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More on Pitching

Honkamp
on 10/24/2001

 
Haynes turned his season around in late April when he had that string of 20+ consecutive scoreless innings.

I would like to respond to an Al Bethke statement in his recent article entitled "How Far Away are we?" in which he compared the personnel of the Brewers and the Mariners. He said, "On the other hand, our pitching, the rotation especially, was never there, even before injuries hit."

I beg to differ with that statement.

 
PitcherAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptstartsERA**
Jamey Wright3.326.551.675.304.249.00334.90
Jimmy Haynes6.333.005.005.852.5718.90294.57
Paul Rigdon3.864.2413.1413.50155.79
Jeff D'Amico4.76   7.32106.08
Ben Sheets4.912.393.557.4215.193.00254.76
Mark Leiter4.222.35    32.13
Kyle Peterson 3.604.50*9.82  26.23
Allen Levrault4.376.004.617.208.22206.04
Will Cunnane5.40     113.50
Mac Suzuki   5.403.947.9895.32
Ruben Quevedo    4.404.82104.61
Nick Neugebauer     7.5027.50
Rocky Coppinger    10.573.4634.80
Team ERA      1625.12
Team record13-1115-1311-156-2014-159-2068-94  
*=not a start, but after the game in which the power went out at Miller Park, he picked up
**=ERA for season as a starter only

I made out this chart to show a number of things. Here are some trends that are obvious:

  1. For the most part, the more pitchers who started games in a month, the worse the record. That is obviously because we suffered injuries since we were rarely in a position where we could demote somebody. In May we had a winning month because 4 pitchers threw well while only one had an even remotely bad month (I'm considering "good" to be 4.25 ERA or better and "poor" to be an ERA over 5.00). Our offense was also relatively injury-free. In July we had a horrible month because of the starting pitchers. We had Wright and Haynes having horrendous months, Sheets trying to pitch through tendonitis, Rigdon appearing in a game while trying to save his season, and Suzuki and Peterson trying to show that they belonged (and struggling). To go along with all of these injuries, D'Amico had just had a setback that required surgery, Mark Leiter wasn't close to returning, and the offense was suffering a myriad of injuries.
  2. We won in months where we threw our "intended" starters out there most. In July and September we had more starters have "poor" months than "very good!"
  3. Injuries killed us. Our initial 5 all had solid seasons going until they got hurt. D'Amico's first month was not that bad, but he was doing that in pain. In September he was pitching basically on rehab, only in the big leagues. The same goes for Sheets. He tried pitching in July for most of the month with the injury, and eventually the team shut him down. In September and October he was basically pitching on rehab, too. His replacement was Neugebauer who seemed to give the team a lift, but then got hurt which created room for our scrub pitchers. As for Haynes, he had a horrible first two starts, 2 horrible ones in July, and his start in October also shouldn't have occurred because he had no stamina. The rest of his season was pretty good. But replacing him with guys like Levrault and Coppinger killed the team.
  4. No major league organization is 13-deep at starting pitcher, not even the Mariners (I think).

I guess my point is that I believe our pitching was "there". At the start of the year it looked very solid. Haynes turned his season around in late April when he had that string of 20+ consecutive scoreless innings. Wright threw some absolute gems; the only problem is he also was about as consistent as our offense! Rigdon began the season doing very well which is evident by his ERA in April and May. Sheets looked inconsistent early, but he learned from it and did great until he got hurt around the all-star break (yes, he did get hurt around the break and pitched with the problem. I never saw his velocity after the break in the mid-90's and his normally reliable curve was very inconsistent). And finally there's D'Amico who even though he was not doing great in April, he was keeping us in games while building arm strength. I think we all believed that he was going to keep getting better and better until we heard about his elbow problem. The pitching was "there" just as the positional talent was "there" (as you stated). I don't believe we need to make drastic changes, but some tweaking of the roster (goodbye James Mouton and Angel Echevarria) and the return of several injured players should help the team a great deal. As you can tell from the chart I made, we were in good shape as long as we were healthy. But once the pitchers and position players started getting hurt in June and July, it all went downhill. We can add Quevedo and Neugebauer to the mix. Now the only trick is staying healthy!

On a related note (injuries that is), I think this is also important to note when reviewing Hammonds' season. "that game at that point the next day, so I am counting him as having a start in June Hammonds, who injured himself while diving for a ball May 8 against Chicago, is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday" --Journal Sentinel

He didn't go on the DL until early June, if I remember correctly, so that means he played for quite a while with a rather serious injury in his shoulder. Evaluating him based on his 2001 stats is unfair for him, because he played for a while w/a 3" tear in his labrum. It also leads me to another thought though. Why do outfielders try to make spectacular plays? I'll bet that if Hammonds and Jenkins never dive for a ball all year, we give up a couple more runs, but we also have them each for 150+ games (a first for both, I think). Jenkins ruined his season with that diving catch in Atlanta and Hammonds ruined his with this dive. This has happened before with Jim Edmonds and Ken Griffey, Jr, too. I love seeing highlight-reel plays, but not at the expense of losing a player for a large period of time. I remember in Spring Training Devon White said that he never had to dive in his career. The first dive of his career he said was last year while playing for the Dodgers, and he got hurt on it. Devo seems to have it right, here. The Brewers have always had horrible injury luck, and we don't need players increasing their chances of getting hurt by trying to make diving catches or running into walls.

 




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(2001-10-24)

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