Wednesday, May 30, 2018

It Smells, All Right

"It looks, it feels, it smells like a special year."
—Dallas Keuchel

Forget all the sloppy play in the field last night, or the spotty clutch hitting. The Yankees managed to score three earned runs in just six innings against a Houston starter, which this year is about the equivalent of what clubbing Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Claude Osteen all in a row would have been c. 1965.

Going into last night's game, the Astros had—in Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole—the top three pitchers in the American League, with the none-too-shabby Keuchel and Lance McCullers joining them in the rotation, and a bullpen full of overachievers backing them up.

Going into last night's game, the Astros boasted a 2.58 team ERA, a full run better than anyone else in the AL, and far below the 3.30 ERA of the Nats and the Cubs, the two best pitching teams in the NL, a league where they let the pitcher bat, for cryin' out loud.

The New York Times reported that Justin Verlander is now 16-3 since coming over to the Astros last year, with a 1.36 ERA. This year, his ERA remains below Bob Gibson's in 1968, while Tyler Kepner informs us that he is just the second pitcher in major-league baseball SINCE 1900 to get to June with at least ten starts, and no more than 10 earned runs or 50 hits allowed.

The other guy? A certain Pedro Martinez, back in 2000.

Now, maybe this is all just about experience and know-how, or the Astros' "advanced data and video analysis," as Kepner speculates. Maybe it's the sort of anomaly you get from a limited sample size (though a third of a season and at least half a pitching staff seems to me to be a pretty big sample.)

Maybe it's that notorious "clear pine tar"—somewhere, Michael Pineda is weeping—that the 'Stros are widely rumored to be using (though last I checked, doctoring the ball with any substance is still illegal).


But none of this accounts for how Verlander managed to throw "by far" the most innings in the majors last year—or how, according to Kepner, he has regained his "elite fastball."

It doesn't account for how, as my ace scout, ALL-CAPS, informs me, Charlie Morton has managed to bump up his fastball at age 34.

I'm not jumping to any conclusions. Nor am I saying that Houston is the only club that might be harboring juicers past or present (I'm looking at you, Giancarlo Stanton. And my eyes are saying, 'Go back to the old stuff!').

But if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, and it walks like a seven-foot high, fanged mutant duck with webbed feet the size of flatboats, well then, it's probably one performance-enhanced, juiced up, blatantly cheating duck.

If the Yankees were doing this, of course, it would be a war crime and a threat to mothers and orphans everywhere. With the Astros, it's a testament to pitching smarts.

Whatever. But Houston should be careful. If the 'Stros manage to juice their way past the MLB pet Red Sox in the playoffs, there will be calls for a new Mueller investigation.

Just sayin'.


TheWinWarblist said...

AHH-AHH-AAHHHH-AAaAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHaaaa-ah-ah-ah-aaaaaaaaAaAaHaHaHaaaAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!

ranger_lp said...

In pro wrestling if the heel tag team has a two-on-one it's teamwork. If the hero team does the same, it's double teaming. I miss Dick "The Bulldog" Brower who I indirectly quoted.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the team just has a competent pitching coach.

Nearly everyone throughout MLB is on PEDs. There's no effective way to catch human growth hormone use. Lots of other drugs are easily masked.

The Astros have a top-flight management team, on and off the field. The Yankees do not.

TheWinWarblist said...

Maybe their top-flight management team is distributing PEDs.