I am with you Tulo – you are having a great season you don’t want to see go down the tubes!
Look, I am a pretty smart fan. I have played, watched, followed this game since I was 5. I am not a GM or scout, so yes, I recognize that I am speaking from ignorance. But I am also a fan – i.e., you paying customers – and a well versed one.
This is a team that is capable of competing for a playoff spot. And yes, you are on the roughest of all road trips a team can have – 3 cities, 9 games, all on the East Coast. While you want to go 5-4 or 4-5, 3-6 is something that even good teams face when they go on trips like this (Giants trip earlier in May to Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and LA – 7-3, so evidently you can do great on this kind of trip). You know you can play .600 ball on the road, but you need to play better on the road. .333 on the road and .660 at home is just .500. This road trip saw 2 shut-outs. We have seen one blown lead, and two games lost late when tied because the bullpen failed). So, a 5-4 trip could have been had. So, as a fan, here is what we want to say:
1) CarGo is clearly hurting…but now he is hurting the club. CarGo without speed isn’t a gold glove defender, he is not a threat on the bases. And he cannot hit! Its time – the DL is necessary. Get him rested. Give him time to get well and become CarGo.
2) Franklin Morales is not a starter, not even a 5th starter. He has gotten through 6 innings only 5 times and has an ERA well over 5. Even as a 5th starter that is unacceptable. He had a good run in April helping to keep the team above water…but its June on Sunday. You made the move last year to dump John Garland last year without real alternatives. You have options, without touching Tulsa. More later.
3) Juan Nicasio might be acceptable as a 5th starter but even then – you cannot get by with 2 pitches in this league. Yes, a 4.06 ERA looks good, but his FIP ERA (taking out the great defense he has had this season and park effects) is 4.86, or nearly 5. His WHIP of 1.32 is about average, so he is not horrible…but he has gone into the 6th only 6 of 11 games. That is not acceptable and again is damaging the bullpen.
4) After today’s game the team is 2-10 in bullpen games (games that the game is either tied when handed to the bullpen or the team comes back to win when behind thanks to the bullpen – not including games the bullpen blows a lead and the team comes back to win). Every pen is going to have bad games, bad outings. They lose games. However, 2-10? If they were 10-2, the team would be in first place. Even .500, 6-6, would put them back in the division race. But 2-10? This is what happens when your pen is throwing so many innings. Too much stress on those guys to hold leads for 4 innings each night.
5) Tommy Kahnle has been a surprise, able to throw multiple innings with good velocity and has controlled his walks…using double-plays to get out of them. Nick Masset may be the steal of the century. Matt Belisle has been the old Matt the past month, thankfully. LaTroy has had issues closing the door (and I understand going to the lefty in Phili with 2-outs the other night, but LaTroy had only 1-hard hit ball that night), but has not been the worst part of the pen.
6) But both the lefties have been – trouble. Boone Logan has given-up 4 homers this season already. Worse, 3 of the 4 have been walk-offs, and 3 of the 4 have been to lefties. This is not what you expected when you signed the contract with him. The past 3 weeks have been particularly rough. Rex has had other issues – although he has given-up 3 homers himself. His problem is 14 walks vs 21Ks before today’s game. The ERA is up over 3, but the velocity is better. They are key players in your end of the game plan, and neither can get 1st batters out or avoid giving up homers. Not sure what to do about this….yet.
7) The hitters had great plans the first 6 weeks of the season. But ever since the shut-out by Texas the 2nd game of the previous road-trip, they have been in a complete funk. They are now the 2nd amongst all major league teams in strike-outs on the road. 2nd! Walks? They are 18th. That is a major issue. They also are only 15th in stolen bases on the road, despite a solid 81% success rate. This team has good athletes. With CarGo injured and hitting under .200 on the road, Tulo scuffling for the first time in 7 weeks, you simply cannot win and score runs with this issue. Relying on and trying to hit 3-run homers is not a healthy strategy in this day and age.
8) We have a huge hole at 3rd base. Trying Cuddy there – okay, let’s see how he does on D. If its okay, keep it going. Otherwise, we need to make a move to find someone’s 3rd bager who might be on the outs – like Moose in KC that I suggested earlier. I think we can all agree playing Charlie Culberson there for the next 6 weeks is not going to work.
9) This team could use Morales in the bullpen right now, where, even as a starter his BA allowed vs lefties is under .200 (granted 2 homers to lefties in past 3 starts). Second, they need to decide what to do with Juan – can he learn a 3rd pitch? That is what we are keeping the guys down in Tulsa for, right? Well, at 27 the window is not closed (see Corey Kluber who in 2011 was stuck in AAA with a 5+ ERA, which is why we didn’t ask for him in the Ubaldo trade). But if he cannot get the 3rd pitch, he could finally be the closer they have never developed over the years – great arm, great stuff. Could be a great closer.
10) Now to the big thing. We are waiting for Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood to come back – 6 weeks away still, and we don’t know how they will do. The team needs help, a boost. And fans need a boost. So here are two options for both the #4 or #5 spots (GO/AO : number of ground ball outs divided by number of fly ball outs)
For the season – 3-4, 3.91 ERA WHIP 1.116, SO/BB, 3.07 IP/Start 5.2
Season Totals – 5-2, ERA 3.20, WHIP 1.402, SO/BB 2.00 IP/Start 5.2
Now, there is no guarantee that either will be better than Nicasio and Morales. But they are both at AAA, in the best hitting league and parks, and they are both starting to turn heads. Player B you probably guessed is indeed Tyler Matzek, who is already on the team’s 40 man roster. He has been a ground ball machine of late, which is what we want up here. Player A is someone I have followed since 2011 knowing that he is not a prospect but a “system arm” – someone drafted just to give depth in the system. But at each stage he has simply been what you want from your prospects. He is not a prospect because he doesn’t have big-time stuff (then again, neither did Mark Buerhle, and he has nearly 200 wins), and was a 24th round pick. But he also just broke the record for the longest shut-out streak at home for Colorado Springs Sky Sox at 24 innings. I am talking about Christian Bergman, who at 26 has probably learned what he needs to learn. Can he continue to get outs with pinpoint control and changing speeds? Well, I would not be averse to finding out.
If they do not want to rush Butler, Winkler, Gray and Anderson, here are two guys who are pitching well, have learned what they needed to learn, and, are worth seeing if they can be part of this rotation going forward – irrespective of Chatwood and Anderson. Yes, Butler would be the obvious choice to bring-up, but if this team does stay in the playoff hunt, his innings limit might cause him to be shut-down just when needed. The more 5 inning outings he is throwing in Tulsa, the more inning that might be available down the stretch…if they can stay in it that long.
So…vented my spleen. Please listen Dan O’Dowd, Bill Geivett, and Monforts – we are fans, we believe you want to win…but a promising seasons is starting to fall apart, and as a fan, I really cannot watch more of this….kind of performance. And once committed fans are lost…its hard to get them back til 2015. Even I, the world’s most optimistic and purple-colored glass wearing fan…I am ready to start doing something else when Rox games are on.