“Pitch” Episode 5: Trade Deadline

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4.

Welcome to our recap of the fifth episode of “Pitch”, entitled “Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.

It’s 48 hours until the MLB trade deadline. The Padres have just won their sixth game in a row. Changes are likely coming, as the front office prepares for a postseason chase.

The Padres clubhouse is tense, with players obsessively checking for trade news and rumors. Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) assures Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) that she isn’t going anywhere. Blip (Mo McRae) feels Mike needn’t worry, either, since he has a no-trade clause. Blip is concerned for himself, because one article mentioned him as a potential target for the Cubs.

General manager Oscar (Mark Consuelos) has three things he wants: “a setup guy, a utility infielder, and a cornerman who can hit.” Oscar asks manager Al (Dan Lauria) if he feels the team has a shot at contending should these be acquired. (You’re the GM, Oscar — that’s really more your call.) Al promises to keep the Padres in the playoff hunt if Oscar holds up his end of things.

With Bob Balaban disposed of, the Padres have hired a new President of Baseball Operations, Charlie Graham (Kevin Connolly), a young fellow from Palo Alto. We know what we’re supposed to think — he’s probably an unsentimental numbers guy with no personal baseball experience. Sure enough, he almost immediately mentions Comic-Con (NEEEEERD), and can’t remember the names of the Padres’ two top prospects. He informs Oscar that those prospects are not to be traded, and also that $2 million must be trimmed from the payroll.

Ginny has dinner with the Sanders. While Evelyn (Meagan Holder) is certain they’ll be staying in San Diego — Blip’s “an All-Star player with a team-friendly contract” — Blip is less sure. Ginny, terrified about losing her only real friends, flashes back to another occasion on which that happened.

When Ginny was a high-school senior; a new kid, Jordan Collins (Parker Croft), joined her team. They became fast friends, bonding over “In Living Color”. However, Jordan’s alcoholic father, Ray (Reston Williams), often left Ginny’s father, Bill (Michael Beach), responsible for getting Jordan where he needed to be.

Mike and Amelia (Ali Larter) are still seeing each other. Someone — supposedly, one of Mike’s female fans — breaks the side mirrors of Amelia’s car. Mike accidentally refers to Amelia as a “groupie,” to which comment, surprisingly enough, she doesn’t take kindly.

In the Padres war room, San Diego has just completed a trade sending veteran lefty reliever Butch Hunter (Scott Peat) to the Cardinals for utility infielder Omar Robles (Jason Canela) and a PTBNL. That’s one item off Oscar’s list.

Still worried about Blip getting traded, Ginny calls her social-media manager, Eliot (Tim Jo), for insight on whether it could happen. (Eliot plays fantasy baseball, see, so he understands how these things work.) Eliot runs through some scenarios, ultimately concluding that Orioles pitcher Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez is the piece that would have to move in order for a Blip trade to become feasible.

Oscar’s tooth is bothering him, and he has to make an emergency dentist appointment. He requests an analytics guy, Ross, to join him, so he loses as little time as possible. It turns out the Padres have two analytics guys named Ross. Instead of MIT-educated last-name Ross, Oscar gets community-college-educated, got-his-job-via-nepotism first-name Ross (Josh Peck). Still, it’s a productive drive. Oscar completes a trade with the Mariners, sending a power-hitting first baseman to DH for Seattle in exchange for a reliever. This knocks another item off the list, while cutting the required $2 million. The Padres will move their third baseman to first, but now need someone to play the hot corner.

Mike surprises Amelia with a loaner car from one of his dealerships. Amelia feels patronized. When instructing Eliot to return the car, she accidentally reveals her relationship with Mike. Amelia orders Eliot not to tell Ginny.

Now 27 hours from the trade deadline, newly acquired utility infielder Robles arrives in the Padres clubhouse. He’ll be playing third tonight, even though he’s never played the position before. Welcome to the team, kid!

Tommy (Ryan Dorsey), trying to get his mind off rumors, asks Ginny to go for a run with him. He’s feeling down about Butch getting traded (not once but twice — St. Louis flipped him to the Cubs). Tommy and Butch were close, and their kids were best friends.

That night, the Padres win their eighth straight game (and we get to see more of Dick Enberg and Mark Grant). The Robles-at-3B experiment has not gone so well, though, and San Diego still needs someone to play there. Their sights are set on Dom Cristiello of the Angels, but their GM won’t do business with Oscar after the Livan Duarte coup.

Now the eve of the trade deadline, Blip, while at Mike’s place, puts together that Mike is seeing Amelia. He insists Mike tell Ginny what’s going on.

Blip then returns home to Evelyn and Ginny. Just as he gets back, news breaks that the Orioles have traded Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez. Ginny starts panicking. Blip reminds her that it’s his life, not hers. “I just don’t have it in me to make you feel okay,” he snaps.

Amelia visits Ginny the next morning. She tells Ginny to demand the Padres not trade Blip. We get it, Amelia is clueless about how baseball works.

But Ginny decides to take Amelia’s terrible advice, and approaches Oscar. Oscar is rightfully bewildered that Ginny would even think to make such a request, and gives her a tough-love lecture about baseball being a business. Ginny’s faux pas leads to Oscar realizing he can make a trade for Cristiello happen if he can get the Angels a center fielder. Has Ginny accidentally hastened Blip’s departure?

In flashbacks, Ginny and Jordan are in the midst of a big game. Jordan’s father has yet to show up, despite the fact that he promised to this time. Bill calls Ray to remind him to come. Ray gets the message and decides to go, despite being inebriated. Dread sets in as we realize that this is the championship game from the pilot, and Ray is the drunk driver responsible for Bill’s death.

Back in the present, there’s a half hour left until the deadline. Oscar is in talks with the Cubs to trade for a center fielder. It takes 25 minutes, but they get it done.

Oscar then calls the Angels. In the few minutes remaining, they finalize a trade, with Oscar even convincing the Angels’ GM to kick in an additional $300,000 (thus saving him from going over budget). The final Padres payroll ends up around $126 million, which is actually about what it really was this year.

Blip apologizes for rebuking Ginny, but she acknowledges that he was right to be upset. They wait out the deadline together, and sigh with relief when it hits, for he’ll be staying a Padre.

Oscar thinks his work is done, but Charlie shows up and declares that it’s now time to turn their focus to the waiver wire. (To be fair, Oscar should have expected that. Don’t you even understand how your job works, Oscar?) Charlie wants to call up Duarte to take Mike’s place. Since Mike has a no-trade clause, Oscar will have to find a way to make Mike think a trade is his idea.

Butch is back with the Padres, as part of the three-way Cristiello trade. Ginny looks for Tommy to rejoice in the news, only to find that Tommy was also part of the trade and is now a Cub. It’s too bad — I was really starting to enjoy Tommy and Ginny’s dynamic.

Mike and Amelia make up following their earlier spat. They’re growing closer, enough so that Amelia feels it’s time to tell Ginny what’s going on between them. Ginny says it’s fine, but she doesn’t really seem thrilled about the news.

This week’s episode of “Pitch” focuses more on the business of baseball than the on-field action. It’s slightly Moneyball-esque (the episode even opens with Katie Nolan referencing Moneyball) in how it presents the front office’s dealings, albeit considerably more watered down for the sake of the average viewer, with the occasional jargon sprinkled in.

This episode does a good job showing us how players’ lives are impacted by the business side of the game. This isn’t something new (it’s a fairly common feature of baseball-themed media), but it’s necessary to include in any story about ballplayers, since it’s such a big part of their professional and personal lives.

Please weigh in below with how you felt “Pitch” portrayed the aforementioned subjects, or any other thoughts you had on this week’s episode.

Random notes:

  • Charlie mentions that Oscar is “one of three Latino GMs.” In reality, there is currently just one Latino GM in MLB (Al Avila of the Detroit Tigers).
  • In a flashback sequence, we learn Ginny received a full baseball scholarship to NC State. As we know, she wound up choosing to sign upon being drafted by the Padres out of high school.
  • Mike Trout exists in the “Pitch” universe, yet the Angels need a center fielder. Oh God, is Mike Trout hurt in the “Pitch” universe?!
  • I believe this episode is the first time “Pitch” references WAR. First-name Ross notes that a White Sox third baseman has an offensive WAR of -0.2.
  • Every week, “Pitch” hints at Mike and Ginny eventually getting together, and every week, I hope it’s a false alarm. At one point, Blip tells Mike “even you’re not … crazy” enough to date Ginny. I sure hope that’s the case. Don’t ruin a solid platonic relationship by doing the predictable.

Sarah Wexler is a contributor to Dodgers Digest. She recently earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. Follow her on Twitter @SarahWexler32.

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Look, Pitch, this isn’t complicated. I expect at least 20 minutes per episode of in-depth discussion of the xFIP and fWAR of a made up baseball universe with a fully realized trade market filled with rational actors. If you’re not using terms like “sample size” or “mean-regressive” and showing us detailed statistical modeling of pitch selection matrices for fictional characters, i’m simply not interested.

Human drama is weird and gross. I demand the cold, sterility of math in my television.


I get it’s a human drama, but the potshot at the numbers guy not knowing the top 2 prospects is odd. Forget that every numbers guy I know has those lists memorized, the idea that a top numbers guy wouldn’t, despite being knowledgeable enough to get the job, is borderline anti-intellectual.