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Entries in Toronto Blue Jays (32)

Saturday
Apr302011

InDepth Spotlight: Kyle Drabek vs. Alex Rodriguez

Rookie Kyle Drabek (TOR) has pitched left-handed batters fairly well this season, holding them to a .200/.351/.333 line.  However, righties have hit him a little better: .267/.327/.422.

Alex Rodriguez (NYY) has hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed, particularly over the last three years.  In that time, he's put up a .406 wOBA against righties, 36 points higher than against lefties.

(Click to enlarge)

Alex has been turning on balls up and in very well this season, while Kyle has had his troubles trying to jam righties.  He'll likely try to work Arod down in the zone as much as possible this afternoon.

Monday
Apr252011

Jose Bautista Adjusting to the Changeup

Jose Bautista(TOR) hasn't shown any signs of letting up from his powerful 2010 season.  He is currently tied for the HR lead with 7, and his on base percentage of .506 leads all major league players.  Pitchers are now treading carefully when Bautista comes to the plate.  His walk rate is up from 14.6% in 2010 to 22.9% this season, highest in the majors.

One pitch that gave Bautista trouble last season was the changeup.

Jose Bautista vs. 2010 Changeups (304 pitches)
AVGOBPSLUGOPSwOBA
Totals.115.258.288.547.254
Expected.195.357.400.756.343

The right-handed slugger has apparently made some adjustments and is hitting changeups much better early in the 2011 season. Three of his home runs have come off changeups with a total of 5 hits in 11 ABs decided on the pitch. He's seen 55 changeups so far this year and has made contact on only 47.4% of his swings (72.4% contact rate in 2010). So while he's not making as much contact, his swings are producing much better results so far.

This tells me that he's recognizing the pitch better, and as a result is swinging harder. While he may miss the pitch completely more often, the changeups he does connect on will go a long way. Even the one triple he hit off a change (a broken bat looping liner on April 22nd) shows Bautista's patience. He recognized the change out of Jeremy Hellickson's(TB) hand, which fell away from him off the outside corner of the plate. Bautista waited on it and got the end of his bat on the ball, dunking it in front of a diving Ben Zobrist in right field.

Given that changeups were the one pitch he had trouble with last year, if he continues hitting them hard, he could put up as good, if not better overall power numbers this season.

Monday
Apr112011

InDepth Recap: Jered Weaver's 15K Day

Jered Weaver set a career high yesterday by striking out 15 batters in 7 2/3 innings.  Here's where he was putting his pitches versus the Jays:

Jered Weaver vs. Toronto Blue Jays (4/10/11)
(Click to enlarge)

It helped that Jered only had to face 6 left-handed batters all game.  He was able to hit that outside edge against them and yielded one hit, an infield single to Travis Snider.  

Coming into the game, batters made contact on 76.2 percent of Weaver's pitches.  Yesterday, the Blue Jays only made contact on 51.9 percent.  He had them off balance all game, recording 6 strike outs on fastballs, 6 on sliders, 2 on curveballs, and 1 on a changeup. 

Weaver's off-speed pitches were filthy yesteday.  Jays' hitters posted a miniscule 20.0 percent contact rate on the 35 sliders thrown by Jered, compared to the 71.2 percent contact rate batters have produced on his slider since 2008. 

PitchFX data indicates that since 2008, Weaver's slider tends to cross the plate with 16.8 feet per second of downward velocity.  Yesterday, it averaged 17.4 ft/s of downward movement.  He also had a BrkZ average of .9 on his slider entering the game.  Against the Jays yesterday it came in at -.4.  He was simply getting much more movement on the pitch, resulting in a lot of whiffs from opposing batters.