So I stood by Bobby Cox Sunday when he said he didn’t want to talk about any future decisions regarding Kenshin Kawakami, though he added, “He’ll make his next start.” Why? By default. Jair Jurrjens has at least another week of rehab left.
And then I stood by Kenshin Kawakami as he deflected no criticism (a commendable character trait of his) and said of possibly losing his starting job: “I haven’t thought about that much. But being a starter, I’m not really doing my job right now, so I’m ready for anything that is coming.”
Kawakami is baseball’s only $23 million fifth starter. He also has the distinction of being 0-9 for a first-place team. Only three other pitchers in the majors have lost as many games: Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez (3-10), Cleveland’s David Huff (2-9) and former Brave, now of Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton (1-9).
The Indians are in last place. The Pirates are in last place. The Astros are one-half game ahead of the Pirates. See where I’m going with this?
Yes, Kawakami has received little run support in some starts but that hasn’t really been the case of late. He was handed a 4-0 lead Sunday against Kansas City and promptly doused it with gasoline and lit a match to it. He also committed his third error in his last two starts.
Further — and this is where all of those, “Oh, stop picking on him, meanie; don’t you know the Braves don’t score for him?” arguments fall apart — Kawakami’s ERA is 4.78.
Once again, because some of his defenders ignore this number: 4.78. That is the worst ERA on the staff among active pitchers, save reliever Jesse Chavez (7.33), who doesn’t really count. Kawakami also is yielding the most hits per nine innings (10.2), has allowed the most home runs (nine) and, it follows, the highest slugging percentage (.478).
Stop the madness.
If Jurrjens is cleared following his next start at Gwinnett, this should be an easy decision for Cox: Keep Kris Medlen (3-0, 3.67 as a starter) in the rotation and put Kawakami in the bullpen. Granted, middle relief is not what general manager Frank Wren projected when he gave Kawakami a contract for over $7 million per year. But Kawakami has shown an ability to strike people out. So maybe there’s something to salvage from this.
Think of it as salvaging the rear bumper after a front-end collision.
I can pretty much guess which way sentiment is going on this. I’ve got a poll up also. Let me hear ya.
Last five posts on replay (no charge)