Taking an in-depth look at a two-inning stint by Francisco Rodriguez in order to understand why he threw certain pitches.
What follows is a story of a pitcher who lost command of his fastball, and a hitter who approached him as if he could throw it to a teacup. The Mets were clinging to a 3-1 lead over the Giants on July 18 as their game entered the late innings at AT&T Park. After another eight-frame master class from Johan Santana, Mets manager Jerry Manuel called on Francisco Rodriguez to lock down a victory. It was a game the Mets desperately needed; they opened the second half of the season by scoring just four runs in their first three games, and if the week following this game is any indication, they aren’t good enough to waste Santana’s brilliance and still make a run at the postseason.
Now that we’ve set the scene, let’s think along with its principal players, and observe how Rodriguez and his opponents adapt—or fail to adapt—to the Mets closer’s uncharacteristic lack of a reliable fastball. We’ll follow K-Rod’s two innings in hopes of learning a thing or two about the mysterious art of pitch sequencing, and see how the information Rodriguez sends with each pitch of this outing may be more predictive of what he’ll throw next than simply relying on his overall tendencies.
Will the Phillies establish a mini-dynasty, or will the Yankees add to their crowded trophy case with another title?
A year ago, the Phillies broke a 28-year-old title drought by winning the World Series, defeating the upstart Rays in five games. After winning 93 games in the regular season and tidily dispatching both the Rockies and the Dodgers in the first two rounds, they're back to defend their crown with a cast that's largely the same, save for summer acquisition Cliff Lee. They're the first NL team to repeat as pennant winners since the 1995-1996 Braves, and if they win the World Series, they'll be they first senior circuit club to do so since the 1975-1976 Reds.
A preview of the Dominican Winter League, taking a look at the teams, stadiums, managers, and players to watch for.
The "National Religion" came back on October 16th, as the Dominican League launched its 56th edition. Reliably praised as having the highest level of talent among the winter leagues, one should expect to watch another mix of highly ranked prospects, mid-level major leaguers, a few recognizable American players, veterans looking for another shot, and some major league stars between now and the end of the Caribbean Series in February. The league format has six teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule, with the four best records advancing to a long 18-game round-robin playoff, and the two remaining best clubs play a best-of-nine final series to decide the league's champion. Without further ado, here's what this season will bring us:
Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers)
Home: Santo Domingo
2008-09 record: 26-24, fourth place (tied) regular season; 12-6, first place round-robin; beat the Gigantes in the final series 5-0.
Ballpark: Estadio Quisqueya; strong pitcher's park, with a Park Factor of 92.
With the saves record set, will he repeat his 2002 heroics in the postseason? And will his arm eventually fall off, or won't it?
Francisco Rodriguez has easily been one of the top closers in baseball since he was handed the full-time job back in 2005, and before that he was one of the game's top relievers, period. This is why it's no surprise that he's at the center of the discussions as to why the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were able to win 100 games this year-but was 2008, the year he set the record for most saves in a season, the best year of his career, or should we be worried that this isn't the same K-Rod we watched grow up in front of us on national television?
Bobby Thigpen's record is about to fall, but to what will K-Rod owe this latest laurel?
Sometime soon, Francisco Rodriguez will get a signal from the dugout, make one last toss to his bullpen catcher, have a door opened for him and stroll into history. He'll step onto the rubber, assume the awkward set position he's grown comfortable in, and deliver a pitch-maybe a 95 mph fastball, maybe a sharp breaking ball, maybe a deceptive changeup-and with that pitch, he will break a record that has stood for nearly 20 years: the record for save opportunities in a season.
The best choice might surprise you, but the odds of it seem steep.
That wasn’t fun. A family vacation in the Dominican Republic last week—not my choice to leave the country in August, believe me—was extended when a rather grumpy lady named Fay passed through on Friday, shutting down Punta Cana airport. There’s a long story here, but suffice to say that American Airlines gets the gas face for its treatment of hundreds of customers stranded, most of them in a foreign country, by the storm.
Save opportunities ring, but can Francisco answer?
By notching his fourth save in six days since the All-Star break, and his ninth in 18 Angels games in July, Francisco Rodriguez moved the conversation about the single-season saves record from “whether” to “when.” Needing just 15 saves to tie the mark and 16 to break it, and pitching for a team that plays a high percentage of close games—due in part to a mediocre offense—Rodriguez is in line to not just break the record, but shatter it.