Pirates closer Tony Watson blew another save chance on Wednesday, surrendering a game-tying two-run home run to Trey Mancini with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Baltimore. He also blew the save on Tuesday and overall has blown five save chances in 15 opportunities this season.
The Pirates head back to open a four-game set at home against the Marlins on Thursday, part of a 10-game homestand. Manager Clint Hurdle said, “We’ll have an opportunity to discuss some things on the way back (to Pittsburgh). We’ve got to assess who’s available (Thursday) as well. So that will be a thought,” Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Hurdle also said the idea of moving Juan Nicasio into the closer’s role “was given some serious thought.” For now, it sounds like Watson will be given a chance to work through his issues, though.
Nicasio, 30, owns a 1.35 ERA with a 25/8 K/BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings this season.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.