It’s an odd thing to say about a guy who is 4-0 with a 3.23 ERA, isn’t it? Then again, this is the first time Kyle McClellan has to bounce back after a rough outing as a starter at the highest level, and it will be very interesting to see how he handles it. It’s not exactly like he’s got an easy assignment against the 18-9 Marlins, either. Of course, starters go through this with regularity, so what’s all the fuss? I’ll explain by dropping knowledge like Prince Fielder drops carrot sticks. Consider McClellan’s first 5 starts:
- 3-2 no decision vs the Pirates, 6.0 innings, 95 pitches, 2 earned runs
- 8-2 victory over the Diamondbacks, 6.0 innings, 95 pitches, 1 earned run
- 9-2 victory over the Dodgers, 7.0 innings, 94 pitches, 1 earned run
- 4-2 victory over the Reds, 6.0 innings, 95 pitches, 2 earned runs
- 11-7 victory over the Astros, 5 2/3 innings, 80 pitches, 5 earned runs
Again, he’s undefeated with a 3.23 ERA, so what’s wrong with this picture? Maybe it’s just me being a tad nitpicky. Right-handed hitters are batting .329 against McClellan while lefties are only hitting .220. Naturally, his WHIP number was expected to rise, but he’s up around 1.435 which is 2nd highest and exceeded only by Jake Westbrook‘s WHIP of 1.879. If you’ve watched his starts and looked at his pitch count, you know that he’s playing with fire just a bit. He’s giving up 10.0 hits/9 innings, and his SO/9 rate is down to only 5.0 which would be a career low for a season for Kyle. Is there just a bit of a weak spot in the armor? Is he already hitting “the wall” as a starter? Does this “Honkin’ for Jaime” shirt make my hips look skinny? #shamelessplugisshameless
I’m not saying that McClellan needs to do anything specific against the Marlins. It would be ridiculous of me to inform our 3 loyal readers of how he needs to establish his fastball early and get ahead of hitters to set up some other random pitch blah blah blah. Anybody can spout that stuff. Just know that the Marlins have guys like Gaby Sanchez, Mike Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, and John Buck who can do work in a hurry, if he isn’t on his game. Besides, it’s not like he can just turn the game over to the Cardinals bullpen for the last 3 innings and go sit comfortably on the bench without a care in the world.
Against what I consider one of the tougher teams in the NL, coming off of a start in which he surrendered 5 runs and only lasted 80 pitches, I believe that this may be the start in which we truly find out whether Kyle McClellan has the mental makeup to do well as a starting pitcher or not. Weather permitting, of course.
TIDBIT: There certainly shouldn’t be any complaints about McClellan’s offensive output. He’s hitting .333 with 3 RBI this season. For what it is worth, I don’t think that he’s hit any wall as a starter, and conditioning probably isn’t a factor. Team’s are just being patient, and some are willing to wait for Franklin to pitch himself out of the game.
MORE BITS OF TID: For the sake of the Cardinals, I hope McClellan starts figuring out a way to get some quick innings. Yes, the team probably expected that the bullpen would be picking up the slack on a regular basis, but they probably hadn’t expected the bullpen to be in the shape it’s currently in, either.
Like it? Think McClellan can bounce back and shutdown the Marlins? Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and we’ll calculate his WHIP using an abacus or something!