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:
1) Above all else, the ability to concentrate and focus is of … look, a shiny object!
Over the course of a long season, the vast majority of starting pitchers will have good outings and bad outings, days on which their stuff is better than others.There are a huge number of variables that go into a starting performance, with 100 different pitches thrown on dozens of days with different weather and opponents in different stadiums.There are days on which the pitcher feels energized and others when he’s fighting off a mild virus; days on which the pitcher slept well the night before and others that require strong coffee to “get going,” days that are cold or windy or searing or the flight was delayed or he got bitten by a mosquito or reacts to pollen or a particularly endearing drawing of an octopus wearing a top hat by a three-year-old child.Professional athletes are remarkable not only for their physical gifts, but also for their ability to perform at a consistently high level given all the distractions and the huge collection of individually-minor but collectively-notable daily challenges.
Although it’s quite reasonable for the lay fan to ask for “more consistency” from a professional athlete, it’s only reasonable because that athlete has passed through the ranks of the “talented” through “excellent” up to the “elite” that make up the highest ranks of his or her sport.You don’t make it all the way to the majors without showing that you’ve got way, way more than the average guy and really, significantly more than other guys who are “merely amazing.”I make this point every so often that the worst guy in the majors is almost certainly (depending on your personal experience) far better than anyone you’ve ever played with recreatoinally: the fact that Roy Halladay can make him look ridiculous doesn’t mean you could strike him out.But while“consistency” remains a bugbear for any number of players, it bears mentioning that it’s not something you can reasonably expect a guy to just go out and get.You can lift weights and get stronger.You can’t take a “consistency pill” and become a machine.
First things first: Josh Tomlin was marvelously effective last night, we another Quality Start and his 4th win of the season.Tomlin allowed only 6 baserunners in 6 innings on 5 hits and a walk, and struck out the last two hitters he faced on sliders that dropped out of the zone to run his K total to 3 for the game.He was victimized by a pair of solo shots in the second, but otherwise held the Royals in check, and granted a 5-0 lead in the first inning, aggressively attacked the strike zone with an astonishing 73% strike rate (73 in 100 pitches overall).
And so, instead of continuing to admit to a certain frustration at not being able to identify how much of his performance is sustainable or how exactly Tomlin “does it” or mention for the umpteenth time how generating 4 ground ball outs in 6 innings of work is a tough row to hoe or point out that with 11 fly ball outs, it’s hardly a wonder that two of them end up over the wall, consider the potential epiphany that Josh Tomlin is, in effect, Paul Byrd.
In his worst start of the season, Justin Masterson allowed 5 hits, 2 walks, and 7 Ks in 6 2/3 innings, meaning he was one out short of posting a WHIP of 1.00.
I am probably going to look to other areas to find something to complain about.
If anything, the 3 runs Masterson allowed serve to illustrate just how fine the line is between a mediocre performance and a good one, or a good one and a great one.After retiring the first 10 hitters in order, including 5 groundouts and 3 whiffs, Masterson gave up a seeing-Orly single to Melky Cabrera before giving up a ringing double to Alex Gordon and an opposite-field double to Billy Butler on what was, frankly, just a good piece of hitting.If Orly Cabrera had the mobility of, say, a palm tree, and Billy Butler was a mere average hitter, that’s a shutout inning.With the Royals doing a good job at the plate, that’s two runs, as many as Masterson allowed in his last start, or in the two starts before that COMBINED.
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Indians (13-7) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 3 6 0 Twins (8-12) 0 0 3 0 3 2 2 0 X 10 13 0 W: Duensing (2-0) L: Carmona (1-3)
FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Indians (13-8) 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 1 Twins (9-12) 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 X 4 10 0 W: Pavano (2-2) L: R. Perez (2-1) S: Capps (4)
In seraching for good things to say about the weekend series, I came up with “Grady hit a home run” and “Shin-Soo Choo throws more strikes than Chad Durbin.”
0) Administrative Note
I travelled with the family Friday, so did not get a chance to write up the rainy 3-2 loss to the Royals.Josh Tomlin was very impressive in getting the no decision, so well done for him. But while Chris Perez certainly did fail, let me posit that Angel Hernandez is the only home plate umpire whose strike zone makes Joe West’s look like the work of someone with stereoscopic vision.
1) Simple Fail
Someone must have pointed out to the Twins that Fausto Carmona was not having a particularly easy time locating his initial offerings within the confines of the strike zone.In the first inning, none of the four hitters swung at the first pitch, even though quite a few of the Twins are known to be less selective than others.To Fausto’s credit, three of those four hitters fell behind 0-1 in the count.Although Carmona walked Jason Repko on five pitches, he also induced five groundouts in the first two (shutout) innings and appeared to be in reasonably good form.
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