Thursday, March 03, 2005
Giants Pitching Preview 2005: Is This the Untimely End of Woody?
Just as the Bermuda Triangle continues to baffle scientists everywhere, Kirk Rueter keeps on perplexing stathounds and traditional baseball analysts alike by continuing to win games despite featuring a pitching repertoire that makes Rick Reed look like Roger Clemens. Sadly, it looks like our beloved cowboy doll lookalike is hitting a nasty decline as he starts to get older. Where once his strikeout rates were low but passable, they've now entered the realm of ghastly. Last season Rueter struck out a measly 56 batters in 190 innings (while walking 66, no less), and his K rates have been steadily declining from their none-too-lofty levels with each passing year. Rueter has never been one to rack up the K's, but this is getting scary. You just aren't going to be able to consistently get major league hitters out this way. Frankly, Mulder and Scully are investigating why Rueter was still able to maintain even a subpar 4.73 ERA with these peripherals, when he should have been in the high-5's. There's certainly something extraterrestrial going on behind the scenes, because there's no other explanation for why Rueter can keep getting batters out. Is it luck? Park factors? A talisman? Maybe Deep Throat will divulge the secret of Woody to a nosy FBI agent late at night on a bridge somewhere before getting shot by a shady group of junkballers.
I really hate badmouthing Rueter, because he's become a fan fave over the years, and it just doesn't feel like a legitimate Giants season unless Woody is making 30 starts a year. But it just ain't looking good. He's at the point where no further improvement can possibly be expected, only a sharp, Mickey Rourke-esque decline from effectiveness. I don't have any educated guesses as to what kind of a year Rueter will put up, because he's always been sort of up and down in terms of ERA, but I will say that he's the most likely Giant starter to lose his rotation spot due to ineffectiveness. However, I thought these same things after 2001, and then Rueter busted out his best season as a major leaguer the next year. Still, the pessimism runs rampant. Remember when Mark Gardner just suddenly lost it in 1999? I'm having bad flashbacks to that when I think of Woody. Rueter could probably be a decent pitching coach after he retires, because few pitchers have made so much with such mediocre stuff than him.