Tagged: San Francisco Giants

Skip Schumaker, Relief Ace

Last night’s turd of a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies was chock full of head turning (and scratching) lines in the boxscore.

– Rookie Rockie Nolan Arenado‘s first major league home run? Bully!

– Rockie starter Tyler Chatwood‘s 3-4, 2 RBI night with the bat to go along with his 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 K pitching effort? Huzzah!

Ted Lilly‘s 3 IP, 2 homeru-let me stop right there with that.

Josh Wall‘s 2 IP, 7 earned r-NO NO NO STOP.

… Dodger shortstop Skip Schumaker‘s relief outing?

For the boys in blue, that’s about as good as it got last night – a position player coming in to adequately pitch and stop the bleeding. For Schumaker, last night’s one inning of 2 hit, 1 walk, no run ball marked the second time he came in to hold down the fort pitching-wise, having previously pitched a 1 inning, 2 run outing in 2011 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

So how did he do last night? Let’s look at some Brooks Baseball PITCHf/x data and see…

Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 12.21.21 PM

First off, let me just say what an impressive array of pitches Skip has; while I have my doubts as to whether he has a ‘true’ cutter, the fact that he mixed in a knuckleball to go along with a fastball in the high 80s/low 90s (which is about MLB average might I add) is pretty gutsy. Looking at the pitch Linear Weights, Schumaker’s pitches are all pretty decent, save for the cutter (more than likely just a two-seam fastball).

Let’s see how well he located his pitches:

schumaker

By the looks of it, Skip should ditch the cutter and focus more on throwing four-seam fastballs, changeups and curve balls; he seemed to have a hard time throwing the cutter for strikes or even remotely close to the plate. Whittling down the repertoire to a solid 2 -to- 2.5 pitches with command should suit him nicely.

While Schumaker has a way to go to wrest the crown of ‘best pitcher to come out of UC-Santa Barbara‘ off of Barry Zito‘s head, his inning last night showed not only Schumaker’s positional flexibility and willingness to contribute to his team’s success in any way, he showed off a pitching prowess that is sorely lacking in the Dodgers pitching staff, hit hard with injuries to Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly, and Chad Billingsley.

Matt Guerrier, you’re on notice.

Image courtesy of www.truebluela.com

Virginia Is For  Lovers

Cla Meredith

Cla Meredith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

… sidearmers.

Yep, the state that has a better Target than the one closer to me here in DC, which is the only reason I ever go down there Commonwealth of Virginia is known for many things, but at the top of the list should be ‘state that produces a buttload of sidearm pitchers’.

Sorry, lovers!

Virginia is an underrated state with respect to the talent produced by the state’s high schools and colleges – hitting luminaries such as the Upton brothers, Mark Reynolds, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Wright all call the 10th state admitted to the Union (as well as the Tidewater region) home. An impressive list, indeed, especially if you like strikeouts home runs. For a more exhaustive list, you can have a look at this list of Virginians (by birth) who played in the MLB.

Overall, there have been 271 Virginians who have suited up for a major league team, which is 1.5% of all players who have made an appearance in the pros, good for a tie for 18th place with Kentucky with respect to states that produce the most MLB players. However, it was an old New York Times article on Virginian sidewinders and New York Yankee bullpen buddies Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley that got me thinking about their Virginian pitching brethren, which led me to think of Javier Lopez and Cla Meredith.

Hmm. All sidearmers. A curious co-inky-dink.

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper, and see what kind of sidearmers Old Dominion has recently produced out of their 1.5 percent share of MLB’ers.

My criterion was this – list the number of sidearmers, who were confirmed sidearm or submarine style pitchers who have made an appearance since 1980, and see who had VA ties. I only went as far back to 1980 in order to personally confirm that a guy truly was a sidearmer; plus, with the little research I did, it allowed me to concentrate on true sidearmers, versus guys who would occasionally change their arm angle here and there to get a tough hitter out, which seemed to be en vogue in the 1960’s and earlier. This criteria threw out the old timers, obviously, but also kept guys like David Cone off of the list.

All of that being said, this Baseball Reference Bullpen link was my first stop, but its listing was limited by what could be gathered from the book The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers. In essence, the list is a good historical reference, but anyone post 2002ish won’t be listed, so for those folks, I did a little Google-fu and came up with this exhaustive* list of non-Virginian sidearmers:

Brian Shouse

Peter Moylan

Randy Choate

Brian Fuentes

Mike Koplove

Pat Neshek

Darren O’Day

Joe Smith

Brad Ziegler

Tim Dillard

Steve Cishek

Vinnie Pestano

Pedro Feliciano

Jeff Nelson

Again, Google was my friend with this list, so if I have missed someone, I’d love to hear about it and would be happy to edit as needed.

We have our list, sort of, of sidearmers from 1980 to present.  Counting up all of the pitchers from the Baseball Reference link and from my research, we have a total of 33 pitchers, 1980 to present, who threw sidearm/submarine. Here are the 6 sidearmers I could find with VA ties (stats courtesy of Fangraphs):

Name W L SV G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR VA link
Javier Lopez 23 11 12 563 0 392 5.95 3.97 0.44 0.301 71.40% 57% 7% 3.83 3.9 4.19 3 HS, Univ VA
Mike Venafro 15 10 5 307 0 253.1 4.65 3.34 0.53 0.294 69.60% 56% 12% 4.09 4.18 4.58 2.5 HS, JMU
Cla Meredith 14 14 1 286 0 283.1 6 2.54 0.76 0.309 74.50% 66% 15% 3.62 3.89 3.54 1 birth, HS, VCU
Brad Clontz 22 8 8 272 0 277.2 6.81 3.89 0.97 0.294 71.30% 4.34 4.45 0.2 birth, HS
Clay Rapada 8 0 0 148 0 91 8.11 4.85 0.99 0.267 72.30% 44% 11% 4.15 4.4 4.3 0.2 birth, HS, VA St
Cody Eppley 2 3 0 71 0 56.2 6.19 3.49 0.95 0.311 70.10% 60% 18% 4.61 4.3 3.78 -0.1 VCU

I have also included their tie to Virginia – for those curious, Lopez was born in Puerto Rico, while Venafro was born in Maryland and Eppley is a Pennsylvanian.

This gives Virginia 18% of the sidearmer share since 1980, an impressive percentage.

Overall, it’s a mildly underwhelming list of names and talents; however, that is the life of a sidearmer. Typically converted to a sidearm delivery in the minors after not having much success getting hitters out with a more traditional over the top release point, the sidearmer very often is a hanger-on, making the most of his newly learned quirkiness to keep a job. Relegated to the bullpen and a life of one out appearances against the opponent’s best hitter, the role is one of little fanfare but much spectacle. Spectacle arising not only from an unorthodox release point, but also the lack of radar gun luminance from your fastball and the normally high pressure relief situations you find yourself thrust into.

While I will leave the poetic prose and explanations as to why there exists this marriage between thankless bullpen role and the denizens, former and current, of the Commonwealth of Virginia to others, I do leave you with one request.

If my Maryland in-laws ask, I never wrote this.

Photo courtesy of southernbelle.mlblogs.com

Photo courtesy of southernbelle.mlblogs.com

*and by exhaustive, I mean ‘what could I find by Googling ‘sidearm pitchers’ for about 15 minutes’

The Ghost of Xaviers Past

I am an unabashed Xavier Nady fan – have been ever since I saw him manhandle the pitching staffs of many a college baseball team of northern California that came through to play his Cal Bears back in the day. Some of you might also remember my Nady love from this previous post.

Regardless of how your memory is jogged of my man crush on the Salinas Slugger, if there is Nady News, I am all over it, like Nady on a mid-thigh high, mid to upper 80’s fastball, with little to no movement from a right handed pitcher, preferably in a hitter’s count.

Well, my our good friend and newly minted Kansas City Royal is back in the news, once again to haunt the dreams of Washington Nationals fans.

If it wasn’t torture enough for Nats fans to bid him adieu after several lackluster, yet sporadically productive weeks as a National, only to see him end the year a World Series winner…

Nady_WS

 

…the ZiPS Projections for 2013 have come out, and Nady once again returns to troll the hearts and minds of Nats fans:

 

zips_nady

Nadytude. It never dies.