Joba's Fastball Issues

Courtesy of ESPN:

Chamberlain has been effective with two strikes; he has gotten hitters to chase his sharp slider out of the zone 53 percent of the time. Opponents are 2-for-21 with 11 strikeouts on two-strike counts. But getting to two strikes has been a problem, as Chamberlain has allowed a .424 batting average against and .667 slugging percentage on early counts.
A big reason is his fastball. Chamberlain can still air it out — he has hit 98 mph this season — but he doesn’t throw at max effort all the time as a starter. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 94.6 to 92.1 mph, but speed alone does not equate to effectiveness. He has struggled to throw heaters for strikes in his past two outings and has not gotten much movement on the pitch. Hitters have had no trouble putting the barrel of the bat on the middle of the ball lately.Opponents have put 53 percent of swung-on pitches in play, the sixth-highest in-play percentage in the league for righties who have thrown more than 200 pitches and a huge increase over Chamberlain’s 35 percent in-play rate last year.

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Kevin Goldstein on Montero

Kevin Goldstein, the minor league expert for Baseball Prospectus, has been a big fan of Jesus Montero for a while, claiming that he has a special bat. However, even Goldstein has believed that Montero has no future as a catcher in the big leagues due to his defensive issues, but his bat will still make him a great player. In a recent posting on Baseball Prospectus (subscriber content), Goldstein has an update on Montero’s defense:

The other good news is that reports on his defense are better, which unfortunately upgrades him from completely unacceptable to well below average.

Goldstein has been critical of Montero’s defense for a while, but it is encouraging to see that Montero has improved, and no doubt has put in a lot of hard work on his defense.  While Goldstein still sees a position change in Montero’s future, the fact that Montero is tearing up the Florida State League (a pitcher’s league) in a pitcher’s park (Tampa) is very encouraging for his future, as his bat will likely play at any position. … Click here to read the rest

The Word On Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes pitched a great game last night against the Tigers, going 6 shutout innings while allowing just 2 hits. This performance has moved him off of the bust pile, as writers in NY rush to fawn over a guy they left for dead a few months ago. I thought it would be interesting to see the thoughts on Hughes from 3 guys who have, for the most part, actually remained in Phil’s corner all along.

From Pete Abe:

If you were watching closely, Hughes had to fight to get command of his curveball. It was all over the place in the first few innings, even when he threw it for strikes. When he struck out Placido Polanco in the first inning, it was on a curve that was screaming to be hit.
But Hughes made the adjustment between innings, a skill that eluded him last season.
“He was getting quick with his lower half and I said something to him,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said.

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What I Learned from Tonight’s Game

Whew! I almost nailed the line on Phil, but I actually underestimated him a bit. I put him down for 6 innings (spot on), 100 pitches (he threw 99), 3 hits (he allowed 2), 3 bb (2 again), and 2 runs (Phranchise pitched shutout ball). Enough with the pleasantries, though, here are a few things I learned, what about you guys?  Anything to add?

  1. Jose Molina is not as bad a hitter as he showed last year. Despite the big talk about Swisher and Cano having bounceback years, Molina has some bounceback in him as well.   A miserable .216, .263, .313 2008 stat line was much lower than his career marks of .238, .277, .340.  Not that he’s anywhere approaching being a decent hitter, but his granny tonight and his .276 average so far this season shows that he’s not as bad as he was last year.
  2. Phil’s cutter is for real. On a night where his out pitch was not as sharp as it usually is, the cutter provides that extra variety that clearly keeps hitters off balance. 
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