Purgatory Online

Monday, August 30, 2004

Ramon Ortiz is once again unhappy with being demoted to the bullpen, a move the Angels are making to accommodate Jarrod Washburn's return (scheduled for Saturday). "I don't understand," Ortiz is reported as saying, "I do everything. I throw the ball very well. They don't respect me. I don't want to stay here."

Eh. Ortiz's latest stint as a starter, which has lasted just about a month now, would have to be classified as a qualified success. During that time, he made seven starts, going 2-2. He surrendered 25 earned runs in 46.1 innings pitched, a 4.85 ERA. He struck out 20, walked 10, and surrendered 9 home runs. Of those seven starts, he had one excellent performance (eight innings of shut-out ball against the Yankees), three I'd consider good (two against the Mariners, one against the Royals), and three that were rotten (against the Twins, Tigers, and Royals, that last one being the 21-6 game in which Ortiz appeared to lose his concentration after being staked to a 10-run lead; if you want to be generous, you could call that a so-so start). Ortiz did pitch well enough to keep the Angels in most of the games he started, but, as always, a lack of consistency bedeviled him.

Sele, meanwhile, has consistency but no potential. Over his last seven starts, he's gone 3-1, giving up 17 earned runs in 37.2 innings pitched, a 4.11 ERA, striking out 10, walking 16, and allowing 5 home runs. He's had one very good outing (Detroit), three I'd call pretty decent (Seattle, Minnesota twice), two stinkburgers (Seattle and Baltimore), and one incomplete (New York, in which he left the game after giving up one run in three innings because of a lengthy rain delay).

The advantage Sele has over Ortiz is that, while he's not going to dominate anyone, he will usually get the game to the bullpen before it gets completely out of hand. Since the 'pen is the best in the league, the Angels would rather be able to depend on their fifth starter to get the game to the sixth inning or so, rather than take the chance that Ortiz will blow up as often as he dominates. There's no reason to save the bullpen when your fifth starter goes - that's what Colon is for. Nor does Ortiz's argument that, in the past, he's won 15 or 16 games a year avail him; aside from the usual problems with measuring a starter by his wins, this year Sele has 8 wins in 19 starts, while Ortiz has 4 wins in 14 starts. Sele's ERA as a starter is 4.27; Ortiz's is 5.47.

That said, it's being reported that there will be five more starts for the fifth spot in the rotation. Looking at the schedule, it would appear that those five starts will be:

9/1 - at Boston
9/11 - vs. Chicago
9/16 - @ Seattle
9/21 - vs. Seattle
9/? - @ Texas (the exact date is sketchy, but it will very likely be in this series if a playoff spot is still not clinched)

Adjusting for the fact that Seattle is in there twice, Ortiz's 2004 ERA against those opponents is 5.50 in 52.1 innings, while Sele's is 5.40 in 43.2 innings (Sele has not pitched against Boston this year).

Update: I also buy Richard's argument that Ortiz will contribute more in the bullpen than Sele would. With Gregg looking shaky, Ortiz should prove an effective middle- to long-relief guy, allowing Shields to step into more of a set-up role and giving Gregg the mop-up/"stupid situation" relief job that Matt Hensley had before being sent back to Salt Lake.

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