Saturday, June 9, 2012

Losing, But Looking Good

Game 63, Friday, June 8, DBAP
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 3; Durham Bulls 1
Season: 26-37; Home Stand: 0-4; Bulls vs. Yankees: 3-5; Standings
Box, Wrap, Herald-Sun

Here I am on the hill. Let’s make sure I’ve got it right. Hat just slightly off center? Check. Jersey just slightly untucked all around? Check. Top button or two unbuttoned? Check. OK. I’m lookin’ good! Ready to pitch. Ooops! Single. No problem. I’ll just pick him off. Is that shirt tuck looking just right? Check. Ooops! Just threw that sucker right past the first baseman and hit the ump. No problem. Gotta get that hat looking just right. Well, that’s not good, runner on second got to third on that ground out. Is my jersey looking right? You know I’ve got to be looking just so. Well shoot. Walked that guy. Then the next guy. Will you look at that, bases are loaded and I’ve only gotten one out. Better bear down a bit. Oops! Another single, but hey, only one run scored. Bases still loaded. Better bear down some more. Oops, oops, oops, oops. Four-pitch walk. Guess I better quit worrying about how I look...

Afterwards Chris Archer was quoted in the Herald-Sun as saying: “I started to rush a little bit down the hill,” Archer said of his approach to the game. “Everything was, like, all over the place.”

That’s what is known as a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Clearly Mr. Archer has some talent, but if he spent less time trying to master the slightly disheveled look that seems to be so important to him and get focused on the game, then his won-loss record (3-8) might be more in line with his fairly decent overall stats.

In the meantime, watching this one on TV I got some closeups of two guys who are really helping the Bulls (instead of digging holes they can't get out of), Bryan Augenstein and Brandon Gomes. Augenstein, signed out of the Cardinals system, pitched one game as a starter back on April 7th, but then went on the disabled list. He came back in a relief role and made his first appearance on May 22. Since then he has put in 11 innings in relief and has not allowed a single run (he only allowed 1 run in that start back in April). His ERA is slightly behind Brandon Gomes (0.53 to 0.43), but he leads the team in all other categories.

I mentioned Brandon Gomes a couple of days ago. Gomes appeared in 5 games back in April, went up to Tampa Bay for a while, then came back the second week of May. He was doing fine before he went to the Rays. He’s been spectacular since his return. In 11 appearances he’s pitched 15 innings for four saves and three wins. Overall, his won-loss record (4-0) is the best of any Bulls pitcher. (As a closer! How sad is that?).

Lest we get our hopes up, note that the one run the Bulls got last night was on a bases-loaded balk by a Yankees reliever.

Outside the game
  • Brandon Allen is coming to Bulls. Any guesses on who’s going to be leaving?


Fielding Independent Pitching is one of these relatively new bits of sabermetric thinking. I don’t like the idea of a constant creeping into any stat, but it purports to be relatively independent of the skill of the defense. With any minor league stats, and at this time of the season, sample size is important and for some of these guys the sample is pretty small. Bases on balls and home runs will kill your FIP stat (as they should, but as with early in the season runs and ERA, early season homers skew the stat).
click on chart for larger image


  1. Really, never knew adjusting a hat or buttoning a shirt was considered vain in the sport of baseball. Quite certain what he looks like is the last thing on his mind. Chris's win /loss record might be better if the team could get some runs. If you look at his games, 4 of his 8 losses occured when the team delivered ZERO runs and in 3 of those 4 games he had was charged with 3 or less ER's. In addition, 2 other losses occured when the team only had 1 run and again he had 3 or less ER's with a combined 17 strikeouts. It takes two to tango. Kind of hard to win a game when the team can't get to home plate.

  2. Point taken, but most young men do care about their appearance and Mr. Archer’s is enough different from his peers to make an observer wonder if image is playing a role. To the larger issue, it is surely clear by now that the Bulls are not much of a team when it comes to scoring runs. They are averaging only slightly over 3 runs per game. All the more important to start a game with a better focus than we saw that night. Two singles, an error, and three walks is not a good first inning. Is it maturity? Probably. Will it get better? Remains to be seen. An equally talented young pitcher is coming unraveled before our eyes this year (Alexander Torres). The unknown for a fan is whether or not he is under instructions to work on certain aspects of his game. When David Price was with the Bulls (late 2008, early 2009), he contributed very little (2-5), apparently because he was working on specific aspects of his game. Maybe the same is true of Archer.

  3. Agreed, not a good first inning. No denying he has had some shaky starts, but given the fact he got pitcher of the week a few weeks back and just recieved pitcher of the month for May.. i'd say all in all he deserves more credit. Knowing Chris well on a personal level i couldn't let your assumption of his "image conciousness playing a role in his losses" go unchecked. Its one thing to critique a game, but your assumptions of his characture couldn't be further from the truth. He is the most driven, focused, hardworking person i have ever met.