Is there anything more frustrating at this point in the season than seeing Jimmy Gobble come trotting in from the bullpen? More specifically, is there anything more maddening than seeing him come in when it's not in a LOOGY situation? It's painfully obvious to most Royals fans (and surely Gobble himself) that Gobble is simply our mop-up man. Where did his season go awry?
I decided to track his season....hitter-by-hitter, hoping to possibly find some hint of what has happened to ol' Yimmy.
Here is the Yimmy Yobble Breakdown by month, with some of my thoughts/commentary thrown in. I apoligize in advance for any math errors you may find. My editor is on vacation this week.
APRIL: Number of appearances: 9
Team Record in appearances: 4-5
Struck out J.Mauer Strikeout J.Molina
Struck out J.Kubel Sac Fly J Lopez
Struck out J.Morneau Fld Chc M Ellis
Flyout J.Mauer Double V Martinez
Flyout J.Giambi Walk Garko
Walk Ichiro Single J Carroll
Strikeout Ibanez Strikeout A Cabrera
Groundout G.Anderson Double F.Gutierrez
Triple D.Barton Walk A.Marte
Flyout J Cust Flyout Rolen
Strikeout Hafner Walk M. Bradley
Fld Chc Overbay TOTAL: 11 PA, 2K, 3H, 3BB (6 of 11 onbase)
TOTAL: 15 PA, 6K, 1H, 1BB
--Jimmy started off the season strong with his 1 inning, three strikeout performance against the Twins in a 4-3 loss. Honestly, April was probably his best month. The first 11 batters off of Gobble did not get a hit, and his only truly poor performance was the 15-1 loss to Cleveland. In a developing pattern, his numbers against lefties are very strong. Also, ground balls are not his strong point (3 of 26). Look how much tougher of hitters are in the lefty group than the righty group as well. At this point in the season we had no idea what Gobble would turn into.
MAY: Number of appearances: 10
Team Record in appearances: 2-8
Single Kotchman Single T. Hunter
Flyout Kotchman Strikeout B. Wood
Strikeout G. Anderson Single K.Millar
Fld Chc L. Scott Double W. Helms
Flyout L.Gonzalez Groundout M. Treanor
Strikeout J Hermida Flyout C.Ross
Flyout M Jacobs Single A.Amezaga
Fld Chc D.Ortiz Groundout H Ramirez
Walk Ellsbury Strikeout D Uggla (last winning game)
Flyout D.Ortiz Flyout M. Ramirez
Flyout J.Inglett Strikeout M.Lowell
Strikeout L Overbay Double Pedroia
Strikeout B Wilkerson IBB M.Ramirez
Flyout Morneau GrandSlam M.Lowell
Strikeout J.Kubel Strikeout K. Youkilis
Flyout M.Lamb Flyout M.Scutaro
TOTALS: 16PA, 5K, 1H, 1BB Flyout S.Stewart
Rch on Error K.Mench
TOTALS: 24PA, 4K, 7H, 2BB
(10 of 24 reach base...one by error)
--Look how many more PA's against Righties....50% more than his PA's against Lefties. That's not good usage. He only had 26 PA's in all of April, and in May there were almost that many agasint righties. 5 out of 40 PA's were ground-ball outs.
--Somewhere in May marked the beggining of the end of Jimmy Gobble's confidence and/or Trey Hillman's confidence in Jimmy Gobble. The month began with the infamous Jimmy Gobble-Casey Kotchman match-up. For a quick recap: it was 0-0 in the top of the 9th. Soria had been used three days in a row, so he was unavailable. This was also before we'd realized how good Mahay is. Tomko had one of his few good outings, and Ramirez had made it one out into the 9th with a runner at third when Trey brought in Gobble (a fly-ball pitcher) to face Kotchman--the rare lefty with better numbers against lefties (.338 this year, .296 career) than righties.
Gobble lasted one pitch....a go-ahead single. This may've been the beginning of Gobble's fall. But he sure didn't think so afterward:
"I'd take that pitch 0-0 any day. You're not trying to throw a two-strike slider right there," Gobble said. "I'm trying to get ahead with a purpose, and it was borderline away...What can you do?" Gobble said."Scratch your head a little bit and go get 'em tomorrow."
Despite the high-leverage loss, Gobble rebounded very well afterwards, throwing in five scoreless outings. In fact, his May 18 appearance in a 9-3 win at Florida is the last time he's appeared in a game that the Royals have won! Gobble's confidence was surely restored.....until he blew up in Boston, giving up a grand salami to Lowell to help ignite the 12-game losing streak for the Royals. To his credit, he responded with two scoreless mop-up innings in Toronto, and had a string of what-should've-been 7 straight righties retired. He even threw two scoreless innings in the 8th & 9th against the Twins (Mark Teahen inside-the-park vs. Nathan game). At this point his ERA is 4.80, and he's likely starting to see a slide down the bullpen totem pole as Ramirez, Nunez, and Mahay are starting to assert themselves. Confidence wavering....
JUNE: Number of appearances: 7
Team record in these games: 0-7
Flyout B.Abreu Single Dye (8th inning mopup loss)
Flyout J.Giambi Flyout Swisher
Single J.Hamilton (up 5-2) Walk Crede
GrandSlam D.Murphy Single A.Ramirez
Flyout J.Bowker Flyout O.Cabrera
Double R.Ankiel (down 9-4) Walk C.Quentin (15 inning game)
Groundout C.Duncan HR P.Konerko
Flyout A.Kennedy Single D.Jeter (tie game 10-10 in 8th)
TOTALS: 8 PA, 0K, 3H, 0BB Walk M.Bradley
Groundout E.Burriss (9th inning mopup loss)
TOTALS: 16 PA, 0K, 6 H, 4 BB
--Twice as many PA's against righties than lefties? Gobble has likely lost all confidence by now. He went all month without striking out a batter. Contrast that with April, where he struck out 8 in 26 PA's....he went 0 for 24 in June. Walks to righties started to become more of an issue, as well. He only got 3 of 24 PA's to result in a groundball out as well. And notice the situations he was brought into: mop-up vs ChW, the 15th inning vs ChW (nobody else is left to use in the pen), the NYY game where we'd already given up 10 runs, etc. The only game he entered with a lead was the Texas game. Unfortunately he gave up the grand slam to David Murphy and lost the game for the Royals. Surely he wants to get back into more meaningful innings, but with performances like this, can you blame Hillman? Hopefully this is rock-bottom.
JULY: Number of appearances (so far): 4
Team record in those games: 0-4
Flyout N.Markakis HR B.Roberts (down 6-3)
Single A.Huff Strikeout K.Millar
Flyout L.Scott Single D.Navarro (down 7-0)
Flyout E. Hinske HBP A.Iwamura
Flyout R. Brignac Groundout B. Upton
Flyout C.Crawford Single E.Longoria
Strikeout C.Pena Flyout W.Aybar
Strikeout R.Brignac Single D. Navarro
Flyout C.Pena Walk J.Gomes
Walk J.Thome (down 7-4) Walk S.Riggins (8th inning mop-up)
TOTALS: 10 PA, 1H, 2K, 1BB Flyout J.Gomes
TOTALS: 14 PA, 4 H, 1K, 4 BB, 2 HBP
--And the wheels have fallen off against righties. It's not even somewhat-respectable anymore. Gobble is purely mop-up...aka Yabuta & Nomo territory right now. 10 of the last 14 right-handed hitters to face Gobble have reached base. His control against righties has disappeared, and there's only one ground-ball out in 24 chances? Want to know how many times Gobble has retired two righties in a row the two months (not two in the same game...just two in a row...anytime)? Once. (LaRue & Ludwick back in late June). His string of PA's against righties is mired with garbage. Ugh Jimmy. U-g-h. Or should that be D-F-A?
Gobble vs. Lefties: .149/.231/.277
Gobble vs. Righties: .400/.530/.720 !!!!!!!!!!!!
His splits are more extreme than at any point in his career. In fact, in 2004 & 2005 lefties hit him better than righties. Surely the new arm-slot and delivery are part of the reason. But even last year his splits weren't this extreme (.241 vs. .319)....and he faced more righties than you may have remembered last year (123 vs. left & 104 vs. right). Do we count this season as a fluke? Relegate him to LOOGY status? If so, whose time does he take? Ramirez? Mahay? Continue to use as bullpen janitor/mop-up/garbage-time guy? Dump him completely and hope he makes it through waivers?