Can’t Miss Baseball…Rox at Mets – Game 2

And not just because of the chance to watch Matt Harvey pitch.

I am traveling (again) and so last night I didn ’t get to see or hear or even imagine the game Jon Gray was tossing last night (I have gotten to watch fewer games this year than at any point in the past 5). Save a home run gopher ball and a walk to the pitcher, it was pretty close to a perfect night for the young righty. We have seen a lot of young arms in our time watching the Rox. From Burke and Wright in the early days to Jennings in the mid-period to Ubaldo and Frankie M in 2007. Of all those only Morales and Ubaldo have near the stuff we saw last night. Ubaldo of course became the best pitcher in Rox history…sorry Jeff Francis…in large part because stuff does matter. There is a reason why Greg Maddux is among the greatest right-handed throwers in history. His stuff was average at best (he would have made a great Rockie based on stuff), but he knew what to do with his collection of so-so pitches…mostly thanks to control. But Maddux is pretty much alone among the great righties. All the rest were the Gibson – Ryan – Clemens variety. Great stuff makes a big difference.

 

No, I am not trying to suggest Jon Grey is in that category. Those are once a generation guys. But he can be a heck of a pitcher. Because what we saw last night – both control and TRUST (he threw pitches where a few inches either way the pitch is either a ball or in the hot zone of the hitter). Eddie Butler has great stuff…he really does. But when he throws he doesn’t throw the ball with any confidence. He simply doesn’t trust his stuff, which means a bad combination of nibbling and not finishing his pitches. Of course the silly thing is that doing what Butler does gets the same bad result as throwing his pitch and living with the outcome. I stress that this doesn’t mean that Butler is done as a talent. It takes some pitchers a while to get to that point of trust and confidence. Something to watch the last month and a half of the season.

 

But Gray, at least for a night….was the kind of guy who can flat dominate because he knows his stuff can be unhittable, and who doesn’t take a hit (like the homer in the 2nd) as an excuse to go back to nibbling. If Gray throws like that most nights, even if his stuff isn’t there which of course its not every night, even if he gets beat or hit hard, it will be on his terms, not the hitters. For those who worried the Rox had ruined Gray in the minors, I hope this made you feel better. Gray gets it – you get quick outs when they present themselves (2 and 3 pitch outs were big last night), and when you need to go and get the K or the long AB where you get a popup (as he did with Granderson in the 5th).

 

The Rox in a “perfect” world would throw a 1-2-3 next year of Bettis, DLR, and Gray. Bettis’s elbow is the key right now. Can he avoid major surgery? If he can, does his stuff stay as electric as it has been at times this year? DLR has to be more consistent in 2016, but we know he can do that…if he keeps his hands healthy (oh, and his groin). And Gray? He needs to continue to develop. And the Rox need to be smart with him (its why I am not real bothered by the 6 inning limit last night).

 

But here is the thing. Three top staring pitchers is not enough for this team to even dream of the Wild Card. In 2013 they had arguably their 2nd best top group of pitchers in team history. Chacin, DLR and Chatwood all had sub-4 ERAs and there were very few nights when they pitches they didn’t put their team in a position to win. But 2013 was a lousy year. Not because of the big 3. But because the other myriad of imposters who threw in the 4 and 5 spots were simply awful! I mean Jim Tracy Sunday lineup awful. The Rox to be competitive have to have at least 4 and preferable 5 or 6 starters who can simply keep their team in the game. Aside from 2009 and the year that all 5 starters won 10 games, this team has struggled to have competitive rotation options 1-5.

 

Which is why tonight, while lacking the glamour of last night, is nearly as important to the ball club for 2016 and 2017. The Rox need competitive options for 4 and 5 (and given the Rox issues with keeping pitchers healthy, probably 7-8 options overall). There are a lot of potentials for those spots in 2016…assuming Bettis and Gray who join DLR in the front end of the rotaiton. They include prospects like Freeland and Hoffman (and if his elbow ever heals, Tyler Anderson), but also guys who have showed glimpses but have missed in 2015 – Eddie Butler and Tyler Matzek (who is back in AAA getting ready to throw…he is hoping he beats the yips). But Chris Russin…along with David Hale…is one of those candidates who has to make you stop and look. A former 4th round pick of the Cubs who dumped him last September for reasons I have not completely understood, is not an ace. He’s not even a #3. But the lefty, when he hits his spots, can be a very competitive #4 for the Rox (or #5). They have gotten some good starts from Russin, but the Rox need to see more starts in the 3 runs over 6 innings variety. When he hits his spots…he can do that.

 

And so just like last night we get to see another tryout for the Rox 2016 rotation. Not sexy…I mean its Chris Russin for goodness sake. I mean compared to John Gray Russin is….Yohan Flande (what does that mean Flande is then compared to Gray?). But they need to have a number of solid potential 4th and 5th starters for 2016. If they can start to get guys who are real deals as part of the rotation for 2016 then…well, then this team has a chance to be a 2006 Rockies…or with a little stretch maybe the 2009 Rox. So…watch tonight. In addition to seeing if Kyle Parker and Ben Paulsen can be part of the starting 8 in 2016 and whether or not DJ can keep hitting for the whole season, watch Chris Russin. And imagine him going into San Francisco to face Matt Cain a year from now the Rox trailing the Giants by 2 games for the WC in mid-September. Is this a guy the team can give the ball to when facing a pressure situation? Well, we continue to find out tonight.

 

In other news…the Rox get a recently hot Matt Harvey, whose stuff is electric when its strikes and really wild when its not. Jon Gray is not Matt Harvey. Jon Grey has a chance to be Garret Cole, the #1 of the Pirates. Harvey and Fernandez in Miami are in a different category. So enjoy watching Harvey tonight. See what it looks like to have a #1 who you just know you are going to win because he is throwing tonight.

 

Oh…and is CarGo the best overall player in the National League tonight? If he drives in a run against Harvey, I think the answer will be getting closer and closer to a yes.

 

Rox Position Mets Position
Blackmon CF Lagares CF
Reyes SS Murphy 1B
CarGo RF Cespedes LF
Arenado 3B Uribe 3B
Paulsen 1B Cuddyer RF
DJ 2B Flores 2B
Hundley C d’Arnaud C
Parker LF Tejada SS
Russin P Harvey P
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Gary
Gary
5 years ago

See my post about Grey being lucky to pitch against punchless Mets and Rusin’s dominance is proving my point.By the way I do like Rusin.Swings the bat like a hitter,pitches fast,and generally keeps the ball down pitching to contact.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

“And imagine him going into San Francisco to face Matt Cain a year from now the Rox trailing the Giants by 2 games for the WC in mid-September. Is this a guy the team can give the ball to when facing a pressure situation? Well, we continue to find out tonight.” I think Dr. C has been smoking again. As a side note, Matt Cain really looks washed up. His days are limited. Same applies to little Timmy. I expect… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I’ve pretty much written him off as well. I’m almost ready to write off Butler but he still has options in minor leagues to find himself again. Did you hear that Matzek is back in Boise? A flicker of hope.

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I’d take Rusin just like we took Josh Fogg in similar situations.Rusin keeps us in games period.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Game is over. 1) NYM scored first. 2) NYM have best home record in baseball. 3) NYM have shutdown bullpen but it won’t be needed tonight.

Still sticking around just to see cargo and late inning without Tulo’s automatic outs.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

I have to admit that after the Marlins traded Reyes to the 51st State in 2012, I lost track of him. So I haven’t seen him play in 3+ years. Now I’ve seen him a half-dozen times. Time flies. Aging is a brutal force of nature. The guy’s range is awful. His arm is weak. It’s such a dichotomy watching him and NoDo playing next to each other. To me…..visually……NoDo is throwing better, and harder than ever. Cargo is getting… Read more »

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I agree on Reyes, how in the world did he get such a high-paying contract?

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

Blowgan coming in left on left to get blown up. He should be gone this winter for a bucket of baseballs.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

The sad thing here is that Familia is my Fantasy team’s ace Closer…….and the Booner just blew his Save opportunity.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

Oh boy……the Booner is coming in. Poor Walt.

I propose that we change our pitching development/drafting strategy from “pitch to contact” and draft/sign ground ball pitchers to draft guys that eat steel, shit nails, spit bullets, and throw strikes – and then reinforce the strike throwing when they get in the system.

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago

Observations from watching on DVR delay most nights: Watch the Rockies in late innings, when hitting, as the recording fast forwards: 1 out….2 out….3 out. Like clockwork. Done, and delete. Watch the Rockies’ bullpen in same late innings: Walk (probably), out or walk (maybe), walk or hit (probably), score, score, 3-ball count, out(?!), walk, hit, score. Ok, I’m ranting and making it up on this second paragraph. Neither paragraph is too far from the truth though. I feel bad for… Read more »

Jeem
Admin
Jeem
5 years ago
Reply to  roxnsox

Just speculating perhaps the clubhouse is a more loose, relaxed and pleasant place with a certain shortstop off playing Games That Matter.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

Jeem – I agree. I’ve watched this Mets series with great interest and have noticed two interesting intangible events. The first is that I frequently see Cargo and Reyes hanging out with each other in the dugout. Cargo looks totally at ease. Of course when you’re white hot that’s probably to be expected…..but I think Reyes is probably a more approachable player. Secondly – I’ve also noticed Eddie Butler following Jon Gray around. I see that as a good thing.… Read more »

Jeem
Admin
Jeem
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Yep, all of those things noted by me as well, esp the Gray-Butler relationship, and I had the same thought as you. If Butler can see his buddy doing it maybe he’ll get the “why not me” attitude. I think Eddie has really been set back by the (Bridich’s?) miscalculation that he was ready to arrive last season, then he hurts his shoulder, then he’s not sure about it all spring, but he makes the team anyway because we’re so… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

I hear you about Butler.

Fact is, he’s in a good spot. We’re not going anywhere quickly. He should keep getting starts the rest of the season, regardless of performance. It doesn’t take much for the light bulb to come on. Maybe he catches a break and has back-to-back solid 7 inning starts in late September and walks into the offseason with some confidence.

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

Jeem, you are quite possibly right. And it doesn’t make me angry that you would speculate and be right. Just a little sad. Brilliant talent, never lost in his life at any stage until he came to the Rockies and spent a lot of years doing it, and so never knew how to lose, took a lot of unfair shots over his injuries, not a natural charmer. I get it. (I saw Cargo’s post-trade interview and he said some “correct”… Read more »

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago

Reasonably decent game until the BlowPen comes in to transform a squeaker into another Blown-Out. First Gray now Rusin get decent starts only to find themselves saddled with worthless relief efforts.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago

Before you guys (and girls) get too down on the BP – keep in mind over the course of a 162 game season, the SP and RP are linked. Good SP can cover a bad Pen, to some extent. A good Pen can cover bad SP, to some extent. The Rox aren’t good with SP or RP. So we’re completely exposed. Here’s a list for you (yes, even you Gary): 1. Col 2. Cin 3. ATL. 4. Tex 5. Philly… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

And I just called you the Stephen Hawking of our site.I am not anti-statistics,just anti new age statistics[sort of] Walks,% of walks that will score,odds of hitting in a plus count verses a negative count etc are old school and can be telling as well.I swear ROOT said the Rox had issued 735 base on balls this season.Is that RIGHT? I thought that one recurring theme has been pitch to contact and DON’T ISSUE WALKS.I love you and Ag with… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Gary – I’m just teasing you.

The Rox have issued 385 BB as of yesterday. Couple that with “holding” opponents to a 281 BA (only the Phillies are worse) and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

I think we all agree that issuing too many walks is bad. And it’s worse for NL teams at the top since they really shouldn’t ever be walking the opposing pitcher, something that’s become kind of a Rockies specialty.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Unrelated point: Blue Jays now a half game out, and easily project as the winners of the AL East. Even before the trading frenzy they were better than the Yankees on paper — their run differential was better, and the Yankees have been quietly having their own little Planet Alignment season. Raise your hand if you had guessed that both Texeira and A-Rod would be 30 HR guys … I’m with Roxnsox … I’m pulling for the Blue Jays. I… Read more »

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

There’s no question that Toronto has been on quite the roll since it got Tulo and the other players in trades. But in today’s box scores it shows Tulo hitting .224 and Revere hitting .176 (those are their averages with the Blue Jays). So, what’s going on? Is some of the Blue Jays’ success an improvement in defense due to these players? Is some of it the intangibles of the clubhouse enhanced by these players? Or is the Blue Jays’… Read more »

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Julian

Julian – I have noticed that Tulo overall BA has dropped to about 290. I haven’t looked at defensive metrics, but I know this (and commented on it last night) – Jose Reyes’s range and arm at SS is a shadow of what it used to be. Tulo also isn’t what he used to be, but gets a much better grade on the eye test. So it could be some addition by subtraction. In my opinion, the David Price is… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

Don’t forget Hawks 4 shutdown innings.

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago
Reply to  Julian

Let’s not forget the Planet Alignment Theory, which can be greatly enhanced by acquiring a few star players 😉

roxnsox
roxnsox
5 years ago
Reply to  Julian

And Julian, I’d posit that their success is undoubtedly a mixture of correlation AND causation related to the good acquisitions. Never mind Tulo’s terrible .224 average. (There’s a stat for every argument.) I’m never going to sit in the stat-head section with some of you, as you know and with no disrespect, because that’s not how I roll, and I say again that there’s a time to just leave the parsing of numbers alone and enjoy good baseball. He hit… Read more »

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

Interesting article on Purple Row about whether Rusin should be in the starting rotation next year. I hadn’t thought about it, but at this point, we could have DLR, Gray, Bettis, Lyles, Rusin, Chatwood, Hale and Butler all available to start next spring (ignoring injuries). That’s not a bad start to a rotation, before we even add anyone through trade or free agency. It’s not the Mets or the Dodgers, but for the Rockies it’s not bad, with more help… Read more »

Pooter
Pooter
5 years ago
Reply to  Julian

I miss Chatwood! I hope he comes back strong.

sdcarp
Admin
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Pooter

Guys – Chatwood is coming back from TJ #2. The odds are stacked against him. His best chance is in the BP. Of course……we do have a need there.

EdtheUmp
EdtheUmp
5 years ago
Reply to  Julian

Trade Big P for a REAL closer. That move is #1 in my book. I’ve had it with his blister problem, plain and simple. I understand that some of you believe we should keep him and I understand that. I would live, without adding anyone new from outside the organization, with the remaining SPers to choose from begin 2016. We need a shutdown closer more than anything (Although he seems to understand closing, I don’t believe Otto is the man.… Read more »

JulieG
JulieG
5 years ago
Reply to  EdtheUmp

Ottavino certainly deserves a chance and I believe he could be a excellent closer, however, we need to see where he is first. The other problem seems to me to be that shut down closers seem to be rather rare and out of the players we would trade Cargo might be the only one unless we let go of a whole raft of them. This team is looking for saviors or maybe lesser saints, but is anyone, but the fans… Read more »

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

Of course, in addition to the 8 SPs that I listed, we have the 2 AWOL first round draft picks, Matzek and Tyler Anderson. If we even get one of them onto a Rockies’ starting rotation, that would be great.

I wonder if the Braves will do what they need to do to keep Daniel Winkler or whether we’ll get him back under Rule 5 rules. I hated to lose him.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

I know it is fun to try to come up with a list of SPs for the future. I’m out on an island by myself touting Jack Wynkoop as the young pitcher that is closest to major-league ready. He was a college pitcher drafted this year and he understands pitchability. Don’t forget that we have Shane Carle who we got in the winter either. See this: BOI: Wynkoop (2-1, 2.88) NBR: Carle (12-6, 3.59) Carle – already a 12-game winner… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago

How I love “old” stats!

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

RMH, I think that there are several starting pitchers at New Britain who, although not top prospects, could be #5 starters/long relievers, sort of equivalent to a Bergman, not superstars, but guys who might be able to win a spot on a major league roster. I’m thinking of Musgrave, and maybe Flemer, in addition to Carle. Of course Hoffman is a top prospect. I think that all of these guys will move on to AAA next year. We might actually… Read more »

Jessika
Jessika
5 years ago

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Jaxon
3 years ago

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