It's been a rough year for Colby Lewis. Even though 2014 has been an all-around awful season for Texas, there were some cautiously optimistic expectations for Lewis coming into the season. There was a hope that, after an unprecedented -- at least in the realm of baseball -- hip resurfacing surgery, we might see something left in the tank from the Colby Lewis from 2010-2012. Thus far, it hasn't happened.
I've seen it pointed out in several places -- the one that comes to mind first is Adam Morris over at Lone Star Ball -- Lewis's BABIP this season is historically bad, sitting at .423. Of pitchers with at least 75 IP in a season, it's the highest. Ever. The bad part about it has been that it's been more due to pitches left up in the zone than poor luck, meaning hitters are teeing off in historic fashion on a pitcher that earned his stripes pitching for the Rangers in the postseason.
So frustration in a season like this is normal, but what happened in Saturday's game against Toronto was odd, to say the least.
In the 5th inning of the game, while Toronto was leading 2-0, Colby Rasmus came to bat with 2 outs in the inning. He proceeded to lay down a bunt for a base hit, which drew the ire of Lewis.
I told [Rasmus] I didn't appreciate it. You're up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don't think that's the way the game should be played.
I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you're up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average.
[Rasmus] didn't steal within the first two pitches to put himself in scoring position. That tells me he is solely looking out for himself, and looking out for batting average. And I didn't appreciate it.
It's widely known that it's frowned upon for a hitter to bunt in an attempt to break up a no-hitter or a perfect game, or when his team is already up by a significant margin in the later innings of a game, but neither of those circumstances were true of the Rasmus bunt. In fact, the Rangers were basically daring him to do so anyways by playing the shift on him, leaving open a hole for Rasmus to do what he did.
Furthermore, it's well-known in baseball that Lewis lacks the mobility to effectively get off of the mound quickly to field on that type of play, so more than anything, it would seem that Lewis is upset at what he perceives as being taken advantage of. Yet, if that's the case, perhaps the Rangers shouldn't have put on the shift with their least mobile pitcher on the mound. If anything, Lewis should be upset at Ron Washington for putting the shift on to begin with.
In fact, as an opposing hitter, when the defense is playing a shift on you and you have a slow/immobile pitcher on the mound, I find it to be a very smart, baseball saavy move to lay down the bunt there. Colby can gripe about it all he wants, but I doubt he's going to get too many supporters for his cause, even in his own dugout, just because he doesn't quite have the mobility to make a play there.
This marks the 2nd time in the last month that Lewis has found himself barking at an opposing player. Last time, it was on June 24, and it was none other than former teammate Ian Kinsler. Now, in fairness, Kinsler brought the criticism upon himself by appearing to wave at the Rangers' dugout after hitting a home run off of Lewis.
So, the cases are different, but for a pitcher that is simply struggling to get hitters out right now, it's not exactly a good look for Colby to be creating fake controversies anytime he perceives to have been slighted. I think, more than anything in this case, it's not how I want to remember Colby Lewis if this is indeed his final season in Arlington. Given his results, that seems to be a coming reality, and I'd rather the last memories of him to not include being upset over petty self-created arguments and controversies.