Blue Jays report card for May 2003: Part II, Pitching

Sunday, June 01 2003 @ 11:14 AM EDT

Contributed by: Dave Till

Part II of my May report card - this time, it's the pitchers. This month's pitching report card isn't the Gallery of Horror that last month's card was. But beware of dark clouds, no larger than men's hands...

Brian Bowles
6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 SO
I wonder if he and Jason Kershner met in any airport waiting rooms while switching places. Like Kershner, Bowles (a) pitched well in Syracuse, and then (b) reminded everybody why he was sent to Syracuse in the first place. Not in the Jays' plans for the future, or even the present.
Grade: Gone

Doug Creek
1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 SO
How on earth can you give up 10 baserunners in 4 2/3 innings with an ERA of only 1.93? We may not get to find out the answer to this question, as Creek wound up on the DL, to the relief of Jays watchers everywhere.
Grade: D-

Doug Davis
4.34 ERA, 29 IP, 34 H, 12 BB, 9 SO
Makes Chris Michalak look like Randy Johnson - nibbles with everything. The only other pitcher I ever saw throw like that was Dave Stieb in his 1998 comeback. But Sir David was 41 years old at the time, and Davis only pitches like he's 41. If you don't have the weapons, you're not going to win the war.
Grade: D+

Kelvim Escobar
1.83 ERA, 19.2 IP, 10 H, 16 BB, 23 SO
I give up. Instead of trying to predict what Escobar will do next, I'll just consult my Magic 8 Ball each month. Forecast for June: "Answer Hazy. Try Again Later." How can somebody be in the major leagues seven years and still be pitching like Eppy "Nuke" LaLoosh?
Grade: B+ (I can't give him an A, I just can't)

Roy Halladay
3.22 ERA, 44.2 IP, 40 H, 3 BB, 35 SO
Still giving up more home runs than the Doc of yore, but has basically decided to stop walking anybody. Gave up nearly as many hit batsmen (2) as walks (3) in May. (Which reminds me that Don Drysdale's version of an intentional walk was apparently a fastball in the ribs - his theory was, why use four pitches to do the job when only one will do?) Given the Jays' offense, Halladay will easily win 20 if he doesn't snap a labrum or something.
Grade: A

Mark Hendrickson
4.46 ERA, 34.1 IP, 40 H, 7 BB, 10 SO
Looks remarkably phlegmatic on the mound - if someone set off a cap pistol by his right ear, he looks like he'd probably just nod, smile, and continue throwing breaking pitches low and away. I believe this is called "poise". Has better control than Doug Davis, and slightly more velocity, which is why he'll keep the job, and Davis will go into the pen. Doing what the Jays wanted Tanyon Sturtze to do, but you just can't win in the major leagues while striking out only one man every three innings. Even Bob Tewksbury struck out way more batters than that. I predict Lurch is about to get hammered bigtime.
Grade: C-

Cory Lidle
2.98 ERA, 45.1 IP, 38 H, 9 BB, 20 SO
Uh oh: his K/IP and K/BB ratios deteriorated this month (though his K/BB is still good). Given that he's on course for 240 innings this year, and the Jays are about to go to a four-man rotation, I predict an arm injury for Lidle, either this year or next year. I hope I'm wrong. For now, he's been great.
Grade: A

Aquilino Lopez
3.38 ERA, 16 IP, 11 H, 9 BB, 17 SO
Is the pitcher the Jays hoped Kelvim Escobar would be. So much of baseball is mental, or psychological. It's not Escobar's fault that he's not got nerves of steel. It's hard to believe that this guy is a Rule V draftee.
Grade: B+

Trever Miller
4.00 ERA, 9 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 5 SO
He comes in, faces one batter, and then hits the showers. He gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do this. O to be young and left-handed.
Grade: C

Cliff Politte
3.86 ERA, 11.2 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 9 SO
Was 9 for 10 in save opportunities. Doesn't intimidate hitters - he just gets them out. On track for 40+ saves at this rate. At some point, the idea of the Proven Closer will disappear into the mist - perhaps Politte will be the one to ultimately dispel it, as he doesn't exactly look like Goose Gossage out there.
Grade: A

Tanyon Sturtze
5.85 ERA, 20 IP, 27 H, 5 BB, 12 SO
Don't be fooled: he's not doing any better in the bullpen. His K/BB ratio is improved, which just means that they're hitting him before he can walk them. Won't get his rotation spot back at this rate. Basically owes his job to the fact that Brian Bowles and Jason Kershner were both awful.
Grade: F

Jeff Tam
5.14 ERA, 14 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 9 SO
Actually did a little better than his numbers show: his month was spoiled by one really awful outing. Unfortunately, it was the night that all Da Boxers were in da house. Like many sinkerballers, about 90% of his pitches were good, and about 10% were absolutely awful. In other words, he's the new Jim Acker, except that he doesn't give up home runs the way the Jackman used to. Is useful as a mop-up man, as he can handle lots of work, but should not be trusted with key game situations.
Grade: D-

Josh Towers
9.00 ERA, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 SO
First outing: two pitches, one win. Second outing: long bomb. Well, he's got an entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia now. There's a distinct possibility that we might have just seen Josh's entire major league career. Has a low uniform number and nice high socks, though.
Grade: Josh, We Hardly Knew Ye

Pete Walker
4.26 ERA, 6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 5 SO
I am going to steal one of my favorite descriptions: "This ballplayer is suitable for ordinary use."
Grade: C-