Thursday, June 19, 2003

[RED SOX] Good pitching vs. Good Hitting

So, a split with the other Sox, where the White Sox throw up some pretty decent pitching and strange things happen, like games where Boston scores fewer than six runs. I'm not too terribly worried, though, since even though the Red Sox only scored 4 runs with few hits, there were more than a few outs that were going to the warning track and required pretty impressive catches.

Most notable is that the bullpen seems to be shaping up. Indeed, I think the only real meltdown came Monday, as Grady Little brings Ryan Rupe in two days after he'd thrown 100 pitches and bad things happen. And as much as I'd like to see him turn it around, I have to wonder why Little played Jeremy Giambi so much this series. Just not afraid of the White Sox? I'm starting to wonder if there's any chance of a phantom injury that sends him to Pawtucket on a "rehab" assignment.

Something that worked out well: Derek Lowe, by dint of the rotation, will not pitch in the Philadelphia series, meaning no turf for him. The thing that I wonder is this: If the rotation had been off by a day - say Wednesday's game wound up being rained out - would he have been sent out to pitch in an environment clearly not suited for his type of game? I'd like to think the Sox brain trust would have said no, but you always hear about baseball players being creatures of habit, and craving defined roles. That's why you get the bullpen-o-matic system driven by a pitcher's individual statistics, rather than the best pitcher for the hitters he'd face.

Basically, I'm wondering what it would take to set the starting pitchers on a basis other than strict rotation. Wakefield, for instance, pitches well in domes (or claims to); make sure he gets a start whenever you go through Minnesota, even if it would be Lowe's turn. Similarly, Pedro should almost never miss a series with the Yankees and face the Devil Rays in the opener of the next series - a good opposing offense calls for a good pitcher more than a lousy one. It would require a lot more thinking and planning to implement a "starter by committee" concept like this, but that's what you pay the managers and coaches for, right? Wouldn't it possibly be worth a game or three in the standings?

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