Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Keppel in the pen

Yes, I said this in the previous post about Bobby Keppel: He hasn't earned key spots yet, and probably never will.

So naturally Ron Gardenhire wheeled him into a 2-1 game in for seven outs Tuesday. He now has pitched 6 1/3 innings since his call-up without allowing a run, he's struck out six men and the stadium radar gun in Kansas City reportedly clocked his velocity at 94 mph.

I've been calling for a while for power arms for the bullpen. What's not to like here?

Four walks is something not to like. And his minor league record is that of a sinker-slider guy who doesn't miss a lot of bats. He's got more than 1,000 innings of professional experience that say he can't strike out enough hitters to succeed in the majors.

Now, maybe there's truly something different about him now — a better delivery, a new pitch, the elimination of a poor secondary pitch. But he was only striking out 4.5 men per nine innings in Rochester before his call up.

The Greg McMichael Rule still applies. He's getting outs, and he'll keep getting the ball as long as he does.

But I wouldn't count on it lasting.


Speaking of power arms: Pittsburgh and Washington made a trade Wednesday, and the headline tells who were the centerpieces of the swap — a couple of outfielders.

But the guy in the deal who interests me is Joel Hanrahan, a hard-throwing relief pitcher who really hasn't had much go right for him this year. He was on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic, and I tried to make a point of watching him, because he was expected to be Washington's closer this year and I was curious about the fantasy-game possibilities.

That didn't work, but the talent remains. I doubt the Pirates are going to try to flip him immediately — but a bit more than a week ago I had Matt Capps prominent on a list of relief pitchers who might be available in trade. Hanrahan might make Capps more available.


It does not speak well of the Twins offense that they have scored two runs in two games against Luke Hochever (career ERA 5.15) and Brian Bannister (career ERA 4.70). And on Wednesday they not only face a quality pitcher in Gil Meche, they do so in the daytime, when they really haven't hit much at all.

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