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.
STRASMAS IS IN DOUBT
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.
THE LAST OF SANCHEZ?
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.
WHAT’S UP WITH GERRIT COLE?
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.”