The Nickel: 5-3, The Season: 32-24
The Developing Theme:
Regression to the mean. It couldn't last forever. And now, sadly, some of the guys aren't playing over their heads. The good news is that some are. Unexpected sources (Martinez, Kemp, Ethier) and the stars are contributing on offense, while the piching has been...just O.K.
Last nickel, the sarcastic comment was that "team WHIP skyrocketed from 1.16 in nickel 5 to 1.21 in nickel 6." Unfortunately, the change for this nickel is serious. Team WHIP was 1.50, which isn't very good at all. The relievers outperformed the starters again, both in ERA (4.01 for the relievers, 4.96 for the starters) and in WHIP (1.38 vs. 1.57). The relievers had more K's per 9 innings (9.5 vs. 6.6 for the starters), fewer HR's per 9 (0.7 vs. 1.4). Joe Beimel continued his dream season with a WHIP of 0.86, and Derek Lowe won two games going 13 innings with 6 K's, 3 walks, 1 run allowed and a WHIP of 1.00. He is clearly the best starter in the rotation now.
Both Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton looked ordinary, except for their strikeout rates. Chalk that up to tough luck, as 14.2 and 15.0 K's per 9 innings should yield above-average result in the long run. Broxton was a little wild (5 walks in 6 1/3 innings). Danys Baez (2.25 WHIP, 11.25 ERA) looked like an indistinct middle reliever who piled up a bunch of saves by pitching the ninth inning last year.
Brett Tomko continued to struggle (2.67 WHIP, 15.00 ERA, 2 homers in one start) and only went 3 innings for the nickel. Unfortunately, he was joined by Aaron Sele. Sele posted a WHIP of 1.67, and walked as many as he fanned (3). Not terrible, really, and with a team OPS of .858, you'd think his quality start would get it done. Finally, there's Jae Seo, who will be summarized in the reliever paragraph next nickel. Seo only pitched 6 2/3 in 2 starts in nickel 7, posting a WHIP of 2.40 and an ERA of 12.15. Hello, Odalis Perez
Off a little bit from their torrid pace of late (they posted an OPS of .898 in nickel 5 and .935 in nickel 6), the hitters still look like studs with an OPS of.858. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier posted OPS of 1.191 and .994, respectively. Kemp homered in 3 straight. I think it's safe to say that we won't be trading for an outfielder this June. Nomar is turning into a legitimate MVP candidate (assuming greater Dodger success ahead), with batting-title hitting, consistency (with an OPS of .988 for nickel 7, he's at it again), defense (perceived, at least), and star power. J.D. Drew keeps plugging along. His batting average of .263 for the nickel belies his OPS of .970--power and patience do that. Despite a hitting streak, Willy Aybar came back down to earth with an OPS of .720 for the nickel, and both Russell Martin (.658) and Rafael Furcal (.654) struggled. Jose Cruz struggled mightily, delivering an OPS of .528 for the nickel, and Jeff Kent didn't post anything at all. On balance, that's a pretty good nickel, and the team has stayed in the hunt for the lead with a red-hot Diamondback team.