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Garza Still Needs to Throw Strikes

When discussing walks, we know they result from one of a few things:

  1. A wild and ineffective pitcher.

  2. A patient and cerebral hitter.

  3. A feared hitter and a cautious pitcher

  4. An intentional (or in some cases unintentionally intentional) walk

From this general outline alone we can assume that players who draw the most walks are probably either really good hitters or really feared (therefore really good) or really aware of the strike zone and pitches and therefore likely really good. On the flip side pitchers who give up walks either don’t command their stuff, don’t have the stuff (and therefore nibble a bit too much), don’t have either command or stuff, or simply lose a few battles with good hitters.

Depending on your level of agreement with those statements you’ll understand why I love taking walks and hate giving them. Nothing is worse than a walk to an opposing team’s worst player, and nothing is better than seeing Carlos Pena draw a walk except for seeing Carlos Pena hit a homerun.

Count that as one of the reasons I really can’t get too excited about Matt Garza’s start, or Edwin Jackson’s last start. I absolutely detest walking more than three per nine – American League average is 3.41 per nine. So Garza struck out four tonight, allowed four hits, and walked four. Roughly more than a 1.00 WHIP tonight, but I can’t stand the 1:1 K:BB rate, and it’s because logistically speaking I can’t honestly expect Garza to sustain a low hit rate, the same can be said for Edwin, the two are very similar in this regard.

Garza’s four walk night is against a team with a below AL average OBP and a walk average of 3.29 (through tonight’s performance). I’m happy about the result, just as I always am when we score more than we allow, but you have to understand that I’m looking at more than just tonight when I look at the numbers, and I temper my emotions and expectations based on these factors.

Of course the funny thing about this start in contrast to getting beaten up against the Cardinals is that he only walked two in St. Louis but allowed 10 hits. The Cardinals actually lead the league in OBP, but apparently didn’t have to wait on their pitch to launch off of Garza.

Not surprisingly Garza didn’t break the seemingly magical 60% strikes mark tonight, falling shy at 58.4% and nearly 68% of his pitches were fastballs. The pitch moved tonight, we’ll see if he can keep it up, but at this point the only thing getting shot from Garza more than his fastball is the amazing amount of loogies and spitballs; we’re talking some massive loads here, frankly it’s amazing to me that he doesn’t dehydrate on the mound.  

 In other observations thankfully Steve Henderson noticed that, hey, Carlos Pena is actually more vertical than he was last year and has him using his legs more. He hit the ball hard all night and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get on a tear starting tomorrow night.

B.J. Upton’s bad baserunning skills are apparently well known with at least the Orioles who tried picking him off at every base tonight. Of course it backfired late, but the point is the book on Upton’s putrid running is out, let’s see if Tim Bogar and company can correct him on it soon.

Trever Miller amazes me and for all the wrong reasons. A close and seemingly incorrect foul call on an Aubrey Huff liner saved him tonight, but he really didn’t look good tonight, again.  

Meanwhile Grant Balfour struck out five in 1.2 innings tonight for Durham and Gary Glover remains in our bullpen.

Also this was the sixth shutout of the year by the Rays, triple the amount of shutouts of last year.