What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
The Rangers came out on top of the Yu Darvish versus Zack Greinke matchup at Angel Stadium on Thursday night, although both pitchers threw extremely well and the deciding runs came at the expense of an Ernesto Frieri slider that hung long enough for me to re-read "Ulysses" and, more importantly, long enough for Adrian Beltre to fall down laughing before standing up and hitting it into next week.
Darvish's approach in this game was dramatically different from what I saw live from him in March or previously with Team Japan, employing fewer pitches overall and making heavy use of a cutter that was just one of seven offerings I counted from him in spring training. His cutter does show its break a little early out of Darvish's hand, but its velocity runs right into that of his four-seamer -- 89-91 mph on the cutter, 91-96 on the fastball -- making it hard for hitters to adjust to it. But his most effective pitch by far was the one he used least often, his 80-84 slider, which he didn't throw at all until the fourth inning and started to use frequently only in the seventh and eighth, helping him punch out the last three batters he faced. Earlier in the game, he relied more on a slow curveball, mostly 65-69 but as slow as 62 at one point, with short mostly vertical break but more a way to change eye levels than miss bats outright.
Darvish now ranks third in the AL in fWAR, which is based on pitchers' peripherals (strikeout, walk and home run rates) rather than their straight ERAs. (He's less than 0.01 ahead of Chris Sale, who now sits in fourth.) Since his five-walk performance on Aug. 17, Darvish has thrown 44 innings across six starts, walking nine and fanning 52, although it's worth noting that he's faced some fairly impatient lineups in that stretch, including last night. It's still a welcome change from his earlier-season performances and I believe it's a harbinger of the kind of results we can expect to see from Darvish over the next few years.
• Greinke was nearly as impressive in stuff and just as impressive in results, even though he ended up with a no-decision (again telling us how useless pitcher wins and losses are for gauging value). Greinke was 92-95 most of his outing, touching 96 once, working effectively to both sides of the plate while staying in or near the strike zone. He threw the standard assortment of four pitches, with both the curveball and slider capable of missing bats and the changeup, while hard at 86-88, showing enough deception to keep left-handed hitters off balance. His style is much less about pure power than about minimizing mistakes, avoiding walks and keeping the ball in the park while missing enough bats to limit damage from balls in play.
• C.J. Wilson was pretty awful for the Angels the previous night, something I made light of on Twitter -- especially how much his tentative pitching style and slow pace reminded me of Daisuke Matsuzaka, one of my least favorite pitchers to scout since I started doing this for a living. Wilson was behind in the count too often and seemed happy to try to work the outer half -- or perhaps to work outside the outer half -- rather than utilizing the inner half the way Greinke does. Mike Scioscia did well to remove Wilson quickly on Wednesday night and get Jerome Williams into the game, although by that point the Rangers had scored all they would need to win. Wilson's velocity was fine, but if he can't or won't throw strikes or work to both sides of the plate, he'll continue to disappoint.
• Going back a few days, I did get to see Brandon Belt over the weekend when the Giants visited Phoenix, and as many readers have told me, Belt's swing mechanics are substantially different from where they were when he was so successful in 2010, including a very strong campaign in the Arizona Fall League. His front hip is moving forward far too early, while his hands remain well behind him, and in fact are drifting higher by his back shoulder than when he used to start his swing earlier, resulting in a near barring of his lead arm. It's not a surprise that he's been easier to beat inside with this setup and swing, nor does it shock me that he's hitting left-handers well, since what they throw will tend to move away from his vulnerability. The bigger question is why anyone would have changed his mechanics in the first place, but I've been unable to get an answer to that (or even to the question of who made the changes) this week. If he gets back to where he was in late 2010, he can still be an above-average or better regular, but I don't think he'll see that level with the way he's hitting right now.
No offense but this probably gets deleted.
Why get deleted? I enjoyed it.
Yeah you really should have done a blurb and then a link to the article since he Law does this for a living and there are IProp issuess here.
thanks for posting this.... been scouring the web for it... no insider access for me
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