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Second Thoughts: Game #61 - Indians 3, Reds 5

Second Thoughts: Game #61 - Indians 3, Reds 5
June 14, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLE 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 3 8 0
CIN 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 X 5 7 1
W: M. Latos (5-2) L: D. Lowe (7-5) S: A. Chapman (7)

Starting Pitching

The Line: 6IP, 5H, 3/3 R/ER. 6BB, 4K, 1 HBP

The Results: 96 pitches, 58% strikes, 8GB, 5FB, 1PO, 3LD

The Write-up:  Much like Jeanmar Gomez Tuesday night, Derek Lowe got better results than he probably deserved. With six walks and a 50/50 mix of balls in the air and on the ground, he flirted with tons of danger and only gave up three runs over six innings. He finished the night with a quality start and, if not for a stellar outing by Matt Latos, probably deserved a win or at least a no decision.

Jumping back and forth between the game feed on the TV above us and the game happening in front of our eyes (I was at the game), it appeared that Lowe was missing Santana’s location setup pretty consistently. Beyond the sixwalks and hit batsmen, a pitcher needs to at least try to hit the right half of the plate in order to induce the GIDP that sinker-ballers find so useful.

Derek Lowe finished the night with a WHIP of 2.00 and had a bad night, there is no question, but at a certain point one needs to step back and look at the entire Indians pitching staff. Ubaldo, Masterson, Lowe and Gomez are all sinker-ballers that are all going to give up their fair share of infield  and seeing-eye singles, it comes with the territory, but the walks are just getting to be too much to overcome. As a pitching staff the Indians have the worst ratio of strikeouts to walks (1.48 K/BB) and it really isn’t even close. If you are curious as to who the best are in light of this particular stat: The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies staffs sit at 3.18 and 3.99 respectively.

Think about it this way, the Indians walk a fair number of batters (3rd most in MLB) and then allow a lot of contact (that moves runners over and/or scores them). This is a recipe for disaster, even if the contact they are allowing is on the ground and creates some GIDP chances.  

The Bullpen

The Line: 2IP, 2H, 0BB, 4K

The Results: 31pitches, 74% strikes, 0GB, 2FB, 1PO, 1LD

The Write-up:  Esmil Rogers introduced himself to the Bullpen Mafia with two punch outs in a perfect 8th inning of work. His stuff looked great last night and isn’t tough to see why the arm was worth taking a flyer on. A simple look at his stats tell you why the Rockies didn’t think very highly of him (lots of walks), but the Indians may be onto something as his BABIP against was a staggeringly unlucky .420. Perhaps if a handful of those batters he faces that he doesn’t walk or strikeout (more than 35%  of hitters faced end up in one of these camps) make contact and it lands in a fielder’s glove, then he could be a worthwhile acquisition.

Nick Hagadone looked dominant the first five to six pitches getting ahead of Votto and making him think about offering on back-to-back sliders in the dirt. However, Votto is a great hitter and he battled back, he then found a pitch he could take the other way and the stage was set for Phillips to get his annual revenge on the team that gave up on him all those years ago.

The Starting Lineup

The Line: 8/36, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1BB, 0 SB, 0 CS

The Results: 3R, 12TB, 16LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 222/243/333

The Write-up: Another night and another lackluster offensive performance for the Cleveland Indians. Matt Latos looked pretty solid, but the once-patient Tribe lineup of the first 40 games is struggling to find consistency. Over the past 4 series the walks have come in bunches and so too have the runs:

Series W-L Runs/Game BB/Game Opp. Bullpen Inn./Game
MIN 1-2 4.66 1.33 3.2
DET 2-1 6.00 3.33 3.2
STL 2-1 3.33 2.33 2.2
CIN 0-2 2.00 0.50 1.0

This starts to paint the picture of how important walks are in terms of scoring runs and getting into the weak underbelly that is the opponents (non-closer) bullpen. When looking at the games individually, an even stronger relationship emerges. Clearly, there is a great deal of volatility in these numbers and a 11-game stretch is nothing if not inconclusive, I merely bring up the relationship that many people would contend exists: if you work walks, not only do you get more base runner’s, you get to the bullpen faster as well.

If the Indians aren’t going to hit for power, they at least need to get back to their old ways of leading the Major’s in walking.

The Defense

A relatively quiet night in the field for the Indians. One play that did stand out was the slow roller that Lonnie Chisenhall fielded in the bottom of the 6th. The play wasn’t that spectacular, it was a slow roller that required a hard, accurate throw while on the run. This is practiced every time the team takes infield practice. What was more impressive was the context: runners were on 1st and 3rd and Lowe was laboring. The ball was hit right down the line and Chisenhall raced forward to get it while it was fair rather than let it trickle foul. By doing so he gave himself a very good chance at getting the out (which he converted) while not taking a chance on the run from 3rd scoring due to the placement of the ball. Playing smart in the field is sometimes just as important as playing well and Chisenhall showed a good example of that last night.

The Takeaways

The Indians will try to avoid the sweep with Josh Tomlin going in the Businessman Special 12:35pm start. The Indians are in an offensive funk right now and need something to snap out of it. A new left-fielder and 1st basemen would be nice, but perhaps we can just settle with an overall game from Kipnis, Choo, Cabrera, Santana and Brantley instead. The Indians have the bats to contend, but can’t afford slumps and probably need one of Chisenhall, Kotchman or Damon to step up and become league average as opposed to far-below. Including the pitchers, the Indians are throwing 4 guys up there that are basically automatic outs now and this makes it extremely difficult to win a baseball game. I am predicting a big afternoon for the Tribe as a soft-tossing right-hander like Mike Leake is just what the doctor ordered.

User Comments

June 14, 2012 - 5:47 PM EDT
Yeah, I agree Bill. The indians have two black holes right now at first base and left field,....two positions that were black holes going into the offseason. It is safe to say they came up way short in their attempts to "fix" those positions.
June 14, 2012 - 5:01 PM EDT
They are not walking now because not one pitcher on earth is afraid of this lineup so they are challenging them. I don't have any idea why you guys still defend Kotchman, his OPS is under .600, I don't care about his glove, this is the majors and you can't win with a 1B and those numbers
June 14, 2012 - 12:22 PM EDT
The defense, Damon gets lost again on a fly ball. Another double and a run.

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