Power means more than youth late in games

Updated: July 28, 2009

Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

Franklin Morales provides the Rockies with a powerful, though young, arm late in games.

Franklin Morales' pitch was one of those mistakes the Rockies will live with. It's all for the sake of development.

The 21-year-old left-hander, who on Sunday had thrown a blowaway set-up inning by touching 97 mph, on Monday night threw a changeup that Fernando Tatis hit into the night for a grand slam that gave the Mets the win. But, of course, that win turned out to be a sidebar from a long, confusing day of press briefings to explain a news conference to explain a firing that should have been handled with a one-page press release. The madness that stemmed from general manager Omar Minaya's handing of the ousting of vice president of player development Tony Bernazard certainly loomed larger than any win -- or any one pitch.

And one pitch doesn't end the Morales project. He had thrown 15 1/3 previous innings with a 1.76 ERA and 15 strikeouts. Oh, there were some shaky moments, but his stuff has been dominant. The four gopher balls are part of the process.

This past weekend, the Rockies brought up their best pitching prospect, 21-year-old Jhoulys Chacin. He had been a starter in Double-A, but the decision was made to break him in, along with Morales, in the majors.

"We want to give them a chance to develop, and this may be a good way to do it," says Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd. "We may have two exceptional arms in front of Huston Street."

And while O'Dowd is looking for a veteran to throw into the mix, the idea is clear: get as many power arms as possible for the wild card run. "This is the way Baltimore used to develop their young pitchers," says O'Dowd. "I remember they did it with Storm Davis and Mike Boddicker."

Earlier, the Orioles did it with Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez and Scott McGregor.

And while developing future starters, they are looking for the next 2002 Francisco Rodriguez, who showed up in Anaheim in September and powered the Angels to a World Series title.

The Rays will soon bring up Wade Davis and put him into that seventh/eighth-inning role. The Rangers will soon do the same with Neftali Feliz. The Yankees have done it with Phil Hughes, who essentially turned their season around and went into Tuesday with 22 1/3 straight scoreless innings in 16 appearances dating back to June 10. The Red Sox have done it with Daniel Bard, who, according to Inside Edge, is the second-hardest thrower in the American League and is beginning to be the eighth inning guy. That happens when you have 36 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

The 30-something veterans with their sinkers and sliders are fine and dandy, but if you've got a Hughes or Bard, Davis or Feliz, Morales or Chacin, why not try them in the eighth inning?

"They may be a lot better years from now as starters," says Yankees manager Joe Girardi, "because they know how to get important outs."

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: July 27 | July 26 | July 24 | July 23 | July 22

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPSITUATION
Adrian Gonzalez, SD27ArroyoTop 3: 0-1, 1 Out. None on.
Adam Dunn, WAS26VillanuevaTop 4: 1-1, 0 Outs. None on.
Jermaine Dye, CWS23BakerTop 6: 3-2, 2 Outs. None on.
Ryan Braun, MIL21BalesterBot 6: 2-2, 2 Outs. None on.
Evan Longoria, TB20SabathiaBot 5: 2-1, 2 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Tuesday's homers

ON DECK: WEDNESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Blue Jays at Mariners, 4:40 p.m. ET

Roy Halladay is scheduled to take the mound for the Blue Jays. You know what question is coming next, right? Will this be his final start with Toronto? One thing is for certain: Halladay doesn't really seem fazed by all this trade talk. With all the rumors swirling, Halladay has tossed back-to-back complete games.

Yankees at Rays, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Matt Garza is coming off a complete-game, nine-strikeout, zero-walk win against the Blue Jays. It was only the second time this season he has not permitted a walk. Joba Chamberlain has won his past three decisions and has not lost since June 18.

Dodgers at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

The two starters, Joel Pineiro and Clayton Kershaw, both enter with ERAs lower than 3.00. Kershaw (2.96) has won his past five decisions despite leading the National League in walks. Pineiro (2.95) has won his past three starts.

For the rest of Wednesday's schedule, click here.

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BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Eduardo Perez, Chris Singleton, Steve Phillips
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Eduardo Perez, Chris Singleton, Steve Phillips

BBTN MINUTE: BUEHRLE FLIRTS WITH PERFECTION

WEB GEMS

TUESDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Wainwright• The Dodgers have the best record in baseball, though that didn't seem to matter to Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals right-hander silenced the Los Angeles bats, tossing eight shutout innings before handing the game over to the bullpen in the St. Louis rout. Wainwright, who scattered eight hits, has won four of his past five starts.
WORST
Papelbon• Red Sox pitchers gave up quite a few hits -- 21, to be exact -- in a 9-8, 11-inning loss against the A's at Fenway Park. Jonathan Papelbon blew the save by giving up three of those hits -- and three runs -- in the ninth as Oakland pushed the game into extra innings.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Halladay

The trade deadline is Friday, and quite obviously Roy Halladay is the most sought-after prize on the market. Entering Tuesday's action, no pitcher in baseball had racked up more wins since 2006. Over the same span, his 832.1 innings pitched and 24 complete games are also tops in the majors.

Any team that acquires Halladay is getting a workhorse that goes deep into games, attacks the strike zone and doesn't work himself into trouble by giving opposing hitters three-ball counts.

Halladay takes the hill for the Blue Jays on Wednesday when the Blue Jays finish their three-game series with Seattle. Halladay has thrown complete-game shutouts in his past two appearances against Seattle (July 22, 2007 and June 30, 2008), and he's thrown two career complete games at Safeco Field, one of only five ballparks outside of Toronto where he has multiple complete games in his career.

Roy Halladay (2009)
AL rank
IP/GS 7 1/3 1st
Strike pct. 69.0 1st
First-pitch strike pct. 68.6 1st
Three-ball count pct. 11.7 1st
Percentage of pitch type thrown:
Fastball Curve Slider Change
Past 5 starts 58 20 16 6
First 15 starts 65 13 19 3

Oswalt is throwing his curve and change nearly twice as often as earlier in the season, and he's throwing them for strikes. Oswalt has helped lead the Astros' charge up the NL Central standings.

The Astros are 15-9 during Oswalt's hot streak (entering Tuesday), compared with 32-37 before Oswalt found his groove.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF WEDNESDAY'S GAMES

Fantasy Tristan Cockcroft examines the 15 games on Wednesday's slate.

Cockcroft ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound, and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Wednesday. Daily Notes