- What looked like an innocent bruise on Alex Rios' left shin after he fouled a ball off of it Tuesday has now taken a turn for the worst. Although there is no visible cut on his shin, it has been severely infected to the point that Rios had a hard time sleeping and has been hospitalize the past two nights. However, with a couple strong doses of antibiotics, the bacteria will be sorry to infect it in the first place. There is currently no time table for the return. Since it was so much more serious than originally thought, there may be a chance that he will be placed on the 15-Day DL. Since this is a blog site and what blogs do is speculate, I feel like it is my duty to speculate potential consequences of such an injury.
With the OF being an area of strength and depth for the Blue Jays, I feel like in the short run, Rios' injury is not going to make much of an impact. Both Frank Catalanotto and Reed Johnson have proven themselves worthy of regular at-bat thus far this season, and while it will be a tough task to match the production of the second most productive valuable RF in the majors (according to baseball prospectus), the drop off won't be big enough to make a significant impact on the powerful Blue Jays lineup. Defensively, Reed Johnson has proven he is capable on handling RF, he will be just fine. In addition, Eric Hinske might see some more playing time. As much as Blue Jays fans like to rip on Hinske, he has handled his diminishing playing time with class and has produced adequately when asked upon. He had a huge night tonight against the Nationals, falling a homer short of the cycle, if he can get some playing time over the next couple weeks and continue his solid play, he can potentially be a valuable trade chip at the deadline.
If Rios does land on the DL, John Ford-Griffin will likely be the first in line for the callup. Although he has struggled for the first 2 months of the season, since he came off the DL a couple days ago, he has been raking, albeit being a very small sample size. He proved he can hit ML pitching last year, why not give him another shot? However, he may not get very many at bats with the big club even if he was promoted since we already have a shortage of at-bats to keep everyone happy. I know this may sound absolutely ridiculous, but I feel like we don't really need an extra guy to sit on the bench now that we are back to playing AL rules. A late inning pinch runner for Bengie Molina is always good, but another arm in the Bullpen for the short term might prove more useful than another warm body on the bench, I would vote giving Vinny Chulk another cup of coffee up here.
As I said (and hope), the above scenario will likely not happen, but we should keep our fingers crossed and hope I am right with this one. Let me know what you think.
- I don't know if I have grown accustomed to Roy Halladay's ungodly dominance over the past few years, but a small but considerable part of me is reluctantly asking what's wrong after giving up 4ERs in three consecutive start. I understand everyone goes through slumps and giving up 4ERs over 6+IP is hardly a poor performance, but I have missed the goose eggs that Halladay put up seemingly as a routine in the past (which could be skewed perception of a past that never existed in the first place).
One thing that many Blue Jay fans and I have noticed in the past couple starts, and to a certain extent, this year, is that it seems like hitters are getting more solid wood on the ball then before. Let's take a look at some of his batted balls stats from the past couple seasons:
Roy Halladay's Batted Balls Stats
The LD% has steadily risen over the past couple years, to 21.2% today, which ranks him in the bottom echelon among all regular AL starters. However, a high LD% does not automatically mean bad pitcher, Justin Verlander also has a LD% over 20%, Johan Santana's is just a shade under 20%. Despite all the line drives, opponents are still only batting about .250 off of Halladay, so clearly they haven't really figured him out. The most interesting stat of all I found was his IF/F ratio, up to 17.3% this season from 5.6% last season. Now thinking back, I do recall seeing more pop-ups this year than in the past hit against Halladay. My initial thought was that Halladay's pitches might be elevated, but after studying the Game Charts (see below) from his past couple starts it is surely not the case. Perhaps his sinker is not sinking as much? It sure looked like is was sinking pretty good tonight, but it is not easy to tell on TV.
I tried putting his gamecharts here but I am not as technically savvy as Mark and couldn't figure it out, so you will have to take my word for it, or you can view it on CBS Sportsline by clicking on the links below.
Halladay vs. Nationals
From the charts, we can tell that Halladay was a little wild against the Marlins, left quite a few pitches up in the strikezone, even missed high on a couple pitches. He located his pitches much better against the Mets and the Nationals, practically all strikes are in the bottom half of the strikezones and even misses are low. The most intriguing thing is seeing how many pitches were thrown down the the middle of the plate. The pitch pattern is a complete opposite in Burnett's gem against the Nationals, who throw a grand total of 2 pitches over the middle third of the plate for strikes (both at the knees).
My conclusion is that we should simply listen to the Cy Young winner about his new found game plan because it looks like this new more aggressive, strikezone pounding Halladay is here to stay. This new pitching approach might conceivably give more for the hitters to hit, but Halladay ultimately feels it would benefit him. Personally, I am not entirely convinced that this method is better, a) because his control is so good that hitting the corners is not a problem for him, and b) the results have not prove the method to be more efficient or effective.
But... Halladay and Brad Arnsberg probably know a thing or two more about pitching than I do. If they say it is better, then in some deeper understanding of the art of pitching, it is probably better. Eventhough I don't possess an arcane understanding of pitching, I will try to understand what I can using my plebian approach and make them prove me wrong.