Sunday, October 11, 2009

Padilla - From Outcast to Hero in 8 Easy Steps

Vincente Padilla was run out of Texas not by his manager, not by his general manager, but by his teammates. He was lazy they said. He kept putting them in danger by hitting the other team's player they said. He was not a good teammate they said. It didn't help that he wasn't performing overly well either. Baseball writers and bloggers (like this one) vilified him and castigated him for who he was and how he acted. But then on August 5, 2009, the Dodgers took him off the Rangers' hands and all he did with the Dodgers was go 4-0 in seven regular season starts and he just pitched the Dodgers into the National League Championship Series. Life is funny some times.

Padilla did not pitch well in Texas this year. He really hadn't pitch well for them since 2006 when he went 15-10 and was just barely over league average in ERA+. He also led the league in hit batsmen that year with 17. This year, while in Texas, he posted his worst strikeout to walk ratio (1.40) since 2005. His ERA+ in Texas from 2007 to 2009 went 78, 93 and 92. He really hasn't been a good pitcher since his 2002, 2003 seasons with the Phillies. Those two seasons with the Phillies cemented his head hunting reputation when he hit a combined 31 batters those two seasons. So how do you explain his success with the Dodgers?

You can claim it is pitching in Chavez Ravine and in that pitcher's park. That would fly if his strikeout to walk ratio remained what it has been. But it was more than that. With the Dodgers, his strikeout to walk ratio zoomed to 3.17! The highest his strikeout per nine innings statistic in his entire career was 7.7. With the Dodgers this year, it was 8.7. And you know what? He didn't hit a single batter with the Dodgers. Not one. So what gives?

Maybe what happened in Texas was a wake up call. Maybe he saw the end of his lucrative occupation looming if he didn't get his act together. Maybe he hasn't changed at all but is just the new guy to a new team to a different league and put it together for seven starts and a start in the playoffs. Who knows. All this writer knows is that he certainly aided the Dodgers when they limped down the stretch and fended off the surging Rockies to take the division title. All the writer knows is that he gave the Dodgers a magnificent start in Game 3 and put away the Cardinals for the season.

Some will say that the Rangers might have thrown away their chances when they threw away Padilla. This Fan doesn't think that can be said at all. Padilla was in a bad place there. His teammates simply didn't want him and that is not a workable arrangement. McCarthy took Padilla's spot in the Rangers' rotation and pitched more effectively than Padilla did there (not by much, but by some). So really, the Rangers didn't lose much of anything. But the Dodgers? The Dodgers gained four wins they were struggling to find and they gained a solid chance to get to the World Series.

No comments: