James Paxton returned and fired a 35-for-41 strikes blizzard that had many people -- notably Dr. Detecto -- thinking he'd never walk a batter again, all the rest of his born days. His last two starts, he reminded us that he's still early in his career, early in his new low-slot incarnation especially. This speed bump may have knocked a wheel out of alignment, but does nothing to diminish SSI's enthusiasm. True, it's a bit of a letdown that K-Pax will not run a 1.75 ERA the next ten years. :- / Demote him to "sensational young pitcher" and leave it at that.
"I'm trying to figure it out right now," Paxton said after allowing a season-high seven runs in 3 2/3 innings as he fell to 5-2 with his second straight loss. "Something definitely isn't right. The last few starts you can tell something isn't quite there. I'm healthy. There is no issue with my arm. I'm not hurt. It's just my timing is off. I'm looking at video and trying to figure it out."
And Servais sez,
"The last couple games he just hasn't looked comfortable out there," Servais said. "There's no rhythm to his pitch sequencing and everything looks like a struggle. He's a big part of trying to dig us out of this little hole we've created here. So we've got to get him right and get him back on track."
Agreed. Personally I compare it to Randy Johnson jelling in 1993. He had fixed his forward lean in the 1992 offseason, talking with Tom House and Nolan Ryan. If you look at the Unit's game logs -- and this was his first big year, 19-8, 3.24 in the Kingdome with 300+ strikeouts -- you see the fits and starts of a holocaust:
- :- ) First 6 games, three HOF performances and three high-BB, bad games
- :- D Three amazing starts in games 7-10, looked like that's all she wrote
- :- ( But then three straight very high BB games in 11-13
- :- D From there to the wire, Randy Big Unit Johnson ... albeit with an 8-BB game here and there
It wasn't until 1995 that Johnson became a machine. The point is, if James Paxton is a juggernaut in fits and starts, mostly starts, it ain't going to deter me any. Your mileage may vary.
Ben Gamel scored yet another 3 runs and is bashing along with an 888 OPS. Quite reasonable for a glove-first player. Does his .463 BABIP make him an illusion? Not if you watch a ballgame now and again. Gamel has a ridiculously low 13% soft hit batted ball rate and a ridiculously high 30% line drive rate. Nobody sustains a .463 BABIP, but this is a young hitter who will not swing at a ball, and who can zing crisp shots all over the park.
He's at 145 OPS+ and Dr. D still does not envision an UP scenario much better than Seth Smith's ... 110, 115 OPS+. So the BABIP is indeed making a nice young hitter look like an MVP. But just 'cause he ain't an MVP don't mean he can't ring you up 3 WAR.
Mike Zunino with two more base hits, albeit with two strikeouts also. His season slash line is .248/.313/.441, which over the last three years is very comparable to the slash lines of Evan Longoria, Danny Valencia, Kendrys Morales and Yasiel Puig. We don't say Zuumball is out of the woods, but could you even *imagine* his bringing the slash up to what it is? Even given a full year to repair it?
Sabermetrically, Zuumball is keeping a very high fly ball ratio. He's at 0.68 groundout/airout. Many times that's the key for a hitter; you remember Jose Lopez stung the ball but just could never catch anything but the top half of the ball, and his groundout ratio zapped his SLG.
Jarrod Dyson hit a home run, continuing to benefit from his attack mode. In other words, the bottom of the lineup continues to Bomb Voyage the enemy pitching. One a' yer all time great 102 OPS+ lineups :- )