Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nice and Ugly

The Royal Faithful were treated to a rare morning game today, but we left with a dishonorable taste in our collective mouths. The Royals now stand at 4-4 on their road trip, which I still believe is a solid accomplishment. As bad as the Royals have been at home this season, they've been even worse on the road, so their post-Break performance away from the K is heartening.

-- J.P. Howell finally had a solid outing today, or at least as solid an outing as you can have giving up 4 runs in 6+ innings. He economized on his pitches, missed bats and didn't walk a single batter. Hell, he only yielded five hits, but unfortunately, two of them were home runs. Those are the ones that STING. Even allowing 4 runs, he lowered his ERA by nearly half a point.

-- I thought Leo Nunez had turned the corner on his meltdown mania, but he crapped out again on us this afternoon. I still wonder about Nunez' mental toughness, because he just seems to lack the ability to fight through outings when his stuff isn't the best. These are the kinds of outings which turn close games into blowouts and give the Royals no chance of winning, so that's a black mark against him, but fortunately games only count once: a 10-1 loss is the same as a 4-1 loss. A 7+ ERA would suggest that he's been ineffective basically all of the time (like Jose Lima and J.P. Howell), but its truly not the case. In fact, Nunez has been done in only by 3 truly atrocious outings:

3 outings (5/28, 6/9, 7/21)- 3.1IP, 16H, 17R, 4BB, 3K 45.95 ERA
23 outings (all others) - 30.1 IP, 30H, 12R, 5BB, 20K, 3.56 ERA

In nearly 9 out of 10 outings, Leo has been damn effective, showing excellent control and pretty good strikeout ability. In the other 3 outings, well, no pitcher could be any worse. We can't ignore the 3 horribly awful outings, but neither do you assume that he's been uniformly terrible this season by just looking at his 7.75 ERA and -2.1 VORP. With such a young pitcher, you live with the occasional awful outings and celebrate the fact that nine times out of ten he's a real asset to the team. The next step is to develop an ability to battle when he's not on top of his game (Elvys could teach him a thing or two about that).

-- Speaking of ugly, last night marked the fourth consecutive quality start for Jose Lima. He's quietly rebounded from being the worst pitcher in all of baseball the first half of the season into a perfectly decent #4 starter for this team. I don't expect much from a starter of his caliber, but I'd look for 6IP, 7H, 3R in a typical outing and except a poor performance every fifth start. I can't see the Royals trading Lima when they have no starting options available in his stead. He's here to stay unless the Royals can acquire another pitcher via trade on whom they can count to take the mound every 5th day for the rest of the season.

p.s. Lima's still last in VORP.


At 4:59 PM, Anonymous tfn said...

Part of the reason that Nunez has an ERA of 45+ in those few games is that he's being left out there to get his brains bashed in, presumably so he can "learn to get out of his own jams" or some other such baseball platitude. If the Royals were trying to win, instead of trying to develop young players or whatever it is that they currently claim to be up to, Nunez would get yanked a lot earlier on his bad days and his ERA would be a lot lower.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger DL said...

The odd think about yesterday's meltdown was that he actually struck out the side -- while giving up 6 runs. I wonder how many times that's happened in major league history?


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