Listening to baseball analysts all the time might sound tedious, but for those who love the game it isn’t. Occasionally you pick up on small tidbits that make all the sense in the world. I think Mike Hegan said this during a broadcast a few years ago, but I could be wrong. He said ideally you want to win three out of every five games. If you do that, you wind up the season with 96 wins and that should get you in the playoffs.
I bring that up in case anyone is upset by the Tribe losing four of their last five games. The Indians are still 7-5 for the season and if they win two of their next three, they will be 9-6 on the campaign, exactly the pace Hegan talked about.
However, I do want to point out a couple of things that bothered me last week, a week the Tribe went 2-4 against the Mariners and Tigers.
Bullpen issues: There are two things relievers cannot do when they enter the game: walk guys and give up home runs. For the most part, Cleveland bullpenners have kept the ball in the yard, at least the ones who will get innings with the game on the line. However, we have struggled with control. The opener at Chicago was lost when Fernando Cabrera couldn’t find the plate, and Thursday night’s loss to Seattle was more of the same. Rafael Betancourt (usually reliable) walked the lead off man with a 5-3 lead, and then gave up a bomb to Jose Lopez. Guillermo Mota came on after another base hit, and had control issues as well, walking in a run.
Last year’s pen did an outstanding job of coming in and throwing strikes, and they have to get back to that. One of the reasons Cabrera was put on the DL was so he could get his mechanics under control after his injury heals. Matt Miller has had control issues in some of his outings as well.
That’s why bullpens are a crap shoot pretty much every year. Most of these guys are in the ‘pen are there because they are not good enough to be starters.
The bench: Teams that have productive benches generally make use of them. Eric Wedge has struggled with this in the past, and so far this season that hasn’t changed. Todd Hollandsworth finally got in the lineup on Saturday and contributed with two doubles and an outstanding catch. Why he hasn’t been in sooner, I don’t know. Wedge could have gotten him in there against Seattle subbing one game for Jason Michaels and another for Casey Blake.
Kelly Shoppach has to play more to keep Victor Martinez fresh, and Ramon Vazquez can get a start once a week as well. I realize many of the Tribe’s core players are young, so they don’t require as much rest, but the skipper has to keep his bench active so they can contribute when the opportunity arises.
The season is early and the off days are plentiful, but these bench players are on major league rosters. The season is a long one, and the regulars have to be kept fresh for the end of the year.