Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mid-Season Report Card (Part 2)

Today, it’s the pitchers. If you have a weak stomach you might want to skip this entry altogether. But then again, if you have a weak stomach, you shouldn’t be reading a Royals blog to begin with.

Same criteria as yesterday. The numbers under each entry might be a bit unconventional, but we thought it was as good a way as any to measure a pitcher’s worth. The numbers are ERA/K per 9 IP/BB per 9 IP.

Proceed with caution.

Mike MacDougal
3.76 ERA /9.52 K per 9/4.20 BB per 9

Talking about saves makes me queasy. But we have to give some serious props to MacDougal. Over the last month and a half, with the game on the line, there hasn’t been anyone better. Since May 31 when he was anointed the Royals “closer,” he’s nine for nine in save opportunities with an ERA of 2.87. He hasn’t given up a run in a save situation since June 1. If you’re looking for a feel-good story, this is your guy.

Andy Sisco
2.72 ERA /9.42 K per 9/5.44 BB per 9

We anointed him our favorite early on, and nothing he has done has made us change our mind. An absolute steal in the Rule V draft, the Cubs loss is the Royals gain. He has struggled at times, but when he’s on it’s lights out for the hitters. His delivery makes it look like he’s releasing the ball about 40 feet from home plate. I pity the lefty that has to stand in that batters box. Currently being mishandled by the Royals as a LOOGY. His future is in the rotation so he would be better served entering the game at the beginning of an inning rather than with runners on base.

Mike Wood
3.59 ERA /5.64 K per 9/4.27 BB per 9

After his early season success from the bullpen, we lobbied for Wood to rejoin the rotation. But after some careful research where it was revealed that hitters pound the ball after he goes through the lineup once, we are changing our position. Opponents are hitting almost 300 points higher the second time through the lineup against Wood. A terrible stat, to be sure, but that doesn’t diminish his value in pitching up to three innings of middle relief.

DJ Carrasco
3.57 ERA /3.71 K per 9/3.04 BB per 9

Another Rule V success story (so far) for the Royals, Carrasco has shown flashes of brilliance since being converted from the bullpen. He’s faltered of late, having given up 10 base hits in each of his last two starts. Another concern is his low strikeout rate, (3.71 K/9 IP) by far the lowest on the team. The Royals will have to watch him very closely after the break to make sure he doesn’t tire and break down. Given the Royals track record with young pitchers, we’re not particularly optimistic.

Runelvys Hernandez
4.53 ERA /5.35 K per 9/4.20 BB per 9

He’s going to give you about six innings, 10 baserunners and hopefully keep you in the game. He followed a mediocre first two months of the season with an outstanding June where the opposition hit only .185 against him. Since he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, he’s a strong candidate to fade in the second half of the season.

Jeremy Affeldt
3.21 ERA /7.71 K per 9/4.50 BB per 9

Is this the Mike Sweeney of the pitching staff or what? Just one season where he stays healthy and has a defined role on the staff. That’s all we ask. Currently, he’s being labeled as trade-bait, but we think it would be asinine to give up on a left-handed pitcher who can hit 96 on the gun. Stay well, Jeremy.

Jimmy Gobble
5.40 ERA /8.10 K per 9/6.30 BB per 9

Currently the third lefty in the pen. Damn, is this a messed up pitching staff or what?

Ryan Jensen
7.11 ERA /6.39 K per 9/2.49 BB per 9

When he came up the first time, we had him pegged as a useful fourth or fifth starter on a last place team. Today, we have our doubts…

Leo Nunez
6.98 ERA /5.16 K per 9/2.73 BB per 9

In a nice touch of irony, Nunez was called up from the minors the day after the Pirates released Benny Santiago. The Royals are doing him no favors keeping him in the bigs. If the only pitch you can throw for a strike is a straight, 98 mph fastball you’re not going to get too many hitters out. Pitching is a difficult craft to learn, especially at the highest level.

JP Howell
8.65 ERA /5.54 K per 9/5.88 BB per 9

Here is the worst-case scenario for pitchers who are rushed to the big leagues. Currently, there’s not a hitter in all of baseball he’s fooling. Hell, he makes me want to grab a bat. Get this kid to Omaha or Wichita before he freaks out and barricades himself in the clubhouse with Greinke’s lucky necklace and Lima’s CD collection.

Zack Greinke
6.20 ERA /5.36 K per 9/2.40 BB per 9

OK, this is getting serious. He was the Royals best starter the first month and a half of the season. Through May 15 he was dealing, with a 3.09 ERA but his record was 0-4. That's fine. Wins for pitchers are overrated, and besides he was the victim of an unbelievable lack of run support. Everything was alright…He was pitching well and it was understood the wins would come eventually. But something happened. Something horrible. And since then he’s been a disaster. From May 20 onward, his ERA is above nine, his walks per 9 IP has doubled, his HR allowed per 9 IP has tripled and he has yet to pitch beyond the sixth inning. Not the kind of struggle you want anyone, let alone your future ace go through.

Jose Lima
7.33 ERA /4.44 K per 9/3.28 BB per 9

WTP is beyond the point where we can rationally discuss this.

As you can see, WTP feels there aren’t many bright spots on this pitching staff. The starters have been a disaster (5.83 ERA and second-fewest strikeouts in the majors) and the relievers have been inconsistent.

Quite frankly, we’re worried. Royal pitchers are dropping quicker than an amateur poker player going heads up against Fossilman. One week we’re encouraged: Kyle Snyder, Brian Anderson and Denny Bautista were all in minor league rehab and were progressing nicely. No, those three aren’t world beaters, but they can spare us the carnage of another Lima or Howell start.

Suddenly, Snyder is going to be limited to 80 pitches per outing the rest of the season, Bautista hurts when he throws a breaking ball and Anderson is out for the year. Exactly what the hell is going on? Were these guys hurt worse than we were led to believe? Were they rushed into rehab before they were fully healed and then reinjured? Or when it comes to pitchers, is this organization just hampered with old-fashioned bad luck? It sure would be nice for someone from the Royals to address this problem with the pitching. It’s bad and it’s getting worse.

There is reason for some optimism. The bullpen is stocked with some really good, live arms. Future starter Sisco, MacDougal, Nunez, Affeldt and, when he returns, Ambiorix Burgos all tickle the radar gun at 95+ MPH, a luxury the Royals have never had. The problem is, we’re not convinced the Royals know what to do with these live arms. The track record isn’t encouraging.

Damn, this is fun. And we’re not stopping. Tomorrow grades are due for a couple other areas, including the manager(s).

And don’t be shy. Click that comment thingy and let us know how we’re doing.


At 3:29 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

WTP: "Click that comment thingy and let us know how we’re doing."

Daniel: "Good."

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Brett said...

With all of these poor grade for pitchers, none of which I can argue with, what's your view on Guy Hansen? I guess maybe we'll find out tomorrow.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger DL said...

Don't see how the team scoring the least runs in the AL and giving up the second most in the AL deserves anything other than F's collectively.

On individual players, I think you're grading on a heavy curve, as no one on a team this bad deserves anything higher than a B. A- for Mike MacDougal? OK, he's been pretty good and has exceeded expectations, but he's still one of the lesser closers in baseball.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Craig Brown said...

Thanks Daniel and Brett.

DL- I didn't consciously grade on a curve, but that's kind of the way it turned out. Like I said, I tried to base the grades on several critera other than overall performance. Expectations and salary have to play a role.

And besides, where's the fun in giving everyone F's?

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Garth said...

"Jeremy Affeldt
3.21 ERA /7.71 K per 9/4.50 BB per 9

You're using injuries as a liability? I hate when people do that. It's not like Affeldt is throwing himself down a mountain, he's just getting unlucky. It's like Sweeney and his run of luck, but have you seen what Sweeney's been doing lately?

"Royal pitchers are dropping quicker than an amateur poker player going heads up against Fossilman."

Actually, an amateur poker player who knew their pot odds/hand odds might be the hardest player for Raymer to defeat. Raymer himself is a lower-end professional would have a heard time making the same reads he can make on upper-end professionals. He IS the chip-leader going into "Day 3" (Day 6) though, so if he wins... well, that will be impressive.

And besides all that, what happened to the grade for Brian Anderson? He only started 6 games, but if you take out his back-to-back starts against the reigning AL Cy Young winner, he's got a sub-3.5 ERA. I hope we sign him again next year.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Craig Brown said...


I gave Affeldt that grade based on his 14 innings he's pitched this season. He's been alright, but it's really too small of a sample size. I just wish that he could stay healthy for six consecutive months so we can see exactly what he's capable of. No blisters, no strains, just get on the mound and let it rip. My biggest fear as the trade deadline rolls around is the Royals will trade him, they won't get enough in exchange and he'll dominate for whatever team is lucky enough to pick him up.

Never heard of Raymer referred to as a "lower-grade professional." Interesting.

No grade for B Anderson because I was limiting the grades to players currently on the 25 man roster. I had to make the cut somewhere. BA seems like a good guy, writes a fine blog but he'd have to sign a minor league contract before I'd let him in camp next year.

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Brett said...

Just out of curiosity, gjs, why would you ignore starts agianst the reigning Cy Young winner or any other pitcher. Do you think the opposing pitcher really has a big effect on how the opposing team bats? I don't, unless the opposing pitcher is Dontrelle Willis, and the game's in an NL park.

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Will said...

I think Greinke's got a tired arm. I dont know a damn thing about pitching, or pitching mechanics however... Seeing the continued struggles, inability to finish off batters, tender age and continuious (if unabusive) use, and think he might be worn out.

Howell and Greinke need to be sent to Witc (as you suggest) and figure things out. I would suggest Omaha, but we all know the Royals like to ignore Omaha for most cases.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Garth said...

Yeah, I can understand about Anderson, and I'm not losing sleep on Affeldt.

"Never heard of Raymer referred to as a "lower-grade professional." Interesting."

I'm just saying, 9 times out of 10, Phil Hellmuth or Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey would completely roll over this guy. That said, he is close to chip leader again in the WSOP with only 100 or so (I think closer to 110-120) players left, so I do believe he has a very good philosophy with big tourney play. Don't know what it is, but he's got one. From what I've read in CardPlayer.com's updates, he's just been stealing pots and using the almighty semi-bluff; perhaps that's the very good philosophy.

That all said, Raymer would take me for all my money 99 times out of 100. He still is a professional, but he isn't one of those all time greats, by far. That's all I meant.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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