This and That
Earlier this season,
I mentioned that Jerry Hairston Jr. is a terrific defensive second baseman
and that the O's pitchers will probably seem much better than they are
because of his glove. It's been a month since he went down and I
thought it'd be interesting to see if there's been a difference in their
performance without him. So here are the Orioles' starting pitchers
and their numbers before and after Hairston was injured.
Not that this is conclusive, but it is interesting that nearly the entire
starting staff has taken a significant hit since his injury. There
are a several factors that could have contributed to these numbers - the
bullpen performance, the weather, run support, etc. Lopez is the only
pitcher who has fared better since Hairston's injury, but he has only had
2 starts in that time. The others have averaged four. And frankly,
it's hard to imagine anyone pitching worse than Lopez did coming out of the
gate, so there was bound to be some improvement. What will be really
interesting is if the starters improve as significantly once Hairston returns.
People who are expressing surprise at how effective Kelvim Escobar
has been in the rotation this year haven't paid too much attention to
his most recent history as a starter. For most of his career, he
had been switched back and forth from starter to bullpen with mixed success.
After a mid-season switch back to the rotation in 2001, he emerged
as a potential ace. Through 11 starts, he had allowed just 3 home
runs in 68 innings, had a 3.18 ERA, a 1.147 WHIP and was striking out nearly
8 batters per 9 innings.
But in September, he began experiencing numbness in his pitching hand
after a few innings each start, so the Blue Jays sat him down. The
fear was that he had an aneurysm in his arm or shoulder because his symptoms
were similar to what David Cone and Woody Williams had experienced before
aneurysms had been diagnosed in their cases. After much testing, no
such threat was found. Still, the Jays thought it was the wiser choice
to shut him down for the rest of the season and move him back to the bullpen
the following year.
So far this season, there has been no recurrence of the numbness, so
as long as there are no hand or arm troubles, expect him to continue to
pitch dominating baseball. In fact, it would not be at all surprising
for Escobar to challenge Roy Halladay as the best starter the Jays have
in the second half this season.
It's clear that Jeremy Giambi is not going to get enough consecutive
at bats to get out of his current funk. Grady Little started him 3
straight games for the first time this season last week, then promptly benched
him for the Philly series (except for one pinch hit appearance) and the
series opener with Detroit. I can't necessarily fault him for going
with the hot hitting David Ortiz and Kevin Millar at this point in the season,
but what I do fault him for is not trying to get Giambi out of his funk
back in April instead of playing Shea Hillenbrand as much as he did. Despite
hitting just .173, Giambi has gotten on base just as frequently as Hillenbrand.
That point is moot now, so the best thing the Red Sox can do is send
Giambi to AAA where he can get enough regular at bats to get out of his
funk and possibly help the team in the last two months of the season. That,
or try to trade him for some pitching help. He's doing nobody any
good where he is and it's highly unlikely he will hit his way out of this
hole with such sporadic opportunity.
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