Game 87: Rays 4, Indians 0

Matt Garza struggled his last start (3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER), but didn't show many signs of that tonight, allowing just one hit and 1 walk in six innings. The Indians hit did the ball hard several times off Garza, including a line drive back to the Garza that he caught in self-defense. In the ninth, the Indians would have at least got on the scoreboard if not for a very nice defensive play by Evan Longoria, who turned a likely Andy Marte single into a double play. Austin Kearns followed with a double that would have plated at least one.

But what I really want to spend some time on is Aaron Laffey. Sure, he managed to pitch into the sixth inning this time, just an out away from attaining a modern quality start, but despite the results his stuff was alarmingly bad. The best velocity he could muster was (I believe) 85 mph, and that not only means that his fastball is now well below his normal high-80s velocity, but it makes his high-70s slider that much more hittable since there's not much of a velocity gap between it and his heater. Perhaps he's going through a dead arm period that's in some way related to his recent usage as a reliever, or perhaps there's something wrong with his arm, but either way he's not going to survive in the majors with that kind of stuff. The Aaron Laffey who had success as a starter was a pitcher who threw in the high 80s, got lots of ground balls, hit the corners, and mixed in an occasional slider or changeup to keep hitters off his sinker. This version struggles to hit 85, can't hit his spots, and is often missing high. Yes, he's getting away with it for now, but he's not going to be successful much longer. I'd guess that Carlos Carrasco is in the rotation after the All-Star Break, and Laffey will be on the DL; I just can't believe that that much of a drop in velocity is due to a tired arm.

Travis Hafner left today's game with stiffness in his back. He was scheduled to sit for tomorrow's game anyway (Santana is getting an "off day" and will DH), but back injuries sometimes linger longer than just a couple days.



Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Jhonny Peralta .038 Michael Brantley -.089
Frank Herrmann .034 Andy Marte -.087
Carlos Santana .009 Jason Donald -.082
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