Making your pitching debut for a new club is like showing up for the first day of school. You are eager to make a good first impression, so you feel a bit of pressure. The intensity of that pressure varies with the volume of the scrutiny you will be under and the newness of the experience. If you’ve been going to that school for years and you have a well-established reputation (Cliff Lee), there is only a little pressure. There is quite a bit more if you’re new to the school, even though you’re used to the idea of going to school in general (Carl Pavano). Worst of all is when it’s your first day of school anywhere, anytime (Carlos Carrasco). But no matter what, you have been given the opportunity to establish, refine, reinforce, or enhance your standing with the population at large based upon this first appearance - you want to do your best.
So it is obvious that Carlos Carrasco will be eating his lunch alone at the end of the table, and that a few spitballs may be coming his way. Looking at his pitching line from last night, you would have to conclude that he had a less than auspicious debut. Six runs, nine hits, and three walks over three innings. I suppose that might be considered a horrible start, but it seems so familiar that I can’t really find it contemptible. I thought maybe I was exaggerating when I said that every Indians starter, every Indians pitcher, was launched with similar fanfare this year. So I looked at the numbers, and it turns out that it isn’t much of an exaggeration. It is really quite astonishing.
I am not commenting on the actual talent involved, or the coaching, or the preparation. I am inclined to believe that fluke bad luck is the largest factor, though certainly not the only factor, in these collective results. The following is just an attempt to lessen the pain by sharing it and laughing at it.
Your 2009 first impressions – we’ll focus on the starters. There have been nine men to step into the 2009 Cleveland Indians classroom as starters. In order of increasing embarrassment…
April 15, Aaron Laffey
5.1 IP/3 H/2 R/2 ER/3 BB/5 K/0 HR
Aaron shows up to school properly dressed, with a decent haircut. The girls remark upon how he has started to look more and more like that dreamy older boy who used to go to school here, Jake something or other. Aaron’s entrance is solid if unspectacular, but, as you will soon see, the competition makes him look like Han Solo’s tougher, better-looking older brother who has a really good car.
So ends the portion of our program which contains starts that would not be considered bad.
April 12, Anthony Reyes
6 IP/3 H/4 R/4 ER/3 BB/2 K/1 HR
Anthony looks like he had a rough summer. The scars and scrapes and the ongoing bad luck aren’t making him anybody’s favorite. He sort of looks like the kid in Bad News Bears who says about Kelly Leak, “Es un bandido!”, after he has grown up and been run through a rock tumbler. Nobody wants to stand too close to Anthony because they’re afraid the jinx might rub off on them.
So ends the portion of our program which contains starts that would not be considered disastrous.
April 10, Scott Lewis
4.1 IP/7 H/4 R/4 ER/1 BB/3 K/2 HR
April 8, Fausto Carmona
5 IP/7 H/6 R/6 ER/2 BB/4 K/1 HR
May 7, Jeremy Sowers
5 IP/7 H/7 R/7 ER/3 BB/1 K/0 HR
Scott, Fausto, and Jeremy are the Three Musketeers (Scott = Aramis, Fausto = Porthos, Jeremy = Athos). Really, that’s how the three youngsters showed up – three-cornered hats with feathers in, cardboard swords, capes fashioned from their favorite blankies. It was really quite humiliating for these second-graders. They’ll be hearing about this for a while. Somebody is going to bring it up at graduation
April 6, Cliff Lee
5 IP/10 Hits/7 R/7 ER/1 BB/5 K/1 HR
Cliff is such a bad man that nobody really laughs when he shows up looking like a wreck on the first day, because they’re afraid they’ll be wearing their ass up around their shoulder blades. Sure, Cliff’s fine automobile has some mechanical problems on his drive to school, and in the process of fixing it on the side of the road he gets oil and soot all over his face, and ruins his shirt so that he’s forced to wear the only spare garment in his car – his girlfriend’s discarded Hello Kitty shirt. It’s frilly and too small. There is no doubt that he looks silly. Go ahead, look Cliff in the eyes and express your scorn and derision. But if you do… when you get to hell (in about 30 seconds), tell’em that Cliff sent you.
May 17, David Huff
3.2 IP/7 H/7 R/7 ER/4 BB/2 K/0 HR
September 1, Carlos Carrasco
3 IP/9 H/6 R/6 ER/3 BB/3 K/3 HR
These two little lads had their first day of school ever, and they blew it. They got lost, they were scared, there was some suspicious dampness in the groin area.
April 9, Carl Pavano
1 IP/6 H/9 R/9 ER/3 BB/1 K/2 HR
Carl has been around the block, or at least around the nurse’s office, so it is a mystery why he made the choices he did. I can see why he tripped so spectacularly when entering the classroom, those clown shoes are very difficult to walk in, but that doesn’t explain why he was wearing them. They didn’t go well with the lederhosen or the pink Steeler’s shirt. Never mind the bowl haircut, that awful Hitler mustache distracted you from that disaster.
As bad as Carlos started out, it was a close call between him and David as to who had the second-worst start. I gave the nod to Carlos based on the shorter outing and the 3 HR.
In case you were wondering, those starts result in an aggregate line of
38.1 IP/59 H/52 R/52 ER/23 BB/26 K/10 HR
‘good’ for an ERA of 12.21. Hey, they didn’t allow any unearned runs, that’s something.
Rather than step through the relievers, I’ll just offer the following: there have been 20 of them so far, and 10 have debuted with a scoreless outing, led by Justin Masterson’s 3 IP on August 1. The other 10* have made up for that competence and then some, leading to an aggregate line of
31.1 IP/34 H/20 R/20 ER/9 BB/32 K/6 HR/5.74 ERA