At 9.4, Felix' strikeout rate is easily the highest of his career.
At 1.7, Felix' walk rate is easily the lowest of his career.
At 0.6, Felix' homer rate is comically low, especially with the new catch-basin for homers that Safeco features out in LF. (Sandy is exactly right that Safeco's OPS+ and ERA+ indices will be warped for a while.)
At 11.7%, Felix' SwStr% is by far the best of his career.
Forget the numbers in this case; sometimes, over a short span, they reflect the underlying processes and sometimes they don't. What is actually happening is that Felix Hernandez is getting better. It made sense that he would. He has never quite pitched up to the sum of his parts. He's starting to do exactly that, in my opinion.
It gets tougher all the time to figure out what is a fastball and what is a "changeup." This Brooks velocity chart turned out to be the key on Tuesday:
Going by this chart, the pitches are, loosely speaking...
- Curve = 10 inches of drop, 80-84 MPH
- Slider = 0-5 inches of drop, 85-88 MPH
- "Changeup" = 0-4 inches of drop, 89-92 MPH (!!)
- Fastball = 1-9 inches of rise, 91-96 MPH
In terms of side-to-side swerve, all of his pitches had fairly standard MLB(TM) movement. What was not "fairly standard" about his pitches was this:
- Curve --- > had a bloop-curve break at slider velocity and fastball arm action
- Slider --- > acted as a super-cutter, nearly fastball velo, sharp in/down break
- Change --- > had the movement of Iwakuma's shuuto, at the velocity of Iwakuma's fastball
- Fastball --- >Felix topped 95 MPH sixteen times
Felix has proven that he doesn't need even 90 MPH in order to dominate. By "proven" we mean that he has "demonstrated the truth of it by evidence." But what happens if he does -- now that he has razor-sharpened his breaking stuff -- revert to his 94 MPH velocity?
I'd like to find out.
I haven't kept track of the results, since Sucre's first couple-three games. But Jesus Sucre's pitch framing has remained gasp-inducingly gorgeous.
He "clamshells" high and inside pitches; he catches outside and low pitches with glove moving into the zone; he remains as quiet as the grave with his body, and even angles his body and footwork so as to create an optical illusion of a fishtrap into the zone. (Today we saw Kelly Shoppach actually imitating this body angling.)
Has it helped? Take a real long look at THIS STRIKE ZONE CHART and see if you can find one (1) strike given to Felix by the home plate ump.
Here's a hint: not even one. (A handful of clear strikes and very close pitches were taken away.) This is Felix Hernandez here, gentlemen.