Just wanted to provide the info about Looper's first start. Interested in people's comments and feedback. LB discussed it in today's (4/5) thread -- How much did the Mets take advantage of seeing him the 3rd time around? Was his lack of stamina the problem in the 6th? Why did LaRussa stick w/ him vs. Green and Valentin?
The results: Looper was clocked 17 times at 90 mph or above on his fastballs. Or at least that's how often it popped up on the screen. Exactly 1 of those, pitch #1 to Beltran, occurred in the 6th (90 mph). His other fastballs in the 6th were clocked at between 86 and 89. 15 of the 28 pitches he threw in the 6th were balls. 13 of his pitches in that inning were belt-high and above and 6 pitches were in the dead-center of the plate. This does not count a pitch that Beltran fouled off that inning where the camera angle was from the right-field foul pole and I couldn't tell where the pitch was, what it was, or its speed.
The other thing that stands out about Looper's 6th inning is the number of off-speed pitches he threw that inning. 6 of his first 7 pitches that inning were fastballs, similar to his approach in previous innings. Then 9 of his next 16 were off-speed pitches. This change of pattern tells me that Looper probably realized he was out of gas and that his fastball wasn't going to get by them anymore and so he needed to fool them a little. When that didn't work, and it became clear that he was out of gas, he threw 4 86-88 mph fastballs to Valentin to end the inning.
Was Looper's problem that the Mets saw him for the 3rd time? Tough to say. It's pretty clear to me that he lost something in that inning. His location was off, as he had been pretty good at throwing strikes before the 6th and then more than half his pitches that inning were balls. 24 of his first 63 pitches were balls through the 5th and then 15 of 28 were balls in the 6th. His velocity was down in the 6th. The homer was hit on an 88 mph fastball in the middle of the plate and Beltran knew what to do with it. In the early innings he did a pretty good job staying on the edges so I'm going to go w/ fatigue, rather than the 3rd time around theory to help explain his 6th inning problems. If his mph had been the same, and his location on the edges, then the 3rd time around theory would be a better explanation to me but the loss of velocity and location indicates to me that fatigue was more the issue.
Should LaRussa have stuck w/ him vs. Green and Valentin? I posted earlier in the regular thread that I had thought that he had owned them in their previous AB's. I was mistaken. Green had the only hit by a lefty before the 6th. The other 3 hits were 2 by LoDuca and 1 by Alou (all singles). Previously, Green had hit a fly ball to left and singled. Valentin had popped up and hit into a DP. It should have been clear to everyone at that point that Looper was done. His 1st pitch to Green was his 86th. I'm guessing that LaRussa was testing Looper, to see what he had and to see if he could gut out one last out. He managed to do so by spitting fumes vs. Valentin but the Green AB was a key AB, or could have been had the bullpen and defense not imploded in the next 2 innings.
All in all, I'd say a fairly well-pitched 1st start for Looper. For those worried about the Mets' lefties beating him up, they were 1-11 w/ 2 K's and a DP before Beltran's homer in the 6th. The key thing to watch in his next few starts is his stamina -- when does that fastball consistently get below 90? When does he switch his pattern from mostly fastballs to a lot of off-speed pitches? When does his location, both inside and outside of the strike zone, start to suffer? His next start is against Pittsburgh on Monday -- not quite the offensive firepower the Mets have so it'll be interesting to see also if, when he does begin to tire, he can get away w/ more mistakes b/c the Mets really took advantage in the 6th.