Today I broke a longstanding personal rule, and actually wrote an email that mentioned Paris Hilton. I can’t stand her, I try not to pay any attention to her, I’m sure half of you just stopped reading when you saw her name, but like it or not she’s all over the news today. My email was reporting that she’s going back to jail, which like about 95% of those who have even the slightest interest I am very happy with that decision. My sole comment on that story is that the LA Sheriff just lost his next election.
But thinking about it, I was seeing parallels with the Rangers today. She went in the slammer for a short time, the Rangers trailed to a homer by Prince Fielder, another person who’s more famous for being an heir than for anything he did himself (yet). Then, she got free for some time, and the Rangers broke out and scored a bunch of runs to build a 7-1 lead, with shock of shocks some actual good pitching from a starter. Finally, she gets thrown back in jail, and our starter throws five runs back to the opposition, to make it a tense finish. But good relief pitching finally seals the win, and the Rangers get a happy ending (pun intended).
Okay, enough with tenuous links to a talentless bimbo. Back to what we’re here for: time to bash Mark Connor some more.
In Robinson Tejeda’s last five starts, he threw 92, 95, 87, 79 and 101 pitches, and in only two of those did he get to five innings. He also lost four out of five. He also skipped a start with a sore arm. He also had an ERA of 10.62 in those starts. Something is clearly wrong, and Mark Connor has no clue how to fix it.
Starting the 7th inning, Tejeda had given up four hits and two walks, struck out seven and allowed just the one run. Pretty decent, you’d think, and you’d be right. Can he go another inning? Yeah, maybe, although he’s already pitched further than in his last five games, so how’s the fatigue doing? Well, he’s only throw 77 pitches through six innings, that’s pretty darn good. And the bottom of the order is coming up, so he ought to be good for one more inning, maybe even two. His speed is still up there (his fourth pitch in the 7th would be clocked at 95, compared to his high of 97 all night).
He throws two slow pitches to Geoff Jenkins, the first is a strike then Jenkins doubles. I say uh-oh, better get someone ready. Everyone knows you get someone ready when the leadoff man doubles in the 7th, right?
Three fastballs to Gabe Gross, a swinging strike, a ball, then a fly to center that allows Jenkins to move to third.
Bill Hall grounds to second on the first pitch, a breaking ball, but Jenkins scores. That’s okay, you’re still up 7-2 and now there’s two out. With a lead like that the commentators will say that you should trade the out for the run, rather than risking a run and a safe batter.
Three pitches to Craig Counsell, the number 9 batter, and he hits the third to center for a single. Still okay, slight worry that there’s a runner on and you’re coming back to the top of the order, but you’ve only thrown 9 pitches this inning and you’re still only at 86 for the night. The guy is up in the bullpen, but just maintaining right now, doing a just in case warmup. No real rush.
Corey Hart gets a fastball, then a breaking ball in the dirt for a wild pitch that moves the runner up. Another breaking ball swung and missed, but then he jacks the 1-2 pitch over the left field wall and all of a sudden it’s 7-4. You’ve given up three runs in the 7th, the number two hitter is coming up, and what do you do now? If you’re Mark Connor and Ron Washington, you leave him in to see some more damage done. If you’re a decent pitching coach, you tell the manager that it’s time to pull him. Of course, you could use the excuse that there are two right hand batters coming up and you’ve got a left hand pitcher warmed up (I don’t know if the Rangers warmed up a righty too). So why not let the starter get the last out of the inning?
JJ Hardy walks on six pitches, three balls, then two strikes (both called), then ball four. Five fastballs and a breaking ball. Still throwing fast, just a little wilder.
Ryan Braun fouls off a fastball, lets another go by, then hits a breaking ball over the fence to make it 7-6. And finally the Rangers pull Tejeda. Wilson gets the last out, Aki and Gagne close them out in the 8th and 9th, and it’s Hello Win Column once more, with Tejeda getting the win.
I see half a dozen spots where they could have pulled Tejeda and gone home happy. After 6 innings, that was one where I would probably leave him in, because he’s doing well. But he gives up a leadoff double, pull him. He gives up another hit, pull him. A wild pitch gets you worried. The first home run, pull him. A walk, pull him. Finally another home run, pull him. Okay, so that’s four places I would have pulled him before they did. Yeah, I’d have liked him to have gotten out of the 7th, but psychologically you get him out before he’s given up a bunch of runs, before he’s got a Blown Quality Start. If they pull him at the start of the 7th, he has a game score of 66, which is a good start (especially for the Rangers). Instead they do what they do and it gets knocked down to 38. 66 would have tied his second best start, from April 17. 38 makes it 7th out of 12.
Pitching is a game of confidence, and the Rangers just gave a big unnecessary knock to Tejeda’s confidence. Oh, he said he had a blister on his finger by the 7th inning. Some delicate hands on the Rangers this year?
My cursory look at Tejeda in the Gameday data appears to show him throwing only two pitches. Surely he has more than that? No, looking around I see a few sites saying he’s got a fastball and a changeup, although he’s apparently working on a curveball. Hmmm. Guys with two pitches don’t make it as starters, for the simple reason that if you only have two things to look for you’re going to catch up to one sooner or later, and if you’re a starter they get to see more pitches and get used to them. As a reliever you only throw a few pitches a game, so they don’t have time to get a good look. I suspect Tejeda has a future in the bullpen rather than the rotation. I’ll have to analyze the Gameday data some more and see if I can see anything interesting in it.
Speaking of blisters, Brandon McCarthy tomorrow. As you know he’s become my favorite pitcher, for reasons I have yet to fathom. Let’s see if we can get a two game win streak going. How unique would that be? Since May 6 they’ve only had one, on May 20 and 21. Time for another, I think.