Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cy Young V. Cy Never

It's a helluva pitching matchup today if you can brave the cold. (I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy!)

John Patterson makes his second start and has his built-in excuse for why his curveball is flat. Patterson's a former Diamondback, who was sent to Montreal for Randy Choate. Yes, seriously. Randy Choate. (Choate having been acquired along with Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera for Javier Vazquez -- man, that Minaya gets ripped, but he pulled off more than a few steals!)

Opposing him is Brandon Webb and his power sinker. Since he pitches in some desert (Sahara? Kalahari?), and mostly on the West Coast, most of us haven't really seen him. He's an interesting pitcher to watch, but also the kind that, if he's going well, makes your team look completely foolish and as if they weren't really trying. Just what we need, eh?

He's not quite a one-pitch pitcher, but with his two-seam sinking fastball, he might as well be.

What makes Webb so dominant is that he is a groundball machine. Groundballs are, in general, a better result for a pitcher because if they drop in, it's usually going to be worth only one base. As we saw last night, when flyballs drop in, it can be a triple. He combines that with a pretty good ability to strike batters out -- a hair under 7 Ks per 9 IP. So he's making it hard to put it in play, and when you do get the bat on the ball, you're hitting it on the ground. Conveniently, playing behind him is Orlando Hudson, the two-time gold glove second baseman who's everything that Jose Vidro wasn't.

Did I mention that he allowed just 15 homers last year or that he walked fewer than 2 batters per 9? Nope. Good, cause if you think about that too much, you definitely won't be going tonight.

  • Few other notes as I'm thinking of them...

    I can't remember if I wrote it or not, but the Nationals won't be skipping Jason Bergmann's spot in the rotation, but they will be bumping him back a day, moving yesterday's "star" Jerome Williams into his spot, setting up future skipping potential days down the road.

    Svrluga has the early lineup. Todd Jacobson has some more thoughts. They've finally bumped Brian Schneider down to his rightful 8th spot. Casto's back in left, hitting second. Young switches spots with Kearns, and Church follows. Belliard, a righty, splits up Church and Schneider.

  • I caught the beginning of last night's game, and that really was the only part a Nats' fan wanted to watch.

    Jerome Williams looked sharp early, nailing his spots really well. While his changeup is his best pitch, he was living high with a pretty nifty frisbee slider peppering the inside corner. I'd guess he started to tire later in the game, and lost a bit of feel for the pitch, given his implosion at the end. Certainly the cool air didn't help a bit.

    They key AB of the game came in the fifth inning. With Williams cruising along and just a 2-0 deficit, the Nats had the bases loaded with two outs on two walks and a HBP. And they had the one guy you'd want up in that situation, Ryan Zimmerman.

    Despite it being his first major league game, AZ starter Micah Owings just overmatched him, blowing three fastballs past him, the latter two were likely balls, one on the outside of the plate, the other tying Zimmerman up and in.

    I mentioned (in one of my vague roundabout ways) that it really looks like Zimmerman has been pressing lately. In critical situations lately, he's shown very little patience, swinging at most everything that comes at him. While he struck out in this case, it's resulted in weak contact on some pitcher's pitches in others. There's a lot of pressure on his shoulders to carry the team; he's the focus of everything on and off the field, and sometimes it looks like it shows.

    Of course, what made last year so terrific for him was his ability to continuously adjust to whatever happened. He'd get in a minifunk, and then find a way to work through it. I'm sure this is just one of those things.

    And perhaps, with the Meathook hitting behind him, a veterans with decent track record of success, he can relax a bit, knowing that Young will be there to carry a share of the load in a way that he might not feel that Austin Kearns can /armchairpsychologist

    Enjoy the game! If you're watching on TV and want to complain about how crappy the bats look, head on over here to kibitz with some other obsessives.


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