Archive for the ‘Impact Index’ Category

Impact Index: Getting Eveland

Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays who frequent these parts know all too well about Dana Eveland. The soft-tossing lefty started nine games for the Jays in 2010, winning three, losing four, and posting an unimpressive 6.45 ERA. It was so unimpressive that the Jays designated Eveland for assignment and then traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jays fans, among others, likely lost interest in Eveland’s career after his short stint north of the border.

I’ll catch you up; it won’t take long.

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There have been 2,681 appearances by a relief pitcher so far this season. Three of the worst bullpen performances by Win Probability Added took place on Friday night. In the same game. Three of the best bullpen performances by Win Probability Added also took place on Friday night. In the same game.

The same game.

The match up in question pitted the Chicago Cubs against their National League Central rivals the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Matt Garza was on the mound for the Cubs, sporting a 2-1 record and a 2.67 ERA in five starts. Crafty lefty Randy Wolf took the ball for the Brewers with a less impressive record: 2-3 and a 6.68 ERA in six starts. It was a pitchers’ duel through the first six innings, with the Brewers holding a 1-0 lead.

Jose Veras came on for the Brewers in the top of the 7th after Travis Ishikawa pinch hit for Wolf in the 6th. After getting Wellington Castillo to ground out, Veras gave up a triple to Darwin Barney, hit Ian Stewart and walked Reed Johnson to load the bases for the Cubs with one out. Veras departed with a -.192 WPA for his troubles, replaced by Kameron Loe. With the bases loaded, David DeJesus stepped to the plate and did this:

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Today’s Impact Index is a bit of a cheat. Our featured player is about to hit the big time due to the total ineffectiveness of one of his teammates. Pretty soon, he won’t be the middle reliever you’ve never heard of. And you can say you heard it here first.

Steve Cishek is a right-handed side-winder for the Miami Marlins. He made his major-league debut in 2010, pitching a few innings in relief. However, it wasn’t until the next season that he first made a real impact from the Marlins bullpen, throwing just under fifty-five innings. As we’ll see, some of those fifty-five innings were more adventurous than others.

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Impact Index: I Like Mike

Kids who grow up playing baseball dream of playing for their hometown team. Or for their favorite team if their hometown doesn’t have one. Of, even if their hometown has a team, they dream of playing for a different team because they like to do things differently. Whatever the team, whatever the reason, baseball-loving kids grow up pretending to be at the plate, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the game on the line, and getting the big hit to give their team the win.

Mike Baxter had that dream. And his dream is coming true.

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Impact Index: Jamey Is Right

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in the National League West with a record of 12-4. It’s a bit of a surprise because nobody thought the Dodgers could win so many games with just Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier powering the offense and with Clayton Kershaw taking the mound only once every five games.

Turns out we were wrong because Matt Kemp is Matt Kemp is Matt Kemp. Also, Matt Kemp. The Dodgers center fielder is batting over .400 and slugging over 1.000 in his first sixteen games. That can win you a lot of games when your opponents are the Pirates, Padres and Astros, whom the Dodgers played thirteen of their first sixteen games.

Things got a bit tricky for the Dodgers last week when they played three games against the Milwaukee Brewers, the defending National League Central champions. Unlike the Pirates, Padres and Astros, the Brewers have good starting pitching and a fairly well-balanced offense.

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Impact Index: Xavier The Savior

The Washington Nationals were a fashionable pre-season pick to steal the National League East title from the five-time reigning champion Philadelphia Phillies. Or to grab one of the two National League wild cards. Spring story lines focused on the Nationals getting a full season from young ace Stephen Strasburg, top performances from star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and first baseman Michael Morse, Jayson Werth living up to his $126 million contract, and an infusion of energy and offense midway through the season from super-young phenom Bryce Harper.

On the second Monday of the season, the Nationals find themselves atop the National League East with a record of 7-3. And while Strasburg has pitched well and Werth has shown flashes of being a productive offensive player, the Nationals owe much of their early success to their bench guys. That’s what happens when you play three extra-inning games in the first full week of the season. If your bench guys and relief pitchers come through, you win the extra-inning games. If they don’t, you lose.

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Impact Index: No Tom Foolery

It’s baseball season and it’s Monday. When those two things get together, you get the Impact Index.

Impact Index is a new weekly post where we highlight the efforts of baseball’s unsung heroes. The bench guys. The bullpen arms. The twenty-third, twenty-fourth, and twenty-fifth men on their team’s roster. The players who typically enter a game in the late innings, when the outcome of the game hangs in the balance.

Every Monday we’ll bring you the stories of a bench guy or reliever, or two, who had a significant impact on his team’s games during the prior week. Sometimes the impact will be positive. Sometimes it will be negative. But it will always be critical to the outcome of the game.

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