Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pavano's Weak Stuff And Other Stories

  • Yankees 8-Rays 4; Pavano's stuff just ain't there:
Carl Pavano has shown some guts in coming back to try and help the Yankees in some
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way over the last month and redeem the previous 3 3/4 years with the team that can only be described as disastrous and embarrassing on and off the field; that being said, his stuff just isn't there at all. His fastball is puttering in at a high of 88 and is coming in anywhere under that; his sinker isn't sinking, instead it's taking a slight lateral movement at the hitting zone; his changeup is good enough, but with a fastball that's not all that fast, the changeup loses it's effectiveness; his slider isn't doing much of anything at all. He looks like he's getting hitters out because they're either stunned that his stuff is so weak or they're too anxious and unaccustomed to a big leaguer throwing such substandard junk.
It's strange because a pitcher who comes back from Tommy John surgery tends to throw
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harder than he did before, but that hasn't happened with Pavano. The only things I can surmise are that he's still building arm strength or there's something not right with him and he doesn't want to say. If this is what he's got to work with now, he's going to have trouble securing anything more next season other than a Mark Prior-type contract in which the team that signs him is going to bring Pavano to camp to see if he can give them anything. If he thinks a month of starts is going to guarantee him anything more than a short-term contract laden with incentives, he's in for a big surprise, but in looking at how he's pitching, it shouldn't be any surprise at all.
  • Astros 4-Cubs 0; can the Astros pull this off?
The Astros can forget about the NL Central because eleven games is too much to make up over the final 22 games, but they're only 6 1/2 games out of the Wild Card lead and their
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schedule is notoriously weak over the final month. Other than three more games with the Cubs starting September 12th, they play: the Rockies, Pirates, Reds, Marlins and Braves. The teams ahead of the Astros in the Wild Card standings, the Brewers, Cardinals and Phillies have a much tougher road.
The Brewers have ten games remaining with the Cubs and Phillies; the Phillies have those games with the Brewers, plus three with the Mets; and the Cardinals have ten with the Diamondbacks and Cubs. After all the ridicule the blazing hot Astros endured little more than a month ago for "needlessly" trading for veteran help, it's legitimately possible that they could still be alive for a playoff spot going into the last weekend with the Braves and no one other than the Astros thought that would be possible.
  • Nationals 9-Phillies 7; Charlie Manuel's reliever-abuse is showing:
The wear on the tires of the Phillies entire bullpen is starting show. J.C. Romero is pitching in almost every game (much as he did last year) and looks exhausted even if he doesn't make
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himself unavailable to pitch; Chad Durbin has been brilliant this season, but as he's forged that new career as a reliever, the fact that he's been a career-long starter and has never pitched in more than 36 games in a season is diminishing his performance. The other members of the Phillies bullpen----Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge----are going to feel the affects on and off the field before too long if they aren't already. (I'd be willing to be heavily that they are.)
Eyre came over from the Cubs and, after being a lefty specialist used for one or two batters at a time for the last several years, has found himself pitching multiple innings to lefties and righties; he's pitched well, but how long before the wear and tear of this sudden change causes an injury, ineffectiveness or both? Manuel can argue that it's being done out of necessity, but he still hasn't shown any
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restraint in the use of his relievers from the time the season started until now and with the Phillies three games behind the Mets, they're not going to be able to give any of those pitchers any rest.
Just like last season in which the Phillies bullpen heroically and selflessly sacrificed their bodies for the good of the cause of their comeback, the pitchers aren't going to complain and say they're unable to pitch when the team needs them; but because the Phillies authored such a miraculous comeback over the Mets in 2007, it's forgotten how they flamed out in the playoffs and were swept away by the Rockies before they even
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knew what happened.
Part of the reason for that was because the comeback attempt was so intense on a night-by-night basis that the playoffs was almost a letdown after they finally caught and passed the Mets; the adrenaline that was carrying them petered out; the same thing is happening now and it's because of the way Charlie Manuel handles his bullpen that the Phillies are staggering toward the finish with 22 games left. They're running on fumes with no rest stop in sight and they're in big trouble because those pitchers can only reach back so far until there's nothing left to give, and what should frighten Phillies fans is that they may have reached that point.

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