Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's up with Aaron Laffey?

Tribe fans talk about next year’s starting rotation and how thin it is.

“We got Lee, Carmona and Laffey” they say. “After that who knows.”

Better put Aaron Laffey in the “who knows” category.

On June 24, after holding the Giants to a run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings at the Jake, Laffey’s ERA was 2.83.

Five starts later, his ERA is 4.23, and he is 1-3 in those five starts.

It’s pretty difficult to add a run and a half to your ERA in five starts, but Laffey managed.

Here’s how:

In the past five starts, Laffey has pitched 23 2/3 innings and allowed 22 earned runs. I don’t even need my calculator to know that is darned near a 9.00 ERA.

He has given up 38 hits and 12 walks during that stretch. Again, I don’t need to my calculator to know that comes out to a WHIP of just over 2.00 and nearly 5 walks per 9 innings.

Is his confidence rattled? Are his mechanics off? Has the league figured him out?

That’s hard to say sitting in my living room in suburban NY, but something is clearly out of kilter.

So much so, that Tribe manager Eric Wedge wouldn’t make any promises when asked whether Laffey might not be the guy to go down to Buffalo to get straightened out when Fausto Carmona comes back at the end of the week.

After Laffey gave up 8 runs on 12 hits in just four innings plus in today’s game in Anaheim, Wedge was non-committal when asked about the roster move coming up Friday - telling’s Anthony Castrovince:

“We’re not going to decide anything right now,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We don’t need to do anything until Friday night after the game, at the earliest. We haven’t made any decisions just yet.”

Matt Ginter is the presumed odd-man-out, but he’s put up two quality starts in two tries since joining the Tribe’s rotation in what was supposed to be a cameo role.

Jeremy Sowers, who has been a major disappointment this season could also go, but it is likely (at least I think so) that the Tribe - which has already farmed out Sowers this year for retooling - will want to keep him up in the hopes he can work things out on the big-league level between now and the end of September.

Which brings us to the bullpen.

I had planned to do a piece tonight about how the pen seems to be coming around and how it has been central to the Tribe’s recent run of victories.

An then today - and Tom Mastny and Jensen Lewis - happened. The duo combined to give up 6 runs over three innings in relief of Mastny, rendering moot any effort the Tribe’s offense made to make a game of it. And that doesn’t even count the 3 runs of Laffey’s that Mastny gave up on a grand slam by Angel’s catcher Jeff Mathis.

In Mastny’s defense, he last pitched 10 days ago. I’ve said it time and again this year and in the past, I don’t know how Wedge expects his 4-7 relievers to be of any value whatsoever when he pitches them once every leap year or so. But still, Mastny was awful and Lewis wasn’t much better.

But the bullpen has been strong in the past 9 games before today - a stretch which saw the Tribe go 7-2.

During that run, the pen has tossed 28 innings allowed 6 earned runs, 17 hits and 7 walks. That’s an ERA of 1.92 and a WHIP of 0.86 (I’m not going to let the stats I dug up go top waste). Exclude one 4-run blowup by Juan Rincon, and the Tribe’s bullpen ERA during the 9-game run is 0.64.

Masa Kobayashi has 2 saves and Mastny, of all people, has the pen’s lone win during the Tribe’s recent hot streak.

More importantly, a few key pitchers seem to be settling into roles. Raffy Perez, back firmly in the set-up role where he excelled last year, threw 7 innings in four appearances over the 9 games and did not allow a run.

Kobayashi had the 2 saves and has pitched well in general since taking over the closer’s role. Edward Mujica threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings during the stretch as he has begun to make a move toward the latter innings of games.

The roles being established now though appear to be nothing more than an attempt to wrestle this season under control. While impressions will be made the rest of the way, it’s doesn’t appear as though anyone will be locking up their role for next season.

In another piece for, Castrovince reports that Wedge sees the bullpen situation as - shall we say - fluid.

“The roles are wide open,” Wedge said. “But I do see signs. We’ve got plenty of time to continue to look at these guys. They’re going to have an opportunity to step up and figure out if they can play a prominent role in this thing.”

Still, in the same piece, Castrovince reports the Tribe doesn’t think it will find its 2009 closer on its 2008 club, again quoting Wedge:

“A lot would have to happen with the people we have down there now for us to not go out and get somebody,” Wedge said. “Somebody would have to grab the role, really lock into it and prove that we can count on them. That’s a lot to happen in two and a half months.”


the moose said...

I think it would be unfair to send laffey down just because he has options - sowers hasn't pitcher a good game all year laffey is in a slump all pitchers go into slump
I think they should just let ginter go. he has no future here
who would pick him up

the moose said...

well I watched our beloved wahoos almost blow another game - I thought joe borowski was pitching again. I guess kobayasi might not be the closer of the future !!

Of course they should have won with about 12 runs if they only got a fe timely hits. looks like guttierrez is hitting better - maybe no more delucci

that bullpen is in shambles

PS- the browns are now the top of the sports headlines

Anonymous said...

whatever happened to scott elarton

this is moose

Ron Vallo said...

Didn't see last nigh't game. Just looked at the box score.

It's pretty clear that next year's closer is not on this roster.

I think Perez could do it, but they seem to prefer to save him for the tough outs in the 7th and 8th when trouble is brewing. I don't have a problem with that - if they open up the wallet for once and sign a real closer.

A real shut-dow closer - to me - is as important as a good cleanup hitter. He stabilizes the bullpen and locks up wins.

A good closer deserves to be paid, and - for once- the Indians ought to pay someone to dod the job right.

the moose said...

any suggestions