Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kent Tekulve: Middle Relief the Key

by The Last Hollywood Star

One of the few good reasons to watch the Pirates on Fox Sports Network is to tune in to the post-game wrap up with Rob King and Kent Tekulve.

Their analysis is top notch.

A few weeks ago after one of the Pirates defeats---can’t remember which one among the many---Tekulve (184 saves; 2.95 ERA) said that most games are won or lost in the middle innings, that is the sixth and seventh.

Tekulve argued that with starters on pitch counts that normally limit them to about one hundred pitches and with closers usually dominant, middle relief is the key.

In the Friday night 14-7 blow out to the St. Louis Cardinals, here’s who manager John Russell called into the game starting the sixth inning: Denny Baustista (4.05 ERA); Joel Hanrahan (5. 07); Phil Dumatrait (13.50); Steve Jackson (3.94) and Chris Bootcheck (12.97)

When parade of failures from the bull pen started, the Pirates were ahead 6-5!

The relief pitchers summoned to put out the fire instead threw gasoline on it.

And, in the grand scheme of things, even thought the Pirates have had precious late game leads to protect lately, closer Matt Capps is 3-8, 6.02.

The Pirates march is no longer toward its seventeenth consecutive losing season. That’s a lock. The new low will be 100 losses for the season, a strong possibility, and only eighth in team history.

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