Sunday, June 7, 2009

Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain

Have you ever heard the baseball expression “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain”? The rhyme was popularized in 1948 and refers to the starting rotation of the Boston Braves, which included Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain and then an allegedly big drop-off in production from the rest of the rotation. If one considers the Victoria Seals starting rotation right now, the saying “Bibens-Dirkx and Hess and Forget the Rest” might be worth consideration.

Bibens-Dirkx got his third start of the season on Saturday night against the Chico Outlaws and it was his best so far. He threw seven scoreless innings and only gave up five hits to raise his record to 2-0. Most impressively, Bibens-Dirkx walked only one while striking out nine – identical numbers as his previous start.

Here’s a look at the numbers for Seals starters (WHIP = Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched):
  • Isaac Hess (1-0) 2.37 ERA 1.05 WHIP
  • Austin “Powers” Bibens-Dirkx (2-0) 3.86 ERA 1.47 WHIP
  • Eduardo Baeza (1-2) 4.74 ERA 1.16 WHIP
  • Travis Wade (0-2) 6.75 ERA 1.50 WHIP
  • Josh Karp (0-1) 19.29 ERA 3.14 WHIP - released
  • Roberto Sotolongo (0-1) 27.00 ERA 3.00 WHIP

The Seals really need Baeza and Wade to get into the win column more often. Baeza’s minor league numbers lead one to believe that he should see some success at this level of ball. One concern in his current numbers is the lack of strikeouts: only 9 in 19 innings. He averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings in three minor-league seasons, so there is room for improvement here. Another positive indicator is his low WHIP -- lower than Bibens-Dirkx's in fact. That tells me that Baeza could have just run into a streak of bad luck and is due for a rebound.

Travis Wade, who has played independent ball for the last six seasons, has struggled somewhat in the last three years. But if the Seals are to play over .500 baseball this season, they'll need more help from Eduardo Baeza and Travis Wade.