Yesterday afternoon I weighed in on the Bochy-Pulling-Timmy-in-the-Ninth-Inning-Gate-Thing, and I haven't seen or heard any reason to change my mind. And you all know how I feel about Eugenio Velez. So let's move on to a much happier topic: The Wonderful Resurgence of Nathan John Schierholtz, pronounced "Shurr-holtz" as if he were a prairie gunslinger.
He is, sort of. Writers now refer to his right arm as if it were a separate entity. Word will spread quickly, as highlights of his throws this week were actually of interest to people in large East Coast cities. Schierholtz doesn't need to throw runners out. With his rep, you'll see runners hesitate to stretch singles into doubles when he has the ball in hand. You won't see anything in the boxscore, but it makes a big difference, especially with the leadoff hitter. A runner on second with no outs will score about 60% of the time; a runner on first with no outs, about 40%.
Nate doesn't have to hit with a lot of power to justify a starting job. Some commenters on this site think his power will arrive, now that he seems to be making adjustments and getting his swing together. It's a pattern he's exhibited at every step up the professional ladder. I'll be pleased as punch if he hits 15 homers; I just don't see big home run totals as long as he plays home games by the bay.
But if he slashes the ball around like he did yesterday, the home runs will matter less. He made hard contact against one of the toughest lefties in the league, and he didn't let up against Hamels' replacements. Schierholtz still isn't walking much, but as his dribbly infield hit against St. Louis showed, he's fast enough to get on base by putting the ball on the ground. So fewer strikeouts will help make up for a low walk rate. So far, in a very small sample size, his K rate this year is 11% compared to 16% for his career. His walk rate is 7.5% compared to 4% (yikes) for his career. Two tiny steps for Nate-kind!
* I just watched the replay of Velez's 11th inning at-bat. On a 2-0 count he swung at an inside curveball.