Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Padilla's Pinched Strike Zone / In Tonight's Game That Shouldn't Be a Problem

So, Vicente Padilla's 32 pitch 9th inning was quite an adventure last night, but it appeared to me that Ted Barrett simply wasn't giving him any corner pitches.  His fastball has some tailing off movement and on two occasions he could have rung up Diamondback hitters for strike three calls.  They were all borderline pitches.  It seemed to me that Barrett was a bit gun shy about ringing up the final out on a borderline call.

I don't see Padilla's performance as too concerning, except that he shouldn't go tonight after throwing so many pitches.  My props go to Don Mattingly who didn't leave him out there to die, like Torre so often did with his closers.  Jansen was ready to go and the fireballer was just what the doctor ordered.  It was nice to see KJ jump ahead 0-2 immediately on Melvin Mora.  Once he had the count, Jansen's 97 mph fastball up above the zone was simply something that Mora couldn't lay off of or catch up to.

Don't be fooled by Jansen high ERA.  His stuff is electric and he will be an asset to the bullpen for years to come.  Unfortunately for Kenley, his awful start to the season means he'll also have to pitch about 267 consecutive shutout innings to get his ERA under 4.00.  All in the same, that's fine by me.  Perhaps his unimpressive numbers will get many in the league to overlook his nasty stuff.

Tonight, Chad Billingsley gets Brian Runge behind the plate.  He's quite different than Barrett. Runge has had his share of run-ins over the years, but they always seem to be when he calls borderline pitches in favor of the pitchers.  

Runge is the first and only umpire to eject mild mannered Ichiro Suzuki, who objected to his strike zone.  Additionally, a few years ago he had a well known rhubarb with Carlos Beltran over the same thing, being called out on a borderline strike.  We may best remember him as the umpire behind the plate that called strike three when Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants finished his no-hitter on a called third strike that was very questionable.  He got caught up in the moment and called an "Eric Greggesque" strike to end that game.

I look for Billingsley to have a good outing tonight and snatch up a few extra outs simply because he has that pitcher friendly umpire behind the plate.  Hopefully the offense can figure out Arizona rookie starter Josh Collmenter, who will be making his first major league start tonight.  How many times over the years have we seen this where an unknown rookie faces the Dodgers for the first time and dominates?
Diamondback hurler Josh Collmenter retires Jose Reyes in May 11th game at New York.
This photo from the 2009 California League All Star game shows the awkward over-the-top delivery of Josh Collmenter.

Collmenter in 14 innings of relief this year is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA.  With a straight up "over the top" delivery, something rare for a right hander, Collmenter throws a fastball, change-up and curveball.  His delivery is confusing to hitters that need to adjust to it's awkwardness.  Collmenter is not projected any higher than a number 4 or 5 starter, so here's hoping that the guys read the scouting reports, make adjustments and don't turn the kid into a hero in his first big league start.

A few notes on last night's game:

  • Kershaw looked awesome in his 11 strikout performance and was a few breaks away from having a no-hitter through 7 innings.  It's nice to see Clayton back in stride.  I think we'll see his first all-star appearance this year.  It is also good to see his ERA where it belongs, below three runs per game at 2.75.

  • I wouldn't be surprised if Andre Ethier injured his knee while sliding into the concrete base of the wall along the foul line when he chased that foul ball.    I'm hoping to be wrong about Ethier being hurt on that play, but the looping hit by Xavier Nady that allowed the second D-back run in the eighth inning should have been caught.  There is a no-man's land between Miles and Ethier on pop ups that is going to kill this team.  Again, Ethier's poor UZR reared it's ugly head last night, but I'm thinking that the throbbing knee could have played a role in that.

  • Is it time for the Dodgers to pad the walls along the foul lines all the way to the bottom?  I know that would change the way Dodger Stadium plays as caroms down the line would stop dead, possibly reducing the triples that sometimes are produced by balls hit off that concrete base.  That play last night reminded me of the injury Daryl Strawberry sustained as a Dodger while crashing into Dodger Stadium's formerly unpadded outfield walls.  The end result was the Dodger organization ponied up and padded the walls, since their top free agent was out for quite some time due to a separated shoulder injury that could have been prevented.
Strawberry as a Dodger

  • Uribe and Loney continue to be that black hole in the 5 and 6 spots.  It amazes me that Kemp sees pitches to hit with those two following him in the order.  He is 141 at bats into the season and Loney still has only 2 extra-base hits.  That is absolutely pathetic.  I think it's time to sit Loney, start Sands at first and put Gwynn in the outfield everyday.

  • Carroll and Miles continue to set the table at the top of the order nicely.  This is an unexpected and pleasant surprise.  I wouldn't count on it continuing.  Miles OBP is pretty much his batting average, since he never takes a walk.

  • Rod Barajas leads the team in home runs.  Who would have thought that would happen?  I would say he's making me forget Martin, but good old Turtle has somehow remembered how to play the game again in pinstripes.  And he has pop too, already with more homers than he had all of last year.

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