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Second Thoughts: Game #22 - Indians 6, White Sox 3

Second Thoughts: Game #22 - Indians 6, White Sox 3
May 3, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLE 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 2 6 8 0
CHW 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 3 6 1
W: J. Smith (1-0) L: W. Ohman (0-1)

The Starting Pitching

The Line: 6IP, 5H, 3/3 R/ER, 2BB, 4K, HR

The Results: 82 pitches, 63% strikes, 9GB, 5FB, 4LD, PU

The Write-up: Josh Tomlin did exactly what you want your #3 starter to do, he threw a Quality Start (QS, defined as 3ER or less and 6 or more IP) and gave the Indians a chance to win. Tomlin works quickly and throws strikes, though he has been uncharacteristically wild as of late, which of course means he is only in the top 10 for fewest BB/9 as opposed to being #1. A change from last year where his 1.14 BB/9 was tops in the Major Leagues.

Of course, we all know that Tomlin doesn’t have great stuff and relies on his defense to record most of the outs. Tomlin gave up a home run to Adam Dunn, but it didn’t hurt him too badly because nobody was on base. However, when the 5th inning rolled around, his pitches starting creeping up and he yielded a walk and 3 hard hit balls that led to a pair of runs.

Overall, Tomlin worked ahead of batters and had the White Sox off-balance all night. The only guy that looked like he saw Tomlin well was Adam Dunn who drew one of the two walks and launched a no-doubter HR. Getting through 6 innings with only 82 pitches is extremely efficient.

The Bullpen

The Line: 3IP, H, BB, 4K

The Results: 45 Pitches, 62% strikes, GB, 3FB, LD

The Write-up: The Indians bullpen has got to be among the best in the Major Leagues. The Indians possess a LOOGY, ROOGY, right-handed set-up, left-handed set-up, two swing men and a solid closer. Joe Smith is nearly unhittable against righties. The at-bat against Brent Morel in the 8th was an excellent demonstration of just how hard it is to see Smith’s pitches.

I really like how Acta is using the bullpen. Sipp was brought in to get Adam Dunn, and even though he got ahead, and let his 1-2 pitch get too much of the outside corner for a single, he was lifted for Pestano who took care of business by inducing a fly out and striking out Pierzynski. Perez closed things out by working with good movement around 93-94 and his wipeout slider was there for him tonight, as he located it down most of the time. Good to see another 1-2-3 from him.

It really should instill confidence in the fan base that the Indians have been dealing relievers out for help and/or before they get expensive and they now have a bullpen of guys who are affordable and effective.

Player Salary xFIP
Chris Perez 4,500,000 4.39
Vinnie Pestano 491,200 2.42
Joe Smith 1,750,000 2.87
Tony Sipp 504,900 3.4
Rafael Perez 2,005,000 5.07
Nick Hagadone 480,000 3.69
Jairo Ascencio 480,000 3.89
Dan Wheeler 900,000 6.09

The Starting Lineup

The Line: 8/34, 2 2B, 2HR, 8BB, 6K, GIDP, SB

The Results: 6R, 16TB, 17 LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 235/381/471

The Write-up: A much better showing last night, but there were still plenty of missed opportunities. If the heart of your order is up to bat with less than two outs and the bases are loaded, you should expect at least one run, hopefully two. If this happens twice in the first three innings and you don’t score any runs, you have to realize you left a few out there.

The patience leading to an MLB-best BB% of 12.2%, the next closest is the Rays at 10.5%. For comparison’s sake, if you drop down another 1.7% to 8.8% you are in 12th with the Cardinals. So, clearly the Indians are drawing walks at a rate like no one else. These walk rates will see a significant boost with eight more walks being tallied last night.

Hafner may never have the 75-80 (on 20-80 scale) power that he had during his peak, but he still gets on base at a great clip and will be good for the occasional dinger. He is turning on mistakes pretty well and as long as he gets the appropriate rest and treatment, he should have a solid year. I am still predicting around 100 games and 450 plate appearances.

The starting lineup also saw two new names penciled in: Johnny Damon and Shin-Soo Choo. Damon spent no time in AAA and only had a handful of extended Spring Training games under his belt to get the rust off. It showed as he watched a third strike in his first at bat (tentative) and then counteracted by jumping at the first pitch in his next at-bat (overaggressive). He did draw a walk, but other than that was a non-factor and ended up leaving with “general cramping”. Look for Tony to get you the latest once more information surfaces. Choo came back from the tight hamstring and underwhelmed as well. He struck out in both bases loaded situations and still doesn’t look like the player from 2008-2010 that was so solid.

Oh yes, Jack Hannahan proves the odds-makers wrong once again as he delivered a key two-out double to give the Indians the lead. It was a good job to fight the ball off and he placed it perfectly down the left field line. I maintain that he will end up with ugly numbers, but he has already surpassed my expectations as far as impact is concerned. He is getting the job done at the right time, so here’s hoping he keeps it up.

The Defense: Carlos Santana’s defense is looking better and better as he gets more reps behind the plate. He is blocking pretty well with a focus on keeping it in front and not worrying so much about getting the glove on it. But the tool that he possesses, even better than Lou Marson, is the throwing arm. He made a dazzling throw in the 8th when Vinnie Pestano missed badly, and drew Santana all the way from one side of the plate to the other, he picked it and threw around Pierzynski to get Lillibridge at second. It was a pretty spectacular play and makes Santana even more valuable than he already is with each run he saves on defense.

The Takeaways: The Indians are trying to round into being a “contender” and they are starting to get some really good indicators: great bullpen, patient lineup, flexible roster and solid performances from your mid-level guys like Tomlin. It will be really exciting to see if Choo and Damon can add to this already potent lineup and if Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman will ever make any noise.

User Comments

May 4, 2012 - 12:06 AM EDT
Charlie: Oh, I know that Hannahan can't keep this up, and if he does, it would be nothing short of a miracle. Clutch and WPA scores aren't meant to be predictive, or be used as a guide telling you who to play, they are simply a narrative, and Hannahan's narrative has been nothing short of enthralling so far this season.

I just hope that he keeps going like this until Chisenhall is truly ready for the full time job.
May 3, 2012 - 3:17 PM EDT
1) great handle
2) What the Tribe can expect is Jack Hannahan: mediocre to below average MLB hitter, what the Tribe has received is a statistical anomaly.

There is no such thing as clutch hitting. I'm not saying pull him or something silly like that, I'm just saying that regression will occur at some point and I don't want a hot start to prevent a guy like Lonnie Chisenhall from getting his shot.
May 3, 2012 - 1:37 PM EDT
What amazes me is Hannahan's WPA (Win Probability Added) and Clutch scores from Fangraphs. Hannahan has a 1.03 WPA score good for 10th in the majors, for reference, Matt Kemp, the games best hitter, has 2.02 right now.

Meanwhile, Hannahan's clutch score is 0.57, good for 14th in the majors. Todd Helton is currently the clutch leader with 1.15. These stats tell an awesome story that we already know: When Hannahan comes up and the game is on the line, the Tribe can expect big things!
May 3, 2012 - 10:20 AM EDT
Kotchman is just brutal, a .241 OBP is something awful for an every day MLB player

in 2010 he hit .217 with a .280 OBP for Seattle.....looks like the Tribe got that Kotchman, but a worse version of that Kotchman thus far
May 3, 2012 - 8:45 AM EDT
I think Kotchman gets to the 40-game mark or June 1st. If he is still struggling this bad, they move on from him and consider other options. Be is a trade, LaPorta, or Damon, or whatever.
May 3, 2012 - 8:33 AM EDT
Kotchman looked pitiful again last night with a fly ball to left, a weak groundout to short, and a strikeout before finally drawing a walk. He routinely falls behind 0-2. Pitchers don't respect him and just come right at him. With Danks going tonight I expect to see Duncan or Santana at first.

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