*There seems to be some confusion on whether David Price is truly happy with how the Toronto Blue Jays are using him in the playoffs. There are whispers that he is unhappy, though he has been shooting those down as recently as yesterday. On one hand, I get it. Starting pitchers are creatures of habit and like their routines And why mess up a guy that should finish no lower than 2nd in the AL Cy Young voting this year? And who you presumably want to re-sign when he becomes a free agent when the year is done?
But this is the PLAYOFFS! Routine be damned. Egos be shelved. All that crap. Did you hear even a peep when Chris Young and Steven Matz were each lifted with a big lead, 1 out shy of qualifying for a win? Nope. Ok, I’ll grant you Young (36-year-old career journeyman) and Matz (24-year-old rookie) are not David Price. But still. You do what you have to do in the playoffs to win ballgames. End of story. It would probably help Price’s case if he had any kind of historical success in the playoffs.
*That all being said, what Toronto manager John Gibbons has done at times is certainly mystifying. Pitching Price in relief in Game 4 of the Division Series, where he wouldn’t be available for a possible Game 5 (and yes, I understand that there is no Game 5 if they don’t win Game 4, but they did have a big lead at the time Price entered as well). Warming him up in Game 5 of the ALCS (see parenthetical point above). Leaving Mark Buehrle off every postseason roster (why?). Starting a knuckleballer (RA Dickey) in October, not once, but twice, with predictable results. Pitching a position player for the first time in the history of the playoffs. Etc.
I get that the Jays are short on lefties in the bullpen now, what with Brett Cecil getting hurt in the ALDS and Aaron Loup leaving the team for personal reasons earlier in the ALCS. Thus the reason for having Price be ready on occasion I suppose. But Buehrle is a lefty. Where is he? He had a pretty good year as well. And didn’t Loup have to leave the ALDS as well for personal reasons? With all due respect to whatever his situation is, maybe they should’ve left him off the ALCS roster then. It’s not like he is that good anyway. And Dickey? I get that he finished the regular season strong. But I’ve lived through a knuckleballer in the postseason (Tim Wakefield). I don’t recommend it.
People are excited about the novelty of Cliff Pennington being the first position player in the history of baseball to pitch in the postseason. I’m not. I think it’s a joke. If your team is good enough to be in the last four standing, this should unequivocally not happen. Once again, I get that Loup left them a little short. And that the game was a blowout. And you didn’t want to waste “good” arms in Aaron Sanchez or Roberto Osuna. But still. Isn’t that what you carried a guy like Ryan Tepera on the roster for? Tepera is a soon to be 28-year-old nobody that didn’t pitch since the last day of the regular season. Granted, he was getting torched himself, but it’s not like you were worried about the game. And it’s not like he wasn’t fresh. And since he apparently isn’t a prospect, it’s not like you were worried about blowing his arm out. Let him finish. But once again, couldn’t Buehrle or Drew Hutchinson (not on roster either) have given you length in a spot like that? One of these two guys could have been a better roster choice than 150 year old LaTroy Hawkins as well. But I digress…
*Speaking of ALCS pitching staffs, the Royals’ staff ain’t so hot either. Yes, they have a bunch of flamethrowers in the bullpen. But you have to get to them first. And one of them is Franklin Morales, who appeared to have a pretty good year. But I’ve also lived through Morales in the postseason once. I don’t recommend that either. It looks like KC is just using him in mopup duty though, so they must have got the memo.
But I see these guys they are starting games with and shake my head. Was it that bad in 2014, when they were a whisker away from winning the World Series? Looking back, although there weren’t Cy Young guys left and right, the rotation was in a lot better shape. At least they had a clear top of the rotation guy in James Shields in 2014, though he is more a #2 than a #1. That was supposed to be Johnny Cueto for the second half of this year, but he has been subpar, to say the least. His last postseason start of 8 runs in 2 plus innings…yikes. Although Cueto thought the Jays were stealing signs and that he didn’t like the mound…ummmmm, ok.
In 2014, you also had 2 youngsters in Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy that pitched great and showed good promise. And a couple of serviceable mid-rotation type guys in Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas. In fact, these 4 plus Shields made 151 of the 162 starts last year. Pretty reliable group, at the very least.
2015? Shields departed to San Diego as a free agent. Ventura and Duffy took a step back. Guthrie was downright atrocious and is off the postseason roster. Vargas got hurt. 85 starts between the 4 that remain…and seemingly not a lot of great ones among the 85. KC replaced “Big Game” James with Edinson Volquez. Volquez actually acquitted himself quite well in his 33 starts, but…he is still Edinson Volquez. Young made 18 starts kind of off the scrap heap. Cueto took 13 largely uninspiring turns. And believe it or not, Joe Blanton got 4 starts. Joe Blanton? Ouch.
I suppose since they are on the brink of another World Series, maybe the difference in the rotations matters little. They are even down Greg Holland in the bullpen, one of the better closers of this particular “era”, if you will.
But maybe it says something about the state of the American League that 2 teams with subpar pitching can make the final two? Granted, the Jays lineup is stout. And the Royals, though not as electric, seems to work well together and do everything right (but where are you, “proven winner” Jonny Gomes?). But still…and also throw in the fact that the two managers, Gibbons and Ned Yost, aren’t exactly on anyone’s list of legendary skippers.
Gives me some hope that a 2016 Red Sox team can make a run with seemingly most of the putrid 2015 rotation coming back. And another non-legendary skipper leading the team in the name of John Farrell. I can dream, no?
Posted on October 23, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged ALCS, ALDS, American League, Boston Red Sox, David Price, Greg Holland, John Gibbons, Johnny Cueto, Jonny Gomes, Kansas City Royals, Mark Buehrle, Ned Yost, RA Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays, World Series. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.