Let me start off by saying I'm making zero correlation between Colby Lewis' rough 5th inning last night and his recent sojourn to California to attend the birth of his second child. But let me continue by saying I'm starting to get worried.
Because -- even though it's early -- the tenor of Lewis' 2011 performances are starting to sound like Scott Feldman's in 2010.
You remember Feldman. After a sparkling 2009 in which he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA behind down-and-dirty stuff that induced grounder after grounder, he was named 2010 Opening Day starter but never found a rhythm. After his early-season mediocrity, we'd hear things like "I'm not quite there." His velocity was down. His control was off. He just wasn't as good.
The result was a 7-11 record with a 5.48 ERA and a season that ended with him being placed on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his knee in August. He had off-season microfracture surgery on the knee and hasn't pitched for Texas this season.
Which brings us to Lewis.
You remember him. Cliff Lee be damned, Colby was the Rangers' best pitcher in the playoffs last Fall. In four starts he was 3-1 with a dominant 1.71 ERA. He beat the Yankees twice and recorded the only World Series win over the Giants.
After losing last night to the Blue Jays, Lewis is now 1-3 with an ERA -- 6.95 -- that sounds more like an interstate. Though his fast ball encouragingly climbed over 90 mph last night, his velocity is still down. Same for his strikeouts, with only 17 through four starts.
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Most alarmingly, he's allowed seven homers in his last 16 innings, inclulding three in the 5th of the 6-4 loss to Toronto. Granted, he made a good two-out, 0-2 pitch to Corey Patterson -- up around his eyes -- that somehow landed in the seats. But by the time he surrendered a bomb to Jose Bautista and another two-run dinger to Juan Rivera, Lewis walked off the mound with his team trailing 6-0.
Tommy Hunter is lurking as a replacement. So is Brandon Webb, who yesterday threw two scoreless innings in Arizona. And maybe at some point Feldman will be back in uniform and back in form.
With only one good Major League season on his resume, counting on Lewis to duplicate last year is to taunt the curse of the one-hit wonder. Feldman fell victim to it. Is Colby headed the same direction?
Still, at 14-8 the Rangers don't have near as many problems as about the same time last season. Geez.