The Mockingbird

Jays Climb out of Basement, Media Swoons

with 4 comments

Freed from having to explain why Baltimore is in first place for some unfathomable reason, the Toronto media has become downright giddy about the Jays after their recent run. First game with more than five runs (about league average) in three weeks? The bats are out of their funk! My man Cathal calls generously calls last night the “most complete victory of the season“, when the first 8 innings (until the Rays bullpen remembered for the first time this season it is the Rays’ freaking bullpen) were the same incredibly old story. Heck, Gibbons is even getting managerial prose written in his honour.

Still, the bats are still as flaccid as a bad dick joke- the only change has been heroic pitching and not losing every game by one run. The Jays scored 15 runs in the last five games of their 6-game losing streak, and then the exact same number over their recent 5 game winning streak. Overbay has started hitting the ball hard, but overall the team hasn’t even shown doubles power, which they ranked third in the majors last season and are now third last. I think a fairly decent number of people owe Mickey Brantley an apology for wildly overstating the damage his “swing for the fences and pull every pitch” mentality was supposedly having…

While we’re giving 90% of the credit for the performance of career performance to their current coaches, Brad Arnsberg is clearly a god because Marcum is pitching his face off. Not only is Marcum striking out a ton of batters, but the two-seamer he was working on in spring training is clearly working out for him. Last season, he was the only real flyball starter the Jays had, but he’s the other way around now (and last night induced a stunning 15 GB to 4 FB). Maybe he can have a talk with Burnett seeing that A.J. has ditched his sinking fastball for a mediocre cutter.

Unfortunately, the pitch f/x guys were sleeping last night (how often must I apply for that job?!), so this chart of Marcum is just a rerun of the beautiful rainbow of pitches that Marcum throws when he’s got his game.

People always get on the scouts and analysts (who were actually cautiously optimistic about what he did last season) for not being able to predict that anyone could ever make it without a 90 mph fastball. The truth is that while everyone loves the idea of the crafty righty getting by on guile and changing speeds, they are incredibly, incredibly, rare. Gibbons last night said: “A lot of guys have won in this game without overpowering stuff”. Ok, so name half a dozen in the majors right now who are above-average pitchers…occasionally strike out 9 in a game…ever, ever, have no and one-hit bids…are we down to one yet?


Written by halejon

May 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Seriousness

4 Responses

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  1. “Ok, so name half a dozen in the majors right now who are above-average pitchers…occasionally strike out 9 in a game…ever, ever, have no and one-hit bids…are we down to one yet?”

    Well said. Marcum continues to impress me. There really is no comparison. Certainly there are other pitchers who have won due to smarts, but Marcum brings all that with a little more stuff too. To be honest, I enjoy watching him start more than Halladay.


    May 8, 2008 at 7:08 pm

  2. Hey Halejon, I was wondering if you looked at any pitch F/X data for Troy P from last night?

    His splitter looked very flat, and his fastball very straight. He had good velocity but it seemed like movement on his pitches was all but non existant.


    May 9, 2008 at 1:43 pm

  3. I duno why I was posting under HJF, this be my name.

    Hey John, over at Battersbox there is a little bit of debate going on about Shaun Marcum and how hard he can throw.

    How accurate are the speeds from the pitch F/X data? Are they comparing apples to apples over at BB – ie: comparing speed of balls leaving his hand versus the speed of the ball crossing the plate? I know the pitch f/x data shows both so I’m wondering if this is where the vast differences in how fast people think Marcum can throw is arising from.


    May 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  4. I’d say very accurate. They’re calibrated every night and use three cameras to track the ball all the way to the plate. The end speed (at the plate) is a LOT lower though so that can’t be it. According to my database, this year Marcum has averaged 88-89 mph, going down to 84-85 when he throws his 2 seamer or cutter, and all the way up to 91.4 on a 4-seamer. He was down a couple of mph during his last start, averaging around 86-87.


    May 14, 2008 at 8:47 pm

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