Tag Archives: Felix Doubront

Game 2: Sox take down O’s 6-2

Just a reminder – who said Napoli was going to be yesterday’s game MVP?  Yours truly.

Everything fell into place yesterday for the Sox.  They pitched and they hit for power. None of this 0-12 with RISP stuff.

On the pitching side: Lackey went a six solid innings. The only blemish on his outing was another homer by Nelson Cruz. This one an opposite field shot that drove in Chris Davis. Farrell then brought what I suspect will be a common sight – Mujica in the seventh, Tazawa in the eighth and Koji in the ninth.  One observation – I thought Mujica threw harder then what we saw last night. NESN had his fastball at 89, topping out once at 90. A quick look at Fangraphs shows that his fastball has, from 2008-2013, ranged from 91.6 to 92.8. The 89 we saw last night is a bit of a drop off. I hope that is not a cause for concern.

On the offensive side: Ortiz and Napoli each hit two run homers and Napoli drove in two more with a single. The Sox did their usual, saw a lot of pitches and got runners on base. Here are the number of pitches seen by each batter in the Sox lineup yesterday:

  1. Nava – 18
  2. Pedroia – 18
  3. Ortiz – 14
  4. Napoli – 14
  5. Gomes – 18
  6. Sizemore – 22
  7. Bogaerts – 19
  8. Pierzynski – 9
  9. Middlebrooks – 15

Who doesn’t fit the pattern? Pierzynski. As is his bent, AJ swung at the first pitch in three of his four at bats. That is not the Red Sox way and is going to bug me to no end this year. As you can see, I’m not a big AJ fan. I wish we still had Salty.

Today’s matchup – Doubront vs. Chen.

In his last five starts against the O’s, Doubront is 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 31 1/3 IP. He’s allowed 26 hits, 7 walks and struck out 42. I must confess, I am a bit concerned about Felix.  He struggled at the end of 2013 and his spring training performance was far from encouraging. His strike out rate dropped last year while his walk rate stayed about the same. I’d much prefer a young pitcher to make solid improvement in both areas not stand pat or lose ground. Felix has not. I’m just not sure he is anything more than an average to below average pitcher. The Sox, though, believe in him so that gives me some hope.  They know more than I do.

Today’s game MVP? Dustin Pedroia.

Peavy to Red Sox

Here we are near the trade deadline. Pitchers are scratched from starts suggesting trades are imminent. Jake Peavy is one of those guys. He was scratched from his Tuesday night start against the Indians. All the rumors that linked Peavy to the Red Sox came true late last night when the Sox acquired him in a three team trade involving both colored Sox and the Tigers. The Red Sox gave up Jose Iglesias and three prospects – J.B. Wendelken, Francelis Montas and Cleuluis Rondon to nab Peavy and Brayan Villarreal. What should we expect from Peavy?

While Peavy is not the stud he was from 2004 to 2009, he is still a pretty a decent pitcher. He suffered a highly unusual injury in 2010. He is the only pitcher to have fully torn his right latissimus dorsi tendon – the tendon that connects the latissimus dorsi muscle to the humerus bone – completely off the bone. Peavy’s injury was so unusual that many thought his career was over. However, he rehabbed hard and came back to pitch a bit over 100 innings in 2011 and notched 219 innings in 2012. Since his 60 day DL stint for that injury, Peavy has been on the 15 day DL three other times, including his most recent stint for a rib injury (not arm related). He’s made two starts since returning from the rib injury (against Detroit and Atlanta). In those starts he went a total of 13 innings allowing 11hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts and 6 earned runs. The one problem he faces is the long ball. He gave up four home runs in those two starts.

A quick look shows you that Peavy is not the same pitcher he was before his 2010 injury, but that he has nicely reinvented himself. His velocity is down but surprisingly he is using his fastball more often. How can that be? He has increased his use of his slower stuff. His curve and change up usage are up significantly while he has decreased by about 50 percent the time he throws his sinker (another fastball like pitch for Peavy that clocks in around where his fastball does). It seems Peavy has become more of a pitcher then a thrower.

He has also improved his control, walking slightly fewer then two guys per nine innings and his strikeout percentage has increased over the last two years to 23.5%. It’s not what it was back in his heyday, but he’s brought it up since the injury. The one concern is the number of home runs he gives up. That could be his ballpark or that his stuff is not as nasty and when he does miss he is more hittable. It is pretty clear he hates to walk guys but the price he pays for avoiding the free pass is an increase in home runs. As long as they are solo shots, I can live with that.

Peavy strikes me as a slightly better pitcher then Ryan Dempster and probably less frustrating then Felix Doubront. Doubront has higher highs and lower lows. Peavy is under Sox control this year and next. The added rotation depth will be nice, given the uncertainty surrounding Clay Buchholz and his neck.

I don’t think the Sox gave up that much to get Peavy. Iglesias, while a fine fielder, was not the hitter his 330/376/409 slash line suggested. It appears that the league had figured out how to attack him. In twenty-three games in July, Iglesias was hitting an anemic .205 with one extra base hit (a double), two walks and twelve strikeouts. And, from my personal observation, while his fielding was slick, his own view of his abilities often caused him to try to make impossible plays that led to bigger trouble in an inning when he’d throw away balls he should have just held onto. I don’t think Iglesias will come back to haunt the Sox the way some people are haunted by Hanley Ramirez. After all, this is a clear signal that Xander Bogaerts is on the way, if not this season then most definately in 2014. The Sox have not yet indicated who is coming up to replace Iglesias; in fact, they’ve been a bit coy about that. It could be Bogaerts or Middlebrooks. My  guess is they give Middlebrooks one more shot and let Bogaerts play full time down at Pawtucket.

Middlebrooks is not one of my favorites. It’s not that I find him distasteful, it’s that I don’t think he is a long term solution at third. Upon his return to AAA, Middlebrooks seemed to get a bit of the idea of what the Sox wanted of him – better plate discipline. In June, albeit in only 38 ABS, he hit 289/386/605 with 4 home runs. July, however, has seen a regression. In 103 ABs his line is 245/297/398 with 4 doubles and 4 home runs; more of the same stuff that landed him back in the minors.

Bogaerts on the other hand is in a different world. Since his move from AA to AAA, his line is 273/381/473 with 8 HRs and 6 doubles. This does not tell the whole story. After a Middlebrookian June where he hit 242/319/485 with 4 HRs in 62 ABs, he’s taken off in July with an impressive 302/423/512 with 4 home runs and 6 doubles in 86 ABs. Is he ready for the majors? Hard to say, but I can say he’s a better hitter then Middlebrooks.

I suspect they’ll leave Bogaerts down for August and see if Middlebrooks can do anything. With the heat of the pennant race though Bogaerts may force their hand and a move to third for the remainder of 2013. I don’t think we’ll have many regrets for the trade off of Iglesias for Bogaerts.

Oh, and by the way the Sox also acquired a reliever from the Tigers in the deal – Brayan Villarreal. After a solid 2012, Villarreal struggled out the gate in 2013 and was sent back to AAA Toledo. There he’s thrown 34 1/3 innings of 3.15 ERA ball allowing 26 hits, 26 walks and 41 strikeouts. That’s a lot of baserunners and a decent number of missed bats. With any luck, a few sessions with Farrell will put him on the right track to becoming a serviceable arm out of the bullpen. He’s no Jesse Crain, but he does not carry an injury history; his missed only 9 games in his entire minor and major league career. He’s a decent acquisition and, if they can teach him to find the plate more often, a solid one.

All in all, a good trade that has this season ticket holder excited. It’s going to be a fun September.

I went to a baseball game and a football game broke out …

Debacle – a sudden and ignominious failure, a great disaster.

In the history of the Red Sox, only 33 times have they given up 15 or more runs, 20 or more hits, with 2 or fewer home runs. Last night was one of those 33. By the time the Twins had finished their half of the second inning, the Sox were down 11-5. Either this was going to be a back and forth mashathon or the Sox were in for a long night. It was the latter. My neck hurt from watching balls fly over or bounce off the Green Monster.

Allen Webster most certainly experienced some whiplash last night. He is only the sixteenth player in Red Sox history to start a game, last two or fewer innings and give up 8 or more runs. Take some comfort though, that list has some good names on it.

On another down note, Ortiz went 0-5 and snapped his 27 game hit streak. It was a downer all around.

The Sox and Twins finish their four game series tonight with a John Lackey/Kevin Correia matchup. Lackey has gradually increased his pitch count this season from 77 to 81 to 98. With last night’s shellacking, the Sox coaching staff will be praying for a clean, long outing from Lackey. In his career pitching at Fenway, though, Lackey has thrown nearly 270 innings with a 21-17 record and a 5.37 ERA. That does not bode well.

On the flip side, Kevin Correia has only tossed one inning at Fenway in his career. He’s been remarkably/surprisingly good so far this year. History tells us though that he is not a sub 3.00 ERA pitcher. In fact, he hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2009. Correia’s walk rate is way down this year (his proximity to Scott Diamond seems to have rubbed off in a positive way) as is his batting average on balls in play – .269 vs. his historical average of .293. He’s also stranding runners at an historically high clip – 82.6% as opposed to his last four year’s percentage of 71, 68, 69, 69. It may not be tonight, but he’s due for a correction.

These are some worrisome times for the Sox. They started off well going 20-8, but have since stumbled to a 1-5 record hitting at a .250/.308/.412 clip over that time. Their pitching has added to this perfect storm of mediocrity with a staff ERA over the past week of 6.54. The Sox, despite being tied with the Orioles atop the AL East, are not looking like a first place team with Hanrahan and Bailey on the DL and their new ninth inning man, Junichi Tazawa, struggling to end the game last night. They have no depth at 3B and even if Middlebrooks, out of the lineup last night after his collision with Ross, returns to the scene he does not seem to be the answer. I’m not sure the Sox can continue to carry a 3B who gets on base less then 30% of the time. As of this post, the Sox have the lowest on base percentage of any team at third.

Rk I Split Year G OBP
1 KCR as 3B 2013 30 .298
2 CHW as 3B 2013 32 .294
3 ARI as 3B 2013 34 .282
4 HOU as 3B 2013 34 .273
5 LAD as 3B 2013 33 .267
6 TOR as 3B 2013 35 .252
7 PIT as 3B 2013 33 .244
8 BOS as 3B 2013 34 .237
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2013.

As I’ve said before, there is nothing on the horizon at third base for the Sox. Pending a trade, they seem to be stuck with Will Middlebrooks for the season. 600 ABs out of your third baseman with a lousy on base percentage is not going to lead them to the promised land. Ben Cherrington needs to do something about this.

Off to see Allen Webster

Round 18 of the 2008 MLB draft. Dodgers select Allen Webster. They tell him they’ll give him $20,000 to forgo Community College but he won’t be a shortstop, he’ll become a pitcher. Webster signs immediately.

Fast forward to 2012 … Cherrington calls up Ned Colletti and works his magic. The Sox trade Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and their gigantic contracts to the Dodgers. Colletti is in a generous mood and throws in James Loney, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., Rubby De LaRosa and Allen Webster.

At that point in time, Webster had done this in the minors:

  • 2008 – Rookie League – 18 IP, 1-1, 3.44 ERA, 6.4 SO/9
  • 2009 – Rookie League – 68 IP, 4-1, 2.36 ERA, 10.1 SO/9
  • 2010 – Class A – 131 IP, 12-9, 2.88 ERA, 7.8 SO/9
  • 2011 – Class A+ and AA, 91 IP, 6-3, 5.04 ERA, 8.4 SO/9
  • 2012 – Class AA (mostly Dodgers), 130 IP, 6-9, 3.86 ERA, 8.9 SO/9

Thank you Dodgers. Increasing strikeout rate while learning to pitch. Not a bad progression. Let us give Ben Cherrington some credit here. He snatched a good one away from the Dodgers (and this doesn’t even touch on the acquisition of DeLaRosa) while dumping a crapload of salary.

So far at Pawtucket, Webster has tossed 20 innings of 2.70 ERA with a strikeout rate of 11.7 per 9. I love this guy and predict he will take over for Doubront in the rotation. Doubront will go to the bullpen and if he can learn to throw strikes in short stints could make a big impact on the Sox bullpen. Allen Webster should be here to stay.

O’s continue domination of Sox

Since Buck Showalter took over as manager of the Orioles on August 3, 2010, the Orioles are 25-19 against the Sox, including 10 of the last 14. Last night, the O’s continued their winning ways, taking the three game weekday series 2-1. As has been their M.O., they were led by Adam Jones, Chris Davis and their stingy bullpen.

The game, despite its depressing finish, started off well for me. I “caught” (probably more accurately described as “retrieved”) my first ever foul ball at a professional game. On the third pitch of his first at bat, Jacoby Ellsbury sent a line shot foul into the seats right near mine. A white haired gentleman tried to catch it. The ball smashed through his hands, ricoched off his chest,  and landed, after a few bounces, in my row a few seats away. Since it was only the first inning, it was cold, and rain threatened to make a cold evening even colder, there was nobody sitting in the seats to my left (those six seats went unclaimed the entire game). Unobstructed, I quickly marched down the row and snatched the ball up before anyone else. History made!

That good feeling lasted until Chris Davis, in the top of the second, launched a massive, no doubt, homer to center field. Despite this  blast, I’d say that Aflredo Aceves pitched pretty well for his five innings and left with the score tied 2-2. Not a bad job. The bullpen, however, did not hold up its end. Clay Mortensen did a decent job, even though he got tagged for the loss. It was Andrew Miller, in my mind, who deserved the goat horns. Asked, with two outs, to get the lefty Nick Markakis, he couldn’t. Ahead 1 and 2, he walked Markakis on six pitches. That put runners on first and second with two down. Farrell summoned Koji Uehara to face the tough Adam Jones. So far this year Jones and Davis have been the key cogs to the Oriole offense. Those two are hitting a combined .436 (27-62) with seven doubles, six homers, 17 runs scored and 26 RBI. The other Orioles are batting .224 (49-219) with nine doubles, five homers, 29 runs scored and 17 RBI. Jones and Davis have slugged .839, while the rest of the Birds have a .333 slugging percentage. “Get on our backs, boys,” say Jones and Davis and the O’s have complied.

It was not much of a surprise when Jones laced the first pitch he saw from Uehara down the left field line for a double, scoring Machado easily. That was all the O’s would need as the Sox could do nothing against their bullpen. The Sox seemed particularly flummoxed by sidewinder Darren O’Day. As usual, Jim Johnson shut the door in the ninth despite a final shot by Ellsbury who, with the tying run on first, sent a liner to left that was caught by Nate McLouth to end things.

I couldn’t help but feel during the game that the Sox missed Ortiz’s bat. The scoreboard teased us with the news that Ortiz had gone 1 for 2 with Pawtucket in his rehab assignment. Here’s to hoping that rehab ends soon and he takes his rightful spot this weekend as the cleanup hitter. Napoli hit the ball hard the whole game but Middlebrooks did nothing. Ortiz’s bat would really deepen the lineup. That will mean the demotion of JBJ to Pawtucket. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing for the youngster.

I expect tonight’s game will be rained out. If not, the scheduled matchup is Alex Cobb v. Felix Doubront. I’ve seen Cobb described as a Boston native. From what I can glean, he was born in Boston but graduated from Vero Beach High School, so at some point his family moved to Florida. My guess is he’s more a Floridian then a Bostonian. Regardless, the one thing I can say about him with some certainty is that he is a damn good young pitcher and someone I wish the Sox had. He’s 25 (as is Doubront) with a 15-11 big league record, mostly compiled in 2012 when he won the Rays 5th starter job. Thus, he was partly responsible for making both James Shield and Wade Davis expendable in the Will Myers trade. Cobb opened his 2013 campaign with a victory over the Indians going 7 and 1/3, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out six. Cobb’s fastball tops out at 91 and he is known more as a finesse and control guy then someone who will overpower a lineup. Doubront, on the other hand, is all about his fastball. He strikes out more batters but is less efficient, averaging nearly four pitches per plate appearance, the 16th most of any pitcher in baseball in 2012. In about the same number of major league innings, Doubront’s ERA is more then a run higher then Cobb’s. Neither pitcher is destined for ace level status but my guess is that Cobb has a longer and better career then Doubront.

The Sox need to get back to winning. Tonight’s tilt and this weekend’s series against the Rays will make that a difficult task.