Sunday, May 26, 2013
Starter Longevity, the Bullpen, the Confidence of Starting Trio
Is this what baseball has come to? Five and one third innings pitched and one run given up is considered a great start?
In the days of Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Fergie Jenkins, that’s just getting warmed up. With Koufax, that was a non-quality start. Drysdale and Gibson would consider it a success only if three or four batters were knocked down in the process. In those days, the mark of a champion was being able to finish games. Today, if your bullpen has to only go three innings, that’s a good sign.
The game has changed in so many facets, and pitching expectations is one of them. A pitcher like Matt Magill gets called up and if he makes it into the sixth innings having given up three runs or less. That is considered a great accomplishment for a major league debut of a rookie.
I know we’ve come to expect little from Ted Lilly, and believe me, we’ll take five quality innings from him without hesitation. But the game has changed substantially, and for that reason, if your bullpen has some weak links, you’re going to be headed for trouble.
The Dodger bullpen weaknesses have been exposed this season, and it reflects in their record. Ronald Belisario isn’t getting outs consistently and balls hit off him are finding holes. Brandon League has ten saves, but in the process he’s given up a run in half of his appearances, (8 of 19), tallying two blown saves and two losses. The all important long man in the Dodger pen is hard to identify. I guess he’s Javy Guerra at the moment, but he’s only thrown eight innings this year and his longest outing was two.
I guess if there was a point to this post it is that the Dodger pitching woes are evident and they have to do with the bullpen. A starter hands the game to the bullpen in the 6th and there’s a pretty good shot that the opposition is going to score a few. As fans we’re seeing a pattern. The rotation gets to Kershaw, then Greinke followed by Ryu and we’re feeling good about our chances. When Capuano and 5th starter goes (whoever that is), not so much.
So feel good today because our ace is on the mound and then it'll be the brawler on Monday followed by the Korean fella. The Dodgers have finally reached their twentieth win. There’s always hope of a winning streak on the horizon. Hey, the Angels have won seven in a row. So why can’t the Dodgers? Good things they’re in the other league. After today...
Can we ever catch a break this year?