The Mockingbird

Back to the Grind

with 8 comments

The Drunk Jays Fans summed up the other day the sense of perseverance it takes to keep watching the Jays’ second half. As I mentioned in their comments, that song starts with a kid breaking free on the open road for a weekend of freedom and ends with him coming back to have the crap beaten out of him by his stepfather. This weekend felt a lot like that – on rolling back to the TV late Tuesday night, I see the Jays are pretty much where I left them, losing one-run games in ridiculous fashion at the hands of a bullpen that is lights out (4th best in majors), but somehow manages to lose a ridiculous number of games (4-17). Help.

It’s hard to fault Cito when Beltre hit one out on a pitch over his head, but if Gibbons had

  • Allowed RHB to hit 2 home runs off of LHB late in the game
  • Left Downs in for a second inning with B.J. on the bench in a tied game
  • Brought in Shaun Camp with the game on the line

He would have been burnt in effigy across Toronto. I know Cito is more of a motivator than an “X’s and O’s” guy, but this could get ugly. Hopefully Brandon League (called up on Sat) will turn into the right handed setup man he should be, or Accardo will throw, well, ever.

On to pitch f/x! Barajas has been going around lately giving high marks to the increased “late life” in fastballs from Burnett:

“It’s like the last 10 feet, it just picks up,”

and B.J. Ryan

“They end up being late, because that last 10 feet, it seems like it picks us a couple miles per hour,”

Now if you’re like me, you wonder WHAT THE HELL THAT IS SUPPOSED TO MEAN, and why everyone just nods and smiles at the crazy catcher. Because just like “late break”, “late life” is not physically possible (and more obviously absurd). However, as with most of these things (see: “rising” fastball), players are describing an effect in the way that it looks to them. A quick look at pitch f/x from one of Ryan’s first and latest starts shows Ryan’s fastball has had:

  • No increase in velocity.
  • No big change in movement (pfx/pfz).
  • Almost 3 inches more “break” (and straighter up and down).

Ok, no change in movement but a big change in break- what the hell am I talking about? Well, “break” is another column in pitch f/x I rarely use that measures what is probably easier to think of as the “bend” of a pitch. If you were looking at a bow, the “break” is the distance between the string that attaches both ends and the middle of the bow (here’s a graphic stolen from Mike Fast, who adapted it from Mike Walsh):

The official term is something like “the greatest distance between the balls actual path and a straight line between release and final destination”.

Anyway, long story short- Ryan’s fastball is bending more and thus appears to rise more as it gets close to the plate. To a catcher (and a hitter), that looks like it’s picking up speed. And that’s why an 88 mph fastball from Ryan is not the same as an 88 mph fastball from Josh Towers…

In Other News

Zaun is doing the whole “I’m not going to complain” complaining about playing time and the “random” use of catchers from both Gibby and Cito (or if you want (and why would you or have to in this day and age??), you can read the sanitized version over on the Jays’ main page). Rosenthal mentioned that the Dodgers have talked to the Jays about Matt Stairs, but the Jays aren’t ready to give up on the season yet. And Roy Halladay is still thinking and learning how to be a better pitcher:

“I sometimes get stuck in how I think we can get them out,” Halladay said. “Rod and I talked and he did a great job of making me mix things up and sometimes go against the book. “It makes a big difference, especially when you start rolling the lineup over, showing them some different things.”

Written by halejon

July 2, 2008 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Seriousness

8 Responses

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  1. Cito brought Camp in in a situation where he had used Frasor the few previous times. At this rate, League will have the righty setup job by sunday.


    July 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

  2. As I mentioned to Wilner, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barajas only gave that “picks up speed” quote once, about one pitcher, and somehow it got misheard by one of the two reporters (Blair and Bastian) who wrote it up. It was Blair, as I recall, who had it referring to Burnett, and Bastian had it about Ryan.

    I don’t see Barajas saying essentially the same thing about two different pitchers on the same night. More likely a writer got it wrong.


    July 2, 2008 at 7:24 pm

  3. Zaun is an idiot if he’s “confused” over why the duties are being split. Barajas has been pretty hot shit all season.

    and that’s why Doc is the greatest. he keeps working. he knows he can always improve.


    July 2, 2008 at 8:21 pm

  4. Torgen: After tonight, I think you may have overestimated how long it will take. 🙂

    Trevor: That did seem a little fishy…no way to know which was right though – Burnett has seen the same sort of rising fastball effect (at least on his good starts) lately.

    Eyebleaf: I know- and isn’t it amazing to see someone as accomplished and at the top of his game the Doc acknowledge a potential weakness AND give credit to his batterymate for helping him through it? I hate to bring up Burnett every time I’m looking for an example of bullish stupidity, but can you imagine him saying “well, sometimes I just like to pump the heater down the middle as hard as I can when I get frustrated, but Zaun has made me throw more changeups because apparently it’s a pretty good pitch…” Are all Mormons like this, or was it those self-help tapes they got him on when the sent him down to A ball?! Such an amazing attitude to everything.


    July 3, 2008 at 3:01 am

  5. Jon:

    Check out my MSN column tomorrow–perfect fodder for ya.

    My boss and I wanted to do a controversial column so we came up with a doozy…

    Why the Blue Jays bullpen actually sucks!

    I’m kinda proud how it turned out considering it has the second best ERA in the AL.

    I’m sure you can have some fun with it–enjoy!

    Best Regards


    John Brattain

    July 3, 2008 at 9:52 am

  6. Wait…is this Jon-baiting?!? I was just about to abuse your painting die-hard SABRheads and people who just plain hate you with the same brush on BDD, too.

    Honestly, I can’t wait. 🙂


    July 3, 2008 at 2:04 pm

  7. Too many Mike’s on the brain? That’s John Walsh whose break/movement graphic I co-opted. I just stuck it into my glossary last night, so I’m glad to see it getting some use already.

    Mike Fast

    July 3, 2008 at 2:05 pm

  8. Wait…is this Jon-baiting?!? I was just about to abuse your painting die-hard SABRheads and people who just plain hate you with the same brush on BDD, too.

    Honestly, I can’t wait. 🙂

    Heh … neither can I 😉

    Best Regards


    John Brattain

    July 3, 2008 at 2:31 pm

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