Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bullpen help arrives from Omaha

Game Date: September 5, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Angels 2, Royals 1 (11 inn.) / Box Score
WP: Jepsen (5-3), LP: Yabuta (0-1), SV: Fuentes (39)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 51-84 / Record in September 1-3

Zack Greinke was on his game again last night, but he got a no decision, keeping him at 13 wins. If you do the math, he probably has five starts left. He’s certainly pitching well enough to win them all, but if he wins three of the final five, would 16 wins be enough to give him a chance to win the Cy Young Award? His ERA (2.22) is the best in the Major Leagues. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. But will his low win total coupled with the fact that he plays for a bad team keep the baseball writers from giving him the award he’s earned?

I hope not. But if you look at history, you have to wonder.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, the last time a pitcher in the AL won the Cy Young with less than 18 wins was in the strike-shortened 1994 season. David Cone won it that season with a 16-5 record in 23 starts. His ERA that season was 2.94.

Maybe bringing up some bullpen help from Omaha will enhance Greinke’s chances. Three relievers from Omaha are now available: Dusty Hughes, Carlos Rosa, and Victor Marte.

Hughes put up solid numbers in Omaha (3-3, 3.50 ERA, in 34 appearances—11 of which were starts). He strikes out nearly twice as many guys as he walks. He’s not afraid to challenge guys with his fastball—at least from what I’ve seen of him in Omaha. He has good speed variation between his fastball, which I’ve seen top out at 92 mph, and his curve ball which bottoms out around 65 mph. My only concern is that he seems to leave a lot of breaking pitches up in the zone. He got away with that in Omaha but he probably won’t at the Major League level. Let’s hope he has that ironed out.

Rosa throws hard—I’ve seen him top out at 96 mph this season in Omaha. He strikes out about 2.5 times as many guys as he walks. He got off to an awful start in Omaha this season though. His numbers in May really killed his overall stats. He gave up 17 earned runs in 10 appearances in May, good for a 10.43 ERA for the month. He put up solid numbers in June and even better numbers in July. August wasn’t a great month for him. He ended the year in Omaha with a 4.56 ERA. At times, he can look awful. Other times, his fastball can make him look extremely tough. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing.

Marte looks like the real deal to me. He was 2-1 in NW Arkansas this season with a 2.45 ERA in 13 appearances. He got the call to Omaha and in 26 appearances, he posted an even better, 2.13 ERA. He can be a little wild at times, but at the same time, he seems to be around the plate quite a bit. He walked 20 guys in 42.1 innings in Omaha. At 28, he could turn out to be a real find for the Royals. He pitched in Japan from 2006-2008 and he didn’t fare very well; in 29 appearances over those three seasons he had a 6.37 ERA. I don’t know if his excellent numbers in the Minor Leagues this season will translate to the Major Leagues, but I’m anxious to find out.

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