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Welcome to the exciting world of everyday baseball analysis. After 20 years of operating as a Monday-through-Friday website, today will mark the official start of Baseball Prospectus posting regular content seven days per week. It's a nod to the fast-paced cycle of the modern world and the ongoing demand for more baseball, and I am happy to be part of the revolution. Baseballholics don't take a rest on the weekends, in the offseason, or even at 3 in the morning when researching a pitcher, so let's start dipping into the everyday needs of the baseball addict.

Our week six notes begin with an elite pitcher coming off a horrible performance who gathered himself for one of the most dominant starts of our era.

Max Scherzer
It was the worst of times, and then it was the best of times for Max Scherzer. Two starts ago he endured his worst outing in a Nats uniform, coughing up four home runs and seven total tallies over five innings of work. He struck out a solid seven batters, a number that he had reached for the fourth time of the season but had only exceeded in one of his starts. Then Ks started dropping like a Kardashian trying to name a baby:

Game Stats

Date

IP

R

H

HR

BB

K

PC

May 6

5.0

7

7

4

3

7

96

May 11

9.0

2

6

2

0

20

119

The home runs continue to be a problem, as even in his dominant outing against the Tigers, Scherzer gave up a pair of solo jacks to account for both of the runs that he surrendered. He has now given up 11 homers on the season, or 1.9 HR/9 for those who like things in tidy, nine-inning increments. His walk rate has also doubled, and though last season's rate of 1.3 BB/9 was a career outlier and his present mark is more in sync with his previously established walk levels, the step backward probably means that 2015 was more of an exception than a rule regarding his future performance.

Scherzer's stuff was on last Wednesday, as evidenced by a season-high 96.2 mph average on his fastball, up from the 94.7 mph average of the previous outing. In fact, the 96.2 mph average (he peaked at 98.7 mph) was the highest single-game average that Scherzer has had with his fastball since September 2012. He also maintained velocity throughout the game, throwing his hardest pitch of the night on pitch no. 112. This was a key factor for a pitcher who has given up eight of his 11 homers on the fastball this season—compare that to the two doubles and one triple hit off the heat this season—and in the 20-K contest one of the opposing homers was hit off of a slider. The heat finished off 11 of his 20 strikeouts on this day, with five ending on the slider and four others finishing on the change.

He coaxed an astounding 33 empty swings on the day, including 18 whiffs on the fastball, 10 more on the slider and five on the change. The big difference between Scherzer's historic outing and the previous start, the one in which he gave up seven runs, was pitch command. Check out his plots for the two games in question:

Scherzer did a much better job of filling up the strike zone in his last start, and the pitches that missed the zone were still close enough to generate swings, allowing the raw strength of his stuff to overpower hitters who were willing to go outside the zone. He also had more pitcher's strikes, peppering the edges of the zone with borderline pitches that forced opposing hitters to swing at less savory offerings. Contrast this to his previous outing, in which Scherzer missed a bunch of locations by such a large magnitude that opposing batters just laid off the pitches. The few pitches that were hittable drifted toward the middle of the zone, so batters who were eager for something to attack were gifted with cookies on a platter after choosing to bypass the uninteresting fare that came earlier in at-bats.

Ratchet up the velocity while simultaneously improving command, a quick and easy recipe to create an exceptional outing, further helped by the elite raw stuff that Scherzer possesses when everything is clicking.

Derek Holland
Well, that was quick. One minute Holland is playing a bit over his head in terms of run prevention, posting a 2.48 ERA through his first five starts despite peripherals that suggested a mark that was higher by about two runs per nine innings. In the blink of an eye, Holland had given up 11 runs without escaping the third inning, had followed it up with another atrocious outing that was even shorter in terms of innings and outs, and now his ERA stands at 6.09 for the season.

Game Stats

Date

IP

R

H

HR

BB

K

PC

May 5

2.7

11

11

1

3

0

75

May 10

2.3

5

8

0

1

2

64

His velocity was down the last three starts, tumbling from his April average of 93.2 mph to the 92.5 mph average of the past two games, and though his drop is relatively modest compared to some of the velo-dips that we've seen this season, the fact that his pitch speed is going the wrong direction this season is an ominous sign for the rest of his campaign. To be fair, Holland has been an equal-opportunity doormat, as his curveball has been hit even harder than the fastball, but the fact that opposing hitters had a .375 batting average in at-bats that ended on the heater is hardly a point in his favor. The curve was even worse, giving up a .667 batting average with zero strikeouts and three extra-base knocks. He wasn't fooling anybody, and in the 11-run fiasco Holland registered just two empty swings among the 74 pitches that he threw that day. He was over-rotating everything, missing targets constantly to the glove-side and displaying a complete inability to hit the left side of the plate, a story that is best told by his pitch plot from the May 5 contest:

Aroldis Chapman
He's baa-ack. Much of the offseason was spent dreaming on the vaunted bullpen of the New York Yankees, but the team endured an injury to Andrew Miller and has finally gotten past the 30-game suspension of Aroldis Chapman, and the three-headed monster of the Yankees that appears at the back end of ballgames is finally able to wield its might.

Game Stats

Date

IP

R

H

HR

BB

K

PC

May 9

1.0

1

2

0

0

2

17

May 10

1.0

0

0

0

1

1

21

The formerly-Red Dragon wasted little time getting started on the K count, striking out the first two batters that he faced in 2016, and he registered his first official save as a member of the Yankees on May 10. There were no signs of rust from his extended layoff, as Chapman spiked greater than 102 mph in each of his first two games back.

The sample is too slight to draw many definitive conclusions, but the fact that his otherworldly velocity remained intact is an indication that he is ready to get back on track as the most shutdown reliever in baseball. His command certainly needs some work, sailing several fastballs high above the zone, but pitch location has never been a highlight of Chapman's arsenal and his juice is so potent as to coax intoxicated swings even when he completely misses a location. It seems that batters are better off leaving the bat on the shoulder, given how difficult it is to square up Chapman's pitches and the increased odds that he will put a batter aboard via the free pass.

Luis Severino
Severino burst onto the scene last season and was surprisingly effective. He gave up a few too many homers, but the K and walk rates were solid and the right-hander posted a 2.89 ERA in 62 1/3 innings. The 2016 has been a different story, though, as Severino entered yesterday's game having given up more runs than the previous campaign despite throwing roughly half the innings at the big-league level, and that was before he gave up seven runs to the White Sox without escaping the third frame.

Game Stats

Date

IP

R

H

HR

BB

K

PC

May 8

6.7

4

5

3

1

9

113

May 13

2.7

7

7

1

4

2

81

Severino has been getting destroyed all season long, but yesterday's disaster was the icing on the urinal cake that has been his 2016 season. The right-hander was torched in the second and third innings yesterday, and though he almost escaped the third unscathed, the wheels fell off the wagon quickly once they came loose. It started with a harmless two-out single by Alex Avila, followed by a walk to Austin Jackson and then a two-run double off the bat of Adam Eaton. With his day teetering on the brink of extinction and Joe Girardi readying his hook, Severino left a 93 mph fastball in the middle of the plate (bottom third of the zone) that Jimmy Rollins put a charge into, yanking a high fly down the right field line for the two-run homer that ended Severino's day.

Given the duration and severity of Severino's struggles, this might even be the last that we see of him in the Yankees rotation for awhile, at least until he gets back on track.

Thank you for reading

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geofflong
5/16
May I suggest: By far the most useful weekend feature for me would be "what you need to know." As it stands, three days of games are packed into the Monday edition. That's 45 games - too many to even glance over meaningfully. That timely kind of stuff would be excellent.