A Month of Letters
M's rotation making possible a quite leisurely summer


John Benson had a winter saying, "Whatever Joe Shlablotnik did in the second half, that's the player he is.  Discard the 1H "noise" and go with the player.  John won some championships with this "what have you been doing lately" shtick.


FELIX - has 11.4 strikeouts, 1.2 walks, and 0 homers (of course) over the last month.  The FIP is zero-plus.  Best of all, he pitches tonight.


WBC-san - Has 7.6, 1.1 and 1.6 homers (with 1.2 being too high and 1.4 being "out of the league").  In case you just joined us, that is the game-within-the-game on an Iwakuma night.

Others might ax, "What is his HR per flyball?,"  The answers being (1) yer missin' the point and (2) yeah, it's unlucky high the last month.  The point is, Iwakuma is an All-Star level starter for a few years here, but don't confuse him with Felix.


Roenis ELIAS - Interestingly, has 6 starts and 6 decisions the last month (4-2).  He looks like he's going to go 15-12, 3.75, which, Blake Beavan.

Did you see that he threw 7 garbage whiffs Sunday ... off his changeup only ... off RH batters only?  Yes, his fastball is his #1 and his hook is his #2.  But that change is the pitch that gives him a (good!) chance to be C.J. Wilson.

We've told the story -- but not everybody reading has heard it -- about the Yankees trying to decide whether to swap Pettitte or Hitchcock for Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson.  Finally they decided, "Hitchcock gives up a double into the gap, he blames the popcorn vendor.  Pettitte blames himself," and they threw us Sterling Hitchcock.

Elias gets mulched by the Yankee$, in front of the angels and everybody, and he comes right back with a thunderous boot to the Royals' (and Padres') man regions.


We were talking monthly progress ... Elias' walk rate is 2.03 the last forty innings.  Wow.  For a rookie left hand pitcher with a "creative" delivery?


Chris YOUNG - has kept it up, and even boosted his K totals, the last six trips around.  The HR-per-fly ball rate is 6% over that time, instead of 11%, and have you seen any OF's stepping back against the fence to take down the popups?

His WAR, seasonlong, is 0.2, same as Joe Beimel.  Just a quick reminder that WAR is a description of what probably should have happened, not was did happened.  As long as you remember what it's for -- that NOT being "to return 47 as the answer to life" -- you're golden.

Young does indeed seem to be adding some extra alacrity to his attack.  He works up in the zone, throws more sliders... he is working in 6-8 changeups a game, and we're here to tell you that they are gimme strikes.  Believe it now or believe it later, he is becoming more venturesome out there.

Bartolo Colon's, and Chris Young's, fastballs are in a sense better than Felix'.  Would Felix do as well, "announcing" the fastball, "tipping" it off?  Give Colon, or Young, any serviceable second pitch and they leap a plateau.  

So, it's been fun to watch Young noodle around with the changeup.


The M's rotation has been keeping them alive.  But ... it ain't like Elias and Young are certified "We'll Get It Done For You" rotation aces.  Their contributions have been nice, but ... Do you expect either pitcher to maintain this level of performance, this year?

In terms of plate discipline, Elias has a dubious swing-and-miss percentage the last month, has a terrible swing-outside-zone rate, has a dubious everything.  Hey, he can pitch for me.  I just wouldn't chalk up a Jon Lester performance the second half.  The M's need like six players, gentlemen.


#5 Starter - Tired of talking about it.  If they don't care, why should I.  

:: promptly talks about it ::  Buhner gets up in the booth, wow, we got the young pitching coming back.  Junior gets up in the booth, wow, can't wait for that young pitching.  Everybody hanging around the M's periphery ... it's like Zduriencik is holding the Beggin' Strips 4' off the floor.  Ho hum.  Maybe next month.  Hey, a kid can get hurt if he throws baseballs, you know.  Why not a year or three off?  

We should take a break from the curmudgeon to :: golfclap ::.  Fact is, nobody has as much on the line as Zduriencik.  The fact that he can resis using his best pitchers, is either funny or sad.  But it's nothing against his integrity, that's for sure.  

Pat Gillick, knowing he had one foot out the door, resisted dealing Felix in return for one last glory shot here.  Gillick did so on principle.  These GM's are that way, practically all of 'em.  Compared to you or me, they're saturated with grace and class.  Well, compared to me...


It was funny to watch the Spurs and Heat, and the whole focus is --- > every blinkin' possession in the 2nd quarter could decide the game ... or watch the NFL.  How do coaches feel about one busted coverage in the 2nd quarter?

And then you try to translate that level of engagement to --- > your local baseball team, and Nope.  Here, we just have allllll the tiiiiiiime in the wooorrrrrrrld.  Loooong, long summer.  What's the big hissy fit, these wasted games in June?

Four teams tied for the 2nd Wild Card, last I checked.  It's going to be decided by what, 1-2 games?


:: back to work ::  The thing with Erasmo is that his fastball is short, is actually an optical illusion the reverse of Young's, and if he leaves it anywhere out-and-over ... it gets detonated.  We've been harping on it for two years.

So finally we get this bizarre little joke, the last 3 outings ... per Rick Waits, Erasmo will not throw a fastball through that circle NO MATTER WHAT, and the result is a blizzard of BB's and shutout innings.  Three games, 11 walks, 13 shutout innings.

It's a first step for him, if he can lock in the sense of danger permanently.   There's no shame in a short fastball:  Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux couldn't challenge with fastballs.  Ever.  So Erasmo, for three starts at least, has well-and-truly grokked the key to his progress.

What was Torre's line about what AAA was for, and the major leagues being for?  We forget :- )


Dr D



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