The top of the Rangers rotation is fascinating. Cliff Lee is the kind of control artist that comes around every other decade or so. C.J. Wilson is a reliever-turned-starter, and that gag never works. Two hundred innings into the season, and Wilson is still fantastic. He’s also kind of a character, too -- the kind of guy who could make you laugh while telling you not to slam around at a Minor Threat show.
Colby Lewis’s story is the most interesting of all. The Rangers had an idea they were going to contend, so they put a lot of money into the high-risk/high-reward Rich Harden. Good idea, but Harden got hurt. It wasn’t a devastating loss, though, because they also signed the low-risk/high-reward Lewis, who turned into one of the best starters in baseball. It’s impossible to describe how weird the story is without visiting the alternate dimension:
The Giants are close to re-signing Brad Hennessey. The right-hander left the Giants when he was removed from their 40-man roster, and he kicked around the minors before pitching two seasons for the Hiroshima Carp. Hennessey went over to Japan and dominated, posting a K/BB ratio of 9/1 in 354 innings. The Giants are confident that Hennessey will become one of the most reliable starters in Major League Baseball, and that he’ll lead the Giants to the World Series.
It’s an imperfect comparison, but it’s close enough to make you feel like you’re on peyote. I’m not sure what happened in Japan. If Hollywood has taught me anything, Lewis probably had to go to his pitching coach’s house, wash a bunch of vintage cars, paint a house, and sand a huge deck. Actually, it seems like Lewis turned the corner before leaving for Japan -- his last season in the Pacific Coast League was pretty good.
A quick list of the pitchers I worried about the most when the postseason started:
- Cliff Lee
- Francisco Liriano
- Roy Halladay
- Cole Hamels
- Colby Lewis
- David Price
- C.C. Sabathia
- Tim Hudson
- Tommy Hanson
- Andy Pettitte
Well, this is in the general sense; obviously, I worried about Lowe/Hudson/Hanson the most when the playoffs started. For some reason, Lewis’s command and strikeout stuff gives me the willies when I think of the Giants trying to hit it. So did Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Hudson, and Hanson, but this time I’m serious. I was jealous of the Rangers when they signed Lewis -- I’m a sucker for those high K-rates in Japan -- and I’m envious that they have him locked up for the next two seasons for the price of a couple of Barry Zito outings.
So he’s good. I just wish there were some way to feel confident that the Giants could do something against him. Say, a string of postseason games in which we were taught to set our expectations and preconceptions on fire. If we had that in our back pocket, I’d feel more comfortable writing something like, "I look forward to watching him pitch, and I look forward to watching how the Giants approach him" instead of the cynical nonsense I usually write.
I’m just glad he’s not Tim Stauffer, to be honest.