Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hudson River Schooled

Tim Hudson is an interesting specimen. He was a legitimate power pitcher in his first two campaigns, and then started striking out fewer hitters, and then in 2004 (his last year in Oakland) pretty much stopped striking out hitters entirely. This is a slight exaggeration, but his K/9 would not have been an embarrassing ERA (4.91).

The transformation could perhaps best be described as derekloweification, in that he started inducing groundballs by the ton. While he is and always has been much more effective than Derek Lowe, his results are more subject to luck, and defense, than guys like say Curt Shilling. His first start of the season was a good example of how he can look unimpressive. 4 IP, 6 H, 5 ER and a no decision, despite getting 13 ground balls and 1 fly which did not leave the yard. It will be interesting to see how the Atlanta infield, and possibly a continued defensive decline from a more offense-oriented Andruw Jones, holds up behind him.

Last night was a (painful) example of how hard it can be to score off him, and why his career ERA still sits at a remarkable 3.37. It was total domination.

Tom Glavine was almost as good, which is really encouraging because I've been wary of him for over a year now and would love to get comfortable with him as our #2 starter. Unfortunately he too got served by the baby-faced assassin, and thanks to one of David Wright's hat trick of errors, that proved to be the difference.

I've made a point of not caring about Wright's defense, because c'mon. But after watching him almost airmail another routine throw for a fourth error, I confess that a little montage of late-stage Chuck Knoblauch flashed through my head and I got a little bit queasy.

Xavier Nady struck out twice and grounded into a very inopportune double play. He's cut! I'm just kidding, of course. Jose Valentin is the one who needs to be cut, and that's no joke. He's 36 years old. He couldn't muster even a .600 OPS last year in 147 ABs with the Dodgers, and his 15 at-bats this year have resulted in five strikeouts and absolutely nothing else. His neatly trimmed mustache is apparently distracting Omar and Willie from the giant fork sticking out of him.

Tonight Nady, Piazza, and Cameron (if he's in the building) get a look at their former teams. And all the Mets will get a nice long steamy gawk at Jake Peavy, who is really quite awesome. Of course, so is our offense, so it works out pretty well. Plus Trachsel has been throwing pretty effectively himself.

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