Eddie Butler came out throwing … and throwing … and throwing. 43 pitches in the first inning, coughing up 2 runs due in large part to his own throwing error where he skipped a ball off the lip of the 1B cutout Rosario couldn’t handle. He then surrendered a 454 foot shot to Ryan Howard in the 3rd. It was pretty much over before it started for the Rockies tonight in a 4-2 loss.
Then there’s that Rockies offense. A 22yr old Panamanian kid, Severino Gonzalez, in his 3rd major league start mows the first nine batters topping out at 91 on the radar gun. The Rox did a bit better the 2nd time through, scraping out a run in the 4th with a Blackmon single, steal, and CarGo single. One more run crossed in the 7th on a double by Rosario and two productive outs to plate him. Tulo and Arenado were both missing in action, combined 0-for-8.
The bullpen deserves a shout for keeping the game close, 2 innings each from Flande, Roberts, and Friedrich. As several have said, Flande has a clue how to pitch, he’s not dominant but he does manage his situations. One of his walks was being extremely careful with Utley.
This team defies any statistical analysis. Starters are too often completely unpredictable. Butler looked tentative at best and scared at worst. Most of the offense looks like they are swinging a tennis racket without any plan of attack, jumping at balls out of the zone. CarGo whiffed against Jake Diekman in the 6th on 4 pitches, none in the zone, and Arenado went good morning, good afternoon, good night right after him.
The funny part of the broadcast was Rene Lachemann raving about what great sessions he has in the bullpen with Nick Hundley blocking balls. That’s the BEST thing about bullpen sessions he can talk about. I’m wondering where the problem with the starters is. Is it bad pre-game prep? Is it undisciplined or poorly supervised side sessions, working on stuff instead of location? Is it haphazard video analysis and unrepeatable mechanics? These guys are too talented to make it all the way to the bigs and be this bad randomly. At this level, some days you just can’t miss bats, but these guys can’t hit a glove consistently.
I also heard that story about how Cook-like Eddie Butler is. He wishes (and so do we). The theory is a ball might have too much movement, so just start it down the middle and let movement take over instead of trying to paint sinkers. OK. It worked when Cook was amped up, and after a while he’d get tired, the ball would move less, and he’d throw strikes more consistently. Butler didn’t get into huge walk trouble tonight, done in by his error and hits, but I’m not seeing anything resembling control – he’s just chucking. I honestly thought he was making progress until tonight. Too cold to pitch? Didn’t bother the Panamanian kid at all.
Some of the regulars here were discussing the specter of the piggyback again. I don’t think that’s coming. We have 4 guys who can pitch – DLR, Lyles, Kendrick, and Bettis. No excuses for them. I’ll even accept a Kendrick crap shoot on 1 of 3 outings. Butler needs to go down and figure it out, and Bergman, Flande, and Friedrich need to alternate spot starts while providing long relief.
I was happy to see a hard decision on Stubbs, but frankly there needs to be a few more – and Butler should be the first.
Fixing an overhacking, undercontacting offense is another problem. I’m sorry, but WTF is Blake Doyle doing? Afraid to say anything for fear of messing somebody up? Ummmm, they’re already messed up. There are three guys I’m not worried about: LeMahieu, Hundley, and to my amazement, Rosario. (Mmmmm, the crow is cooked just right tonight, compliments to the chef.) Guess what? That’s the bottom half of the lineup. CarGo is showing sporadic signs of life, Tulo hits when nothing is on the line, and … not much else. RMH called it that we’d get schooled by a pitcher we’d never seen. Weiss called him a “strike thrower”, but between the lines that means we can’t hit strikes.
There’s a total lack of walks accepted. (Tonight: 0) Pitchers per plate appearance are league average, out-of-zone hacking is a bit more than average but not horrific, and despite the strikeouts piling up lately we’re still not on the Cubs and Astros scale. The overall swing rate is high and the contact rate is low. Aggressive isn’t bad, it works for KC, but they are making contact on swings early and often. The days of Todd Helton fouling pitches at will just to get a better one are long, long gone.
The problem is you can’t fire the hitters, you have to fire the hitting coach – and that should be the second hard decision.
Other than that, nobody is showing up for this series. Cold weather? Phillies and some terrible baseball? Somebody wanted to say this is a fan boycott, show me a warm day with this attendance and I’ll believe it. Saturday could be very telling with a Giants DH coming.
But, that’s just me. Where do you think things should go?