Written on the Wall
Before today’s game on this very blog, we were wondering about the possible fate for Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz. We knew that the upcoming matchup for today would be hard, in the final episode of a crucial series against the Chicago Cubs, which we hope doesn’t come back to haunt the Astros at season’s end.
Hampton had a not-quite-flattering start and Ortiz, sadly, followed suit with yet another terrible start. The numbers kept on piling up, beyond 9 earned runs in 2.1 innings this Thursday.
It was much more than that. It was his 0-5 record in his last 10 outings, a 12.23 ERA in July. It was seeing that, in those few occasions in which Ortiz could do the job, needed a huge amount of pitches.
So Ed Wade had to pull the trigger. There wasn’t much to do. Ortiz was placed on waivers on an unconditional release.
We regret to see Ortiz leaving by the backdoor. He had a chance, and he worked trying to get his career back on track. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
This is the first step in trying to correct the strange case of a rotation in which the glass is either half full or half empty and there are no in-betweens. We go from the sublime with Wandy Rodriguez (10-6, 2.65) and Roy Oswalt (6-4, 3.61) to… the not that good with Brian Moehler (7-6, 5.16), Hampton (6-8, 5.36) and Ortiz himself (3-5, 4.75).
With a rotation with problems such as these, and a bullpen which has to keep on adding mileage because of so many iffy starts, so the winning path can look as quite dark and winding.
Does Bud Norris have what it takes? He does have a fastball. You saw it yesterday in his brief stint against the Cubs. He got his dream now and he is part of a Major League pitching rotation. The case is that now, he’ll have to prove every five days, that he indeed has what it takes. It’s time for definitions.
Definitions for Norris. And for the rest of the starters. Houston tries to stabilize a situation which, even with Ortiz departing, still looks quite complicated.