Earlier on Wednesday, John Sickels wrote about Chris Heston, drawing parallels to Matt Shoemaker. I read it and thought, "Hey, I want a Matt Shoemaker." Those things seem awesome. He helped the Angels win the AL West, finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, and will likely be a low-cost, effective pitcher for the next several years. If you can't develop aces and All-Stars, one of those will do nicely.
And then the rancid pudding cup of reality ruined everything. Heston can hang curveballs. He can throw the ball away from the target, and he can do it several times in every inning. His sinker can just kind of hang out in the middle of the strike zone, and his catcher occasionally has to reach all over the place to catch baseballs. Heston can pitch poorly, just like the rest of them.
We've seen a bad Heston start before, but it was in Colorado. Everyone gets a pass in Coors. Even then, his location wasn't that poor. The Rockies beat good pitches, mostly. On Wednesday, his location most certainly was that poor. His five-run third inning started with a high sinker, and it wasn't the last one of the inning.
After Austin Hedges looked lousy on two curveballs, this was Heston's 0-2 sinker:
That was Heston's day in one pitch, really. Missed location and an absence of luck. It could have been a double play with the right positioning, but it was also an 0-2 pitch that didn't deserve nice things.
Is a start like this something to worry about? Goodness, I hope not. Pitchers are allowed days like this, and it was nice for Heston to save his for the end of a lengthy winning streak, which keeps us from blowing this out of proportion. He should be fine. He's the team's ace, after all, other than that tall guy with the hair.
While it's a little jarring to see this iteration of Heston away from Coors, he's still a slice of pizza at a Chuck E. Cheese's that tastes like actual, edible pizza instead of mothballs and toes. You were expecting mothballs and toes, so everything that isn't mothballs and toes is a pleasant surprise. The Giants are regularly starting a pitcher who was eighth or ninth on their depth chart before the season, and it should have ended poorly. This start aside, he's still actual, edible pizza that has no right to be this good. There's no sense getting overly cynical after one bad experience.
Ian Kennedy came into the game with a 7.11 ERA. The last time he started against the Giants, he left the game in pain after just two innings. And yet, you knew. You knew exactly what was going to happen. He might not be as patently evil as Mat Latos yet, but he's at least part of Latos's crew, hanging out down at the creek and throwing rocks at frogs without any parental oversight.
A distribution of Kennedy's starts against the Giants in his career:
Zero earned runs: 5
One earned run: 6
Two earned runs: 5
Three earned runs: 2
Four or more: 4
Twenty-two Ian Kennedy starts, most of them were annoying, and I'm pretty sure I've seen them all. It's almost funny until you realize that he's never, ever going to leave the NL West.
Matt Duffy is playing like someone who knows that his competition is in a bad way.
Total double plays, 2015
Casey McGehee: 9
Pittsburgh Pirates: 9
Yeah, like that. While I'm still not sold on the idea that Duffy is automatically a better hitter just because McGehee has had a miserable first 100 at-bats, I also don't cringe when routine grounders are hit to him, and he also doesn't look like a Jeep tumbling down a flight of stairs when he's running the bases. While it's still too early to give up on anyone -- and while it's much, much too early for Bruce Bochy to give up on a veteran -- it would surprise me if Duffy weren't in the lineup until his next 0-for-4.
Brandon Belt is another player who has fought through a nasty slump this year, but he was already showing signs of snapping out of it, taking all sorts of tough pitches when the Giants swept the Dodgers earlier in the year and busting out with a three-hit game in Coors. Then he sat for three days before getting shoved in lineups against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and then he sat again.
I'll take this performance today as a continuation of that hot streak he was about to go on earlier, then. I've retconned the week in the middle out of existence.
I already miss the winning streak. Poor little guy. All abandoned and lonely.