Thursday produced more than its fair share of memorably awful outings.
The Thursday Takeaway
Meltdowns aren’t much fun for anyone, but Thursday brought three of them—two in one game, plus an all-timer in another.
We’ll begin in Philadelphia, where the Padres handed Tyson Ross a 1-0 edge in the top of the first inning when Will Venable led off with a home run, his career-high 22nd of the season. Over the previous month and a half, Ross had made nine starts and compiled a 2.16 ERA, the product of a 63-to-17 K:BB ratio and just two homers allowed in 58 1/3 innings. The impending nightmare was difficult to foresee.
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I Love Good, Bad Baseball
When I used to play summer ball during college, August was the time of year when we collectively picked our heads up and said, “Um, this is our third straight Saturday playing a doubleheader in 95-degree weather for no apparent reason—why are we still doing this?” Well, most of my teammates were speaking Spanish, but I think that’s what they were saying. And every August the quality of play got even lower than you’d think a game involving a Div. III third-string catcher could get.
Mike runs down the worst player pitfalls owners may have encountered in the past spring's drafts and auctions.
It is hard to believe, but we’re almost halfway through the regular season. For the most part, the caveats of small sample sizes and arbitrary endpoints can be tossed out the window and we can start looking at 2013 data and drawing definitive conclusions on what we have seen thus far.
Fantasy baseball is no exception. While there is still plenty of time for most of us to make up ground, by now we certainly know if we have a good chance, are fighting an uphill battle, or are hopelessly tilting at windmills.
Have we seen the last of the ultra-durable Roy Halladay who led his league in complete games in each of the last five seasons?
On September 14th, Roy Halladay struck out Jose Altuve with a changeup in the dirt. His catcher turned around and gave the umpire a pat, then stood up and walked toward Halladay. His teammates walked in toward the mound. It was the last out of the game, and it was the last time that Roy Halladay has been on the mound for the last out of the game. September 14th, you'll note, was last year.
Halladay has been to complete games what Yadier Molina is to catcher defense, what Giancarlo Stanton is to GIFfable home runs. In 2011, Halladay threw more complete games than any other team in the National League. From 2008 through 2011, he threw 35 of them; the San Diego Padres, by comparison, have thrown 35 complete games since 2001. Every spring, a columnist or 10 will write about the sad death of the complete game in baseball, but Roy Halladay has been the faint pulse beeping on the monitor, or perhaps the last uninfected man in a zombie hellscape, or maybe the metaphor that just keeps pushing on and on, and on. Just continuing on. A metaphor that won’t die. A metaphor that doesn’t get tired and quit, but goes the distance. What a durable metaphor.
A primer on how pitchers produce movement and vary velocity by gripping and releasing their pitches.
Pitching mechanics tend to dominate the word count here in Raising Aces, so it may surprise some readers to learn that my favorite element of pitching is “stuff.” Nothing lights me up like blazing heat, baffling change-ups, and exploding sliders that paint a catcher's target. Some pitches are so devastating as to take on a personality of their own, effectively defining a player's legacy, such as the cutter of Mariano Rivera or the change-up of Johan Santana. There are even pitches that are so legendary that their reputations have survived the passage of time, to be appreciated by people who never personally witnessed their glory, including Walter Johnson's eye-blink heater and Sandy Koufax's knee-buckling curve.
The quality of a pitcher's stuff is intertwined with his mechanics. Pitch velocity is determined by kinetic energy that is transferred through linear momentum, torque, and the rotational elements of the delivery. Pitch command is directly tied to the consistency of mechanical timing and sequencing, in addition to dynamic balance and posture. The key ingredient to pitch movement is also rooted in mechanics, and though a pitcher's grip on the baseball tends to steal the spotlight, the more critical determinant of pitch break is the angle of the pitcher's forearm at release point.