We had four vultures last week. I’m tempted to call them Ringo, George, John and Paul but that’s giving them WAY too much credit. Instead we’ll call them Dizzie, Flaps, Ziggy and Buzzie (BTW the fab four were SUPPOSED to voice these guys in the movie but they never did due to scheduling conflicts and John was opposed to the whole notion in the first place. Good call John! Never be a Vulture)
September 7th, Trevor Williams of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trevor was playing longman in this one, protecting a one run lead in relief of James Taillon. He’s a September call up for the Pirates and made his MLB debut on that night! As Debuts go it wasn’t bad at all. The lone run scored against him was due to a fielding error allowing Yadier Molina to reach 2nd Base. One ground out later and Molina parked at third. One soft single later and Molina scored to tie the game. Yes, yawn. Unexciting. I’d much rather be talking about Trevor’s second appearance on September 10th. He pitched one inning and allowed 4H, 3ER, 1 BB and 1 K, facing a total of seven batters.
September 9th, Alex Wilson of Detroit Tigers. After years of being the league laughing stock (at least on HBT and F-I) Detroit’s bullpen is finally shaping up to be an effective tool and Beautiful Brad can stop taking so many anti-acids whenever he lifts his arm to fetch a “lefty” or a “righty” from the pen while on the mound. You have to go back to 2012 to find a Detroit bullpen with a sub 4.00 ERA (and that year it was 3.79 not amazing by any stretch). Not that there aren’t worse bullpens out there. But for a team that is billed as a perennial contender, such a lousy bullpen performance is not going to cut it (cue Historio and the popcorn throwing).
Alex Wilson is one of the better BP pieces with a low ERA, but low K9 and a WHIP that is a tad too high for a high leverage relief arm. Case in point: protecting a one run lead in the 8th inning against the Orioles. You would think that it was a homerun (what with all the slugging power the Oriols boast). But no, this was due to a Hyun Soo Kim double (with Michael Bourn subbing in as pinch runner extraordinaire – hey it’s 2006 all over again for Michael) and Adam Jones tied the game with a single. And that’s how a perfectly good Michael Fulmer 7 inning start was ruined. But the Tiggers roared back with a Victor Martinez four-banger and K-Rod (I think I should call him Frankie, he doesn’t K a lot of people anymore) sealed the deal in the 9th.
September 9th, Raisel Iglesias of the Cincinnati Reds. This one is a bit unusual in that Raisel started the season in the rotation. In fact, he was also in the Reds Rotation last year. However after a bit of rough April and time away from the MLB roster, Iglesias returned as a bullpen piece. He’s faired much better in there. However I will say that I have to wonder if this move is temporary and whether the Reds will try him again as a starter; his numbers aren’t great but they’re not a disaster. In any case Raisel has embraced his role as the potential “new” Chapman (without the domestic baggage), pitching effectively in relief situations.
Anyway, Raisel had a bad 8th inning. Going for the 6 out save he just couldn’t buy an out. Single from Josh Harrison, single from John Jaso (Josh to third). Andrew McCutchen hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game (at least he got an out) then Gregory Polanco singled again. It’s almost like a Bugs Bunny Konga line at this point. Then Juno Ho Kang grounded mercifully into a double play before Raisel could complete his meltdown. It’s like tossing in the rods in the reactor pool before the free radicals go critical!
In the top of the 9th the Reds got back the lead in the boring single, sac-bunt, single, sac-fly fashion otherwise known as “manufacturing a run”. That’s a pretty expensive way to do that. They should consider outsourcing that run production. Now in the bottom of the 9th, Raisel gets a Mulligan and tries to go for a double Vulture of sorts: hit by pitch, hit by pitch, sacrifice bunt, intentional walk, popup and fly-out. If the Reds had been in the middle of a playoff race, that performance would have induced a number of cardiac arrests. As it is I’m sure it only induced early drinking and shouts of: “Are you TRYING to lose the game!?!?”.
Never has a W been so undeserved, You can tell the Pirates have completely sunk to the 10th level of Baseball Hell when you can’t score with that many freebies.
September 11th, Tyler Thornburg of the Milawukee Brewers. Tyler has graced our pages here before. In fact, he has accomplished the first vulture hat trick this season for any pitcher. THREE vultures in one season. Per our definition anyway. I’m fairly certain he will take away the prize this year. Condor Man!
As far as Vultures go, this was yet another pedestrian vulture of the thin red line variety. Coming in to relieve Zach Davies who had already thrown 7 innings of shutout ball, bringing him out in the 8th may have been one bridge too far as Matt Carpenter hit one back for a double. One ground out later and you have a man on third, one out and a one run lead. Tyler came in and got the remaining outs. Too bad one was a sacrifice fly and so the Thin Red Line makes a Condor Man out of Thornburg.
He would pitch the 9th as the Brew Crew took back the lead in the next frame and sealed the deal saving his own game. Not much fault to go around here except maybe the Manager. Maybe Davies and Tyler can split the W and each can hold a V for Victory.