Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What We Learned On Opening Day

We probably didn't learn much - small sample sizes and all - but there were some newsworthy items from yesterday. Among them:

- I'm glad Brad Lidge isn't my closer. Many people, inculding pretty much every projection system I read this off-season, thought that last year was just a blip on the radar for Lidge, and that he'd return to some form of his dominant self this year. He still may, but after the bomb he gave up to Xavier Nady with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (before Chad Qualls lost it in the tenth), the Astros have to start thinking about putting Wheeler back in the closer role (if they hadn't already after Lidge's brutal spring).

- Felix Hernandez is really freakin' good. This isn't neccessarily news, but what a game he threw at the A's yesterday: 8 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 12 K, and 0 ER in 110 pitches. The rest of that rotation is mediocre, so he'll need to keep this up for the Mariners to have any shot at the playoffs whatsoever.

- Ben Sheets is really freakin' good. This isn't neccessarily news either, but he sure looked healthy yesterday, shutting down the Dodgers save for a solo homer by Jeff Kent. Once again, if he can keep this up, he gives a huge boost to the Brewers staff. In two wide open divisions, Hernandez and Sheets might be the two most important players to their division races.

- Boston Bruins fans aren't the only people who wear sweatpants to professional sporting events with no shame whatsoever. Yankee fans are on the same level easily, maybe even ahead. It was a sight to see.

- Tony Pena Jr. and Gil Meche have already peaked. I hate to say this, because the atmosphere in Kansas City yesterday really was amazing, but I don't see how it gets any better for the Royals from here on out. Pena's an average player at best (which makes him better than Angel Berroa, but that's beside the point), and in his KC debut, he hit two triples, scored two runs, and drove in another. It's all downhill from here. As for Meche, he looked great after a shaky first inning, but shutting down the Red Sox at home on Opening Day will be his shining moment for the Royals until and unless he starts any playoff games a few years down the line. It could happen, but not anytime soon. I hope the Royals really are on the comeback trail, but I'm not completely sold just yet.

1 comment:

Warren said...

The Hardball Times wrote about Lidge a couple of months back, and found:

Lidge's [percentage of pitches that are balls] rose back up to 2002-3 levels while his [percentage of pitchers swung at and missed] has been declining fast since 2004 and this time his [percentage of pitchers that are called strikes] didn't compensate, dropping his strikeout rate again, though not as much as 2004 to 2005. This time the walk rate also spiked, over two points and the home run rate nabbed him, jumping two points as well. No change in his overall GB%/FB% tendencies though so expect the home run rate to regress. Everything else is legitimate decline, and Lidge will need to regain those missed bats to be the pitcher he was in 2004.

You can have bad luck in 80 innings and get a 5+ ERA if some balls just land in the wrong place. But if you're generating fewer swings and misses, that's probably a sign that you're just losing your stuff, and not that you're unlucky. Too bad for me as an owner of Lidge on one of my fantasy teams (and given that Wheeler is owned by someone else).