Thursday thoughts: Closers not closing
April, 4, 2013
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
Quick thoughts on Wednesday's games:
- Three closers blew ninth-inning leads -- Phil Coke of the Tigers, Fernando Rodney of the Rays and Chris Perez of the Indians. The Rays and Indians ended up winning their games anyway, so no harm, no foul. Of the three the one I'd most worry about is Rodney, because he was so good last year and the Rays need him to dominate once again. Coke entered with a 2-1 lead after Joaquin Benoit had walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, and Coke gave up a little flare to right and then a two-run double to Eduardo Escobar that was tagged to deep left-center but Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks had a miscommunication, letting the ball drop. I'm not that worried yet about Detroit's closer-by-committee situation, as I still think they have enough good arms down there to make it work.
- The other closer to really worry about, however, is Milwaukee's John Axford. After giving up a game-tying homer in the opener, he pitched the ninth while down 4-3 and allowed five hits and two runs, failing to get three outs. Rockies beat writer Troy Renck reported on Twitter that a scout said hitters are seeing Axford's release point so easily that it's almost like he's tipping his pitches. I don't see how the Brewers can use him in a save situation again until he proves he can actually go through an inning without giving up a home run. (Carlos Gomez did have the play of the day, however.
- Watched Tim Lincecum's start and it wasn't pretty, although he escaped with the win despite walking seven batters in five innings. How rare is that? Tommy Hanson was the only starter to walk seven batters last year and come away with a victory. Like with Roy Halladay, we're still left wondering what lies ahead.
- Great game in Arizona that I didn't stay up for, the Diamondbacks beating the Cardinals 10-9 in 16 innings. Josh Collmenter pitched five innings to get the win, which begs the question: How many teams even have a reliever like that anymore, a guy you can leave in to soak up innings? Collmenter has spent parts of the past two seasons in the Arizona rotation. (Although I don't understand moves like this: David Hernandez, one of the best setup guys in the game, pitched just one inning and 10 pitches. In a tie game, why remove him so quickly? In a tie game, don't you have to think about the game being extended and how you want as many innings as possible from your best relievers? Especially since Arizona doesn't even play on Thursday. It worked out in the end for Kirk Gibson, but I hate that rote "remove a guy after one inning" mind-set and ignoring his pitch count.)
- Was watching Halladay pitch, so missed Matt Harvey's gem for the Mets (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 SO). I think I'll be watching some of his starts soon enough. In a postgame interview, he said he had command of his fastball to both sides of the plate, and didn't have to shake off catcher John Buck all game.
- The Astros, Marlins or Yankees: Which team will be worse? Just kidding, Yankees fans! (Sort of.)