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Entries in debut (3)

Saturday
Apr062013

Greinke Plays Keep-Away in Dodgers Debut

Zack Greinke looked like $147 million well spent during his first start with the Dodgers last night, striking out six, walking none and allowing just two hits as L.A. shut out the Pirates 3-0. Greinke struggled with an elbow injury during spring training, but he showed superb command against the Bucs. Just ask manager Don Mattingly:

"I think it's rare to have that kind of touch with his breaking stuff. He was pretty amazing, really," Mattingly said. "He was like Felix [Hernandez]. I've seen both those guys pitch when they were 19, and both of them had great command early and great touch with their off-speed stuff early, and you don't see that."

Greinke avoided the fat part of the plate last night, throwing just 17 of his 92 pitches (18.5%) to the horizontal middle of the strike zone. For comparison's sake, the MLB average for starters is about 24%. The Dodgers' free agent prize confounded the Pirates by playing keep-away. Check out his pitch location last night:

Greinke's pitch location vs. Pirates left-handed hitters

 

Greinke's pitch location vs. Pirates right-handed hitters

 

Greinke threw 63% of his pitches to the outer third of the plate against Pittsburgh, and Pirates batters went 2-for-14 with four strikeouts against those offerings. Playing keep-away is nothing new for Greinke, though. He has thrown the second-highest percentage of outside pitches among starters since the beginning of the 2012 season:

Highest percentage of outside pitches among starters, 2012-13

He's got 118 strikeouts on pitches thrown away from 2012-13, a tally topped only by Justin Verlander Yovani Gallardo and Max Scherzer among starters.

Most strikeouts on pitches thrown away, 2012-13

Looks like the elbow's just fine, thanks.

Monday
Apr302012

The Arrival of a Hero: Harper makes his Big League Debut

On Saturday April 29th, 2012, Washington Nationals fans witnessed a historic event, the debut of the prophesied savior of the yearly cellar dwellers of the NL East: Bryce Harper. This youth phenomn was the number one overall pick of the 2010 draft at the age of 18 and has been heralded as one of the greatest prospects of all time. After taking the fast track to the major leagues, Harper was called up to replace Ryan Zimmerman, who landed on the 15 day DL. 

In his first professional AB, Harper showed off the kind of hustle that most managers have to drive into their players on a day to day basis; on a slow ground out to the pitcher, Harper flew full speed down the baseline coming a stride from beating it out.

Later on in the game, Bryce picked up his first professional hit, stroking a double off the centerfield wall on a pitch left up in the zone. He also managed to pick up his first RBI, one that Nationals fans hope is the first of many to come. What's most impressive is that Harper saw seven pitches in that at bat, wearing down starter Chad Billingsley. 

If Harper continues to hit, the number 34 jersey could become a staple in Nationals park for the rest of the season. 

Harper's First Hit of the season(The next night, Harper followed up his debut with a single and a leaping catch against the wall on a Jaun Uribe fly out: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21027101&c_id=mlb)

Tuesday
Apr102012

Yu Darvish vs. Ichiro

While Yu Darvish opened his MLB career with a win over the Mariners last night, that was more the product of Texas teeing off on Hector Noesi than the $112 million man's great outing. Darvish allowed five runs in 5.2 innings, surrendering eight hits while striking out five batters and walking four.

The matchup eagerly anticipated by seamheads ten time zones apart was Darvish vs. Ichiro. The first tilt between the former Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters ace and Sawamura winner and the erstwhile Orix BlueWave and three-time Pacific League MVP went in Ichiro's favor. Here's a quick look at how Ichiro went 3-for-4 against the latest Japanese star to make the jump to MLB.

First Inning

Darvish started Ichiro off with a 92 mph cutter, which was generously called a ball. Ichiro then fouled off a 95 mph four-seamer thrown up and away, took a 94 mph four-seamer inside for a ball and fouled off two more 94 mph four-seamers. With a 2-2 count, Darvish reared back, fired a 96 mph four-seamer and missed over the heart of the plate. Ichiro lined the pitch into left field for a single.

 

Second Inning

Darvish fell behind Ichiro again by missing way outside with a 93 mph two-seamer and then just missing low and inside with a 92 mph four-seamer. Down 2-0, Darvish left another four-seamer over the middle of the plate that Ichiro clubbed over right fielder Nelson Cruz's head for a double.

 

Fourth Inning

In the fourth, Darvish yet again got behind in the count by narrowly missing low and inside with an 80 mph slider and then well outside with a 92 mph four-seamer. Ichiro fouled off a 92 mph four-seamer on the outer third of the plate and took a 93 mph four-seamer low and inside to make it a 3-1 count. Darvish made one of his best pitches of the night, hitting the black with a 93 mph four-seamer thrown away that produced a ground out.

 

Sixth Inning

Darvish tried to stay away from Ichiro in their final battle. Ichiro took a 93 mph four-seamer outside for a ball, poked a 92 mph four-seamer foul that was way outside, and then took an 82 mph slider in the dirt to work a 2-1 count. Darvish then tried to hit the outside corner again, but the pitch was high and Ichiro singled to center field.

 

Overall, 15 of the 18 pitches Darvish threw to Ichiro were fastballs. Darvish fell behind in the count in each AB, and poor fastball command led to three base knocks. At least until the NPB stars match up again, Ichiro has bragging rights.