Thursday, October 09, 2003


I wish I could make stuff up as good as this:

Would Zambrano start Game 5 Sunday?

"Maybe," Baker said.

Is there an alternative?

"Not really," Baker said

The headline is even funnier: Baker Mulling Pitching Issues. If you ask me, he's still not mulling them enough.

I don't know what to say about Prior possibly pitching on short rest after his 116 pitch outting (with the Cubs up 12-2 after 6!!!!!!!!) today. I've been jumping up and down about this for a while, and so far I've looked completely paranoid and wrongheaded.

Prior again pitched well today, but something caught my eye: He only struck out 5 batters over 7 plus innings.

Which got me thinking: when was the last time the current MLB strikeout leader struck out less than a batter per inning?

I didn’t have to look very far. In his Game 3 start against the Braves, Prior struck out 7 over over 9 innings (133 pitches).

His last start of the regular season, Dusty again kept him out for 133 pitches, this time over 6.2 innings. Prior struck out 10.

In his penultimate start, he struck out 14 (with 2 walks) in 7.2 innings and 131 pitches.

He threw 124 pitches in his start before that, striking out 13 in 8.2 innings.

In fact, the last time he struck fewer than one per inning was back on August 26 (6 Ks over 8 IP).

He's now done it in two postseasons starts in a row.

In his two postseason starts, his K/IP is down from 10.43 during the regular season to 6.75. His K/BB is also down from 4.90 to 2.0. Those are still good numbers, but they're not what we've come to expect as Mark Prior good.

And it's not simply a matter that he's maybe learned to become the model of efficiency and decided to let his defence do some of the work. He's still averaging 15.5 pitches per inning, down only slightly from his regular season average of 16.1. (For comparison, Halladay and Mulder both average about 14 pitches per inning.)

So, to recap: after a month of extreme over-use (during a season of sustained overuse), Prior’s key K/BB and K/IP ratios have declined significantly, with no noticeable drop in the number of pitches he’s throwing per inning (suggesting no change in his approach, except perhaps the inability to get batters to swing and miss on those third strikes).

All of which leads to the inevitable question: signs of an impending burnout, or mere sample size mirage?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Or maybe not. After all, if Prior really is gassed, he's clearly still the best pitcher in the Series.


Imagine if they could put Alex Gonzalez’ (FLA) glove with Alex Gonzalez’ (CHC) bat together on the same player?

Oh, wait.

They have.

His name is Alex Rodriguez. And unlike Alex Gonzalez—I mean, Alex Gonzalez—he plays like this 162 games a year.

As for other insight into tonight’s games… blah blah blah Mark Prior blah blah blah too many pitches blah blah blah Dusty Baker blah blah blah Derek Jeter blah blah blah really crappy shortstop.

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