Travis Ishikawa hit a three-run homerun off Brad Thompson in St. Louis tonight. A fairly thoughtful fantasy league site grudgingly complimented him for “filling in well for Rich Aurilia.”
In point of fact, Ishikawa is on a 16-for-48 tear (as a starter) since May 25th, with all five of his homers this year and half of his 24 RBI, in the thirteen starts. The reason he’s been nearly invisible is that between May 27th and June 17th, Ishikawa had started only one game for the Giants. After a pathetic start to the season, he had just begun to get hot when Pablo Sandoval’s arm acted up and made it impossible to make any throws on those few balls he gets to at third base. So Ishikawa hit the pine and Sandoval moved to first.
It is extraordinary to consider that Ishikawa was one of the toasts of the Cactus League after seven spring homers, then didn’t connect until May 25, then got hot as a pistol — and is still being viewed as a stopgap. The man is averaging just under an RBI per start, has whacked five homers in thirteen starts, and he still gets the Dangerfield treatment.
Meantime, raise your hand if you saw Chad Gaudin’s selection as Co-Player Of The Week in the NL and thought it was a typo.
Raise your hand if you’re not sure who he’s playing for.
Raise it again if you can’t remember if he’s a pitcher or a hitter.
Gaudin struck out 11 Mariners in seven innings of four-hit ball on Tuesday, then followed that up with probably as good a game as any visiting starter has thrown in Arlington: limiting the Rangers to one hit over eight, and striking out nine of them. Three starts back it was a six-inning, eight-K loss at Petco against Seattle. Even now his seasonal line (4-6, 4.97, 1.39) looks more than a little wobbly. It is, in fact, a picture of five very bad starts (two against the Diamondbacks, one each against the Cubs, Dodgers, and Angels) mixed in with eight really good ones, including those last three in a row.
There are several axioms at work here. There is always a pitcher who suddenly “gets” it thanks to instruction from new coaches or managers (how many organizations owned Johan Santana?). There is always another who is released by a contender (usually under ignominious circumstances, like Gaudin, dropped by the Cubs so they could keep Rule Fiver David Patton) and flourishes elsewhere. And there is always at least one who does the Brigadoon bit and pitches perfectly for a limited time and a limited time only (go look up Aaron Small). Gaudin could be any one of these guys and actually fulfill the glimpses of promise he showed in Tampa and then Oakland. Of course if he’s all three he could run the table and the Padres could challenge for the N.L. West after all.