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What's a great sign with Nick is that by mid June he had surpassed his typical yearly walk totals in half the at bats. So, right there is a good measure that his eyes and decisions at the plate are maturing.
Sale's deception along with arm slot are very similar to that of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Randy+Johnson">Randy Johnson</a></span>. RJ, however, had a foot+ more extension at release than most pitchers which would explain his effectiveness against lefties. The use of "hiding" the ball (which Sale excels at) along with a 4 seamer that rides out and a 2 seamer that sinks against righties is tougher to hit (in my experience) than something cutting into the zone constantly, which is what happens to the lefty hitter as it tails back in. The regression against lefties IMO would be a natural tendency to lay off the unhittable breaking pitch and gear up fastball as that would give a lefty the best chance of success. Either way you cut it though the guy is flat out nasty. Great read Dan.
If anyone gets a chance to watch Seager this year, please do. It's as if he makes the pitcher come to him. Selective and quick to the ball with a phenomenal understanding of what his capabilities are. His bat will play a long time at the big league level. As mentioned in write up, he'd be up now with most clubs if it weren't for the Dodgers' log jammin.
Quick note: as of 6/8 LeClerc has 11 appearances with 8 starts.
I've seen him pitch 4x this year and the curve is really hot and cold. He really slows mechanically when throwing it which will hurt him at higher levels. It shows signs of a plus pitch sporadically, but from what I've seen it's been very average.
That night the break, bite, and depth of his breaking ball resembled more slider to me than a 12-6 curveball. I had readings of 86-88 with it, which would tell me slider more than anything. I did chart curveballs at 82-84 with great downward movement, but from my vantage and the way hitters were swinging resembled more slider on strikeout pitches. I was going off clean slate first impression having not seen him before. I'd really like another look from pitcher or side vantage to really get a scope of the breaking ball. No matter what, it is a completely above avg to great big league ready out pitch.
Thanks Bryan. I can't attest to what extent the Cubs' concern (if any) was with Lester as far as the pickoff throws are concerned. I would be curious to know what emphasis they did put on it in spring training. In my experience, there were typically a couple sessions where pickoffs and throw overs were given quality time and reps. Usually, you have your pitching staff rotating during PFP (pitcher fielding practice) , only getting a few reps in a 20-30 minute block. Some pitchers take it upon themselves to get extra work in with that, but not many.
The ball appeared to be stuck in the webbing of his mitt on the glove throw over and he just didn't have enough time to pluck it out and throw. In those situations it is just easier to toss the whole mitt. I wouldn't put any stock into that play as it was just something weird that happened, but the timing of it all is rather funny.
I was looking to highlight the guy has a set of onions most pitchers don't have and his track record as a pressure pitcher is top notch. I had a teammate who had what Ankiel had as far as not being able to throw strikes. He stepped up in the playoffs for us and threw the game of his life, but still never got back what he once had. The emphasis here being never count out a guy like this. It doesn't always have to be literal......and yes I'd take Kershaw too.
I just think at some point we as players develop idiosyncrasies that take us away from our strengths. This may be one of those times where doubt has crept in to an otherwise mentally strong athlete and created an issue, in this case throwing over to first. I've seen catchers not be able to throw ball to the pitcher and pitchers that can't perform pitch outs as well. Eventually, through either hard work or mental coaching these situations are overcome. I have no doubt that this is something Lester can handle and overcome. I've gone through it mechanically where I've felt like I've never pitched before. It's weird, but it happens. I just hate to see it go on with such a good guy and pitcher like Lester.
Thanks Richard! Very good point as well
I'm sure there's a book in there somewhere related to my experiences but I'd have to find ways to protect the innocent......haha.
I would like to see teams push the issue with it. If he has that big of a problem, I'd like to see runners get a step or two bigger leads and make him throw it over. It should be very interesting to watch moving forward.
The "feel" of a change along with maintaining arm speed is the hardest thing to teach a young player. By selecting the change up as your pitch you are programming "slow" into your brain. Automatically, pitchers will have a tendency to slow up and not finish the pitch based on this preset notion. It is very difficult to overcome the mental hurdle of throwing a change up with fastball arm speed. We talk about quality reps with baseball players and how that translates into muscle memory and good habits. Same thing applies here. You have to throw it a lot, not just off the mound, but in long toss as to perfect the "feel" of it. And the simple thing about it is that all you're basically doing is eliminating your fore finger and learning to throw it with middle and ring fingers. But, however simple that sounds, it is difficult to ultimately master. Great piece Chris, spot on.
And the "if it holds up," is a huge if. In most cases like this TJ surgery is inevitable.
Yes, good catch there Doug. Should've meant prior to rehab/PT, I probably inserted my experience under the knife subconsciously.
I would've preferred he stay with his two seam longer and keep trying to attack the zone low with it coming off an injury. But, as you mention, he was able to keep his secondary pitches down as well. I'm assuming they didn't quite have enough bite on them though without having the "conviction" behind them relating to the inherent tentativeness. It was my feeling he lacked a confidence or trust in his fastball and went to secondary pitches too much, as a lot of pitchers would in this situation. If the elbow proves to hold up, he should be able to regain form, and hopefully that will be the case.
Early in season it is expected that pitchers that rely on timing, rythm, and repeatable mechanics to be off somewhat. It may take a few starts for Tanaka to find his rythm. He's had a lot of time off, so surely that has an effect. I do feel you are correct in the assumption that he may "compensating" but I'd rather call it hesitancy. As someone who has comeback from two surgeries as a pitcher, there is a tentativeness to let it loose for fear of re-injury. So, I chalk it up to not trusting his arm (mental) affecting the physical (arm drag, bad timing). Once he clears the "tentative" hurdle I believe Tanaka will be as he was prior to surgery. The trust in his arm/body will come back after logging innings and starts, it's just a matter of time.