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Not a compelling game. When the other pitcher is completely on his game, it's seldom a lot of fun. If the other pitcher is someone like Johan Santana or Pedro Martinez, it can at least be extremely impressive. But Ryan Drese is nothing like that. It's a little boring watching him beat you.

He's frustrating - it's not hard to get the bat on the ball, it's just hard to do anything useful when you do.

Drese is evolving into a type of pitcher we don't see that often - a right handed Tommy John. There are lots of relief pitchers in this mold, from Paul Quantrill to (maybe) Danny Kolb, but not a whole lot of starters. Some of you older fellas, who go back to the 1980s, may remember a guy named Walt Terrell, who had his best years with Detroit. That's who Drese reminded me of tonight.

Drese gives up a lot of hits (233 in 207.2 IP last year); however, the hits don't leave the park. He gave up just 16 HR last year, which is pretty good anyway, and especially good when you remember the park he calls home. He doesn't strike people out - only 98 Ks last year, 4.25 per 9 innings. But he doesn't walk very many, either. He gets an enormous number of ground balls - an quick examination of the numbers buried in the back of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual suggests that the only starting pitcher in the majors who gets more ground balls is Derek Lowe.

And, like Tommy John himself (and Walt Terrell as well), he is impossible to run against. This needs to be emphasized because when the Jays did get some runners on with the bottom of the lineup in the 8th inning, there were a few suggestions that this might be the moment to go small ball, maybe try to steal a base. But you can't run on this guy. He doesn't allow it. He barely has a windup - he gets the ball to the catcher very quickly.

Which is what you would expect. For this type of pitcher, preventing the stolen base is an essential skill. You see, you need to be able to bunt, and you need to be able to steal bases against ground ball pitchers - if you don't, the double plays will eat your offense alive. Opposing teams managed to steal just 5 bases when Drese was pitching last year. The Rangers turned 26 DPs behind him.

So I came home, and read through the Game Thread, and I thought the Box was a little off its feed as well. Jays players were doing more or less what they have done their entire careers, and tonight people noticed and were taken aback. Shea Hillenbrand hacks at first pitches. Ted Lilly lives in the upper half of the strike zone. That's who they are. It works for them, not always, but often enough to have made them wealthy and successful.

Early in the thread R Billie observed that the Jays hitters were "Rolling over, jumping at the ball, front foot hitting" and from the context it sounded like he was unhappy with the hitters. OK, but when a major league pitcher is changing speeds effectively, that's what happens. It's not a trick, that works by catching the hitter off guard - it's a fundamental. There's almost nothing a hitter can do about it.

Towards the end of the thread, there was a lively debate about the Wells at bat in the 8th inning: with two men on, he turned on a 3-1 pitch and hit it sharply to the left side. Alas, it went straight into Blalock's glove. Dudek and Craig generally approved of Wells' approach; R Billie thought he should have tried to inside-out one through the big hole on the right side. Me, I don't think the inside-out swing is even part of Wells' repertoire, except by accident, and you have to dance with the one that brung ya.

What was there to like, besides gv27's plug for the Box?

Lilly made it through five unimpressive innings without letting the game get out of reach. Which was actually impressive in itself - Texas is a tough place to pitch, a tough lineup, and he clearly wasn't at the top of his game. He survived anyway, and I find that very encouraging. Lilly needed the work as well, and he got some. Brandon League had by far his best outing yet. The pitching was fine tonight. If you go into Texas, and hold the Rangers to four runs, you absolutely can not complain.

Hinske didn't get a hit, but I thought he had good at bats. I think he saw five pitches all four times, but the Rangers pitched him very well. Especially Cordero in the 9th. Hudson made a couple more tremendous plays in the field. Catalanotto looks like a new guy out there - it's been so long since he was fully healthy, I think we'd all forgotten what his game normally looks like.

On the other hand.... I know that my worry, and the worry of many others, was this: where are the runs going to come from? Especially when your best hitter is making errors in Florida (OK, he's also hitting .306). The Jays have scored seven runs total in the last three games, which is the type of output I was afraid of seeing. You can talk about small ball, and situational hitting, and stuff like that until the cows come home (and I'd like to know just where those cows have been, by the way.) But you can't do anything - anything - without baserunners. And this is not a lineup that one can reasonably expect to generate a lot of baserunners. I expect to worry about that... well, all year, I guess.

On the other hand, Wells and Koskie have not even started hitting yet. And they will.

And, finally, we can blame the whole thing on Gord Ash anyway:

July 19, 2000 - Toronto Blue Jays trade Darwin Cubillan and Michael Young to Texas for Esteban Loiza.

Thanks, Gordo.

Game 11: Toronto 2, Texas 4 | 20 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
CeeBee - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 07:33 AM EDT (#111983) #
Very good game report and I can't say that I disagree with you. I imagine the Texas fans felt about the same after Roy Halliday shut them down on Thursday. Baseball is a long season and the law of average will balance the universe. Today is a new day with different starters taking the mound and one of these days the 2-3-4 spots will become something other than black holes in the batting order, though several other holes will undoubtably appear. If the pitching stays even close to as good as it's been so far and the hitters don't totally disappear en mass, I think things will not be so bad this summer.
westcoast dude - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 08:21 AM EDT (#111986) #
Tonight, with Lex and GGZ in the lineup, good things will happen. At this point, the team is probably looking forward to the familiar if not friendly confines of Fenway next week. Meanwhile, it's fun to anticipate Chacin and Towers starting tonight and tomorrow.
VBF - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 09:09 AM EDT (#111988) #
Today, it is crucial to get to Kenny Rogers early. Texas is coming off two very good starts. Take walks, create baserunners, run the bases and be agressive out there. Get into the Gambler's head and force Schowalter to go to the bullpen. And that is when we capitalize.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 09:35 AM EDT (#111989) #
I don't it's a particularly good idea for a team that shown itself almost incapable of high percentage basestealing over the past few years to run aggressively on a veteran lefthanded pitcher.

To win, they have to hit the ball hard, and hit it in the air, especially if the Rangers go with the same defensive outfield they did yesterday.

Mick Doherty - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#111990) #
Walt Terrell! That's genius, Magpie. I was living 75 miles from Detroit when Terrell was acquired from the Mets (for Howard Johnson, not a particularly good deal for the Tigers, who I guess felt awfully good about Tom Brookens at 3B). And Terrell was part of two awesomely bad trades, as the Rengers had previously sent both him AND Ron Darling to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli. (Drese was a throw-in with Einar Diaz for Travis Hafner, so the Rangers have to hope history doesn't repeat itself too much.)

But you're exactly right. Drese is Terrell v.2.0. And the Rangers will be just tickled if Drese gets 47 wins over the next three years, as Terrell did for the 1985-87 Tigers.
Chuck - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#111991) #
I don't it's a particularly good idea for a team that shown itself almost incapable of high percentage basestealing over the past few years to run aggressively on a veteran lefthanded pitcher.

Especially one who can hold runners as well as Rogers, who has more than the traditional lefty advantage.

DMay - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#111993) #
On the whole, the Jays have hit fairly well against Rogers in the past (.340 avg). There will be minimal baserunning against this lefty, though, as noted before. Look for extra base hits, I think that's where the Jays can get to Rogers early and get to this bullpen.
Mick Doherty - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#112005) #
But according to local radio, Rogers is unbeaten against the Jays since 2001. I didn't confirm that anywhere.

Same old story against the Rangers -- you might knock their starter around, but he can get a win if you don't shut down their lineup.
Craig B - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#112011) #
In addition to which, Rogers is probably the best pitcher in baseball at holding runners. He's got an excellent move and also gets the ball to the plate quickly, plus Barajas hss a good arm behind the plate.

Last year, opponents tried to steal just 7 bases on Rogers in 35 starts - and they were caught five of those seven times. In Rogers' last five seasons, in 153 starts, opponents are just 15 of 33 stealing bases.
Craig B - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#112012) #
From 2002 onward, Rogers is indeed 4-0 versus the Jays, but with a 4.59 ERA and 61 hits in 49 innings (a .311 average).
Stellers Jay - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#112016) #
A very interesting article by Kevin Baxter of the sportingnews talking about the Marlins plans with their pitching staff. It's down right scary what McKeon wants to do with the young pitchers he's got. It might get them somewhere this year, but I wouldn't bank on them lasting long under this strategy.

Arnsberg must shudder at the thought the way his protege's are going to be used this year. Did McKeon and Dusty Baker go to the same school on how to handle young pitchers? It's worked out pretty well for Dusty so far hasn't it?
Leigh - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#112018) #
I'm watching my first Tigers' game of the season (MLB.TV). I had heard that Ivan Rodriguez had lost some weight, but I had no idea that he lost as much as he did. He is no longer Pudge; he's Svelte.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 07:01 PM EDT (#112025) #
I think McKeon's idea is a good one. There's some evidence that progressively increasing the workload of your pitchers leads to increased stamina, and there's no evidence that it increases the risk of injury (that I've seen). So I'd say go with it - if you can get your best pitchers to pitch more innings than your opponents best pitchers, that's a significant competitive advantage.

And we're not talking about really young pitchers: 23,24 and 28.
Stellers Jay - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 07:14 PM EDT (#112026) #
You really think it's a good idea to throw a ton of innings over the long run? If you look at what happened to Halladay last year after throwing 266 and 239 innings respectively over the previous two years it's going to catch up in the long run. I do acknowledge that a portion of Halladay's injury was due to his maniacal offseason throwing program, but throwing 500 innings over the previous 2 years didn't help the problem. In Florida's case only Willis has managed to stay of the disabled list. Both Beckett and Burnett have spent considerable time in their young careers battling injuries already. With Burnett specifically maybe they don't care about the long term because he's a free agent at the end of the year and it would be a surprise if Florida ponied up the money that its going to cost to re-sign him based on a productive upcoming year. Maybe they figure they can ride him hard this year and it will be somebody else's problem to deal with when he breaks down.

McKeon makes specific mention of not worrying about pitch counts. You only have to look as far as Wood and Prior as to how that has worked out last year and to begin this year. Brad Penny's been banged up and has barely pitched since he got out of Florida last year.
Magpie - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 07:25 PM EDT (#112028) #
When pitchers complained of dead arms in 2004, McKeon brought in a Hall of Famer, Sandy Koufax, to talk about how his Dodgers pitching staffs worked so hard that they went through several dead-arm periods during spring training.

Not sure that Sandy is Exhibit A in the art of keeping pitchers healthy.

Or Nolan Ryan, for that matter. Not exactly a lot of guys like him.

I do agree that a kind of slavish adherence to pitch counts is not necessary. It seems to me that Schilling was right when he said, essentially, that "It all depends." Sometimes 75 pitches is far more stressful and tiring than 130.

Although if Dusty Baker was managing my team, I think I would implement and enforce pitch counts, because I'm not sure he knows what he's doing when it comes to handling his starters.

As for McKeon, I wonder if he remembers Steve Busby. That didn't work out too well. (Busby was 23 when McKeon took over the Royals, and worked 238.1, 292.1, and 260.1 IP over the next three years.) McKeon has been far more careful with young starters since then: Mike Norris and Andy Benes in particular.

robertdudek - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 07:42 PM EDT (#112031) #
All this stuff people throw around to defend the idea of pitch counts as essential is anecdotal. Pitchers who throw 220 inning a year get hurt, but so do guys who throw 170, 150 and 50. It's the nature of the beast that there is some risk no matter what your throwing regimen. The fact that Halladay was hurt last year tells us nothing except for the fact that pitching is hazardous to your health. It's only in comparing a large number of pitchers that you can come up with generalities.

If you study matched sets, where you try to isolate the effect of workload, you will find that the harder working starting pitchers continue to throw more innnings in subsequent years.

What I (personally) think is happening is that the "damage" caused by increasing workload is offset by the increased "tolerance" for a high workload.

Each pitcher's arm probably comes with a limit to how much he can throw. But it might be the case that increasing workload in a proper manner increases that limit.

The bottom line is that what the baseball world considers a safe limit for starting pitchers may exceed a given pitcher's tolerance. By the same token it might be woefully below the tolerance level of another pitcher - such that you are giving up a huge potential gain by limiting that pitcher's innings.

So, either you can push your pitchers to contribute more, thereby gaining an competetive edge, or you can be cautious. Being cautious however, does not seem to result in a decreased risk of injury. So what is the benefit of being cautious?
Magpie - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 07:58 PM EDT (#112032) #
I think managers often try everything they can to reduce the number of things they have to think about, reduce the number of decisions that they have to make. I think they're constantly trying to simplify their jobs.

We seem to have reached a consensus that not every starting pitcher can handle workloads of greater than 250 IP. (Although some can.) The managerial response has been to put in place policies that guarantee that no one approaches that kind of workload.

They do the same thing when it comes to running bullpens. There's safety in following the industry consensus.

And it's complicated as hell to do what Whitey Herzog did in St. Louis, where he had had one guy (Andujar) working on three days rest, other guys working on four days, and some guys working on five days.

In the past, there was a tendency to find out if pitchers could throw 250 IP by having them throw 250 IP. If his arm fell off, well, now you know. He's one of the guys that can't do it.

Now we've gone to the other extreme, and I really think it has more to do with eliminating managerial stress than anything else.

robertdudek - Saturday, April 16 2005 @ 08:08 PM EDT (#112034) #
Actually, working your starters harder reduces the number of decisions because you need to make fewer decisions about which reliever to bring in. Whether you set a limit of 120 pitches, 100 pitches or go by "feel" (which a lot of managers still do), the decision when to remove your starting pitcher is probably the most difficult in-game decision there is.

I sense that it is GMs, who don't want to take flack for "ruining a pitcher's career", that tend to impose pitch counts, especially in the minors (remember how much media pressure there was to keep Ankiel on a strict limit as he was coming up?).

It's a way to minimize criticism from the outside, and is also a recipe for mediocrity. Fortune favours the brave (or the Mazzone Braves!).
Stellers Jay - Sunday, April 17 2005 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#112215) #
" will find that the harder working starting pitchers continue to throw more innnings in subsequent years.
What I (personally) think is happening is that the "damage" caused by increasing workload is offset by the increased "tolerance" for a high workload."

This is an interesting point Robert. However, if this were to be true, would it not make sense to have pitchers in the high minors significantly increase their workload, thus increasing their ability to throw more innings in the future (when they reach the majors) and increase their tolernce for a high workload? If you're saying that it doesn't increase their chance of an injury, it would make perfect sense to work pitching prospects hard in the high minors, so that they will be able to contribute more innings when reaching the show.

Personally, what I think is going on with McKeon is short sighted and will be detrimental to the team in the long run. Of course if I were a 74 year old manager of a team with a good to stong chance of making the playoffs I'd probably want to ride my best 3 pitchers too. Managing is a "what have you done for me lately" job and if you aren't winning you won't be employed much longer. It's the general managers job to step in and look after the long term interests of the team and its pitching staff.
robertdudek - Sunday, April 17 2005 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#112220) #
"This is an interesting point Robert. However, if this were to be true, would it not make sense to have pitchers in the high minors significantly increase their workload, thus increasing their ability to throw more innings in the future (when they reach the majors) and increase their tolernce for a high workload?"

It would.
Game 11: Toronto 2, Texas 4 | 20 comments | Create New Account
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