Braves 5, Mariners 3 - Yeeeeee, HA HA HA HA HAAAAA

Acting today is soooooooooo much better than when I was a kid.

I thought the very best moment of acting in The Dark Knight was in the interrogation room, after Batman hit the Joker with a right hand that knocked the jam out of his toes ... Heath Ledger sucked in a sharp breath, carefully processed the pain before deciding, and ... with his next laugh, sold me.

The Joker found the experience info-taining.  Batman didn't hit him again.


Which you might relate to, either as an SSI denizen, or a Mariners fan, or both.  You think they'll stop hitting us any time soon?  I'm getting so I like the pain.

In either case, G-Money has the right take on it in this post.  We asked for one franchise rookie this year, and we were given three.

Give us three more next year, starting with Paxton, and you've really got something :- )  

Maybe Seager's one of 'em?  Mike Carp?  Next up, Spec.  You da man.

We lost the dinky little trivial battle Wednesday, but Dustin Ackley is about to win us the war.  Does anybody even remember that he plays second base?  We're talking Hanley Ramirez here -- a guy who maybe goes 1-1 in roto drafts.  

Ackley, Smoak, Pineda, Felix, you can feel the clouds brewing on the horizon.


Felix Hernandez' Amazing Dry Spitball.  The vertical movement on Felix' change is dropping by one inch, every game.  Check the movement graph here -- last graph, far right side of it, yellow line.

A right hand major league changeup is 83 mph, swerves armside 6-7 inches, and drops 3-4 inches vs a fastball (which means that it rises 3 inches vs. vacuum).

Felix' changeup moves much, much more:  for the year it drops 7-8 inches vs fastball, and DOES NOT RISE AT ALL compared to vacuum.  Think spitball or knuckleball.  That's a pitch with no rise due to spin:  Spitball, knuckleball, Felix Hernandez changeup.

Except the last several games, Felix' change has dropped even more than that.  Check the graph.  (This has also led to several balls spiked in the dirt recently.  The pitch has obviously suffered radiation damage and will shortly become self-aware.)


Wednesday night, all of Felix' pitches had excellent results, except for his two-seam sinking fastball.


Also, check the Run Type Values for Felix' change, against all his other pitches.  The gap is vast, and getting vast-y-er.


Said all that to say this:  Felix knows this, and he's using his change more and more ... here are his 2011 tendencies:

  • FB = 55%
  • Curve = 15%
  • Slider = 10%
  • Change = 20%

Wednesday, he threw his changeup 42 (!!) times.

Imagine Tom Seaver with a Gaylord Perry spitball.  That is precisely what Felix Hernandez has become.


Also getting better:  Felix' curve ball (extra drop and bite this year) ... his FB command ... and his pitchability (more offspeed and high FB's with two strikes).  His slider isn't as good this year, however.  And I don't think he has a very good knuckleball with his left hand.

Felix Hernandez' strikeout rate has increased every year since 2006, his HR rate continues to drop and drop and drop, and his endurance goes up and up and up.  He's on pace for 250 innings this year, and at pitch 127 tonight, he looked as fresh as at pitch one.

Felix is the 21st-century analogue to Roger Clemens and Tom Seaver.  But I don't remember them spiralling off into their own pitching universes at age 25.


The Mariners finally made my Josh Bard move, totally of their own volition, of course.

Behind the plate, Bard had the energy of Steve Baron -- pumping his fist, "casting" his glove into Felix' target, calling for deadly strikeout changeups, squatting very high and with great mobility, framing the pitches and getting lots of calls ...

You could smell Bard's joy in the game, his joy in being on a major league field, through the TV screen.  It smelled of chocolate chip cookies.

Alas, sports are not scripted or screenplay'ed.  Which is what we love about them.  This non-script called for a Josh Bard non-win.


With Josh Bard amp'ed up, Felix roared out of the gate -- for a change -- and had like 6 strikeouts in 3.1 innings, or something, with a 23:8 strike ball count at one point.

I didn't see the part where the Braves strung some hits on him, so the final outcome weakens my case a bit :- ) but man, did I love the way Josh Bard looked behind the plate.


Keep da faith,

Dr D


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