Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rueckel Report, August 23

The Eternal Return Edition


Baby Ruckles hurls a pitch on July 17. (Courtesy, senatorsbaseball.com)

It's beginning to look a lot like April.

You'll remember, valued reader, that Danny Rueckel did not surrender a single earned run in the first month of the season. Indeed, Baby Ruckles started off red hot as the Harrisburg Senators' relief ace, hotter even than his sterling 2004 debut in the Eastern League, in which he sported an ERA in the low twos. Nats' relievers, such as Toasty Osuna, NASA Horgan, and T.J. Tucker, were going down like flies. Gary Majewski had not yet turned into an action hero stud, and Hector Carrasco was still just a washed-up refugee from the Korean League or something.

I started dreaming that maybe I had walked into a goldmine here; perhaps Baby Ruckles would take a short sojourn through New Orleans and settle in as the fourth guy out of the Nats' bullpen. Dare to dream!

Then May hit, and the dream leveled off a bit. Well, how about just New Orleans, eh?

Then June hit, and Rueckel's ERA went kurplunk. First, it rose into the fours, and then---in one miserable outing in mid-June in which he surrendered sixty percent of his season's homers in one inning---it skyrocketed into the fives. Noooooooooo!

Baby Ruckles has been playing catch-up ever since, trying to reduce that ERA down to something commensurate with his K/BB ratio and HR rate. He bounced back quickly, in fact, lowering the ERA by a run in a matter of outings---including some of his best of the season. Since then, though, it's been mainly a holding action, with the ERA consisently in the low fours the past few updates, if creeping upward ever so slightly.

Until now, that is. In the five appearances over the length of this survey, Baby Ruckles didn't surrender a run. The first two games were fairly shaky, but the last three were pure April: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K. Solid!

Oh, and pay no mind that the Sens lost all five of those games. They've lost ten of eleven games since my last update:

---> August 12: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO (no decision in 9-7 Harrisburg defeat against New Britain)
---> August 13: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO (no decision in 7-4 defeat against New Britain)
---> August 18: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO (no decision in 10-0 defeat against Bowie)
---> August 19: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO (no decision in 2-1 defeat against Akron)

---> August 22: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO (no decision in 6-3 defeat against Binghamton)

SEASON TO DATE:


G  IP H R ER HR BB SO W L ERA SV
49 71 763430 5 16 63 9 5 3.80 6


So, the ERA, while significantly higher than last year's, is rounding into form. Baby Ruckles seems safe, baring a redux of the June 14 disaster, of keeping the ERA out of the fours, which would certainly be advisable.

Hey, speaking of the June 14 game . . . I know this is completely bogus, but it's my Rueckel Report after all, and I'm gonna see what his numbers look like without that blow-out:


G  IP   H  R  ER HR BB SO W L ERA SV
48 68.1 69 28 24 2 15 62 9 5 3.17 6


Yeah, I like these numbers much better.


_______________

So, what does the future hold Grand Master Ruckus? I'm not privy to any "internal discussions" Jim Bowden has with his ego, of course, but my guess would be either:

---> remain at Harrisburg, or
---> finish up at New Orleans.

In other words, although Rueckel's already on the 40-man roster for the Nationals, I am not getting the impression he'll be among the September call-ups. That's not unexpected, and it's understandable. I, of course, believe that Rueckel can experience success in the big leagues, but first he has to get the opportunity. Other guys (such as Bill Bray) are more likely to get the big league exposure as a result of their position within the organization's plans; furthermore, to be honest, other guys (such as Jason Bergmann) have earned the opportunity to be exposed to the big leagues more than Rueckel has this season.

But I believe it will happen and, if given a real shot, Danny Rueckel will succeed.

In the meantime, Harrisburg and New Orleans both wrap-up on September 5, so I know what I'll be doing in this space until then.

Comments:
Grand Master Ruckus

You are so ghetto. Who praytell then would be the Furious Five?
 
Gotta mix it up a bit, ya know? You can't repeat "Baby Ruckles" too much; likewise, too much usage of just plain "Rueckel" sounds rather detached.

On the other hand, "Danny" sounds strange and slightly parasocial, since I've never seen him pitch, much less met the guy.
 
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