- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Feeble Pitch

Ol' Case had a pitcher named Karma at Worcester, his first managerial

posting, in 1926. Karma went through the order once but never again.

Turned out what would go around didn't come around. So much for Karma,

Stengel said.

So much for this pitching staff, too. Mr. Martinez notwithstanding,

it's enough to make one long for the days of Astacio, Estes and

D'Amico. Who knew D'Amico'd inherit the earth? At least those guys kept

up appearance for a couple of months before imploding.

Pedro (Martinez, that is) is wonderful and our best hope for redemption

Sunday afternoon, but he began a disturbing trend. I'll play Statboy

for now and break down the innings that have followed the starters'

breakdowns:

Game 1: Down 0-3 in the first, Martinez over the next 5-1/3 gives up 0 hits, 2 walks, 0 runs.

Game 2: Glavine…well, forget Glavine.

Game 3: Down 0-3 in the first, Ishii over the next 5-1/3 gives up 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 runs.

Game 4: Down 0-2 in the first, Zambrano over the next 4-1/3 gives up 3 hits, 3 walks, 0 runs.

Game 5: Down 0-4 in the second, Heilman over the next 3-2/3 gives up 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs.

Prior to each stretch of the four games in which the starter has

settled down, it seems the tipping point has been a visit to the mound

from or a talking-to in the dugout by Coach Peterson. He tells them

something and it seems to work for a decent interval. Then it wears

off. I guess I'm wondering:

1) What's he saying?

2) Why doesn't he say it before the game?

I'd ask why there's a statute of limitations on the effectiveness of

his amazing advice, but I'm thinking it's like blackjack. Every pitch

that hasn't blown the game beyond obvious repair is another pitch

closer to 21. Heilman, for example, said “hit me” once too often to

Larry/Chipper. Somebody had the good sense to not let Victor the

Erraticator go above 17.

And Braden's ERA has diminished from Incalculable to 36.

Funny (funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha) thing is this team doesn't look

awesomely bad. Remember 2002, the last time off-season moves were

supposed to catapult us back to the top of the East? That

team looked awesomely bad. I was watching an A's-O's game the other

night and a Baltimore infielder cut off a throw from the pitcher to

first on a bunt. The announcer swore it was unprecedented, but I'm

pretty sure some combination of Leiter and John Valentin pulled off

that same neat trick in an early-season meltdown three years ago. It

was, if I recall correctly, the game in which Ordoñez discarded his

suddenly tarnished glove in frustration. (To think we were still

tracking the Wild Card standings when August began.)

I don't sense the “uh-oh, we can't get out of our own way, I thought

Alomar was supposed to be so great” cloud that enveloped us in '02

moving in from quite the same kind of angle right now. There are, however, a lot of stormy conditions.

* Except for Matsui, the defense has been reasonably sound.

* The batting averages aren't microscopic unless runners are on base.

* As illustrated above, starters have shown the ability to pitch several competent innings, one following another, though usually after digging a hole.

* The bullpen has been undistinguished but not altogether incompetent.

* Save

for the double-switch blunder that served to haze Randolph into the

N.L. managerial fraternity, Willie hasn't noticeably screwed up.

* Everybody's pressing a bit too much, yet one good rally should take care of that.

* If it has to take place versus Smoltz, so be it.

* Stop being such Old Mets already yet.

Karma? Luck? Dunno. But we're due.