in Practice
Chad Durbin entered the game in the 6th inning after Masterson walked Kelly Shoppach on four pitches to load the bases.He got Fuld to fly out to left.
Do I draw any great conclusions about Chad Durbin’s talent or effectiveness or corner-turningosity or anything like that from this one plate appearance?I do not.Do I think it illustrates my point about Manny Acta having a perceived role for an valuation of Chad Durbin?It’s my point, of COURSE I think so.I’m biased in favor of me.Imagine that.
But let me ask you: can you imagine him bringing in Justin Germano there?
3) This having been said
While Durbin threw 1 1/3 hitless, scoreless innings, he threw 12 strikes in 27 pitches, which is really pretty dreadful.Is he 100% healthy?
4) Local Fail
Globally, Joe Smiff has been pretty successful, with a 1.33 WHIP and a 3.00 ERA and a 10:2 K:BB ratio in 9 innings of work.I like 10 Ks in 9 innings.I even like 2 BB in 9 innings.He hasn’t given up a homer this season and although he previous outing against the Angels was truly horrifying, there’s been a lot more “good” than “bad” in Smiff’s season to date.
And while it’s both fashionable and just to point out that Evan Longoria is a good hitter and that sometimes the other guy just beats you, it is still frustrating that Raffy Perez’ two leadoff baserunners turned into two extra runs because Smiff gave up a roped double to the gap to Longoria.I acknowledge that part of this is that I’m more emotionally attached to Perez than Smiff, the other thing is that Smiff’s delivery makes him LOOK like a guy who is geared to accomplish something positive in exactly this situation: get a tough right-handed hitter out.Sure, Smiff got a groundout, strikeout, and pickoff-of-the-guy-he-walked, but that one hitter was the entire point of his being summoned from the ‘pen.
You’re not going to fire a guy for giving up a hit to the other teams All-Star Future Hall of Famer kinda guy, but … damn.
5) Terror on the Basepaths!
The Indians had 10 hits and a walk and scored 4 runs, but left only 5 men on base.And this is because James Shields picked both Mike Brantley off first AND Orly Cabrera off second.
Now, I’ll admit: Orly did not agree with the umpire that he’d been picked off second.I didn’t happen to think he was picked off second.Even James Shields did not sound convinced:
"I don't know if I got him on that or not," Shields said. "The umpire called him out and that stopped the damage right there."
But the fact is, in scoring position in a game in which you’re having massive trouble scoring, when the infield is shifting to the left for Shelly Duncan, why is this play even close?
This isn’t the first time Brantley’s been picked off, either.Let’s hope the time between pickoffs for Brantley is longer next time.
6) Terror on the basepaths II!
On the other hand, Carlos Santana gunned down Fuld trying to steal second and Smiff picked off Casey Kotchman.After a sluggish start to the season, Santana has now caught 5 of 20 would-be basestealers for a non-embarrassing 25% catch rate (it’s still a bit below “respectable” for me).
7) Everybody hits!
Matt LaPorta was the only player for either team who did not reach base.Kelly Shoppach was the only other player not to get a hit.
Asdrubal Cabrera walloped a solo shot for his 6th homer on the season, and added a late-inning triple (his 2nd).In his last 10 games, Cabrera has hit 15-for-42, a .357 clip, with 5 extra-base hits.He has an .840 OPS from the right side and a .836 OPS from the left.(He’s more reliable from the left, with a .372 OBP: he has yet to draw a walk from the right, meaning that despite hitting .327 against lefties, his OBP is only .321, which is weird but due to the way sacrifices are counted in AVG and OBP.)
9) Good news
Grady Sizemore’s knee has no significant (i.e., surgery-requiring) damage and may play in the Seattle series.
Justin Germano’s knee has no significant damage and may NOT play in the Seattle series.
Steve Buffum grew up a Cleveland sports fan in Akron, OH. He now works as a data cudgeller in Austin, TX with his wife and three children. He also writes a theoretically-popular regular column for www.TheClevelandFan.com and is on Twitter as @stevebuffum. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org