A couple thoughts today as I’m getting back to the blog after a short weekend away from the internet.
First, I was actually away when Barry hit #755 and didn’t find out until Sunday. Congrats to Barry and to the San Diego fans who I thought reacted very well to the home run. I think it goes to show that no matter what side you sit on with Bonds, it’s still exciting to see him hit. It was also fitting that he hit #755 against the Padres, who as a franchise have given up more home runs to Barry Bonds than any other. With his latest included, the Padres have given up 87 career longballs runs to Barry.
Secondly, Pat Misch’s first start was very encouraging. He gave up 7 H’s and 2 ER’s in 5 innings with 8 K’s. Misch is your classic lefty with a varied arsenal (Fastball, Cut Fastball, Curve, Change, Maybe a slider?) his velocity won’t blow you away but he’s “crafty” and the addition of his cut fastball payed off big when he was relieving. He’s very similar to Noah Lowry in this regard. His changeup has even been rated the best changeup in the Giants system by Baseball America. Misch has had a couple of nice seasons as a starter in the minors. In 2004 when he was pitching for AA Connecticut, he posted a 3.06 ERA in 159 innings, giving up 138 hits, and striking out 123 hitters.
In 2005 he hit a bump when he was promoted to AAA Fresno, posting a ERA of 6.35. He was allowing more hits than innings pitched (135 to 102) and posted his highest BB/9 rate of his pro career at 3.53. The concern that I have with Misch’s 2005 is that his velocity had dipped down to 83-84 mph. Misch usually throws his fastball around 90mph but for some reason in ’05 he just didn’t have the velocity. Ask anyone, especially Barry Zito, it’s hard to pitch off a 80 mph fastball. The loss of velocity and control are sometimes indicators of arm injuries but to my knowledge, Misch never went on the DL. 2006 saw Misch head back to AA and he responded well, posting a 2.26 ERA in 103.2 innings pitched. He was once again promoted to AAA and posted a 4.02 ERA in the hitter friendly PCL. Misch chagned roles in 2007 and found success relieving.
I was somewhat apprehensive about the Giants sending Misch back down to AAA this year to strech his arm back out for a starting role. My line of thinking was, why tinker with something that Misch had responded so well to? As a reliever Misch was having great success. He had posted his highest K/9 of his career and his ERA of 2.29 was excellent for the PCL.
But I think the Giants should give Misch a longer look-see as a starter after his Padres start. The Giants should be doing all they can to find out where certain players stand for the future. A guy like Pat Misch could have value to the team beyond this year and the Giants need to find out what he has. This is why I’ve been a strong supporter of giving guys like Pat Misch and Travis Blackley looks this year instead of Russ Ortiz because Ortiz shouldn’t have a future with this team. Oddly enough, there are some supporters of Russ Ortiz out there that perceive him to have more value than he actually does but I just can’t see it.
Starter Noah Lowry departed after three innings with tightness in his left (throwing) forearm, striking an ominous note as San Diego completed its three-game sweep of the Giants. Manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Lowry, who began the day as one of four National League left-handers with 12 victories, probably would miss a start, though more details won’t be known until the 26-year-old is examined Monday.
With Lowry leaving early from the San Diego game on Sunday, Misch should get more chances. I’ll take it once step further and suggest that if Lowry does go on the DL, the Giants should call up Travis Blackley from Fresno to see what he can do. Blackley is already on the 40-man and like Misch, will have more of a impact on the future of this team than Russ Ortiz. Even though Blackely hasn’t excelled this year in AAA he’s had his moments. He’s also still pretty young at 24 and the Giants should give him a few starts to see how he performs.
Lowry’s forearm injury doesn’t bode well for the rest of his year. His declining K rate and his trouble throwing strikes are often indicators of arm trouble. Anytime you hear a pitcher complain of arm soreness you hope for the best but brace yourself for the worst. The Giants should let Misch and Blackley pick up the rest of the 4th and 5th spot starts this year. Letting Lowry come back slowly from any potential injury he has and allowing Jonathan Sanchez to stay in his relief role. Then, during the offseason, the Giants can decide whether or not they want Sanchez to stretch his arm out for the 2008 rotation.
Plus, it would be kind of cool to see a rotation with three left handers in the starting 5 (Zito-Misch-Blackley)