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Trachsel Looking a Lot Like Pre-Makeover Glavine

Mike SteffanosWednesday, May 24, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

While I was undergoing the sensory root canal of watching Steve Trachsel struggle through 5 innings against the Phillies yesterday, I wondered whether Jose Lima could have done much worse that Trachsel performed. Sadly, the answer that came back to me was, yes, he could. Still, Trachsel spent most of his outing looking like someone that didn't trust his stuff. Considering what the Phillies were doing to the few strikes he did throw, I can't really blame him.

Trachsel's final line of 5IP, 7H, 6ER, 4BB, 1HR was a poor performance, and frustrating, too. The only time Trachsel really impressed me was in the third. Utley and Abreu led off with singles, then Trachsel walked Burrell to load the bases with one out. It seemed to wake up Trachsel, and for the first time in the game he became aggressive with his fastball, getting ahead of batters and looking like a pitcher who had a chance to win ballgames. He struck out Howard, who had an awful day both at the plate and in the field (the Phillies might need to lobby for the DH in the national league). He made a fine play on Victorino's grounder to nail Utley at home, then got Bell to fly out.

It was a remarkable escape, but Trachsel reverted in the fifth when the Phillies broke the game open with 4 runs. He struck out Utley, and then got Abreu to foul out for the second out, but then started nibbling again. He walked Burrell and Howard, then Victorino beat him with a single that admittedly should have resulted in Burrell being thrown out at home, but Lo Duca came up empty on a good throw by Chavez. Still, it was a single, and then Trachsel gave it up big time on a 3-run homer to David Bell.

At some point watching all of this I became aware of parallels to Glavine when he was struggling last year. Batters are laying off of splitters out of the strike zone and sitting on his curve and his outside pitches. He's constantly behind in the count, and has given up 21 walks in 49 IP. Trachsel has always given up his share of hits, even when things are going well, and simply can't afford to put so many guys on base for free. As with Glavine last year, he just doesn't seem to have a pitch that he can consistently put batters away with. Even mediocre hitters are looking extremely comfortable hitting against Trachsel, again reminiscent of Glavine's struggles.

I'm going to leave fixing pitchers in the hands of Rick Peterson, who for the most part seems to do a good job. As with Glavine, a pitcher has to be receptive to change in order to effect one. I'm not sure where Trachsel is, but he has to realize that it's not working right now. He's had a good start here and there, but many of them have looked like last night's -- especially against the Braves and Phillies, two teams in the division that know him well. He's got to be willing to challenge hitters more, get ahead in the count consistently and cut down on the walks a little. If he can get his pitch count to a more reasonable level he can go deeper into games and rescue this bullpen a little, because they will not be able to maintain the pace they are on now. Breakdown is inevitable.

Look, Trachsel never was the pitcher Glavine was, so I'm not looking for miracles here. But there really doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with Trachsel, and there is no reason why he can't help this team in 2006. Right now he's not giving them any more in innings and quality starts than the rawest rookie might, and that needs to change, and fast.

New York Times: Heilman Stays in the 'Pen
Murray Chass discusses the debate regarding how Aaron Heilman is used, offering some quotes from key Met figures:

Willie Randolph: [Moving Heilman to the starting rotation is] always a possibility. But right now, we don't feel the need to do that. Our bullpen has been the staple of our season. They've been the rock. They've helped our starting staff in a lot of ways. ... Aaron Heilman makes our bullpen as solid as any bullpen in the league. As a starter, you can talk all you want about what he can do, but it's not automatic.

Omar Minaya: Just this past weekend, Aaron helped us win two games. He has more value to the team as a reliever. He gives us an opportunity to win more games during the week as a reliever than he would as a starter.

Tom Glavine: I would leave the guy where he is now. You don't find too many guys with his versatility out of the bullpen, getting lefty and righty hitters out, throwing multiple innings. He's so, so valuable in what he brings to the table out there. I know he probably doesn't want to hear it, but I think, for right now, it makes us a better team to have him do what he's doing. ... It's Catch-22. His problem is he's done too good a job at doing what he's doing. It's not an easy position to be in. It's tough for him. He and I talked about it last year. My advice to him was keep doing what you're doing. You're going to force someone to make you a closer or force someone to put you in the rotation.

Delco Times: Did you actually watch the game?
I thought this description in one of the Philly area papers of the pitch Reyes hit for a game-tying homer in the eighth was quite interesting:

... It seemed Franklin righted the ship against Jose Reyes, getting two quick strikes against the speedy shortstop, when the veteran made a monumental mistake.

The mistake, a fat fastball that split the plate, sailed over the right-field fence for a game-tying home run.

Hey, everyone makes mistakes, and I make plenty of them myself, but there is no excuse for a professional journalist to write something so blatantly wrong about a key moment in that game. The pitch Reyes hit was a curveball down around his shins, if not his ankles -- not a "fat fastball that split the plate". I assume they have access to replays in the press box. If you were a Philly fan that got your game recap in that newspaper, you were seriously misled.

Metsblog: Speaking of getting it right...
I guess Joe Beningo was ranting on WFAN today about how hitting home runs puts Reyes into slumps. Matt from MetsBlog demonstrates this is not the case. Again, the problem here is that, despite the thousands that visit Cerrone's web site every day, the majority of people that listen to Beningo probably don't, and will accept this statement as "fact." Again, you're being paid to do this, Joe, and you have help available to look up readily available facts. Shame on you.

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