Monday, May 08, 2006

We Spell Ace with 2 C's

Nice to see C.C. put up 8 shutout innings against the Mariners, even if it was just the Mariners. The problem with this Indians’ team, this far into the early season has been the inconsistent starters. More has been made of the struggles of the bullpen, but strong starting pitching can make a bullpen look good very fast by allowing roles to develop and limiting the amount of relievers used.

Hopefully, the return of C.C. will allow the rotation to settle and form into a cohesive unit. Wedge needs to do some juggling of the rotation to separate C.C. and Lee (the lefties) and Westbrook and Johnson (the sinkerballers), so we’ll see how the rotation performs for the next few weeks as that shakes itself out. The next 13 games include 7 against the Royals and 3 against the Pirates - so there will be no time like the next two weeks to set a tone.

Lee has been solid in C.C.’s absence to the tune of a 3.64 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. His record of 2-3 essentially shows that he is now receiving the offensive support that Kevin Millwood got last year, while Paul Byrd has taken Lee’s phenomenal run support for his own. Consider that Byrd is 4-2 (Millwood had 9 wins all of last year) with a 7.11 ERA. Byrd is a notorious slow starter who has pitched better as of late, so there shouldn’t be too much cause for alarm.

What is causing some alarm, though, is the performance of Jake Westbrook - who seems to have reverted to the days of letting the big inning get to him. A typical outing by Westbrook is marked by most of his innings going off very smoothly and quickly, and one (or two) innings in which every ball is hit hard, every grounder finds the hole, and Jake just can’t get out of it. That pattern needs to turn around, and soon, or Westbrook may find himself on a shorter leash from the Tribe.

In the 5th spot, Jason Johnson has performed essentially like…a 5th starter. Sometimes he keeps the Tribe in the game through 6; sometimes he muscles his way through 4 innings, and sometimes he just implodes.

Now with C.C. back, and looking like he did in the 2nd half of last year, the rotation should settle into a bit of a routine with the Hefty Lefty leading the way.


t-bone said...

I'm told there was a full-page feature on Grady in yesterday's USA Today...

Here it is.

Cy Slapnicka said...

So many great bits in that article:

"Sizemore is fast becoming as big a hit in Cleveland as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
I hate to break it to Mr. DiMeglio, but so is herpes and bird flu. The Rock Hall hasn't exactly rvitalized the North Coast.

"Earlier last month, the team's souvenir stores sold out of 3-foot bobble-heads of Sizemore's likeness that sell for $279."
Anyone else wonder if Kaz Tadano bought one? A 3 foot tall bobble-head sounds right up his alley. Perhaps while wearing his "Guys Love Grady, too" t-shirt?