Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why are you returning the jacket?...Spite

Yep, A&M baseball coach Rob Childress did it just to spite me. He sent Alex Wilson out for the eighth last weekend against Tech, even though he finished the seventh at 99 pitches with 9 strikeouts. He sent him out for the eighth, Wilson got up to 115 pitches (a season high) and my theory about their usage patterns is blown. Wilson still displayed his usual control, walking one with his 10 punchouts. Still, he gave up five runs in a barnburner of a game that featured gusting winds.

So, since my theory was put to the test, let's look at A&M's other phenom, Brooks Raley. The dude plays right field when he's not pitching on Friday nights. He's good. But, I'm interested to see how Childress maintains his workload this season. Let's look at his starts so far.

1st game: 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 79 pitches
2nd game: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, 82 pitches
3rd game: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 84 pitches
4th game: 8 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, 115 pitches
5th game: 7 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts, 114 pitches
6th game: 7 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts, 111 pitches
7th game: 6 IP, 6 hits, 0 ER, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 96 pitches

Early in the season, Childress was clearly using him sparingly. Raley didn't get out of the sixth inning until his fourth start. Coincidentally, that was also the first start when the weather started getting warmer. The next few games show that Childress had no qualms about throwing Raley out there after he's close to 100 pitches. He's like Wilson in that he doesn't walk many batters, which I'm guessing means Childress wouldn't mind running him out there because he knows his pitch count can't jump up too much.

I just don't know what to make of his strikeout totals. Last season, Raley pitched 92 innings and only struck out 68 batters. He still only walked 2.64 batters per 9 innings, but his low strikeout totals suggests that he doesn't have overpowering stuff when he's on. He may be able to get hitters fooled from time to time, and judging by his total this year, may be learning to be a pitcher instead of a thrower. Still, of the two, Wilson probably has the best pure stuff. I'll definitely get a look at both of them before too long (possibly this weekend) and have a better idea of how they compare.

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