Pirates to pay for giving up on Gorzy

Leave a comment

Seven pitchers have started games for the Pirates this season, with ERAs ranging from 3.45 to 6.09.  Tomorrow, that number will expand to eight, with the newly acquired Kevin Hart making his debut for the Diamondbacks.  Going the other way in that trade with the Cubs was Tom Gorzelanny, who, quite bizarrely, wasn’t included in the group of starters.

 

Despite some lingering questions about the health of his arm, Gorzelanny was considered one of the Pirates’ building blocks two years ago, when he went 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA as a 24-year-old.  A complete and total collapse followed in 2008, as he finished 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA.  He allowed more walks (70) and homers (20) in 105 1/3 innings than he did in 201 2/3 innings the year before.  He didn’t miss time due to injury until mid-September, when he injured a finger ligament.  He did complain of shoulder tightness in April, but he pitched through it.

 

When spring 2009 arrived, the assumption was that Gorzelanny would have every opportunity to win back his rotation spot.  However, after some early struggles, he was sent down with still more than two weeks to go.  When he was recalled in mid-May, it was to pitch out of the pen, a role he had never filled as a pro.  The Pirates didn’t even give him a couple of appearances in Triple-A for him to get used to it.  He spent three weeks on the roster, giving up five runs in 8 2/3 innings, and then returned to starting in Triple-A.  From that point on, he went on an incredible roll, posting a 1.17 ERA in eight starts for Indianapolis.  Still, the Pirates opted to trade him without ever taking another look at him.  It wasn’t a money issue, as he’s making barely more than the minimum.  He’s not going to be eligible for free agency until after 2013.

 

The Cubs wasted no time in putting Gorzelanny into the rotation after acquiring him, and he allowed one run and three hits over 7 1/3 innings in his debut Tuesday.  He struck out six and walked just one.  The now 27-year-old lefty looked nothing like the pitcher he did last year.  He was throwing 89-92 mph consistently and showing an improved slider.  As should have been obvious to anyone, he still has the stuff to win in the big leagues.

 

Of course, there’s no guarantee it will last.  Gorzelanny has had elbow issues in the past, and we know from last year that he can lose his command and become completely useless in the blink of an eye.  He’s also not exactly a slave to conditioning.  But the Pirates treated him as little more than a throw-in in a deal that brought them two expendable pitchers from the Cubs.  This wasn’t Ian Snell, who failed in back-to-back years and no longer wanted to pitch for Pirates.  This was a guy who had one bad year.  It’s mindblowing that the Pirates never gave him a second chance.  If Tuesday’s performance was any indication, they’ll be regretting it soon enough.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
MLB.com
7 Comments

Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.