This was the kind of game we had to get used to last year. I hoped these days were over, but on any team, there will be games like this. Last night, which somehow ended as a 15-3 loss, was a bad night. I’ll start out with the stuff that went right, because there really weren’t many things that went right. Michael Cuddyer kept his hit streak going, and has now hit in each of the Rockies’ first nine games of the season. Last night, he hit another homer, his third of the year, and picked up a second extra base hit, a double to lead off the second (he was, of course stranded). The stat community are known to be lukewarm on Cuddyer, if not haters of the 35 year old outfielder. His batting average last year was not sustainable, they say, because his BABPIP was too high. He should be playing first base, because he hurts the team too much in right field. He had the best year of his career at age 34.
Coming into the season, I wasn’t sure where I stood on Cuddyer. He’s obviously a great guy to have in the dugout, and I wasn’t on board with the people who thought he would fall off the proverbial cliff this year. But I did think some regression was in store. A .280 average, 20 homers, and a .800 OPS seemed reasonable. I definitely didn’t expect these first nine games, in which Cuddyer has seven extra base hits, a .432 average, and a 1.234 OPS. This is obviously unsustainable; you don’t need me to tell you that. But it’s a good sign that Cuddyer might just be able to come close to, if not replicate, what he did last year. I definitely think we would all be happy with that. That’s about it when it comes to good signs from yesterday, though. Sure, Justin Morneau had a multi-hit game and is now hitting .345. That’s another good sign. The rest? Not so much.
A day after his competition for a rotation spot, Jordan Lyles, pitched well against the same poor-hitting White Sox team, Franklin Morales was poor. He gave up a hit in six of seven innings, and ended up allowing two home runs, 12 baserunners, and six runs in six and a third innings. A day after Lyles helped his cause with three hits and two RBI, Morales also struck out twice in his only two plate appearances. He certainly didn’t help his cause, and most likely hurt it. Could this have been the day that Lyles moved ahead of Morales on the depth chart? I wouldn’t be surprised, because Lyles is younger and has a lot more potential than the older Morales, who has primarily been deployed as a reliever in his eight year MLB career.
When Morales left the game, it was still 4-2. It got a lot worse, as you can see by the score. The White Sox hit four homers in the last three innings, including one by Cuban superstar Jose Abreu right after Morales departed. Given the way that at bat went, the home run was predictable. After going ahead 1-2 in the count, Chad Bettis, who came on in relief of Morales, just couldn’t put Abreu away. Two balls and six fouls later, Abreu hit a three run homer to left. Off the bat, I thought it was a routine flyout for Brandon Barnes; in the end, Barnes nearly caught the ball, but it went just over the top of his glove into the stands. That was the killer, and the game just went downhill after that. In the eighth inning, disaster struck. Wilton Lopez relieved Bettis, and proceded to throw maybe the worst inning I have ever seen. A day after I said Bettis was likeliest to be sent down to AAA, I’m revising that to Lopez. Here’s why:
HR by Avisail Garcia
HR by Alexei Ramirez
SI by Tyler Flowers
Groundout by pitcher Jose Quintana
Groundout by Adam Eaton
Double by Marcus Semien
HR by Jose Abreu
SI by Dayan Viciedo
SI by Conor Gillaspie
SI by Avisail Garcia
That was Wilton Lopez’s outing, which lasted all of 10 hitters and two outs. Yep, Lopez gave up six runs in 2/3 of an inning, and it could have been eight had Tommy Kahnle not bailed him out by getting Ramirez to fly out on his first pitch. Wilton Lopez threw 35 pitches, didn’t even get through an inning, and also gave up three homers. In short, he was horrible, and looked even worse. His ERA is now 11.37 after four appearances, and he has given up nine runs, more than any other reliever in baseball. Perhaps the most horrifying stat I’ve ever seen: Wilton Lopez has given up 18 hits in 6.1 innings. Burke Badenhop has given up nine hits, the second most among relievers. So Wilton Lopez is twice as bad as any other reliever in baseball.
It got worse in the ninth, as Kahnle gave up two runs that were sort of but not really his fault. With a man on first and one out, Eaton hit a ground ball to first, and it looked like it could have been at least a force out if not a inning-ending double play. Instead, Morneau made an error, Eaton got on base, and all of a sudden it was first and second with one out. Kahnle ended up allowing two singles and two runs, both unearned, lowering to 1.93.
In short, Kahnle wasn’t great, but he was a heck of a lot better than Franklin Morales and Wilton Lopez, and probably also better than Chad Bettis, who gave up the three run barely homer to Abreu. In summation, it was a horrible game, so let’s hope the Rockies can turn it around this afternoon. It’ll be an interesting game, as Juan Nicasio, who was so tremendous in his first start, will take the ball for the second time this season. It’s a pivotal start, one that will tell us more about how Nicasio will pitch this season.