The Texas Rangers tied a postseason record when they issued 12 intentional walks last October. Some worked out, but overall, the Rangers likely would have upped their chances of winning the World Series had they just avoided the strategy entirely.
Which seems to be what Ron Washington is doing this year. The Rangers have played 29 games this season without issuing a single intentional walk. And, for what it’s worth, they’re currently 19-10 on the season with the second-best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.02.
Of course, Washington last year didn’t start going crazy with the intentional walks until the postseason. His team issued 21 during the regular season. Only the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Brewers issued fewer. Still, the complete absence of intentional walks this year seems like a philosophy change. At last year’s pace, his team would have issued 4 IBBs so far this season.
The Rangers are the only team without an intentional walk handed out this season. The White Sox have issued just one, with the Diamondbacks, Mets and Twins right behind at two apiece. Manager Ozzie Guillen’s Marlins lead the way in intentional walks at 20, with the Padres (13) and Yankees (12) next on the list.
If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.
Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.
The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.
At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.
Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.
Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.
Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.
Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.