I’ve never been a janitor. I’ve never had to clean up garbage for a living. I’ve had to clean up after a house full of guys, that’s dirty. I’ve had to scrub under desks at the workplace, that’s dirty. I’ve mopped grimy tile, that’s dirty. But I’ve never been a mop-up man. That’s never been my title. I seriously consider whether or not long-relievers consider themselves mop-up men, or if it’s some sort of nomenclature that they all avoid. It’s the scarlet letter of baseball. No one goes through college telling themselves, “Yeah, I’d like to come into a game with a 5-run deficit with no probable chance of our offense coming back. Yeah, that’s the life!” It just doesn’t happen. Nobody wants that.
But it does happen, and baseball players are often-times reduced to mop-up men. Tom Wilhelmsen had good stuff today. His fastball was sitting around 94-97 mph. His breaking balls looked nasty. He just couldn’t throw strikes. And when he did throw strikes, the Rangers pummeled the ball. He could have a bright future, it’s just too bad the situation at hand dictated that he would be the one to take up the long-reliever mantle. I wonder what’s going through Wilhelmsen’s head when he gets called on for situations only when the team is behind. Probably not “I’m going to tack on a win next to my name today.”
And now I wonder what’s going through Jeff Gray’s head because he’s not getting called on for situations when the team is behind. You know he went on that stretch where he didn’t pitch from June 11th to July 9th. That’s 27 days. That’s almost a February’s worth! And since then he’s earned himself 2 holds. Two-whole holds! (Say that ten times, slow or fast, doesn’t matter, still funny) That was Jamey Wright’s job for the majority of the season, and now look what Gray gets to do. He gets to sit in the bullpen and watch on, as other, more efficient pitchers get the call. He hasn’t pitched since August 3rd, so, maybe it’s not all that different after all. Twenty-two more days to go.
Good things come in threes. Like strikeouts-if you’re the pitcher. So let’s do three bullet-points to highlight some action:
- Trayvon Robinson looks absolutely dumb throwing a baseball. He looks smooth gliding over the fence to make a catch, or treading carefully on the warning track to field a fly-ball, but he cannot throw the baseball. I think Edgar Martinez could throw better than him, and we all know what happened to his career.
- Charlie Furbush looked okay, but Matt Harrison looked better. His stuff is good, but he was locating his pitches exactly where he wanted them. Against Mike Carp in the sixth, he located a pitch on the lower outside of the plate, and Carp swung through it. It was all a part of the plan, and he executed. In that moment, Carp looked absolutely lost. On another note, his xFIP- is sitting at 100, making him the most average pitcher. He is excellent at being average.
- Jack Wilson is really battling for a spot, or for a trade, or just to enjoy his life again. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. And he had that heads up play keeping the tag on the runner at second. So I guess this is the Jack Wilson ceiling! This won’t be enough to increase his value to ship him out, but I’ve always admired his athleticism and attitude. Except when he quit on the team. That was kind of stupid.
Two rookies go tomorrow in Michael Pineda and Alexi Ogando. If you ever saw Pineda mopping a floor, I think you’d be pretty sad.