In last night’s game preview I emphasized the role and future of Chad Bettis. Can Bettis, if healthy (granted, as with so many Rox pitchers, a huge issue) become a front-end (1, 2, or a plus 3), or is he just a swing starter, a guy who simply isn’t good enough to give 30 starts a year, who you might keep in AAA and bring up for the odd start.
Bettis’s stuff is good enough by far. None of his pitches are a 60+ on the 0-70 scale, but on nights when his control is good, they are all 55+, which means that hitters cannot key on a particular pitch, making all the pitches dangerous. There are starts like his previous one where his fastball control is off and he becomes really hittable, as seen in his last start. He has to learn to be effective on nights when his fastball is off (even good-great pitchers have 5 or so starts a year where they don’t have their A game…can you help your team to win on those nights?), so that he can at least avoid his bullpen from being used up in repeated games where he doesn’t make it out of the third or fourth inning. But some of that is also maturity.
Well, the Chad Bettis we saw last night, the one who pitched in Phili earlier this year, the one who was a starter in much of his first stint in Colorado in 2015….that Chad Bettis can easily be a #2 on this team and a high #3 on others. Last night he mixed and matched his pitches, keeping hitter off balance, resulting in a lot of easy fly balls and grounders usually rolled over to the right side. In 7 innings he gave up 3 hits, to which we add 3 walks (1 IBB). The only inning he was tested was the 6th when he gave up a single and a walk, then got a nice double play on a 6-4-3. He then walked Robinson Cano (the lefty) to get Rockie killer Mark Trumbo…who he struck out on some nice pitches. Rally over. And because of the DH he was able to stay in for the 7th, which featured a walk surrounded by strikeouts. He finished the night with just 98 pitches overall. That folks is how you do that. And that is really hard to do when you get 6Ks and 3 BBs.
The Rox can use more of those. It will help the 2016 bullpen avoid the burnout that almost every Rox bullpen gets.
Sadly the bullpen couldn’t maintain the shutout. Christian Friedrich came on to start the 8th and faced a right-handed pitch hitter and walked him (personally I thought the strike-zone was kind of squeezed, but you live with it) and then the very next batter, lefty Kyle Seager figuring that after that walk Friedrich would try and get ahead in the count jumped an inside fastball and crushed it. Seeing Friedrich give up his 2nd left-hand hitter homer wasn’t good. I have been really disappointed in Friedrich, who at the end of last year had a lot more zip and movement on his fastball. This year he has looked lost at times and dominate at others. Maybe the effect of all those times getting up and warming up even if you are not going to pitch. Since he’s cheap and has lots of control he will likely be back next year since he is out of options. There is a promising arm in there…getting it out, and getting better versus righties (he was hurt by a lot of bad luck this year but need to work on his breaking balls to righties).
To be fair Kyle Seager, the 27-year old third basemen who has 24 homers after 25 last year when he was an All-Star and a guy who the Mariners gave a 7-year, $100 million contract. If he played at Coors he would probably have 32 or more homers, so, Friedrich got beat by a good hitter.
Weiss then called on the machine…Justin Miller…who notched his 8th straight strike-out of hitters. His stuff looks electric and granted he was facing a power hinter in Cruz but, Cruz looked over matched. So first out. Then Weiss went to Boone Logan, who got Cano, and was replaced (thank you Weiss…don’t let him face a righty) by Jairo Diaz who walked Trumbo before getting the lefty and former Rox Seth Smith to strikeout. The 9th had a little drama with Axford pitching as he gave up a 1-out single to Brad Miller, then struck-out Romero before walking O’Malley and then facing Seager. Axford became a curveball machine against Seager and actually struck him out on the 5th pitch with a nasty curve that was over the plate and perfect in height but i guess it fooled even the ump because he called it a ball. Funny thing was Garneau got up to congratulate Axford on the save, Axford started to meet him, Seager had that slight movement to the bench but waited in case he got lucky…and he did. Didn’t matter, got him with a strikeout swinging (foul tip), so only harm for three more pitches.
Garneau was of course the hero of the game. In a 0-0 game with Iwakuma allowing only 3 hits through 6. Then to start the 7th he got DJ. Then gave a back-up the middle (nearly grabbed by Iwakuma) single by Morneau which was followed the next pitch by a weird slicing liner to right by Paulsen. Then Dustin jumped the first pitched and absolutely crushed it off the facing in left (a no-doubter by the sound alone). Rox 3 Mariners 0. That was followed by a Descalso single very similar to Morneau’s and a soft single to Blackmon. And Iwakuma was done. Sadly the Rox left both runners stranded and so stayed at 3. With the score 3-2 in the 9th they worked a run. After Garneau popped out Descalso singled on a ground ball to center and Blackmon singled to right putting men at 3rd and 1st. Blackmon then stole his 37th base but after Brandon Barnes struck out without moving the runners leaving it up to Arenado. Which would have been bad except the Seatte pitcher Zych uncorked a wild pitch that just allowed Descalso to score, giving Axford that extra run of cushion.
Thus the Rox got just their 3rd win against the AL West all year. I think the Rox should simply petition for the end of interleague play.
What we learned last night was:
- Chad Bettis has a chance to be a nice fixture on the front end of the Rox rotation for a number of years in front of us.
- To win games on the road you need others than your stars to come through. When your runs are from Dustin Garneau and Daniel Descalso (who when he starts the team is like 24-12…who knew?) that is when you can steal a game.
- It doesn’t matter where the ballpark is or how big…if you crush it nothing is going to hold it in. Both homers would have been gone from any park but, to use Bob Euker’s line, the Grand Canyon.
The Rox will try and win a road series today with the great and wonderful Yohan Flande…okay, that sums up the season…