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Entries in Texas Rangers (77)


Matt Harrison's Dead Fish

At the top of his game, Tom Glavine owned a reverse platoon split.  His statistics would show him more effective against right-handed batters than left-handed batters, despite Tom throwing from the left side.  During my time at ESPN in the 1990s, I asked both Ray Knight and Greg Olson (Glavine's former catcher) why Tom owned that split.  Both gave the same answer, both calling Glavine's off-speed pitch, "a dead fish," one that moved away from right-handed batters.

Matt Harrison is showing a reverse platoon this season.  In his first three years in the majors, Matt produced a normal left/right split.  As you can see, his off-speed pitches to right-handers came in pretty straight, even coming a little in on righties:

Matt Harrison, off-speed pitch movement, 2008-2010.This season, those pitches started moving away from the righties:

Matt Harrison, off-speed pitch movement, 2011.He's shutting down right-handed batters so far this season, holding them to a .135/.224/.192 slash line.  He's showing righties something different, and they have yet to adjust to the change.


InDepth Spotlight: Brad Penny vs. Nelson Cruz

(Click to enlarge)

The Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers square off this afternoon.  Brad Penny will have his hands full with a dangerous Rangers lineup.  Keep an eye on the Penny and Nelson Cruz matchup.  The above graphic shows all data dating back to 2008.  Cruz gets a lot of big hits up in the zone, and Penny tends to give up more hits there.

It will be interesting to see if Penny tries to come in on Cruz at all.  He's been fairly successful hitting that low inside corner against right-handed batters, holding them to a .136 batting average and .227 slugging percentage since 2008.  However, Cruz has done a lot of damage on pitches down and in from righties over that same period, producing a .649 SLG% and a 10.5% home run rate.

Will Penny challenge him?


Derek Holland Pitching on the Edge

Derek Holland pitched well in his first two starts, posting a 2.25 ERA.  He showed better control than in his first two seasons, but more importantly kept the ball in the park, having yet to allow a home run.  So far, the big change for Derek comes from working better on the edges of the plate. The following heat maps show his pitching against right-handed batters, which he sees much more often.

First, notice the location of Derek's fastball compared to his first two years in the majors (click all images for a larger version):

Derek Holland fastball location vs. RHB, 2009-2010 on the left, first two starts of 2011 on the right.Holland is working inside and on the outer half of the plate, instead of right down the middle.  This actually sets up his off-speed pitches well.  He used to leave his changeup over the plate:

Derek Holland change-up location vs. RHB, 2009-2010 on the left, first two starts of 2011 on the right.He still catches the plate with the change, but more toward the outside edge.  Thrown correctly, this pitch should look like his outside fastball, but coming in slower and lower.  The biggest change, however, probably comes from his slider:

Derek Holland slider location vs. RHB, 2009-2010 on the left, first two starts of 2011 on the right.In the past if the batter was caught by the slider, he could take the pitch and probably end up with a ball call. Now, with him hitting the corner, someone who lays off the slider finds himself down a strike.  Since he tends to work this pitch inside, it serves as a nice contrast to his inside fastball.

Holland improved all three pitches by moving them all toward the edges of the plate.  His challenge now is to keep this up for a full season.