Monday, June 7, 2010

Pitch Count Concerns

Interesting question posed to me by David Martin from Rockies Review and Bleacher Report.  If for some reason you're not familiar with David, he's a fantastic writer and a passionate Rockies fan.  Check out his work.

I figured it would be easier to answer David's question with another quick post rather than a comment because it's a question many Rockies fans and baseball fans alike are pondering in regards to Ubaldo's pitch counts in 2010.  

My Opinion

It's definitely a concern.  It's a concern because Jim Tracy has shown a tendency to squeeze Jimenez until gets the last drop out of him.  That's a dangerous road to travel.  Knowing what I think I know about Jim, it's a road he'll continue on until it hits a dead end.

I don't fault Tracy for having that much confidence in Jimenez, but that's not what this is about.  We all have confidence in Ubaldo.  This is about knowing a manager can give his team the best chance to win a given game, while also protecting a gifted right arm and giving his team its best chance to win 2-3 months down the road.

I can't honesly say I'm convinced Jim Tracy (or Bob Apodaca) can balance those responsibilties.  That's the concern.


Coming off 130 pitches, I think pulling Jimenez at 105 through 7 would have been ideal.  That said, in this case I understand Tracy's thinking coming off the short starts from Cook and Chacin.  He's not only looking back at that, but looking ahead to seven home games without a day off.

At least I hope that's what he was thinking.

Looking Ahead

Hopefully a healthy Huston Street, the return of an effective Rafael Betancourt, to go along with Manny Corpas, Matt Belisle and Joe Beimel, will give Jim enough options to lessen his reliance on Ubaldo.  A little heavier workload from the rest of the rotation would also be very helpful.

Another factor is the offense.  Aside from the breakout game at home against Arizona, the offense hasn't given Ubaldo a ton of leeway in his starts.  I know sometimes 3-4 runs seem like a lot in his starts, but I'm talking about a number that lessens the stress on Jimenez, and also gives Jim Tracy the option of limiting his pitch count.

I'm telling you, any 5, 10, 15, 20 pitches you can conserve will add up and assist Jimenez in being better later on.