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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

IMPOSTER!
Who started for the Lads last night? Whoever it was pitched an excellent game, as you well know. Picking up on my silliest feature:

BARTOLO COLON'S RUNS PER INNING AGAINST OUR FIRST BASEMEN'S OPS AND WALLY JOYNER CAREER SLUGGING PERCENTAGE
Player -- R/IP, OPS, or SLG
Colon --- .669
Erstad -- .646
Wally --- .440


Wow, Wally's getting creamed now! I might have to switch to his OPS ... but at 802 it's a bit high. Oh, well ...

Rob reports that last night's telecast indicated that Colon has abandoned his four-seam fastball (I was watching the game in a bar sans sound so I didn't hear this for myself). I had noticed that he was using the two-seamer more frequently, but not that the four-seam had been dispatched. The two-seam fastball, of course, has a bit of a downward tail to it, and travels about 4 or 5 mph slower than its "rising" four-seam counterpart. The two-seamer draws more groundballs, the four-seamer more flyballs.

So why the hell did Colon give up 11 flies to 5 grounders? Well, small sample size, obviously, but I went to check out the game on the MLB archive ... I have some results at the end of the post, because I don't want to stick it in the middle and bore the brains out of everyone, but there was infrequent use of the four-seamer, if any (it can be hard to tell which fastball it is from the centerfield camera). The most important thing was his location; Colon kept the ball belt and below for most of the game, and even the hits he allowed were on balls down. He started getting the ball up and giving up hits as he tired, which is to be expected.

Colon's key last night was his command, and if he has better command right now of the two-seamer, so much the better. He's getting the ball down and getting outs, and looking like the guy he's supposed to be.

OK, here's that boring part I warned you about. This is every out Bartolo recorded and on what pitch. The key should be obvious, the number is mph, "2-FB" is the two-seamer, "4-FB" the four-seamer, and "OS" off-speed, the last is the scorekeeping code for the play. It can be hard to tell exactly what the pitch is doing when its hit, so a lot of the guesswork was based on location and speed. But you'll note the consistency of the location as much as anything.

1: Eric Byrnes, 93, 2-FB, knees away, P-4
2: Mark McLemore, 93, 2-FB, knees in, K looking
3. Mark Kotsay, 94, 2-FB, shins in, L-9
4. Jermaine Dye, 93, 2-FB, knees in, F-7
5. Scott Hatteberg, 93, 2-FB, knees away, F-7
6. Erubiel Durzao, 95, 2-FB?, knees away, F-7
7. Bubba Crosby, 95, 2-FB?, knees away, F-9
8. Adam Melhuse, 94, 2-FB, thighs, F-7
9. Marco Scutaro, 93, 2-FB, thighs away, F-9
10. Byrnes, 94, 2-FB, thighs in, K looking*
11. McLemore, 95, 2-FB?, belt away, K swinging
12. Dye, 94, 2-FB?, belt away, FP-3
13. Hatteberg, 85, OS, knees, 3U
14. Durazo, 85, OS, dirt away, K swinging
15. Crosby, 88, OS, dirt away, K swinging
16. Melhuse, the broadcast messed up but a FB belt in, P-5
17. Scutaro, 94, 4-FB?, up and in, K swinging
18. Byrnes, 94, 2-FB, thighs away, 5-3
19. Kotsay, 90, 2-FB, knees away, 3U
20. Dye, 94, 2-FB, knees away, L-8
21. Hatteberg, 94, 2-FB, belt in, 3U
22. Durazo, 93, 2-FB, up and in, P-6
23. Scutaro, 94, 2-FB, knees away, 6-4 FC

*Colon was aiming for the knees away, and the pitch drifted in and hit the inside corner. He basically missed his spot by 17 inches. Physioc called it a "high riser," but I'm not buying it; I think Colon's shoulder flew open just a bit early so the two-seam tail tailed further in than expected.

Comments:
I think Rob may have misheard Steve and Rex. I’m pretty sure they said that he had gone away from his two-seam fastball and was throwing more four-seamers. That would be more in-tune with what I personally saw from Bartolo as well. 94-95 looks to be about where his velocity tops-out these days (with the four-seamer), and that’s what your list of out-pitches shows he was hitting consistently. That, and the G/F Ratio, would suggest that he was throwing more four-seamers- not less.
 
Richard -- if it's true his top velocity is 94-95, isn't that a little worrisome on top of all the other problems he's come up with? 2-3 MPH off the top is actually a pretty significant drop.
 
Of course it is. It's far more then "a little worrisome." His freefall hasn't been predicated on control alone- he has lost a signifigant amount of velocity. A guy isn't going to get blown up like Colon has just because he can't find the strike zone.

Now the odd thing is that his velocity has fluctuated so wildly this year. His four-seamer has been anywhere from 92-94 to 95-97- and it changes from start to start.
 
Well, I guess I'll have to listen to the whole game on MLB.tv to solve the mystery of what they said about Colon. But it was evident last night that he was finding success by keeping his heat at the hitters' knees, occasionally coming up for effect -- but doing so out of the strike zone where he can't be hit. It sounds simple, but Bartolo's been struggling with it for the better part of two months. I think last night's start was highly encouraging. You can certainly survive on a 95-mph fastball if it's well-located.
 
Well, that mystery didn't last long. Rex and Steve just backed up Richard's version of the story on tonight's telecast.

Regardless, it's the location that mattered.
 
Agreed. Location, location, location...
 
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