seams like old times

cards back in action tonight, vs the dodgers; here's the gameday link. game is on mlb.tv, our first chance to see anthony reyes pitch this year. after anthony's last start, i e-mailed derrick goold to ask for his opinion about why reyes is so much sharper this spring than last. "i'm not trying to stir the pot about the 2-seamer," i wrote;

it sounds like there's no pot to stir this year, frankly. but i do want to have a deeper understanding about what's different betw this year and last.

can imagine a variety of things that might explain it:

  • he's a year further along with the 2-seamer, so naturally he's better at it
  • his attitude has changed; he's trying harder [to master the 2-seamer], resisting less
  • he's deploying the pitch differently this year --- using it as an auxiliary or off-speed pitch, rather than a primary pitch; throwing it only in certain counts or to certain types of hitters
the answer, in essence, is "all of the above" --- reyes is more experienced with the pitch, more committed to mastering it, and choosier about when he throws it. to cite an example: in reyes' very first spring training inning, back on march 4, he had a man on third base with one out and miguel cabrera at the plate. the at-bat, goold wrote a few days later, "reveals how [reyes is] evolving as a pitcher. With a runner at third base, Reyes got Florida's Miguel Cabrera to foul off a series of well-placed four-seam fastballs -- good signs, Reyes said. He then fed Cabrera a sinker. The all-star grounded out to shortstop." in other words, reyes pitched off his trusted 4-seamer --- used it to get ahead in the count and establish control of the at-bat --- and then pulled out the 2-seamer to show the batter a different look. last year, he'd more likely have thrown 2-seamers from the very beginning of the confrontation --- and more likely have fallen behind in the count. the sequence he threw to cabrera represents the logical compromise between his predilections and tony/dave's preferences --- a blend of the two approaches.

after his last start, reyes told goold: "I feel comfortable throwing the two-seam now and getting a lot of called strikes with it. Just continue to get stronger and I'll be alright. I feel like I'm throwing the way I'm used to throwing." his increased faith in the pitch surely has a lot to do with his sharpness so far this spring --- but it's just as certain that the 4-seamer has regained its place as anthony's bread-n-butter fastball. how do we know? reyes' groundball / flyball ratio is as low as ever ---- 0.60 groundouts per flyout so far this spring. those are not the groundball-making numbers of a fully born-again 2-seamerist. apparently he's still pitching up in the zone and getting the lion's share of his outs there. but having a trustworthy sinker to go along with his deadly changeup and that slurvey thing of his can only make reyes a better pitcher. i'm looking forward to getting a look at him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

here's a little trade gossip, courtesy joe strauss:

Any February momentum toward adding a starter has been replaced by an intensifying search for a righthanded reliever to set up Isringhausen.

With Josh Kinney gone for the season following surgery on March 13, Brad Thompson appears the likely choice to work the eighth inning.

Several organization members remain interested in Arizona Diamondbacks righthanded reliever Jorge Julio, formerly a closer with the Baltimore Orioles. The Diamondbacks have a need for another lefthander in the bullpen, something the Cardinals can give them.

when i look at jorge julio's stat page, two things jump out at me --- home runs and wild pitches. over the last three seasons, in 207 aggregate innings, julio has given up 35 homers and 26 wild pitches. those are not the numbers of a guy i want pitching the 8th inning of a one-run game. his era over that span is 4.92; since his rookie year (2002), he hasn't had a single-season era lower than 4.23. he has issued 98 walks in the last three years, or 4.3 guys per 9.

he's on a one-year contract at $3.6 million; free agent at the end of the season.

julio does throw hard and strikes a lot of people out; so did jorge sosa. i'll take my chances with the guys we've got now.

speaking of which: if the search for help in the setup role has become this desperate, i gotta ask again --- and forgive me if you've heard this already --- why the hell do they not just put looper back into the pen and let him do the job he was hired to do? i am fully aware of looper's limitations, but compare him to julio over the last three years:

g ip hr bb era whip praa sv wpa
looper 200 216 15 58 3.33 1.319 +26 57 +0.78
julio 194 206.2 35 98 4.92 1.379 -4 38 -0.27

i don't want to harp too much on julio, because we don't know how serious the cards' interest in him is; probably not very great. but the fact that there's any interest at all says a great deal about how desperate they are for an upgrade in th setup role. given the availability of an obvious upgrade right there on the roster . . . . well, leave it to me to make the obvious choice. being much lazier than tony and dave, i would simply take the easy way out: put looper back into the his usual role and let the guys who are actually starters --- franklin, keisler, and narveson --- fight it out for the #5 slot in the rotation.

not very imaginative, i'll concede. . . .

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