Blogservations 08/16/09: Marlins and Rockies go halfsies on a doubleheader


As the title implies, the Marlins and Rockies split a doubleheader today, with the Marlins taking the first game and the Rockies taking the following one. Neither game was particularly close, and I didn’t see either one, so there won’t be much to say here. Still, here’s what I think.

Chris Volstad looked bad.

And it wasn’t even the home run! Chris Volstad’s start was not particularly pretty. He started poorly, giving up a home run to Carlos Gonzalez followed by two walks and was lucky to get away with a double play to end the first inning. He settled down a bit but was never in trouble of losing a lead, as the Marlins offense exploded on Rockies starter Aaron Cook. Volstad only gave up a run, but it was one of the more ugly starts for him this season, and the signs as of late have not been impressive. In his last six starts including this one, Volstad has racked up only 19 strikeouts while walking 17 while giving up three home runs. That’s surprisingly low given Volstad’s propensity to the long ball.

To his credit, Chris was able to keep the ball on the ground and induce 50% of his balls in play as ground balls, some of which just happened to sneak by today. As a whole, over the last six starts, Chris has a 53% GB%, particularly important for him given his bad luck on home runs this season. He has the stuff, maybe the location needs some assistance.

Rick Vanden Hurk was good…ish

Most impressive about Rick VandenHurk’s start in the second game was his nine strikeouts compared to three walks. Unfortunate for Rick were the three home runs he gave up to the Rockies, which carried them to a win. Through this start, VandenHurk has compiled an impressive 2.54 K/BB ratio (33 strikeouts versus 13 walks). However, in that similar time frame he’s allowed nine home runs.

I won’t go too in detail about VandenHurk’s start now, since I’ll be doing a Pitch f/x look at him a little later, but let’s see what his home runs looked like, courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

Of the three home runs he allowed, this one was the most blatant. VandenHurk served up a fastball directly down the heart of the plate, adn even a popless player like Clint Barmes was able to take it out. The others were not so terrible. In particular, the Brad Hawpe home run in sixth inning was ridiculous.

According to Pitch f/x, that slider was almost in the dirt, barely above 0 feet in vertical height according to the flight path, and yet Hawpe golfed it for a home run. You simply can’t blame VandeHurk for that. Aside from those three pitches, he was mostly able to stay out of trouble though. Still, with the Marlins already having Volstad in the rotation, they can’t afford to have another starter blowing good starts with home runs, and the trend so far VandenHurk has been just that.

Marlin bats are still smoking.

The Marlins reached their thirteenth consecutive game with 10 or more hits yesterday evening in the loss versus the Rockies. That more than doubles the team’s previous streak. While last night they couldn’t capitalize on the hits, in the first game there were all sorts of timely swings, including Volstad’s bases loaded single in the second followed immediately by Chris Coghlan’s three-run homer over the left field scoreboard.

In particular, Coghlan continues to be on fire. Since the All-Star Break, Coghlan is batting .365/.411/.565 in 125 PA. He hasn’t kept up the walk pace he was on earlier in the season, as he appears to be more aggressive right now. When I first did my piece on projecting Chris Coghlan, I pointed out his patience in terms of Swing%. At the time, he was swinging about 57% of the time on pitches in the strike zone. Now, Coghlan’s up to 59% in that type of swing, and he’s overall swinging at around 40% of his pitches, up one percent from earlier in the year. His aggressive approach has dropped his walk totals for the half; he’s only walked nine times in those 124 PA.