M's 5, Astros 7 - the Bad and the Yoogly
I say make 'Im wear the danger-bee hat, like in the ASG, until he starts earning his coin



Adjusting for circumstances, and grading on an A-Pass-Fail, the Mainframe gives LeBlanc a solid "pass" for his 4 ip, 7h, 3 r, 3 er, 3 bb, 3k, 1 hr line.  The first circumstance? This inside/outside strike zone plot.  

  • Three clear strikes that were called balls low
  • One egregious strike that was called a ball low
  • One clear strike that were called balls high
  • One outrageous strike that was called a ball high
  • One outrageous outer strike that was called a ball 
  • One inside jam pitch, a ball, that was given him .... counting on my fingers, -7 +1

Against a right-hand team with Houston's discipline, working with LeBlanc's weapons, all he can do from there is what?  All he can do is try to lay down a bit of harrying fire.  4 ip, 3 er is technically termed "an ideal outcome" when you are his kind of pitcher and the ump crosses you up twice an inning.  Gutsy performance by a grizzled soft-tossing vet, and by the time both of the SP's were out of the game, guess what?  The score was tied.  All things considered, I was more in LeBlanc's corner after the game than before it.

Sure, you might reply, great pitchers should overcome bad breaks -- like ump'ing, like a super short porch in LF, like a liner going off a defender's mitt.  And if Wade LeBlanc were a great pitcher, he could power through that.  He ain't, and he didn't.

But did Dr. D see anything to discourage him from believing that LeBlanc is the kind of pitcher he aspires to be?  Zero.



The M's handed their 3 amigos a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 7th and a chance to board the plane with a series sweep, pull up the landing gear, and break cloud cover.  He came out again with a 90 MPH fastball to open proceedings.  Four runs ensued.  The Twin Closers (TM) are eminently safe; the Three Amigos go back into dry dock.  You can safely call that yoogly, I think.


A term Lou Piniella loved, that Dr. D and Padna learned to hate, was that a relief pitcher "spit the bit," that you handed him the ball with a chance to win or lose and he indicate a distaste for the activities ensuing.  In this case you wonder whether Nicasio needs more than a week of scaffolded penlight examination.  

STRONGLY MITIGATING THIS is that James Pazos is most certain not spitting anything other chewing tobacco in the general direction of Evan Gattis; he's got 22.0 ip with a 21:1 CTL, 18 hits and a single homer (in over two full games' worth of pitching).  Nobody's axing me, but if anybody did, I'm saying you live and die with James Pazos' fastballs in the 7th.  You'll lose a few and you'll win more, and the 7th isn't the big fat hairy deal anyway.  Make it up as you go along, mainly Pazos, sometimes the SP, sometimes Colome 1.1 IP, you know the drill.

Lightly mitigating this would be the overly-sabermetric booked-up fish angle, which says that Nicasio isn't really doing anything different than 17-18, other than pitching in some bad luck.  's possible.  But I doubt it.

Moderately mitigating this were Zuumball's and Servais' opinions that Nicasio simply caught some unlucky breaks, like a key 74 MPH launch-velo double, and that he's fine.  Well, if they say so....

Moderately-heavily mitigating is Ryan Divish's twitter feed, which in fine SSI fashion, documents the OOZ pitches that the Astros took for base hits in the critical 7th.  If this be the way you vote, you vote in favor of MLB giving the Astros rings by no blinkin' mistake.  And, you vote for "yoogly" rather than "bad."  Funny; didn't look it from the camera.  :: shrug ::


Not much else yoogly about a 1-1 split in Houston, and the tone on their blogs is decidedly restrained.  They saw what happened.  They were a Nicasio short of something bad happening to them.


Dr D



tjm's picture

Those were good pitches. Nicasio put the ball where he wanted and got stung. I have zero problem with him in the 7th.

I agree about LeBlanc. I thought he looked fine. I do think, however, I might try to juggle my rotation to keep him on the bench in that ballpark. I hadn't fully appreciated the degree to which it is a new Fenway.


I agree with TJM that the pitches looked decent, that they were out of the zone, and that the contact was hardly worthy of four straight base hits, BUT, I didn't feel like any of the hitters looked particularly uncomfortable or fooled by the pitches' locations, and though the contact wasn't hard, it still was 3/4 line drives, and Scott Servais decided to come with the hook after the "lucky" display despite Nicasio being well rested and one of the better options to pitch multiple frames based on durability.  The manager can say nice things about him after the game all he wants, but when he takes a pitcher that gets paid like that out of the game after 13 pitches with zero outs, he's not happy.


Even if Nicasio is completely just getting lucked out, it's already happened at that point and the 1 IP guy has already 'failed' in his job. He keeps pitching, it's with a big weight around his neck... new guy gets to be the one cleaning up someone else's mess, and the inherited runners 'count' less if they score. I think you have to pull Juan even if you think it's not his fault, unless he's Mr. Iron Will (which I just don't see applying in this situation).

Nicasio has come a ways, and it seems clear he'll give us both downs and ups. Both extremes are fairly extreme. But I still have hope that his next outings continue on the trend which was rudely interrupted tonight, which is to say that the floor for his expected results may be coming up in the short-to-mid term.


The ump didn't help, but he really seemed to have trouble finding the top of the zone when he wanted it, as well as away to right handers.  It's noticeable on the graph, he missed high with 3/4 first pitch fastballs and at least 5 pitches that missed wide by 6".  LeBlanc isn't the kind of guy that can afford to miss the zone by 6" anymore than he can afford an umpire to cut off the outer edge of the strike zone (LeBlanc made a 3rd inning attempt to make peace with the ump that seemed to do him some good, certainly the worst calls were in the first and 2nd innings).  It was a rough game for him all around, and any game where Wade LeBlanc walks 3 batters should be considered not his best showing regardless.  His next start is vs. the Angels in Safeco, so better results next time around are to be hoped for.

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