Anatomy Of A Lost Outing By A Lost Pitcher

Sherrill Pulled On Opening Day 2010

Joe Torre lifts a shelled George Sherrill on opening day 2010 (Courtesy AP)

Hello again everyone! It’s a miserable afternoon here in Michigan; cold, drizzling freezing rain, so cloudy and overcast that it’s hard to tell it’s still daytime.

Now that I have the cheerful, bright, and happy news out of the way, I thought I’d pass along a report on today’s appearance by the Braves designated LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY), George Sherrill. Let there be no doubt: not even Bobby Cox could put a postive spin on his results today.

Before I dig right in, let me remind you that I haven’t been a fan of this signing since Day One. Sherrill looked positively lost to me last year for the Dodgers, as Joe Torre somehow threw him to the wolves enough that he amassed 65 appearances with an ERA of 6.60. This is truly a hard thing for a relief pitcher to do.

In fairness, he was still effective against left-handed batters, which is apparently the job he was signed to do. Paying $1.4 million for someone likely to pitch maybe 40 innings seemed like a luxury to me, especially given the Braves limited resources (need I remind you of the need for a fourth outfielder?). And I wasn’t truly convinced that the battering Sherrill took last year wouldn’t carry over to this season, regardless of who he was facing.

The bad news for Braves fans is that he’s continued to get battered this pre-season. Even left handed batters have feasted on him, hitting .267, with him allowing them a 1.38 WHIP and 6.23 ERA before today’s debacle! From the outings I’ve observed, he looks just as lost now as he did then. I’ve read where Roger McDowell made some adjustment to his positioning on the pitching rubber that was supposed to “cure what ails him”, but it sure seems to me that this can be filed away with the thousands of other spring training “snake oil” remedies that have been touted over the years (man, even a crappy snake oil salesman would get rich during spring training, as it seems that every player coming off a bad year is supplied with a magic cure, every reporter passes it along, then everyone seems to forget about it when it inevitably fails. But I digress…).

So what happened today that I thought would interest you? Sherrill got hammered (and will probably get hammered tonight trying to forget about it :) !). Left-handed hitting Scott Cousins (he of the .227 spring batting average), led off with a double. Bret Hayes then walked. Right handed hitting Matt Dominguez singled to load the bases. Still no one out. Sherrill then retired right-handed hitting Emilio Bonafacio (career OPS of .623) on a grounder, scoring Cousins. Then former Brave Dwayne Wise (another lefty) doubled, scoring Hayes and Dominguez. Fortunately for Sherrill, Wise tried to stretch the hit into a triple and was thrown out at third. To celebrate his good fortune, Sherrill then gave up a single to noted “slugger” Osvaldo Martinez (who hits right handed), then hit the left handed hitting Josh Kroeger with a pitch. Mercifully, the right handed hitting Greg Dobbs (who hit .198 last year), grounded out.

Sherrill’s line looked better than he pitched, since Wise’s base running cost the Marlins at least a run and likely more, plus it made it look like Sherrill retired three batters rather than the two he actually got out. The line read 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. His ERA for the spring now sits at 7.88.

So what do I conclude? Based on the entire spring, I’m not convinced that Sherrill can be counted on to get anyone out, at least any more so than any scrap heap replacement level pitcher. While sample sizes are small, he appears to be an equal opportunity bungler who doesn’t discriminate based on which side of the plate you swing from. He certainly doesn’t seem to be worth his salary. But, with his guaranteed contract, you can bet that he’ll break camp with the big club. This looks like another example of ill-spent money, giving multi-million dollar guaranteed contracts to middle relievers. And in this case, a middle reliever with very limited capabilities.

OK, everyone, tell me what YOU think!

Tags: Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox Braves Frank Wren George Sherrill Los Angeles Dodgers

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