Answering that question is not quite so simple as you'd think.
The last time I was at a Spring Training game, I tossed down a couple bucks for charity, threw dignity to the winds, and stepped into the radar gun tent. I used the first two pitches to ramp it up before letting fly for reals on the third: 72 mph. I carried my beer left-handed for the rest of the day.
I bring that up because you should understand who is writing this, but mostly because speed is sexy. We all love to watch a 100 mph pitch because it’s amazing but also because it’s rare. Most major league pitchers, let alone internet writers, can’t throw that fast no matter how many times we embarrass ourselves in front of small children throws we make. When at a game, we count the number of pitches that break 100. For example, take a look at this Aroldis Chapman fastball:
The Red Sox bullpen put up yet another horrific performance yesterday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
In yesterday’sWhat You Need to Know, I wrote about the stellar performance by the Rangers bullpen over the first 10 games of the season. The Red Sox relief corps, on the other hand, has been as shaky as it was during the team’s September collapse, and its weaknesses were thoroughly exposed in last night’s 18-3 rout.
After Jon Lester was knocked around for seven runs in two awful innings, manager Bobby Valentine asked Scott Atchison to eat some frames in a game almost certain to end in defeat. Atchison did his job for four innings, and Matt Albers chipped in a solid seventh, but then Mark Melancon—who entered with a 22.50 ERA—decided to turn the eighth into a home-run derby.
Mark Melancon and Vicente Padilla are too popular to remain on the list, but Mike has found new relievers for you to keep an eye on
We all got a little spoiled last week with Vicente Padilla and Mark Melancon each suddenly ascending to fantasy relevance--it's a little thin this week as far as new closers go. Still, if you look hard enough, there are a few names of interest out there for your fantasy bullpen.
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A new Astro and yet another Cardinal join the VP list, while the bullpen situations in Chicago and Baltimore gain clarity.
If there is anything I’ve learned from writing this piece, it’s that you never, ever need to reach for closers in the draft. Sure, you want to make sure you get at least one of the top guys if only for peace of mind, but look who we’re talking about this week. Mark Melancon? Vicente Padilla? Eduardo Sanchez? We’re only a month into the season, these guys look like they could be viable closing options, and I guarantee you no one was thinking about them at draft time. We’ll keep seeing this, too–almost certainly, later in the season at least one arm will get ninth inning duties who you’ve never even heard of right now.
With a pitch called a "soap bubble" Vicente Padilla is enjoying the best season of his career. Is he lucky or good... Or both?
On Wednesday night in Los Angeles, starter Vicente Padilla threw the best game of his career, tossing a two-hit shutout at the San Diego Padres while striking out nine. It was just the latest in a long line of awesome Padilla starts. Since returning from the disabled list on June 19, Padilla has made nine starts (60 IP) and has allowed just 35 hits and 13 walks. That figures to a 0.8 WHIP. During this span, he’s holding the opposition to a line of .168/.228/.288. Quite a run from someone who owns a career 4.38 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.
There are several factors that have contributed to Padilla's sudden improvement. His contact rate is at 83% on the season, which matches his career rate, but the key has been how much of that contact has been put in play. Over the course of his 12 year career, hitters put the ball in play in roughly 71% of their plate appearances against Padilla, slightly ahead of the major league average. This year though, Padilla has amped up his strikeout rate - he’s punching out 8.3 batters per nine, the best rate of his career and two full strikeouts above his career average - which, in turn, has suppressed the percentage of plate appearances where the ball is put in play. For the season just 65% of all plate appearances end with the ball in play against Padilla.
The Game One showdown between star southpaws, and tonight's matchup features a recently phoaled Phillie.
In yesterday's chat, Bronx Banter's Alex Belth asked me, "Is there any particular pitching matchup that you are looking forward to in the series?" I responded that the matchup I was most looking forward to was between CC Sabathia and Ryan Howard, particularly given the prospect of the big man pitching three times for the Yankees in a seven-game series, and the slugger's less-than-sterling reputation against southpaws. "I think that matchup will tell us something about what's going to happen over the next four to seven games," I wrote.
The Dodgers' hopes rest on Vicente Padilla, A-Rod exorcises a reputation, firing up free agency, and skipper searches.
The Dodgers are down to their last potential gasp of 2009, and while waiting to exhale, they will send Vicente Padilla to the mound tonight in the hope he can salvage their season. Such a scenario would have been unthinkable just two months ago; the Rangers designated the right-hander for assignment on August 7 despite being only one game behind the Red Sox in the wild-card standings, and 3½ games behind the Angels in the AL West.
Last Tuesday night around 9 p.m., my mother asked me how I was planning to write about the All-Star Game if I wasn't watching it. I told her that I wasn't writing my column while away, and that I wouldn't write about the All-Star Game when I returned because no one cared about the All-Star Game past about 10:30 a.m. the next day.
You can't make this stuff up, folks.