The Tenth Inning – Week 4

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The Tenth Inning – Week 4 ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

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By Mike Ivcic

This week has seen a number of poor pitching performances, as is usually the case. Johan Santana was lit up Sunday night in the latest of bad outings from the week, but this list is the five guys who were supposed to be big-time, reliable pitchers who have struggled start after start for their teams – which has, in every case, really hurt their teams’ playoff chances.

Five “Bad” Surprises
Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox
5 GS, 0-2, 28.2 IP, 7.85 ERA, 20 BB, 22 K, 1.81 WHIP
He may be coming off of an injury, but the White Sox were relying on Peavy to actually be the team’s ace, and he’s been far from that. Even with the struggles of Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd, Peavy’s been the worst of the lot, as evidenced by the 20 walks in less than 30 innings and the second highest ERA among eligible starters behind Edwin Jackson of Arizona (who I mercifully left off this list). Chicago thought they could compete with Detroit and Minnesota for the division title, but they haven’t proven it as of yet. In order to do so, the change must start right here with Peavy.

Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
6 GS, 1-0, 35.2 IP, 6.31 ERA, 13 BB, 26 K, 1.57 WHIP
A microcosm of the Boston season thus far – some good parts, but overall pretty disappointing. He hasn’t lost yet and has recorded a fair number of strikeouts, but 13 walks is high for him, he has only one win, and has allowed 43 hits in his 35.2 innings pitched. This rotation is six deep – with Lackey, Matsuzaka, Lester, Buchholz, and Wakefield all candidates for the other four spots – but this team is only as good as Beckett. Every team needs one pitcher to turn to every five games that they know will give them a big outing. That was supposed to be Beckett, especially in a contract year. It hasn’t been thus far, and while Lackey and Lester both have that ability and potential, the Red Sox need it to be Beckett, or they could be watching the postseason start to finish.

Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds
6 GS, 1-4, 33.2 IP, 6.68 ERA, 7 BB, 27 K, 1.51 WHIP
Every year the Reds enter the season thinking that if the chips fall right, they will have a chance to contend. That hope is usually reliant upon good years from everyone in their rotation, and right now Harang and fellow top-starter Bronson Arroyo have been awful, to say the least. The walk-strikeout ration is good, but Harang’s given up 44 hits so far this year, which has led to his 1-4 record. The Cardinals are good and continue to win series after series – against some pretty good teams – so those two need to get their act together if Cincinnati wants to keep postseason hopes alive past Memorial Day.

John Lannan, Washington Nationals
6 GS, 1-2, 32.2 IP, 6.34 ERA, 18 BB, 12 K, 1.93 WHIP
His teammate Livan Hernandez was on last week’s list, but as good as Livan has been, Lannan has been just as bad. He’s walked six more batters than he’s struck out and allows almost two baserunners per inning, making it extremely difficult to put up zeros on the scoreboard on a consistent basis. That can be hugely deflating to a young team that’s built to be scrappy and earn low-scoring, hard-fought wins. Craig Stammen hasn’t been very good either, but it’s his first full season with the big club and he can work through his issues by learning from mentors like Hernandez. Lannan’s been around for a while, which makes you wonder how much longer he’ll still be with the Nationals if he keeps pitching like this.

Joel Pineiro, Los Angeles Angels
5 GS, 2-3, 29.2 IP, 5.76 ERA, 5 BB, 16 K, 1.52 WHIP
The Angels lost John Lackey to Boston in the offseason, and picking up Pineiro was supposed to at least help make up for that loss. Instead, he’s been a weak link for the reigning AL West champs, which is tough to do with teammate Joe Saunders also having an equally bad season. Sure he’s only walked five batters all season, but that makes his 1.52 WHIP even that much more amazing. Pineiro has been a journeyman throughout his career, but in a weak free agent class he commanded a good contract from the Angels. Now he just needs to work on living up to it, and based on his overall career, I’d say this year’s Joel Pineiro is more like the real pitcher as opposed to the one who dazzled for St. Louis the past couple of seasons.

Trivia Question
Last week’s answer: The San Diego Padres, New York Mets, and Tampa Bay Rays are the only three teams remaining who have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter.

This week’s question: The Saint Louis Cardinals have been in first place or tied for first place every day this season. Who is the last team to go “wire-to-wire” in first place for the entire season?


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