What’s Wrong in Cleveland? Part 2: Pitching
Part two looks at the stats of the pitching staff, the rotation and bullpen and whether the Indians should send Eric Wedge packing.
The Indians are below league average in runs allowed per game at 4.29 runs per game. The defense has been lacking this year, below league average at .689 DER. With a suspect defensive shortstop in Peralta and a revolving door at second base, this is one area that the Indians need to address moving forward, espically when considering a healthy pitching staff includes two 50%+ groundball ratio pitchers in Westbrook and Carmona. The Tribe is allowing the second highest slugging percentage in the AL at .422. Luckily off-setting this has been their AL leading 75% LOB%. As this ratio gets lower, the slugging against will begin translating into more runs against. K/BB ratio is above league average.
Same story as the offense. #2 (and probably most teams #1) Carmona is out. Jake Westbrook, a consistent winner (44 between 2004 – 2006) is out. Prospect Adam Miller was expected to contribute in the back end of the rotation or in the bullpen and he is hurt as well. Injuries happen to all teams but the Indians are currently missing a high portion of their stars on both sides of the ball in Hafner, Martinez, Carmona, Westbrook and Miller.
The Injuries listed above are much of the story. CC has been human this year. One has to question whether this is due to the enormous workload he carried last season (256.1 IP including playoffs). Paul Byrd has given the Indians his typical 5.00+ ERA. Prospect Aaron Laffey has preformed well, with a 2.83 ERA over 11 starts. And of course we have Cliff Lee. Lee was demoted to AAA Buffalo late in 2007. Talk about lighting a fire. Lee is 10-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a great 79/15 K/BB ratio. Fifth starter Jeremy Sowers has a poor season line, although he’s thrown two quality starts in a row. The current rotation is holding their own.
A mess. On and off again closer Joe Borowski is having a terrible season, with a 7.71 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP! Off-season signing Masahide Kobayashi is doing his part, pitching in 39 games. For now Masahide is the closer. One wonders what took so long. Perez has been good as the lefty specialist/set-up man. Betancourt is having a tough go vs 2007. His ERA has risen from 1.47 to 6.06. Opponents are hitting .301 vs .183 last season. The bullpen has caused many problems for the Indians this season. These four pitchers have combined for 10 losses all ready in 2008.
Should Wedge get the Ax?
Its tough to oust a reigning manager of the year. The Indians pythagorean record is 40 – 38. Wedge has
proven that he is suspect at best when it comes to managing a bullpen. Wedge’s main asset is also becoming his worst enemy. That is his patience. He’ll stick with a player far longer than most managers. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t (in the case of Borowski). I have to give him some leeway with all of the key injuries. While I don’t like his bullpen management, Wedge is a good fit for this young ballclub. Even with the current slide the Indians are only 7.5 games out of first with plenty of games left to play.