Monday, April 25, 2005

Two-dollar Horgan

Twenty-one: good luck, good Kiefer, bad ERA

Joe Horgan got sent down over the weekend. Despite Frank Robinson's expressed preference for a second bullpenning lefty (Joey "Suck It" Eischen will now be on pace for something like 200 appearances), as shocking developments go, well . . let's just say it doesn't rate up there with exploding toads.

In Horgan's stead, Jon Rauch (Ryan the Honeymooner's---as well as Barry Svruga's---favorite freakily tall pitcher) is Nat-bound. Despite that fact that I, too, am left-handed, I have to say I support the move.

Aw, who am I kidding? At this point, I'd prefer Nostradamus---yes, Nostradamus---"Bull" Shannon to Horgan. Did you know that the league is hitting .514 against Horgan? Well, iiiiiit's true. (Six innings, 19 hits, for those of you scoring at home.) Horgan's also walked four batters, making his WHIP, by my recollection, Dwight Gooden's 1990 ERA. (19-7, 3.83 ERA, if I remember correctly.)

Though Rauch was promoted in exchange for Horgan (who, by the way, readily admits---excuses?---that he has mechanical problems), and I haven't done the calculus yet, he could at some point be replacing Tomo Okha, who struggled mightily recently. In a return of the "Wayne Knight Is Officially Freaked Out" Award, F-Robby insists something is wrong physically with Okha, despite the team doctor's evaluation that Okha's fine:

Robinson reiterated yesterday that he believes Ohka is injured. The 28-year-old has given up 13 earned runs, 21 hits and 15 walks in 20 innings in four starts this season. And though his spring training numbers were far better, Robinson said he began noticing problems back then.

[. . . ] Ohka, who missed three months in 2004 after fracturing his right forearm, acknowledged after Saturday's game that he's not 100 percent healthy, though he would not divulge what part of his body was hurting. Team doctor Bruce Thomas examined Ohka and found no physical ailments.

I call the voting two-against-one; Okha's hurt. Tony Tavares, get the guy a translator, so someone can determine what's bothering him.

Mark Zuckerman's article indicates that no one will replace Okha in the rotation, at least not initially; because of an off-day, Okha gets pushed out to keep Livan Hernandez on his normal rest. Then there's Tweaky Groin Armas to consider. I haven't done the math, and I don't care to now. I suppose it's possible that Rauch could end up getting some starts.

It's likely, at any rate, that Rauch---unlike Horgan---won't turn the National League hitters into "PASTE" from Bases Loaded. Now, that's improvement.

[LATE EDIT: Chris points out something I hadn't realized:

Despite the bloated stats, Horgan got the job he was supposed to do done: get lefties out. [. . .] Righties ripped him a new cavity -- .667 .667 .958. But, he held his own against lefties: .231 .375 .308. The OBP allowed is high, but that's mostly from pitching around
Jim Thome. They didn't hit for average and they didn't hit for power. That's about all you can ask from a left-handed specialist.

That's an excellent point.

I might quibble with the exact parameters of a left-handed specialist's (LOOGY's) job; as I suspect Steve Treder's fascinating, multi-part look at the LOOGY will capture, incumbent upon a lefty specialist is the ability to face a righthander at least in a semi-competent manner. (Otherwise, pitching staffs cannot sustain, say, 14 pitchers.) So a LOOGY---as Horgan essentially was/is---must be able to go after a righty without cryin' for his momma. Robinson can't, as a practical matter, protect Horgan too extensively; otherwise, his utility to the team is far too reduced.

Still, Chris's point is an excellent one---and a sign that Horgan is a victim of a bloated early season ERA more than a systematic destruction of his ability to pitch. Maybe he can get his mechanics back in order and contribute to the Nats later on.]

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