first half report , pt 2

 

We looked at the fielders last time, let’s look at the pitchers now as we await tonight’s Mid-season classic…

 

At first glance, the numbers don’t look too bad…a 4.14 ERA is reasonable in this era. But the staff has had its share of problems and even Manager John Farrell candidly told the press on the weekend that it was the area that needed improving and stabilizing in the second half. Fifteen blown saves goes a ways toward explaining why the team is still below .500; ten games since the beginning of June allowing 6 or more runs hardly speaks of a consistent pitching squad.

 

The starters:

Ricky Romero: now the ace of the staff, originally by default, by more and more by merit. A deserved spot on the All star team, even though he has a 7-8 record. Run support has been terrible for him and his 3.09 ERA and 122 innings rank up there with the upper echelon of the league’s pitchers. Most consistent of the staff and taking on some responsibility to act like a leader. Grade: A-

Brandon Morrow: last few starts have been better, with himlooking more like the dominant pitcher he was for most of last season. First half dozen or so starts (after coming off DL which he didn’t believe he should have been on anyway) were very short and shaky. Should be kept pitching to Molina, totally different pitcher than with tentative JP Arencibia behind the plate. Lots of strikeouts, but could pitch ‘to contact” more to go deeper into games. C

Jo Jo Reyes: unparalleled dedication and ability to function under pressure, not bowing to pressure when faced with chance of setting an unwanted record for most consecutive starts without a win. Since getting that monkey off his back, he’s been pretty comfortable, going 4-3 with an 4.38 ERA. Only pitcher besides Romero to have 100 innings so far. C-

Jesse Litsch: despite being 4-3, didn’t look good in his few outings. But given that he’s on the disabled list right now and may have been pitching slightly injured before that, we’ll refrain from grading him. n/a

Kyle Drabek: may have great “stuff” but hasn’t learned to use it yet, his season started OK but quickly went downhill as did his confidence level and his ability to keep his temper under control. After two decent starts in the frost of early april, Drabek had given up 45 walks in 59 innings and foisted an ugly 6.71 ERA on unsuspecting fans and delighted opponents. Now where he belongs for now, in AAA, where he’s alledgedly started to throw well and has given up on the cut fastball which he seemed unable to control properly. F (but in fairness, he “skipped a grade” having only been in AA last year)

Zach Stewart: another call-up from AA, he had three starts, one very good, one very bad,one so-so. Not enough to go on to grade him fairly, but I personally thought he looked closer to being big-league ready than the much higher-profile Drabek. n/a

Brett Cecil: everyone knows his velocity was down at start of year. That in itself might not have been a big problem but his problems finding his spots and keeping ball down was.So, after two months in minors, he’s back and looking much better again, going into the seventh against Cleveland on the weekend without giving up any earned runs. 2-4, 5.44 aren’t good numbers but all signs seem to be showing them going in the right direction. D

Carlos Villanueva– was outstanding in first couple of months as the “long man” out of bullpen and has transitioned nicely into a starter who usually gets into at least the 7th. Has best ERA (2.99) of all the starters. Bonus points for making switch mid-season. B

 

the over-worked bullpen, outstanding for first six weeks or so but looking ragged and tired lately.

 

Jon Rauch – the big guy looks like he should toss like Randy Johnson but has only average velocity. But he throws strikes consistently and has been the better of the two “closers” used so far… but still is far from a lights-out, done deal ninth innning guy. C

Frank Francisco– Probably too much was expected from this guy anyway, how he got built up as the second coming of Rollie Fingers is a mystery… last year he had only 2 saves and blew four for Texas (before losing the role to a rookie). His 32 career saves heading into the season was less than maligned kevin Gregg had last season alone here, and his 127 walks in about 280 innings left something to be desired. Anyway, somehow the Jays thought this guy was the best thing since Duane Ward sliced bread for them. They were wrong. Hopelessly inconsistent and resistent to idea of throwing strikes, he’s resorted to taking his frustration out on media, as if they were the ones walking the bases loaded. F

Octavio Dotel: the oldest player on the squad, recently pitched in his 650th career game. Was hopeless in first month, fooling no one, but of late has looked comfortable , seems to be enjoying himself and , if limited to one inning and largely right handed hitters, has been effective. C+

Jason Frasor: now second on Jays all-time appearances list (for pitchers), Frasor’s been what we’ve come to expect- a solid, quiet middle-inning guy who gets the job done with little fanfare. Gives up a run here and there, but almost never gets blown out of game. B

Shawn Camp: looking a bit tired lately, as if the 39 appearances are catching up to him. Good most of time, but prone to giving up the “big inning” to opposition at times, something john farrell needs to pay more attention to… once two guys are put on base , get him out of there , fast! C

Casey Janssen: had misfortune of having options left on his contract, so was demoted for convenience early on in year and now on DL but rehabbing. When he’s been here, stastically the best of the bunch in the bullpen, with a 2.93 ERA. Seems able to withstand pressure so idea of trying him as closer has merit even though his fastball isn’t “blistering”. B

luis Perez: a starter in the minors, he can give a good number of innings, and perhaps should be kept for long relief … too many short outings of late seem to have dimmed his effectivness or else just let too many teams get a good look at the kid. C

Mark Rzepczynski: 40 appearances, and up getting ready almost every game. Has been good but looks tired; another lefty suited to short outings in ‘pen would help spell him and keep his arm from falling off. Despite some shaky outings lately, still has a good 3.00 ERA. B

 

and the boss, John Farrell (manager). A baseball veteran of course, but a rookie manager, has had to deal with several struggling players and a number of injuries , as do most managers over the course of a season. Most of time puts as good a lineup out on field as he can, seems to stand by his players and while not exactly Mr Personality, is available enough to media to let the fans seem to know what’s going on with team. Tended to go to bullpen too often too early in april and May but lately seems willing to let starters go a good way into game and pitch out of a snag or two. Promising start for a manager. C+

 

 

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