Stephen Pryor Scouting Report 6.2.12 - Pitch Mix

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Q.  This 85% fastball challenge prescription ... does this contradict your complaint about Brandon League "not thinking out there"?  Thought you didn't like predictable 1-0 fastballs.

A.  It doesn't, thanks for asking.  Contradict anything, that is.

Stephen Pryor's fastball passes a point of critical mass.  It's a Goose Gossage, an Armando Benitez fastball.  Pryor's fastball is overwhelming; Brandon League's is most definitely not.  

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Q.  Why?  Both fastballs are around 97 MPH.

A.  League's fastball reads 97 sometimes, but it's thrown from a low arm slot, it's thrown EVERY BLINKIN' PITCH at knee level, and it sinks.  The result is a flat sidearm fastball that "keeps the bat in the zone a long time."  The hitter dips his back knee and then the bat is on a plane with the pitch the entire time it's in the air.

Pryor's fastball comes over the top, runs downhill and then WHOOOOP shoots back up off the BMX jump.  It's more reliably fast.  It's a different conversation.

"Thinking" for Pryor involves this:  (1) moving the fastball around the zone the best he can.  (2) Throwing as hard as he possibly can.  (3) Making sure he gets strike one.  (4) Throwing 3-4 sliders an inning, total, all right on the black or preferably off the black.  Like the first two sliders he threw to Viciedo.

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Q.  Will batters swing at a slider even though the advance scouting says he likes to throw it outside the zone?

A.  The strikeout of Konerko, how far was that off the plate?  About two first downs' worth?

If an Aroldis Chapman throws a ball 100 MPH, remember, that adds seven feet to the "length" of the pitch.  Ever been to a batting cage?  Even a broken-down old pug like me can hit 90, 95 MPH if the speed is the same.  

You hear the pop and you swing your bat in rhythm and the ball's there.  That's what they mean by "cheating," simply swinging in time to the release of the ball.  ... now picture yourself swinging in time to 90 MPH, pop, swing ... except this one was 100 MPH.  You know how far it was past your bat?  7 feet!

Now remember, also, the hitter doesn't get to decide to swing when the ball's 10 feet away.  Even if he can swing in 0.20 seconds -- one eyeblink to get your bat into the strike zone!! -- he's got to decide whether to swing when the ball is 30-40 feet away from him.

............

Ever watch the final strikeout of Randy Johnson's no-hitter?  The ball was like 7 feet off the ground.  Joe Morgan, commenting on Randy Johnson in the playoffs in 1995, remarked sadly "You just don't have enough time to decide whether to swing.  You. Just. Don't. Have. Enough. Time.

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Q.  Don't get beat with your second-best pitch, eh...

A.  The above is a baseball cliche that, a lot of the time, sends Dr. D screaming out into the night... Tom Wilhelmsen will crack off a 12-6 curve and somebody will line a GWRBI.  You'll hear somebody say "you need to throw your best pitch there" ... what is TW supposed to do, throw the same pitch every time?

............

But every cliche has a grounding in truth, and Stephen Pryor is the guy they were thinking of here.  His fastball is amazing, just amazing, and the other pitches need to run with ribbons around the maypole of his fastball.

Pryor don' have a Daniel Bard slider, and he don' have no bidness throwing waist-high sliders down the middle ... or at the very least, he's got no business "showing" a batter his slider twice in one AB.  Not for strikes.  One called strike, first pitch, MAYbe... any further sliders gotta be where they can't hurt him.  Make them beat him on the fastball.  Don't worry, they won't.

Slap me silly, once Pryor goes to the 12 fastball, 3 slider pitch mix, all the sliders on the black or off the black, they're going to make new rules.

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BABVA,

Dr D

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Gordon Gross2009 was good enough if you thought we were building something off that season. Instead, in 2010 all the young players crashed and burned and the old players got broken. We don't have too many old players to get broken (Kuma aside)... but the young players have to step up, and we need a bit more lumber. If we don't get it and we crash and burn, then no, 85-87 isn't enough. I have a hard time blaming the 2002 or 03 Ms (on the field) for winning 93 games and missing the playoffs. But we need to build a perennial 90+ win team, not a .500 team that has to get really lucky to make the playoffs. There are lots of pieces on this team that would fit in well on a perennial contender - but this is gonna be where Jack makes his bones as a GM and not just a talent scout. TL;DR: Next year will tell me how to feel about this year.43 min 31 sec ago
SABR Mattwe may not even get to 85 wins this year. Was 2009 good enough for us? Why not? Just because the 2nd WC didn't exist?2 hours 28 min ago
IcebreakerXG, totally so. The only thing I worry about is whether the M's will look at in context (M's compete in an unusually soft wild card race that LL pointed out), egocentric optimism (M's compete in the new look wild card race) or absolute insanity (M's are awesomez!1!). I just fear the M's will go with option 3, like they have in the past.3 hours 23 min ago
SABR MattI think we have here a team that is growing together (a good thing) and, for most of them, this is their first chance to reach the post-season...and they just tensed up and got out of their game...happens all the time.3 hours 56 min ago
GLSYikes! What happened tonight?12 hours 24 min ago
rick82Well, we have our stopper going tomorrow. That's what a stopper is for. To stop. Stuff like this. Right?13 hours 6 min ago
Bat571In a way, if they fall short in the very last week, it might help make them each and all hungrier next year.14 hours 32 min ago
Bat571If Miller, Ackley, Zunino, Saunders, Morrison, and Jackson all commit to being in shape and hitting like they have in their good months for more of the season, Cano rebounds a bit, Seager keeps it up, and Felix, 'Kuma, Paxton, Elias, and Walker commit to coming in to again be the best staff in baseball, it will be fun again next year. Taylor, Jones, Sucre, and Romero need to be ready for anything asked of them, and able to give the others breaks without a performance falloff. It's actually a pretty nice core - but a Tomas or Kemp sure wouldn't hurt!14 hours 33 min ago
Bat571Hicks, Marlette, Peterson, Lara, Marte, TySmith, Kivlehan, Blash, Guerrero, Henry, Pike, Sanchez, Morban, Pizzano, and more at Jackson or Tacoma next year. Wilson, Jackson, Reinheimer, Gohara, Diaz, Missaki, Morgan, O'Neill, Fontaine, and more finding it at Bakersfield or Clinton. The M's have avery good chance at being better next yer and better still in 2016. Looks like they miss it this time, but it isn't like the Phillies or Yankees with the cupboards bare.14 hours 50 min ago
Gordon GrossJust so, bat: meaningful games. I hope those kinds of games mean something to the bean counters and not just the players and fans.14 hours 57 min ago
Gordon GrossThis team was only built to go as far as its pitching would take em, Ice. But it's a good experience for all of them to have: playing with a purpose instead of playing out the string. They should be better for it next year, and will understand what it takes. Can't rely on a 128 OPS+ to give you even a WC shot.14 hours 58 min ago
Bat571Meaningful games. And the meaning the M's front office ought to be seeing is that the team is still short on offense, and is tired. Work hard in the off-season, sign a Tomas or, at least, a Rios, trade for a Kemp or Van Slyke, keep developing prospects, hope Hultzen can help by mid-2015, but in any case, commit to winning.15 hours 53 sec ago
Gordon GrossWhen those of us who watched Paxton in the minors say, " there will be days he can't throw it in the ocean"... THIS is what we meant. On the plus side, he tends to be a killer the rest of the time, so his implosions only cost you one game. I might even prefer my starters to be nails or worthless, rather than mediocre all the time. On the minus side... we REALLY needed this game.15 hours 1 min ago
IcebreakerXThe M's were running on NOX the whole season, which isn't a good way to run a ball club. This isn't a GOOD ball club. It's an okay ball club that was over-performing.15 hours 30 min ago
MtGrizzlyIt. Is. Over. The M's just ran out of gas down the stretch.15 hours 39 min ago
Tacoma RainSlip sliding away... the closer our destination, the more likely we are slip sliding away... :(15 hours 51 min ago
Gordon GrossBrutal. Just BRUTAL.15 hours 58 min ago
DaddyOAnd so we appear to be slipping into wild card race oblivion. Down 5-1. If we lose this game, our record since September 6th, our high water mark, will be 4-10. Not the way to capture a postseason berth.16 hours 2 min ago
rick82And...K-Pax implodes in the first inning.16 hours 42 min ago