Normally I just ramble on about whatever baseball topics catch my fancy. I’m not really changing that up today, I’m merely going to throw one topic out there that I’ll have to follow to somewhat focus my ramblings – I’m only going to discuss happenings in the American League.
The Blue Jays used eight pitchers in a nine inning game for the first time in team history on Thursday as they emerged victorious 8-7 over the Phillies. If you quickly glance at the scorecard you’ll see that recent called up Jeremy Accardo picked up the save. Huh? With Scott Downs on the DL with a sprained big toe the thought was that the team would turn to Jason Frasor to shut the door in the ninth, so why did Accardo pick up the save? Frasor did enter the game late, but it was in the bottom of the eighth inning. Frasor then proceeded to blow the save though he allowed only one hit while recording an out. The club then turned to B.J. Ryan to start the ninth inning, and he picked up a walk and a strikeout before he too was removed for Accardo who recorded two outs to pick up his first save of the season in his first big league appearance of the year. Despite all this craziness if I had to grab Blue Jays’ reliever at this point I would line them up as Frasor, Ryan and Accardo as I think today was the exception and not the rule. Oh yeah, I also should mention that despite the blown save, Frasor picked up his fifth victory of the year once again proving just how ineffective it is to judge a pitcher by his record (he is now 5-0). Frasor now has more victories than Javier Vazquez who has only four victories despite posting a 3.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 112 Ks in 92.1 innings this season for the Braves.
Gavin Floyd was screwed on Thursday as the White Sox’ bullpen betrayed him. Floyd left the game with a 5-1 lead after seven innings before a collection of arms conspired to help the cross town Cubs to emerge with a 6-5 victory. In the outing Floyd only struck out two batters but he allowed just seven base runners in his seven innings to lower his ERA to 4.65 and his WHIP to 1.36. Those numbers still don’t match his totals from last season (3.84 and 1.26), but given his poor start to the year they are rather remarkable. Floyd has now hurled 6-straight “quality starts” for the Sox even though he has only two victories to show for it despite a 1.62 ERA in that time. I don’t think he will be able to get his numbers down to the point that they will rival what he did last season, but as of now he is pitching better than the likes of Zack Greinke and Johan Santana, and that is certainly saying something.
Magglio Ordonez has been benched by Jim Leyland in Detroit for his continued struggles at the dish. Mags is hitting .273 with only two home runs and 22 RBI putting him on pace to roughly hit six bombs with 60 RBI this season. For a guy who has averaged 24 home runs and 115 RBI the past three seasons, that is a shocking fall. His BB/K rate is still strong at 0.76, the same as his career numbers, and his BABIP mark is also right on his career mark of .320 at .315. So why the struggles? (1) He isn’t hitting the ball hard with a 15.2 LD-rate, and that is a precipitous fall from his career 20 percent mark. (2) His swing has been bereft of power as his current Isolated Power mark of .069 is roughly one third his career .202 mark. For those of you who read Isolated Power and think it’s a foreign language, the measure basically outlines a player’ ability to produce extra base hits. If you want to read more about it, click on the following link to Isolated Power, A Review. The bottom line is that it appears, even when he makes contact, that he is hitting with a wiffle ball bat.
John Smoltz got the thumbs up after his strong minor league start on Wednesday night in which he permitted a single run in four innings of work at Triple-A Pawtucket (without a doubt one of the best names in minor league baseball). As a result of his diligent work coming back from his shoulder surgery, Smoltz will finally be seen on a major league diamond for the first time this season on June 25th against the Nationals. For now the team plans to go with a 6-man rotation, but we’ll see how long that lasts. For more on Smoltz, give One Up, One Down a read.
By Ray Flowers