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Second Thoughts: Game #30 - White Sox 8, Indians 1

Second Thoughts: Game #30 - White Sox 8, Indians 1
May 10, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CHW 2 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 8 9 0
CLE 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 8 1
W: J. Peavy (4-1) L: J. Gomez (2-2)

Starting Pitching

The Line: 6.2IP, 9H, 8/8 R/ER. 4BB, 2K. 2GIDP

The Results: 106 pitches, 54% strikes, 10GB, 11FB, 3LD, Bunt

The Write-up: Well, that wasn’t pretty. Jeanmar Gomez had strung together a couple of good starts and some believing that he had turned the corner and become a viable Big League back of the rotation starter. Unfortunately, he had a bad night against the White Sox and he looked pretty hittable all night. Gomez looked out of control through the first several innings but did seem to settle in after the 6-run 4th and took care of the mop-up duty to eat some innings and save the bullpen.

Gomez threw 52% first-pitch strikes through the first 4 innings when he was giving up runs and 70% the rest of the way out. Getting ahead is big for guys like Gomez (and Tomlin) because they rely on expanding the zone and making hitters swing at bad pitches. Here is a summary view of the results when Gomez gets ahead, and when he doesn’t:

  AVG OBP SLG OPS
First-pitch Ball 0.583 0.615 833 1.448
First-pitch Strike 0.142 0.294 0.142 0.436
Difference -0.441 -0.321 -0.691 -1.008

The difference is staggering, and combining that with how frequently he was getting behind to start the game, it isn’t hard to see why he had a rough night. Now, this is just one game, a bad one at that, and it isn’t like Gomez yields a 1.400 OPS to every batter he falls behind. However, this is some anecdotal evidence that it is important for all pitchers, and guys like Gomez in particular, to work ahead so that they can force batters to hit their pitch; and not the other way around.

The only silver-lining from the outing is that Gomez was mentally able to put the 8-run deficit behind him and pitch 6.2 innings. You want your starters to go that long and it was a good exercise (essentially a really advanced practice session) to stretch out and work on getting ready for his next outing.

The Bullpen

The Line: 2.1IP, 0H, 0BB, 2K

The Results: 24 pitches, 79% strikes, 4GB, 2FB

The Write-up: Jairo Asencio did the job he was acquired for: long relief. He picked up where Gomez left-off and worked extremely efficiently to mercifully get this game over with. He has that ugly 5.50 ERA, but he has pitched better than his results show.

  ERA K/9 BB/9 BABIP HR/FB GB% LOB% xFIP
Jairo Asencio 5.50 8.00 3.50 0.260 15.00% 40.40% 63.80% 3.84
Dan Wheeler 5.59 1.86 4.66 0.250 14.30% 44.70% 75.80% 6.04
Chris Perez 3.95 6.59 3.29 0.244 0.00% 37.80% 62.50% 4.46

You can see that while Dan Wheeler and Jairo Asencio have nearly identical ERA’s, they havein no way pitched similarly. Asencio has more K’s, fewer BB’s and has been a little more unlucky than Wheeler. Wheeler owes some good fortune to having an incredibly high ‘strand-rate’ (men left on base) for such a low strike-out pitcher. Typically, you would expect guys with higher K-rates to strand more runners because they can get out of trouble. I included Chris Perez as well because his profile is remarkably similar to Asencio’s and gives a pretty good idea of how well he has thrown.

The Starting Lineup

The Line: 8/34, 2B, 3BB

The Results: R, 9TB, 19LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 235/297/265

The Write-up: Jake Peavy had it going all night and put the Tribe bats to rest. Damon still looks completely lost out there and a little frustration showed in his first at-bat when he hit yet another weak pop-up to the infield. Kipnis has cooled off considerably only going 1-18 in the series against the White Sox. He might be the catalyst that drives the whole train, so let’s hope he gets back on track in Boston. Hafner got on base 2 out of 5 times to keep his .400 OBP intact. He has lost a considerable amount of his power, but the approach has never disappeared; his lowest OBP in a season is .355 back in 2009 and he has been around .370 ever since. Not too shabby for a guy that was viewed as dead-weight most of the time.

Another lead-off hitter that is struggling is Michael Brantley who just cannot catch a break. He hit a rocket last night and on Tuesday night with runners on base. Both times a run or two should have been driven in, instead runners have been doubled-off because the ball was hit so hard they had no chance to get back to the bag. Let’s hope for Michael’s sake, and our sanity, that they start finding gaps sooner rather than later.

The Defense

Damon missed a catch at the wall that can probably be chalked up to not knowing your home park well enough. He was bracing for impact about 2 steps too early and jumped into the wall when the ball could have been caught shoulder high in-front. But, this definitely wasn’t the difference-maker that Brantley’s drop was yesterday. Choo made a nice sliding catch and also showed why his arm is so valuable. With th bases loaded and one down, Konerko drove a single to right and the third base coach held Pierzsynski while rounding third. The throw was a perfect one-hop that would have had AJ by about 20 feet. Choo is rounding back into form as he has been getting on base more and playing much more solidly as of late.

The Takeaways

Games like this happen and you just have to take your lumps sometimes. Gomez was not good, but showed signs of hope. The offense faced a pitcher on a roll and still managed 8 hits and a few walks. You would like to see more balls in the gaps and some extra-bases, but good pitching can prevent that. A day-off is much needed for everyone on the team and here is hoping that the patient lineup and power-bats come back to life against a potent, but struggling, Boston team.

User Comments

Tony
May 10, 2012 - 1:46 PM EDT
I'm not worried about Damon right now. Kind of a crappy situation with needing to bring him up and he could of used some time on a minor league assignment to Triple-A Columbus, but whatever I guess. If he is in the lineup he has to be hitting leadoff, although I am not sure putting him in the leadoff spot right out of the gates was a smart move.
Charlie
May 10, 2012 - 9:33 AM EDT
Damon will turn it around, it is just unfortunate that due to the contract agreed upon, he is basically going through spring training in games that count in the record books. But yea, this hurts to watch right now....he probably should be hitting in the bottom third of the order. Choo for lead-off, it makes too much sense not to happen. (C'mon Manny!)

I think that once Damon gets back to baseball shape, he will start being the left-handed caddy to the Cunningham/Duncan/LaPorta(?) left field frankenstein that the Indians have decided to go with.
Rich
May 10, 2012 - 8:19 AM EDT
Damon has a .194 OBP and his defense is abysmal on fly balls over his head. So far this move is not working out. I have to believe Cunningham could provide more offense and his defense is about three levels up from what Damon provides.

Heck, LaPorta could hit .250 with some power and his defense wouldn't be any worse.

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