So it looks like Cappy is hurt and probably will be out for the season. Therefore, the pitching rotation is set. This week here at Cerve we’ll eulogize Cappy’s 2008 NL Cy Young Award chances, while taking a look at other some other pitchers.
You’re totally going fall in love with Carlos Villanueva.
I relate to Villanueva because he’s a full 11 months younger than me. Just a couple of guys, starting out in the pros…
The first game he pitched in last year was in L.A. He walked the three Dodgers he faced, they all came around to score once he was pulled out of the game and the Brewers lost by a run. When the team returned to Milwaukee, the papers said he showed up early on Friday — Opening Day — and went straight to his boss’ office.
“Don’t give up on me,” Villanueva said. “I didn’t have any excuses, I just knew I needed to go out there and be aggressive with my fastball.”
That’s right. Be aggressive. B-e aggressive. So Villanueva quickly became the go-to-guy to hold games together when the Big 3 of the starting rotation fucked up (which, after May, was often). He’d come in off the bench and pitch six innings in relief, going right after guys with his fastball. He’s not a’scared a’nothin’.
Picture Villanueva as Michael Corleone from Godfather I:
“They want to have a meeting with me, right? It will be me, McClusky and Sollozzo.” (Or Zambrano and Jake Peavy) “Let’s set the meeting. We get our informants to find out where it’s going to be held. Now we insist that it be held in a public place, a bar or a restaurant” (or a baseball stadium) “where there’ll be other people there so I’ll feel safe. They’re going to search me when I first meet them, right? So I can’t have a weapon on me.” (change-up) “But if Clemenza can figure a way to have a weapon planted for me,” (fastball) “then I’ll kill them both.”
But Villanueva grew up as a starting pitcher, and in the second half of the season, you could tell coming off the bench was wearing on him. He was struggling, and just when he seemed to get his stuff back — pitching 3 perfect innings against Arizona in route to his first Save — he was sent down to the minor leagues. There was momentary panic, until we realized he was sent down to polish up, and to return, as a starter.
He pitched six innings FTW in his first game as a starter, in the first week of September, when the Brewers and the Cubs and the Card were limping toward the division title.
“I know the fans love it,” he said. “It’s stressful at times for us but we’re here to give the fans a show.”