I gave it short shrift in the recaps this morning, but Tim Hudson’s return to the Braves is worth a few more words and thoughts.
I didn’t see the game, and even if was televised where I live I probably wouldn’t have watched it due to the 3+ hour rain delay that kicked things off. But friend of CTB tHeMARksMiTh watched it, and he gives us a scouting report:
Sinker — excellent movement and velocity (89 and 90 mph) but relatively poor command;
Cutter/Slider — indistinguishable between the two pitches; sat around 85; little movement and barely noticeable;
Changeup/Splitter — good movement but pretty poor command;
Curveball — didn’t throw it much, but when he did, it was a good one; don’t really remember him throwing it much but he should;
Velocity — very good and around where he was when he left off which is fairly impressive;
Command — not there but was around the plate, and I imagine this will come with time.
The first inning was a bit rough. He left a couple pitches up to Coughlan and Helms, which were hit hard, but he was fine for the rest of the inning. Cantu got jammed but flipped it into center, but it’s worth mentioning that Hudson missed his spot by about three feet. After that, lots of ground balls and few runs. He definitely wasn’t sharp, but I don’t think anyone expected him to be. Still, I was encouraged that the velocity and movement were there.
Fair enough. Command really is the problem for guys coming back from Tommy John surgery, and his lack of command is a continuation of what he was doing on his rehab start. Velocity, surprisingly, tends to come back more quickly. In any event, Hudson’s start was encouraging, even if we can’t expect him to be the difference maker in the wild card race.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.