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Second Thoughts Game #153: Astros 1, Indians 2

Ubaldo getting it done, an offense that struggles and the wild card race

Second Thoughts Game #153: Astros 1, Indians 2
September 20, 2013
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Ubaldo Jimenez’s success of late has been well documented and his transition from a guy who may not have the Indians pick up his mutual option to a top five free agent arm has happened in a heartbeat. One could quickly point to his elevated velocity, strikeout rate, location or reduced walk rate as core reasons for his improvement.

In each case one would be entirely correct. One of the positive externalities of Ubaldo’s progression in locating his fastball and secondary offerings has been his improved ability to pitch deep into games. Since July 22, Ubaldo Jimenez has averaged over six and a third innings per start, which with a solid but unspectacular bullpen has been a godsend.

The increased pitch efficiency has a direct correlation to walk rate. It has suppressed his WHIP, pitches per batter faced, and increased contact made on pitches outside the strike zone. Which as we know is generally a decreased quality of contact causing BABIP deflation as well as a greater frequency of two and three pitch at bats.

The stress it has removed from a bullpen that has been beleaguered by Justin Masterson’s injury, Scott Kazmir’s inconsistency and Danny Salazar’s pitch limits has been essential in their ability to keep the back end fresh.

Staying in the moment, the question is, are you excited at work when you know Ubaldo is going to take the mound that evening? Because I am without doubt, which is a polar opposite of June 1st.  What a beautiful resurrection to watch. What a beautiful game we experience.

Matt Carson delivers

I could point to his background which is a paragon of mediocrity. I could cite multiple Around the Farm's this season where writers like myself threw around phrases like “organization depth” and “quad-A”. However, these are things that occur in small samples when you expand the roster. Carson has now played an essential role in two wins over the past week.

Talk about a high impact September call-up. One cannot argue that Francona foresaw his potential for impact but what he has done is allow his hot hand to get the right opportunities.

Francona creates confidence by trusting players, investing in relationships no matter the role that player has in the organization and we are now reaping that investment. What a beautiful thing it is.

It is entirely likely that next season, Matt Carson will be toiling between Triple-A and the big leagues with another organization. But for one night, in one at bat, in one moment, Matt Carson stepped up and delivered. My, oh my, what a beautiful game.

The pen holds it down and high leverage situations

It is only fair after crediting Carson to shift some of the bounty to the bullpen. The pen covered four scoreless innings to offer the Indians offense chance after chance.

Before I elaborate on one of my two major irritations in this game I want to emphasize the job the bullpen did on the evening.

The irritation is Chris Perez pitching in the ninth inning of a tie ballgame and no not because I don’t like closers pitching in tie games -  rather I prefer it if they are more than competent.

However, if one was to list the Indians three or four best high leverage arms he is not one of them. Thus I would prefer he be at least fourth in line in such scenarios because though his high wire act was successful on the night his strand rate has become inflated and his luck in that department probably won’t continue.

In future situations like Thursday night I would use the following guys before him in a tie game: Joe SmithCody AllenBryan Shaw and Carlos Carrasco.

Up next: Houston Astros @ Cleveland Indians. 7:05 PM ET @Progressive Field

Left hander Brett Oberholtzer starts for the Astros and Zach McAllister starts for the Indians. McCallister is coming off of one of his best outings following his stint on the disabled list. While the success was partially related to facing an abysmal White Sox lineup the Astros may actually be worse. It’s Tribe Time, now.

Interact with Michael by email at and on Twitter @MichaelHattery

User Comments

September 20, 2013 - 2:48 PM EDT
I think Yan Gomes performance tonight needs to be mentioned. After a sloppy Wednesday that could have cost us the game, he comes back and throws out three guys on the base paths in a game that was tied for 9 straight innings. If Santana is behind the plate, the game would have been a completely different story.
September 20, 2013 - 10:40 AM EDT
If Raburn cannot play in two of the next 3 games where there's a lefty on the mound for Houston---does Carson's strong play in a tiny sample size warrant putting Stubbs on the bench? On one hand I want to say no, because he's a career minor leaguer for a reason...on the other hand, is he going to be worse than what Stubbs has been in the 2nd half of the year, especially in the month of September? I doubt it.

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