Monday, July 29, 2013

Two Out of Three; Martin Gets (More) Famous

Wrap, Box

Wrap, Box, Columbus Dispatch

Season: 69-40
Wrap, Box, Columbus Dispatch (1), Columbus Dispatch (2)

Those three ugly games after the All-Star break are quickly disappearing in the rear-view mirror. The Bulls’ two remaining 40-man guys (starters, that is), didn’t do very well back then. Now it’s all better. Mike Montgomery picked up a win on the 24th and last night, after two poor starts, Jake Odorizzi was very, very good. Only two hits over 7 innings and 101 pitches, and the first of those hits didn’t come until the 7th inning.

Odorizzi’s opponent, the Clippers’ Danny Salazar, was essentially matching him through five innings. But Salazar is on his way back from Tommy John surgery and left after five innings. In the 6th, however, poor defense by the Clippers let two runs in. Two more errors in the 8th set up two more runs.

But that is what the Bulls do this year. They just keep banging out singles and doubles, run the bases, and chip away. Yes, Belnome, Anderson, Duncan, and the much-missed Brandon Guyer are strong guys, but they aren’t going to beat an opponent’s brains in. What happens is that when the opposition looks up at the scoreboard around the 7th or 8th inning, they discover that they’re losing by a couple of runs and one of the Bulls two closers, Kirby Yates (ERA: 1.29, 14 saves) or Josh Lueke (ERA: 0.57, 13 saves) is warming up. Could not be a good feeling for them.

Last night also saw Charlie Montoyo do something that is fairly common this year, but something of a change from previous years. Cory Wade came in to pitch in the 8th and after a K got into trouble with a double and run-scoring single. Montoyo went for the left-on-left matchup and brought in Adam Liberatore to pitch to Clippers' Ezequiel Carrera. Yes, that’s a common enough move, and it worked. Carrera struck out. It just isn’t particularly common for the pre-2013 Charley Montoyo. More than that, after Liberatore walked the next batter to put runners on 1B and 2B, Montoyo brought in closer Kirby Yates for the second night in a row. Yates got a K with finish the 8th, and three quick outs to finish out the game.

Now, this sort of pitcher usage is common in the majors, but for most of the years we’ve been watching the Bulls it seemed that the manager and pitching coach would just as often go for a “development” opportunity. That is, more likely to leave a guy in for another batter or two (or three). This year, it seems as if Montoyo (and Allen, of course) are much quicker to pull a pitcher, much more willing to seek one or two outs from a reliever instead of one or two innings. That’s partly because after the early season turmoil the Bulls have more depth (and much more quality) in their relievers. As it is, Bulls relievers might be getting a bit bored. In the last three games they’ve only put in 7 innings, and only 6 pitchers have been used (Yates twice).

Outside the game —

  • Brandon Guyer’s broken finger is reported to be a season ending injury. I don’t think we’ve witnessed a season with more severe injuries to position players. He joins Hak-Ju Lee and Rich Thompson on the “7-day DL”, but not likely to return. And just when he got his batting average up to .300.
  • J.D. Martin has been named IL pitcher of the week. This is the second time this year for him. Quite likely if he were on any other roster than the Rays he would be banging on the door for a callup. As it is, even Chris Archer who just pitched a complete game, 2-hit shutout of the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, could be odd man out when Alex Cobb comes off the DL. Don’t get me wrong. Could not be happier than to have J.D. among us. Hope he's having as much fun pitching as we are watching.

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