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Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Rodriguez … Strasmas is in doubt Saturday (a reminder no young arm is safe) … Gerrit Cole’s missing command … and Sanchez’s new home


MILWAUKEE – Wandy Rodriguez is really two different pitchers. There’s Wandy at home, and there’s Wandy on the road.


There are platoon splits and then there are Rodriguez’s  home-road, polar-opposite performances.


For his career, Rodriguez has a career 3.40 ERA at home. At home he’s one of the best left-handers in baseball. We saw it last homestand when he was nearly perfect for seven innings against the Cardinals.


Then there is the Rodriguez’s road resume.


For his career, Rodriguez has a 4.65 road ERA … and that was before he was lit up at Miller Park on Monday night, when he allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.


(Gray jerseys have been Wandy Rodriguez’s kryptonite) 


And these are not small sample sizes. Rodriguez has logged 734 career innings at home and 659 innings on the road. At this point, we have to think this is who Rodriguez is for what ever reason.


Now, most pitchers are better at home. At home you’re more apt to get borderline calls from umpires. (Don’t believe me? Go read “Scorecasting.” It’s a great read … and the evidence is there.) And I can understand most pitchers probably like working on their home mound and sleeping in their own bed.


But to be 36.7 % less effective on the road over the course of a considerable sample size? Really strange.


I asked Clint Hurdle about it after the game and he was unsure what was behind the split other than there are a number of hitter-friendly parks in the NL Central. Still, Houston is a hitter-friendly park where he spent most of his career.


“It’s not the park. It’s me,” Wandy said afterward. (Sure, the old it’s-not-the-park, it’s-me routine. I invented that routine #Seinfeld)


While Wandy has been mostly good this season – his ERA spiked from 1.99 to 3.91 Monday – there is one disturbing trend a declining swing and miss rate which is documented here. But that’s a question for another day. Today the question is what’s with the splits?


Maybe the answer is simply this: Wandy is human.




Stephen Strasburg was scheduled to pitch Saturday at PNC Park. In his debut, back in 2010, he struck out 14 Pirates back. Strasburg’s starts are must-see stuff, even if you’re pulling for the opposition.


While Strasburg’s stuff has been there this year, the results haven’t been (1-5), and to make matters worse for the Nationals, Strasburg left Monday’s start with forearm tightness.


Strasburg has already had one Tommy John surgery and was handled carefully last year with his much discussed innings limits. So any time Strasburg complains of forearm tightness, which is sometimes a sign of ligament damage, there is reason to be concerned.


Nationals manager Davey Johnson isn’t sure if Strasburg will miss his next start. Strasburg wants to make his next start as do the ticket purchasers or Saturday’s game at PNC Park.


Said Strasburg last night. “I’m not missing my next start. I’ll tell you that right now.”


As a fan of the game, I hope he’s fine. But as Dylan Bundy reminded us last week, as Will Carroll reminded us tonight, no young pitcher is a sure thing. Say a prayer tonight for the right arms of Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.




In case you missed it Jonathan Sanchez was officially demoted to the bullpen before Monday’s game. He came on in relief and allowed two home runs and four runs in 2 1/3 innings.


Jeanmar Gomez will start in place of Sanchez on Wednesday.


Is Sanchez to the pen permanent?


“For now,” Hurdle said.




If Gerrit Cole was throwing more strikes perhaps he would be making a case for a quick callup, though service time considerations probably make that a non-starter.


Still, Cole’s performance has been uneven as he’s averaging 20 pitches per inning and has had four walks in his last two start.


What’s up with Cole’s command?


Said Hurdle: “It’s not so much command issues, it’s going down there and dominating and repeating his delivery and throwing secondary pitches for strikes and pounding the strike zone. It’s not all about the walks it’s about the quality of strikes. It’s something he continues to work on.”



  1. leefoo says:

    Good stuff…thx

  2. SJB says:

    Anyone have the number for John Smoltz’s shrink? He worked wonders for him back in the early 90’s and the Pirates have at least a couple head cases in the rotation who could benefit from some couch time. Maybe after some therapy, Wandy and JMac will find some confidence and consistency and not melt down like a bullied 12-year old girl at the first sign of adversity or pressure.

  3. RobertoForever says:

    So…last night was of the “nothing to see here” variety. Wandy is expected to be worse on the road.
    I could care less if we sweep in Milwaukee. Winning on the road is harder than at home. Sweeping on the road is very rare. I would take winning 2 of 3, and winning 1 of 3 on the road is not a disaster, not in the least.
    Rather, I would like to see us win the season series against those cheese-eating cheaters. Its a long season,and after winning 4 or 5 straight series, one might expect a series loss at some point.

  4. Good stats on homebody Wandy, Travis. A run and a quarter per game is a heck of a difference!! Maybe he should put some PNC dirt in his pocket for his next road start.

    Maybe all of his road games contain gaffs like Clint Barmes pulled last night, which cost Wandy 3 “earned runs” and put him way behind. I’m a big believer that one defensive lapse can turn a game around, momentum, attitude, and otherwise! A team CANNOT give the other team more than 27 outs, especially with men on base.

    “Service time” is no longer a consideration for Gerrit Cole——only Super Two arbitration clock and his control/command. He could be brought up today and Bucs would still get 6 full years of service time beyond this 2013 season.

  5. cmat0829 says:

    On Cole, can we all agree that at this point, his pitching performance dictates where he pitches. I really want him to be dominating AAA and push the Pirates to call him up, not the Pirates calling him up because they have holes to fill. See Alvarez, Pedro for reference on how not to do it.

    Sanchez needs to go, right now. He ate some innings yesterday but now he should go away and Contreras can join the Bucs in Brewtown.

  6. JuniataKid says:

    Can’t imagine Sanchez is permanent anywhere but the unemployment line pretty soon. And not quite sure why he’s still there. I was fully expecting to hear he’d been released after the game.

  7. Chuck H says:

    The Brewers might have some way of stealing signals because they always know what pitch is coming. It is unreal for a team to have such a huge win and loss advantage over another team. I don’t know their home record against the rest of the league. If anyone out there knows the answer to this question, please send me an e-mail or post it in this column.
    Wandy Rodriquez is a smart pitcher, but if someone is stealing signs, he has no chance.
    Acidhead Braun got away with one against the league, so what’s to prevent the other team members and/or management from cheating? I repeat, there’s too big of a gap in the won and loss stats for that organization to have done it honestly. GO BUCS! Try harder against these cheaters.

  8. JRay3 says:

    Great info, enjoyed the read. Now that Sanchez has been DFA’d decisions loom when the team recalls Liriano and Contreras.

  9. Travis Sawchik says:

    Well, you didn’t have to wait too much longer … DFAd today

  10. Travis Sawchik says:

    Thanks JRay,

    Liriano is in line to start May 10 in New York…. Contreras looks to be up with the club on Friday

  11. Travis Sawchik says:


    I’m not sure what’s going on in Miller Park but I do know the Pirates are double- and triple-coding signs.

    Still, if you’re not executing pitches in a hitter’s park … it’s going to get ugly.

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