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Matchup/Game Thread Game Eleven at D-Backs 8:40 CST


Claudio Vargas   Wandy Rodriguez
1 - 0, 0.00    1 - 0, 4.50

Wow. I yield to no-one in my support of Wandy Rodriguez, but tonight he steps into the shoes of a number three starter.

And on long grim reflection today, I think that's a bit of a tall order for him. When the season's over, it may be that Backe and Wandy end up giving us about the same, but if it does end up that way, it'll much more likely be because Backe underachieved than because Wandy overachieved.

Those of us who had (still have!) high hopes for Backe this year had (have, goddamnit!) those hopes because we've seen his stuff, we've seen the tools with which he goes about his business. The step we hoped (still hope, still hope!) he would take was more of matching the results to the skills. Not saying he would do it, but this wasn't pie in the sky stuff. Backe was (IS!!) clearly capable.

Wandy tries hard. Wandy has good intangibles, for the most part. Wandy even has a distinctive pitch. But Wandy is not a third starter.

Backe is only out for six weeks. Teams get lucky all the time, and sometimes they even get lucky for stretches of six weeks. That's the kind of luck we need now. We need Wandy to get lucky and achieve over the next six weeks the results of a solid major league number three starter. He doesn't have to pitch like three starters do, he just needs to get their results. I'd say this would be something like a team record of .500, maybe a little plus in his starts, while going an average of six innings into them.

Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

'Course then you'll want Taylor to step into the four slot and win 40% of his games while going reasonably deep, and Nieve or Astacio to look like major leaguers. It can happen, but it's a lot of luck required, seems to me.

As saylinara noted last night, now Clemens knows we can't pretend we don't need him. And as ESPN noted the other day, bidding starts at eight figures. Get that checkbook ready, Mr. McLane.

I don't know whether Clemens could be ready to pitch before Brandon came back anyway, but unless Wandy totally freaks his diehard supporters out, and Taylor puts the rookie starter voodoo on the other teams for a change, we could have some catching up to do.

You can catch a well-explicated but slightly more pessimistic view of the situation over at The Juice Box.

Current D-Backs are 2 for 12 against Wandy. Counsell is 1 for 3, and Shawn Green has the vaunted 4.000 slugging percentage against him. Rodriguez went 5 innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two homers last August 4th at Arizona.

There's not a whole lot more data for the Astros vs. Vargas. The team hits .220 vs. him, and Lamb has a homer in three ABs. Vargas took the loss while going 7-1/3 August 2nd of '05, giving up all three runs in a 3 - 1 loss to Clemens. You may remember the game, it was the one where Chad Tracy took Rocket deep on his sixth pitch of the contest.

Wandy Power!™ May the homerless streak continue.