What’s Wrong With Jeremy Accardo?
If the Blue Jays get swept by the A’s- a team that has openly admitted they have totally given up on the next few seasons, a team sending to the mound in equal parts desperation and indifference a rookie and a guy who should still be rehabbing in the minors, expect this blog to switch to some topic a little less soul-destroying. Maybe Tulips. I’ve always liked Tulips.
Marco Scutaro didn’t help matters much. After booting a ball in the 4th that might have gotten McGowan out of the inning early, he had a bizarre brain cramp in the 9th (hmmm, apparently it was premeditated- unless it was hit hard right at him, Scutaro had already decided to go for the much harder tag play at the plate. Excellent!) and threw home on a play that was so impossible for him to have made in the first place that he wasn’t even given an error for air mailing the throw 10 feet up the line.
Not sure why he Scoot didn’t get an error in the 4th as well- it was either due to the shattered bat rolling menacingly towards him, or some kind of weekend getaway with the official scorer. Scott Rolen most likely would have made two double plays last night and saved 4-5 runs.
Anyway, after two 9th inning triples in two days, I’m sure the radio call-in crowd is calling for Accardo to be sent to AAA (or just dragged out into the street and shot) as I type. And while he had an ERA in the 2’s and gone 3/3 in save opportunities coming into tonight, has been very hittable so far. So what’s changed for the guy who did a pretty good B.J. Ryan impression last year? Let’s look at the big three:
#1 – Velocity
Nope. He was down a few MPH his first start, but his fastball has averaged 95 mph this year. So no sign of a B.J. Ryanesque series of implosions due to an arm injury, at least.
#2 – Movement
Let’s see how if maybe his stuff is flat, or all over the place. Here’s what Accardo’s pitches look like coming iin:
- The X’s mark the 2007 hits off Accardo. Just one so far has come off a fastball.
- 5 hits off 28 splitters = woof! So much for his trademark pitch, but it seems to be sinking about as much as it did last year.
- His changeup is missing it’s normal 5-6 inches of sink, though- it’s just a slowball now. That’s not entirely unusual, as it is a “feel” pitch that even takes a master like Johan Santana a month or two to get working.
Also a little strange are the pitches circled. Not only did Accardo not throw anything like that last season, but nobody in the majors really throws pitches that tail almost a foot outwards but don’t sink. That could be a splitter overthrown or slipping out sideways, who knows.
#3 – Location
Location has to be split into left and right handed batters for Accardo, because he approaches them rather differently. Against lefties, In addition to his fastball and splitter Accardo uses a pretty decent changeup to sink the ball low and away. Against righties he ditches the change and relies on his rather trashy slider to do the same thing (which is why he has “reverse” splits and is consistently tougher on lefties). Here’s where he’s been throwing his pitches (from the catchers’ perspective):
Not so bad, really. You could almost chalk this up to bad luck.
- Every hit by a lefty so far has come off an offspeed pitch.
- Two of those came off of pretty darn good pitches on the outside of the plate.
Doesn’t this look like a different pitcher? Everything is being kept to the opposite side of the plate from righties, but almost none of his pitches are falling out the bottom of the zone or even in the bottom few inches of it. It looks like he’s trying to stay to the outer half of the plate so much, it’s messing up the rest of his game.
- Against RHB , all of Accardo’s pitches are sailing up and away, ending up around the belt.
- While they’re going through the hitting zone, those offspeed pitches are floating through the dead center of the plate. Terrible place for a slider.
- I’ve also marked tonights triple by Ellis just to be excrutiating. Not a bad pitch if it was a fastball.
Joe Sheehan wrote an article at The Baseball Analysts that looked at how well hitters hit different pitches when they are located low, down the middle, or high in the zone. One of the interesting things he found was that much more than “hanging curveballs”, changeups (and I assume split-fingered pitches since they have similar movement) are great pitches when they are kept down, but the worst by a long shot when at the belt or above. Leaving them there is what’s killing Accardo so far this season.