Well, my other job ended today, until August, as I closed out my first year teaching academic argument to ninth graders, and we sent ‘em all home at 1:10 and then I came home to prepare for my last Friday recap, also until August. This job actually pays less than being a secondary school teacher in AZ (as hard as that might be to believe, if you know anything about how terribly teachers in this state get compensated....here at the ‘Pit, I get nuthin’, beyond the joy of writing about baseball and hanging out with y’all, which is actually very good compensation, and I cannot complain), but I look forward to it much more than my other job.
Some days, though, it winds up sucking. This was one of those days.
I will be honest, I have had misgivings, ongoing misgivings, about Brandon Pfaadt and his readiness for the majors, but I’ve been trying to keep those tamped down a bit, and to trumpet the “he’s a kid, give him time to figure stuff out” line. I do genuinely believe that, too—Tommy Henry’s settled down since he’s been back up this year, and Ryne Nelson seems to be showing signs of doing the same, and I’ve been glad to see it. We’ve been overperforming this year anyway, and with a rotation that has, since the Rodeo Clown got his one-way ticket to Greenland and Zach Davies went to the IR, been 60% rookies, I don’t mind giving the kids some time to stumble around and screw up and begin to figure things out. Hell, I believe my preseason prediction for us was 82-80 or something like that, so I haven’t been expecting even as much greatness as we’ve been seeing.
But. Brandon. Brandon, Brandon, Brandon. I think it might be time to go back to the farm for awhile. Not “the farm upstate,” not to Greenland, but maybe back down to Reno to sort some stuff out. Because after five starts in the month of May, my young friend, you’re rocking a 8.37 ERA, you’ve only managed to get through 232⁄3 IP, and you’re sporting a K/BB/HR ratio of 18:8:8, which is, in a word, ugly. I’m sorry, but it is what it is.
So, yeah, that was the story tonight, mainly. Pfaadt was facing off against Chris Sale, who’s trying to climb back out of the wave of injuries (TJ surgery included) that derailed his once-promising career. Sale came in with an ERA over 5, so I was hoping that it might be a contest. Sadly, it wasn’t. Pfaadt put up a zero in the first, which was nice, and he only faced four batters, which was nice, but he did surrender a hard two-out double to former FTD Justin Turner down the left field line (a harbinger of things to come, as it turned out) before closing out the frame.
The plague of doubles continued in the top of the second, as Pfaadt gave up a leadoff single and then a double down the right field line to Boston first baseman Triston Casas that scored the leadoff single to some guy, and then after two strikeouts another double, this one of the ground-rule variety that bounced over the wall in left, to Red Sox catcher and nine-hole batter Connor Wong. A single to Boston’s leadoff hitter and former Colorado Rockies annoyance Raimel Tapia scored Wong from second, putting us in an early crooked-number hole out of which we would never climb. 3-0 Boston
To his credit, Pfaadt did manage to record a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third, needing only 13 pitches to do so. After his 18 pitch first, though, and then his 36-pitch second, he was through three with 67 pitches thrown. No bueno. And it got even less bueno in to top of the fourth, as he gave up a leadoff single to Casas, followed by a dinger into the left-field seats to another former FTD, Kike Hernandez. Like in the second, Pfaadt then managed to record two more outs before giving up another single to Tapia as the Red Sox lineup turned over for the second time, and that hit earned Pfaadt the hook, as Torey Lovullo replaced him with Luis Frias (gulp). Pfaadt finished his night early with arguably the worst pitching line of his young career, recording 32⁄3 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 1 HR, and 4 K on a total of 87 pitches thrown. As someone pointed out, somewhat wryly, in the Gameday Thread, at least he didn’t issue a walk, So there’s that, I guess.
Anyway, Frias came on, gave up a single, then struck out Justin Turner to end the inning without further damage. 5-0 Boston
You may have noticed that Pfaadt has already left the game, and I have not once mentioned what our offense had been doing yet. We’ve all seen this show before, so I’m sure that you have intuited that I haven’t mentioned it because we hadn’t been doing a goddamned thing up to this point. You would be correct in that intuition. We were kind of sucking, but to his credit, Chris Sale was also doing the business. Corbin Carroll managed a two-out single in the bottom of the second, and Jose Herrara (in tonight for Gaby Moreno, who apparently spent the morning getting a root canal, poor guy) singled to shallow right before getting doubled off by a Ketel Marte grounder to third to end the third inning.
This changed, marginally, at least for a moment, in the bottom of the fourth, as Emmanuel Rivera led off the frame by lining a single to right. Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. then came to the plate and did the sort of Gurriel thing I’m beginning to get used to, increasing his hit streak to 17 games as he tripled into the right-center gap and and drove in Rivera. Somewhat shamefully, despite standing on third base with nobody out, Gurriel was still standing there when the inning, thanks to three deeply disappointing ABs in succession by Christian Walker, #veteranpresence Evan Longoria, and Corbin Carroll. At least we weren’t going to be shut out, though. 5-1 Boston
And honestly, that’s all that needs to be reported about this ballgame, really. Frias pitched a scoreless but sloppy (two walks, because Frias) top of the fifth for us. Sale wound up pitching five innings for Boston, the only blemish on his last inning of work being a one-out walk surrendered to Jake McCarthy, newly recalled from Reno, who then promptly stole second but was left standing there. Yet another former FTD, Alex Verdugo, scored in the sixth against Frias in the top of the sixth after doubling down the line in right and then being driven in by Justin Turner. Even when they’re not playing for LA anymore, these folks continue to hurt us. 6-1 Boston
Kevin Ginkel pitched the seventh and eighth for us, recording a clean seventh before giving up another run on yet another double-single combination in the top of the eighth. 7-1 Boston
Some guy named Winckowski pitched the sixth, seventh, and eighth for the BoSox, retiring us in order in the first two frames before allowing a second run to score on three successive singles to Jose Herrera, Ketel Marte, and Emmanuel Rivera in the bottom of the eighth. 7-2 Boston
And that was it. Jose Ruiz pitched the top of the ninth for us, and put up a zero despite giving up yet another double (Boston wound up with six for the game), and some other guy came out of the Boston bullpen, this one named Bernandino, to pitch a scoreless bottom of the ninth for the Sox, and there’s your sad and disappointing Friday night ballgame.
DEEP THOUGHTS ADDENDUM
I imagine that those who happened to be watching and paying attention a few weeks back were taken by surprise when we rolled out Scott McGough to work 2+ innings and throw fifty pitches one evening. I don’t know if there’s been an announced change of policy in terms of bullpen usage, but it really looks like, in the absence of a “long relief arm,” the team seems to be electing to push all of our relievers (with the possible exceptions of Chafin and Castro, who seem to be our current closer-designates) into more of a long-relief role.
Three relievers came out of our bullpen tonight. Luis Frias worked 21⁄3 innings, throwing 51 pitches and allowing one earned run. Kevin Ginkel afforded us a relatively mild 2-inning Ginkeling, with 32 pitches thrown and one ER as well. Jose Ruiz, who screwed the pooch in Gallen’s start on Wednesday, only pitched one inning tonight, but he threw 26 pitches on Wednesday and 19 more tonight. The results have not been bad so far, it doesn’t seem like, but does anyone think this is actually a viable solution to our bullpen problems going forward?
I’m thinking “NO!”, but at the same time, I’m asking that as an honest and genuine question: could this work going forward, and could it work through the end of the season, with any or some (or all) of these bullpen arms still being intact after a few months of long outings out of the ‘pen? Please share your thoughts in the comments, should you feel so inclined.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Nobody on our side had a positive contribution that broke +6%, so all you get is....
Long Pork: Brandon Pfaadt (pitching line above, -27% WPA)
The Gameday Thread was reasonably active, though many of the usual suspects seemed to be absent and doing other things tonight, which I think turned out to be a good life choice for them At time of writing we are at 167 comments overall, with three comments overall going Sedona Red. Two of them are mine, and the other, and far and away the most rec’d goes to Snacks&DBacks for what was the fourth comment of the night, and was rec’d up right quick:
Can’t argue with the sentiment, though it was sadly not borne out tonight. Anyway.
Join us tomorrow for the second game of this series, wherein we try to even things up and put ourselves in line for a another series win on Sunday.
Merrill Kelly Zach Davies, fresh off his rest and relaxation on the IR, takes the mound for us tomorrow, going up against Boston righty, converted reliever and apparent who-dat Garrett Whitlock. First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 AZ time. Hope you can join us!
UPDATE: The game looks like it will be broadcast on Fox nationally, so anyone should be able to watch it, though the broadcasters will very likely suck.
As always, thank you so much for reading. I will be passing Fridays over to Spencer starting next week, so I will see you next on Tuesday. And as always, well....what Snacks&DBacks said. Cheers.