Game Three Recap
Don’t worry, I won’t make a habit out of starting these things by talking about the opposing starting pitcher, but Justin Duchscherer was pretty interesting to watch tonight. He’s never been a hard thrower, with a fastball that averaged about 86 MPH the last few years, but that was his top speed tonight. The fastest pitch he threw was 86.2 MPH, and his heater was more regularly in the 84 to 85 range. To compensate, he just threw a ton of breaking balls, and while it worked okay, you saw the problem when he had to come over with a fastball to Bradley in the first inning. It’s just one start, and the first one of the season, but if Duchscherer is just a junk-ball guy now, Oakland’s shot at having a good year takes a blow – they’re depending on him to be average or better as a starter, but he won’t be with the repertoire he showed tonight.
As for the M’s starter, Rowland-Smith was his usual self, just with poor location, especially on his change-up. He left too many of them up in the zone, and the A’s ripped a lot of line drives when he got too much of the plate. He’s a guy that needs to put the ball in the right spots to succeed, and he didn’t really do that tonight. It happens. I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
Good to see Bradley put the ball in the seats in the first inning. I was on with Kevin Calabro on ESPN Radio today, and there were already questions being raised about his abilities after his first two games. The rope isn’t going to be as long with Bradley as it is with others, so a good start to the season would be really nice. I’m not worried about whether or not he’ll hit – there are enough other things to be concerned with from Milton.
Junior’s bat looks so slow. I’m not a scout, but yeah, there isn’t much left in that tank.
League’s fastball has some ridiculous movement to it, but that also comes with the downside of not really being able to command it all that well. Part of his big step forward last year was working in his splitter, but we haven’t seen much of it in his first two outings – 36 of 38 pitches tonight were fastballs. He’s gotta be less fastball-centric going forward. It’s a good pitch, but it’s not good enough to be the only thing he throws.
The six man bullpen is getting tested early on, with the M’s playing three tight games and Rowland-Smith only going five innings tonight. With Fister and Vargas going the next two days, we’re probably one bad start away from people suggesting that the team pull the plug on the experiment. I think a six man bullpen can work, but I’m not sure that this is the right situation for it, with Lee on the DL, an offense that won’t give you many large leads, and a bullpen full of right-handers who don’t throw strikes. Will be interesting to see how attached the M’s are to the 11 man pitching staff, especially with Mike Sweeney having no useful role on this club. If either of the next two days starters have to come out early, the M’s might have to ask Sweeney to take one for the team and spend 15 days on the DL.