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Entries in James Shields (8)


James Shields's 3-D Change Up

James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays pitched a three-hitter Friday night evenly mixing in his fastball, change up and curveball throughout the evening.  The change up proved to be his out pitch.  With two strikes, he went to the change up nineteen times out of 30 pitches thrown.  Astros batters went 0 for 12 when they put a change up in play, and struck out on five more.

Shields throws a change that varies in three dimensions from his fastball.  First, compare the two pitches on speed and spin:

James Shields, fastball and change up, speed and spin, June 24, 2011.The fastball is nearly straight over the top with good back spin, thrown about 91 MPH.  The change introduces that little bit of side spin which moves it toward the catcher's glove hand.  The change averages about 84 MPH.

How do these pitches look crossing the plate?

James Shields, fastball and change up, movement, June 24, 2011.The main movement of the fastball is toward left-handed batters.  The main movement of the change up is down and toward right-handed batters.  With the same motion as his fastball, Shields throws a change up with a different speed, spin and the opposite movement.  That pitch ate up the Astros Friday night.


Carl Crawford Returns to the Trop

Tonight, Boston's Carl Crawford returns to where he started his career.  Crawford played nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays before signing with the Red Sox this offseason.

The start to his Red Sox career has been anything but easy.  Through his first 40 games, he had hit .205/.243/.280 with just one home run and 31 strike outs.  However, he's managed to slowly climb out of that hole and has raised his line to .246/.279/.393.  At this point in the 2010 season, Crawford was sporting a .296/.346/.465 line.

Here's a look at his SLG% heat maps through June 13 for both this season and last:

Data through June 13 (Click to enlarge image)

Crawford has simply not been as dangerous on pitches in the strike zone this season.  Oddly enough, he's hit the same number of HRs (6) and triples (4) that he did at this point last season.  However, he's striking out at a slightly greater rate (14.2% to 16.9% K-Rate), and walking much less (7.1% to 3.4% BB%).  As a result, his wOBA is down over 50 points from where it was at this point last season.

Crawford has never hit lefties well, but this season he's struggled greatly against them.  He's hitting .159/.216/.280 vs. LHP for a .222 wOBA, compared to a .324 wOBA vs. RHP this season.  In his career, he's put up a .264/.310/.376 line against lefties. 

Tonight, Crawford and the Red Sox face James Shields (TB) who is off to a 5-4 start with a 2.85 ERA with the Rays.  Shields has held lefties to a .232/.279/.379 line this season.  Meanwhile, Crawford has been bashing RHP over the last month, with a .419 wOBA including 3 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 home runs in that span.

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