Stephen Pryor Scouting Report 6.2.12 - Fastball

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Q.  98.3 MPH, eh?  Does Stephen Pryor throw the hottest fastball in organized baseball?

A.  The hottest the Mariners have ever seen, him and the young Randy Johnson.  The 98.3 he averaged in his debut, that would theoretically lead both leagues in fastball velocity.  Henry Rodriguez averaged 98.0 MPH last year; a grand total of four (4) other guys including Chapman, Bard and Jordan Walden were at 97 or better.  Note carefully that Pryor averaged 98.3 despite a multi-inning outing, warming up twice, all that stuff.

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Q.  Does the fastball have "life" on it, or is it just real fast?

A.  We quipped in the shout box that the velocity was the 3rd best thing about his fastball... here, gentlemen, is the best thing:

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A typical 4-seam (extra-fast) fastball swerves armside 5", and rises 8".  Stephen Pryor's fastball does not run armside; relatively speaking it cuts in on lefties, and it rises 11".  A lot of the time it rises 13-14".

You'll remember that the secret to Mariano Rivera's cutter lies solely in the fact that he gets such drastic "hop" on it, along with extra length.  This is the very definition of "late life."  Also Brandon Morrow's fastball -- whatever you want to say about Brandon Morrow -- has dramatic late rise on it, and that's why the catchers tell you "Wow!  Brandon Morrow's fastball gets to the last 5 feet and it just EXPLODES!"

These are two completely separate issues.  One - Pryor's fastball is 96-100 MPH.  Two - his fastball is turbocharged in the last 10 feet.

You say, "no way."  Read it and weep, chump.

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Q.  Do the other 100-MPH relievers have this hop?

A.  Daniel Bard gets 8-9" rise, about average, though Bard's heater does cut in to LHB's nicely.  You might have heard that Bard's fastball is a little bit hard to square up.

Henry Rodriguez gets 9-10" of rise, really nice hop, and roughly average armside run.

Chapman's lefty fastball actually sinks a bit compared to typical ML fastballs.  He gets really good armside sail.

Jordan Walden's heater is similar to Pyror's, not quite so much .... he gets 10" of rise but he also gets a lot of armside sail.  It is the "cutting" action into LHB's, added to the 10-12" rise, that gives Pryor's heater a Rivera-style shape.  The cut in gloveside is what keeps these pitches off the barrels of the bats.

Joel Hanrahan's fastball doesn't cut and rise like Pryor's, Kelvin Herrera's doesn't ... Nate Jones we just saw tonight and he looks awesome, but his fastball is fairly straight.  It is safe to say that the life and hop on Pryor's fastball is very special, probably unique.

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Q.  How does Pyror get this hop and life?

A.  He gets on top of the baseball.  Like he gets on top of the ball as well as anybody in O.B.  It's bizarre to see somebody powerflush a fastball down at the ground in front of home plate, and still get 100 MPH on it.

You probably remember SSI's sermonizing about Brandon Morrow.  Morrow throws better, the closer his fingers point to 12 o'clock, which he has been doing more and more.  When Morrow's fingers drop to 2 o'clock, even close to 3 o'clock, it's like his fingers undercut the ball and sail it, giving a floating action.

Pryor's natural motion gets him way, way on top of the ball.  The intersection of 99 MPH with a downhill release, that is inflammable.  Roger Clemens used it at 92-93 MPH, in his 30's, to rack up nine thousand Cy Youngs.

We've got the hop and life as the "secret drop of poison" here, the #1 thing about the heater, and the deceptive high front side, over-the-top downhill motion as #2.  We've got the tongue in cheek a bit on that last.  You can put the 99 MPH second on the list.

Heh.

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Is Dr. D sounding as though he likes Stephen Pryor's fastball at all?

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Comments

ghost's picture

ghost

This is OT for this thread, but you don't have any recent posts in the last week on the Mariner offense - which is IMHO a far more important story than Stephen Pryor, as fun as he is to watch.

I'm looking at the Mariners' team totals in various offensive stats that generally are good predictors of performance. For example:

Team BABIP: .276 vs.
Team xBABIP (assuming normal BABIP on trajectory types): .306

Some of this difference may be park related, but not all 30 points of it. That gap, BTW, would be larger if the Mariners didn't pop the ball up so much. In dialing up the aggression, they've increased their LD% from last year's abysmal 16.8% to this year's 20.5%, but also increased the pop-up rate from a more normal 11.0% last year to 12.1% now (!!).

Or, we could try:

Team HR/Fly: 7.5%
SAFECO all time average HR/Fly: 9.4%

And it should be intuitively obvious that our line-up is better suited to Safeco than that historical average and that we have at least normal power potential this year. Even with the unlucky HR/Fly, the team is middle of the pack in longballs and XBH thus far...that's without the maximized performance of Montero, Ackley, and Smoak (though Smoak is coming around)...not ot mention Carp.

Team SW-S%: 9.1% (league average is 9%)
Team K-rate: 21.4% (league average is 18.5%)

With a normal whiff rate, the Mariners continue to be in the top third in K-rate...this won't likely continue now that their power numbers are increasing and likely to continue to increase.

To compliment this fact:

Team O-SW%: 28% (6th best rate in the game)
Team P/PA: 3.85 (dead on league average)

Those two things don't mesh except that we're still getting too many strikes...a fact that changes the more our power numbers improve.

This offense looks primed, IMHO, to break out in the second half as the weather warms. If we can fix the back of our rotation and maybe add one more quality reliever, it could be a lot more fun and very soon.

1

Agreed, with the weather warming up and the Safe not playing as tough, home offensive output should jump.

There's a lot of talent on this team. It's not reflected in our offensive AL rankings yet, but we've scored 30 more runs through 56 games than we did last year. "On pace" is a misleading stat category, but still: on pace for 670 runs, and feeling like 700 should be doable.

With a usable offense and improving pitching staff, I'm interested to see how Wedge's Pythag looks the rest of the year. Keep hitting fellas - a few more hot streaks by really talented hitters (looking at you Ackley) would be most welcome.

But the team's posting a .584 OPS at home (.238 BABIP) with a .724 on the road (.296 BABIP). That's not gonna last. Safeco's a pitcher's park, but not like Petco.

Home/Road differential:

2012: +.140 road

2011: +.035 road

2010: +.028 road

2009: +.007 road

2008: +.025 HOME

Horrible teams or good, our team has never been crushed at home for a season like they have been this year. That'll rebound. And folks need to remember that while home field advantage isn't the same in baseball as it is in other sports, home cooking is still better and we've played WAY more road games than home so far.

Home PAs: 762
Away: 1330

We've played 34 games on the road and only 22 at home. That includes an overseas trip. We been able to skip a few games at the Safe when offense would be depressed due to weather and hitter struggles, and hopefully now that our hitters are all bringing lumber to the yard they'll be able to make some dents in our offensive struggles in Seattle as well.

~G

2

ghost's picture

ghost

Team pitches seen for the offense: 8081
Team pitches thrown by the pitchers: 7839

This ratio is fourth in the AL and 11th in baseball.

Time of possession matters in baseball like any other sport. The team that hits for longest usually scores the most.

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Taro's picture

Taro

The team is developing at a quicker pace than I anticipated. Already the pythag is at .500 without any of our big 3 pitching prospects promoted, with only a few months of development from our young hitting, and some BABIP rebounding that is due.

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Taro's picture

Taro

The one negative is Wedge for me. His teams have had a pattern of performing significantly under pythag in the past and we've begun to see the reasons behind it this year. In-game and strategic managing is non-existant.

5

And without his crucial blown saves we're basically right on Pythag. His runs and Delabar's HRs (who has a 2.6 HR rate??) have made our leveraged innings very shaky.

Wedge is using the bench a bit more than I expected, is making sure Jaso gets into games, and rather than panicking about Smoak he made sure the big guy kept getting lots of at-bats, and it's paying off now. Wedge has been about as agile recently as I could ask him to be.

His stubborn refusal to pinch-hit or bother vets in any way was horribly frustrating in April, and we'll see how Olivo does and how much of a tether he gets, but his gut has served him pretty well. And he's trying to change the psyche of a team so there are things he's looking for and feeling out that I'm not in a proper position to judge (even though, believe me, I judge my tail off).

Interesting article about Wedge telling people to shut it and let him do his job to make this bunch of rooks into pro ballplayers.

http://blog.seattlepi.com/baseball/2012/05/30/eric-wedge-spills-his-guts-on-how-to-rebuild-the-seattle-mariners/

Once Hultzen comes up and either Noesi or Beavan go down, we'll see if we can't make some more strides. The exchange of League for Capps later this summer should continue the process. A stable back-end will help the starters and the offense, not to mention the Pythag.

~G

6

ghost's picture

ghost

At this point, I think it's off base to blame Wedge. He's got the hitters digging in and performing better than we all thought, including being more patient and hitting more aggressively...AT THE SAME TIME (which is hard to do). He's been VERY agile with his bullpen management, moving bad guys out of pressure roles quickly and inserting the new arms he's given right away. He's also begun using his bench aggressively to keep guys fresh and ready to hit. His defensive substitutions and pinch hits aren't there...but that's probably the least important part of managing, IMHO.

This team, minus five really bad appearances from league, would be at .500. Blame the guy who can't throw his splitter for strikes and therefore has to throw fastballs whenever he gets behind in counts in save situations.

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TaroMontero's 2011 line in AAA for example was projected for a .261/.312/.435 line by ZIPS. He basically hasn't improved at all since then. Given his career line is .258/.302/.396 thats pretty close regressing for Safeco.1 hour 1 min ago
TaroBasically Montero was all projection, whereas Souza is good NOW with projection beyond that.1 hour 11 min ago
TaroI was huge on Montero's potential, and I was wrong. But to be fair Montero never put up the MLEs that Souza did. Souza projects as a 2-3 WAR player NOW based on what he did in AAA. Montero never did, he was incredible based on age related performance at his level and had massive power upside. But he never performed as well as Souza. His MLEs were in the 0-1 WAR range and he just never got better from there. Souza RIGHT NOW is above-average player. Montero never was.1 hour 13 min ago
moethedogI'm with Matt: Rios and Rasmus would be delightful! I'm with Taro: Souza will indeed be a player. But you could probably get both Rios and Rasmus for what Melky will cost per/year. 2X$8-$10M (with an option year) for Rasmus and something similar for Rios. Or just do Rasmus AND Souza, making all or us happy. You can get Souza fairly easily and sign Rasmus and have money to spend. Souza, btw, plays 1B, too. LoMo will need some breathers.1 hour 41 min ago
SABR MattHow much did you love Jesus Montero before we traded for him?1 hour 54 min ago
TaroJust think Souza is a player. I like his combination of athleticism, swing, and performance.2 hours 15 min ago
SABR MattRomero, Montero, Smoak, Peguero, Balentien, Clement...so...so many more. So many you won't possibly remember them all. And all but a scant tiny fraction of them have panned out. And that is not unique to the Mariners. There is a massive zero gravity moon step difference between an awesome AAA hitter and a proven major leaguer. All players have risks...but some are less risky than others. And for the record, Cruz's home run power transcends Safeco rather easily...and his hitter's park in Baltimore...has a mediocre at best HR factor to left. So...yeah...not worried about Cruz.2 hours 58 min ago
SABR MattTaro...love your insights and all...but how many guys have we promoted in the last 12 years who had great minor league numbers?3 hours 1 min ago
TaroEvery player you roster has some risk involved, included proven MLBers. Cruz will be a RH backspin 35 year old slugger with a career sub .330 OBP in hitters parks, and we've signed him for 4 years. I'd be more nervous about him than Souza in 2015, and especially beyond that. Souza has the performance in the high minors combined with insane athleticism. I think hes underrated due to being a football convert and a late bloomer.3 hours 11 min ago
SABR Mattyou don't take that sort of risk when this is the best chance you have of winning the WS. Souza can be a fourth outfielder option...not a starter.3 hours 34 min ago
GLSSouza is a risk, but a pretty good one.3 hours 36 min ago
SABR MattSouza is not reliable. That's not sufficient to this moment.3 hours 51 min ago
TaroI'm thinking Melky would want 'at least' 4 years gauranteed if hes looking for 5. If Ms stay hard at 3 they won't land him, vesting option for 4th or not. Just give him 5 with a lower AAV. 5/$55 or something in that range. Or deal for Souza (my favorite option).4 hours 22 min ago
SABR MattRasmus and Rios would be a fine platoon with CF helper potential and would be cheaper than Cabrera. I like Cabrera better even with more money involved, but Rios/Rasmus would also be fine with me.4 hours 29 min ago
Gordon GrossRios and Rasmus would be... extensive. By himself I'm not huge on Rios. A Rios/Rasmus platoon would be damaging. Playing with brass knuckles. I hope the Ms take the velvet gloves fully off this offseason. Zduriencik has waited half a decade to wade into the fight with fists flying - let's make it worth the wait. I'm fine with making Beane cry into his collapsing-budget cup o' coffee.4 hours 32 min ago
SABR MattRasmus. If you get Rios and Rasmus, the outfield aligns OK5 hours 9 min ago
moethedogThe Rios card might not bluff the Melky team guys: In '12 Rios was a heck of a player. In '11 he was a dud. In '13 and '14 he was basically a split heavy .280-.320-.420 guy with a pretty scraggly glove. There doesn't seem to be much Rios market out there right now, which might be a neat quality. You could probably get him for 2 years and not break the bank. Over the last two years Viciedo has hit RHP at a .738 and .689 clip. Rios has hit at .714 and .646 rate. Just saying. But he does continue to beat lefties up, so as a 4th OF-paired with Ackley, as Matt suggests, Rios would be great. He's been at .889 and .898 vL the last two years. That's rip-roaring. But it means that you need a RF who can play CF, as Rios no longer does.6 hours 6 min ago
moethedogRios and Miller would be a neat combo, perhaps. If the hint that we had interest in Seth Smith is true that might also be a place to go. Smith and Rios would be an interesting tandem. But you're still a CF short. Smith is what you hope Ackley becomes. And he's cheap for 3 years. But unless it's Jones, Miller or Endy...we need a CF glove to go with the one we've got. Bloomie? No thanks...6 hours 6 min ago
SABR MattWouldn't mind also getting Rios to pair with Ackley8 hours 4 min ago
jemanjiYep that 5.7 RC/27, delivered game-in game-out, is looking pretty sweet. Good Kendrys plus wheels8 hours 5 min ago