I'm sitting here this morning at my computer with Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS on the MLB Network. As always, it is remarkable how skinny these guys look, compared to modern players.
Jeff Wilson sings the praises of Vicente Padilla, who needed 82 pitches to get through the first four innings and looked like he'd be lucky to make it through five innings, but who then needed just 33 pitches for innings 5 through 8, meaning the bullpen only had to pitch the 9th.
The decision worked out well, but given how Padilla struggled early, and given how rested the bullpen was, I kind of wonder why Jason Jennings didn't come out for the 7th or 8th inning. Sticking with a guy who is dominant is one thing...sticking with a guy who is scuffling, like Padilla was yesterday, is another story, and given Washington's reluctance to use Jennings (who has gone a week since pitching last, and had gone a week since pitching the outing before), I'm wondering if there's some health issue there we're not aware of.
Of course, with Frankie Francisco going to the d.l., Washington may be trying to be as judicious as possible in using the bullpen, given that there appear to be only a couple of guys out there he really trusts in a close game. Jon Daniels said that if it were up to Frankie, he'd still be active, but they decided to play it safe and activate him on Friday rather than push to have him ready for the Detroit series and risk aggravating the situation.
The same piece also has some good quotes from Derek Holland about what he learned from the 9th inning meltdown on Friday:
But he recognized the problem — he was trying to overpower hitters instead of making pitches — and vowed to not make the same mistake again.
"Instead of actually thinking, I was trying to do too much," said Holland, whose ERA climbed from 1.74 to 4.85. "I wanted to get the out my way instead of going right after the guy. I’ve learned from that now."
I'd much rather have Holland go through these learning experiences when he has a significant margin for error while pitching out of the pen than as a member of the rotation. He'll be in the rotation soon enough...but this is exactly why it makes sense for someone like Holland to break in out of the bullpen.
Our man Z has a good blog post up at the DMN highlighting how little work the bullpen is getting right now, with the upshot being that Kris Benson's presence on this roster may be superfluous. He walks through the various alternatives the Rangers could go with in using that 25th roster spot should they decide that they don't need to use a spot on a long man who never pitches.
Evan Grant's game story focuses on how the Angels appear to be treating the Rangers as legitimate rivals in a pennant race, rather than pretenders who will fade soon enough, particularly with how some unknown person taped Marlon Byrd's quote about John Lackey needing to bring his A game to Lackey's locker followed by the Kinsler HBP and Lackey ejection.
Gil LeBreton thinks that home plate ump Bob Davidson blew it in ejecting Lackey...LeBreton thinks that, under the circumstances and given the recent history, there's little reason to think that the Angels were trying to hit Kinsler.
Jim Reeves has his Sunday notes column up, and while he takes a couple of swipes at the Mavs and Mark Cuban, his lead item is about the Rangers' improved defense and how well the Elvis Andrus promotion has worked. And I'm wondering if he's been reading LSB:
There’s ample evidence to support the claim that it’s the Rangers’ much-improved infield defense that’s at least partially responsible for better pitching results, thus helping fuel Texas’ surge into first place in the AL West. There’s no question that the rookie shortstop is at the heart of that improvement.
Statistical peripherals — numbers other than ERA, in other words, like walks, strikeouts and home runs per game — may suggest that the Rangers’ pitching performance isn’t much different right now than it was last season, but if you’re watching the games, you know better.
Reeves, you may recall, was one of the most vocal local media members ripping the Rangers for disrespecting Michael Young and forcing him to move, rather than letting Young decide for himself if and when he wanted to change positions (which would have meant, of course, trading Andrus, since Young wasn't likely to voluntarily switch positions at any point before his current contract is up).
Randy Galloway looks at the big trades made by our local teams lately and concludes that Jon Daniels (with the Teixeira trade) is the only one who has gotten it right, although he can't resist taking a shot as well:
Danks, Young, Edinson Volquez, Armando Galarraga, Coco Cordero, Nick Masset and Danny Ray Herrera are thriving former Rangers pitchers now scattered throughout baseball as a result of Jon Boy deals or roster mistakes. And one of the game’s best first baseman is San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez.
For a GM, when your team hasn’t had a winning record on your watch, normally you’re fired when so many trades (with the exception of Volquez and Herrera for Josh Hamilton, which I’d still do) go in the ditch.
If you'd still do the Hamilton trade, there's no real point in adding Volquez and Herrera in that list. Francisco Cordero is thriving for the team that signed him as a free agent, and the Rangers ended up with Blake Beavan, Julio Borbon, and Nelson Cruz for Cordero, so I'm not sure why he's lumped in there. Nick Masset has had a nice 6 weeks for the Reds after two seasons of not being very good. But the point appears to be to load as many pitchers as possible into the list, without regard to whether it makes sense to include them.
And some of the others aren't exactly "thriving"...but I'll save that for a blog post I'm working on for this coming week.
Jean-Jacques Taylor writes that the Rangers are winning because the players trust Ron Washington.