An Appreciation of Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo is an accomplished musician.  But that’s not why you are reading this.  You are reading because you must like me and also because this writer has a certain affection for Bronson Arroyo, the pitcher.  Now, he won’t be remembered as one of the all-time greats nor as one of the best hurlers of his generation.  However, while his overall numbers may not jump out at you (130 wins, 120 losses, 4.19 ERA) there is no understating his value for the two teams he has pitched for during the bulk of his Major League career, the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.

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For instance, how many pitchers do you know that have thrown 200 innings or more seven out the past eight seasons?  I don’t know the exact number off the top of my head but I would venture to say it is not many.  The one year he didn’t hit the 200 inning mark was 2011 when he “only” threw 199.  In that span, Arroyo started 30 games or more in each of those seasons.  It could have been nine but he fell one short in 2004, the season the Red Sox won the World Series and  the year which he began to prove his worth as a pitcher both starting and relieving.  He has recorded double-digit victories in a season seven times.  As we continue through 2013, Arroyo is on pace for another 30 start, 200 inning, double-digit victory season.  With Cincinnati gunning for another postseason berth, it is worth noting that in his two starts for the Reds in the playoffs (2010 and 2012), he has given up only one earned run 12 1/3 innings.  He may not be on anyone’s list of top-flight pitchers but there is no mistaking the value and durability of Bronson Arroyo.

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This past Tuesday featured a serious brawl between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers.  If you want to see a video of it, click here.  Anyway, after all was said and done, LA’s Zack Greinke who was hit by the pitch in question was seen at first base chatting it up and even smiling with AZ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.  Some may wonder why the two of them were so friendly such a short time after their respective teams became so heated.  Fans of these teams may also not like the fact that one of their guys is speaking or joking with the “enemy”.

Truthfully, I don’t have a problem with the fraternization of players on the field.  I know that many fans and older players have an issue with it but I find it refreshing that guys that can compete so hard against one another and then are able to turn off the intensity when the time is right.  We see enough fighting in our daily lives from politicians duking it out on issues both locally and nationally as well as the day-to-day reports of shootings, muggings and every other crime that fills up a police blotter.  We always tell kids that sports are just games and attending sporting events is a way to get away from any problems that we may have.  It is nice to see that professional athletes who earn their living trying to beat their opponents into submission can also show a softer side on their field of play.   Talking or joking with the opposition doesn’t make them any less intense or passionate about winning.  It just make them realistic and human. 

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At 23-44, the Houston Astros are headed for another long season.  However, there have been some glimpses of what promises to be better days for the young squad led by first year manager Bo Porter.  Recently, the club swept four games from the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.  Catcher Jason Castro has put together a nice season with 8 HR’s, 20 RBI’s and a .266 batting average.  Jose Altuve has once again been playing a solid second base and is hitting nearly .300.  1B/DH Chris Carter, despite his high strikeout total has 13 home runs.   Porter has been doing a tremendous job with a club that basically has been ticketed for its third straight 100-loss season. 

The pitching is what has caught my attention.  For such a bad team and playing in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, two starters have ERA’s under 4.00.  Bud Norris leads the team with 5 wins and a 3.47 ERA and tops out at 95 on the gun.  Jordan Lyles has a 3.48 ERA and dominated the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, fanning 10 over seven innings while not allowing a run.  Lucas Harrell has struggled at times but he still is one of my favorite pitchers because he doesn’t fool around on the mound.  He has given up only one earned run over his last two starts covering a span of 14 innings.   Hopefully, the organization can get number one overall pick Mark Appel signed quickly and possibly see him in Houston by 2014.

The Astros will give some contenders fits as the playoff push begins.  Their goal will be not to lose 100 games and have their young talent to mature at the big league level.  This is a franchise that is heading in the right direction.

  Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com

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