Okay, it's nothing, or it's temporary. Which is it, ADIDAS? What a weird quote!
Q. Iwakuma had his "B game" working?
A. How doth he limp tonight? Let us count the ways:
- Slider was flat, staying up, 4" less sink than usual, you could look it up
- Shuuto had little bite, staying up, 2" less sink
- Fastball was down about 1.0, 1.5 MPH
- Command wasn't great, especially early, was behind in the count
So his line was 5.1 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 1:4 CTL ratio - on the face of it quite good against the Rangers in Texas, but he could have given up four runs. He gave up two solo shots and scattered the other five hits. (On the other hand, one of the HR's was a cheap HR that was an easy out in Safeco.)
Still and all, the story is: he cobbled a win-quality performance out of a grade B evening. Against the mighty Rangers. There are a whale of a lot of guys who can't.
Q. Any reason he was on his B game?
A. We mentioned last time that Iwakuma needs to step forward an extra few inches, to promote the wrist snap. It was raining in Texas. Bad footing, wet ball. Iwakuma-san himself would tell you that his balance was off. Never saw him look so graceless physically.
The conditions didn't bother Darvish much. Bothered the other M's pitchers: Texas scored 2 in the first six, and 7 more in the last three after Iwakuma left.
Despite having his grade B slider especially ... in 88 pitches Iwakuma threw the slider 27 times, for 20 strikes, 15 strikes not put into play. It was a poor slider by Iwakuma's standards and the linear weights outcome was like Erikkkk's curve.
Q. Any lessons learned?
A. The last four, five outings, Dr. D had gotten a little squeamish about Jesus Montero's game-calling and defense. Not this time. By the second time through the lineup, the Rangers were freezing for called strike threes on fastballs down the middle. You go amig-O.
Really nice job by Montero, catching Iwakuma. I wonder how that pairing is in general. Of course, he's going to have to be able to handle three or four random bullpen guys in any Iwakuma start... :- )
The pitch mix:
- 45% - 89 fatball
- 31% - 81 nickel curve
- 21% - 86 shuuto
- 4% - eephus curve
45% is a super low percentage of fatballs, so Montero took all the pressure off that pitch he could ... and yet the linear weights were +3.00 to the ERA with that, and -1.00 to the ERA on both the slider and shuuto. One thing is for sure: Jesus Montero ain't afraid to call a breakin' ball. Love it.
Take that into account when comparing Miguel Olivo's caught stealing rates. A lot of catchers are taking care of their bidness before the pitcher's bidness. True, bone-deep selflessness for a catcher to resist calling the fastball in a SB situation.
Q. Why was he out after 88 pitches, facing the 7-8-9 guys in the 6th? His velocity wasn't down at all. Three more batters would have been perfect.
A. Take your pick:
- Wedge still feels pretty white-knuckle about Mr. WBC, whatever he says publicly
- He liked Oliver Perez on David Murphy (though Murphy socked a screaming line drive for a double play)
- They have, admirably, realized that "take care of his arm" isn't as simple as "100 pitches"
- Wedge, an ex-catcher, realized that Iwakuma had enough of battling the dirt on the mound
- There's something we didn't grok, like Iwakuma lost his release point through fatigue (only walk: last hitter)
- Wedge needs to "gas" out the other relievers, so he has an excuse to pitch Carter Capps 5 innings
playing mix and match with the bullpen a lot this month, few Ms pitchers have made it to 100 pitches (admittedly through a lot of poor performances), but the bullpen usage has gone from Wedge's usual 1 man, 1 inning style to 1 man, 1 batter as he's hammered at the matchups. I think he really wants to catch. 500 before the season is done.
Somebody made a lot of money figuring out how to put his thoughts onto a mass marketing campaign...
Good catch Mal... Yeah they seem to want .500 pretty bad. Let's see, they need 12-5 from here.
That would explain Millwood still running out there every 5 days.