These moves have paid off with a more determined, gritty Leaf team than some expected, and has balanced, if not shifted, the antagonism. The Leafs can now at least match the Devils hit for hit—and cheap shot for cheap shot. Fortunately for the Devils, none of the remaining Toronto forwards seemed offensively potent at the series' outset. The Devils were getting offense not from their celebrated "A" line of Jason Arnott, Patrick Elias, and Petr Sykora, but from Alexander Mogilny and Scott Gomez, who work the third line. Plus, Gomez has shown signs of inheriting Lemieux's shit-disturbing role. Now if the A line and the power play kick into gear, the tailgaters can stock up on charcoal briquettes.

Take Out the Trachs

While a personal four-game losing streak for a starting pitcher at the beginning of a season isn't necessarily an indication of long-term results, Steve Trachsel's new career as a Met is already showing signs of living down to his old one with Cubs, Devil Rays, and Blue Jays.

When the Mets signed him as a free agent over the winter, much was made of Trachsel's (perceived) reputation as a hard-luck pitcher whose 68-84 lifetime record was due primarily to a lack of run support. After all, optimists pointed out, this is the same guy who, while pitching for lowly Tampa Bay last year, bested Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez in back-to-back 1-0 games. Well, lo and behold, in Trachsel's first four Mets starts, covering 19 innings, the team scored a pitiful total of 4 runs for him. Only trouble is, he gave up 23 in return.

And therein lies the real problem. Take 1999, for example, when Trachsel led the majors in losses with an 8-18 overall mark. True, he received the third worst run support in the NL, as the Cubs got him only a little over 4 runs per 9 innings of work. Then again, he had an ERA of 5.56, yielding the fourth most runs of all NL starters—and the only three who gave up more were all Colorado Rockies.

It's a baseball truism that a pitcher who gives up a lot of runs early also demoralizes his own team's offense in the process, and while much is made of the fact that Trachsel has topped 200 innings of work in each of the last five years, the more significant stat may be that he failed to go at least five in eight of his 34 starts in 2000. In those games, in which he pitched a grand total of just 27 innings, the right-hander surrendered 40 runs—making for an ERA of 13.30 in those contests. In other words, when Trachsel's good, yes, he can be very, very good—but when he's bad, oy vey, is he Dreck-sel.

Contributors: Neil deMause, Jeff Ryan, Stu Hackel, Billy Altman
Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman

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