Tuesday August 24, 2004
TWINS TOP TEXAS
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
First things first... are you a student ready to head off to college? If so, be sure to check out today's BrentNet entry for a lot of great, helpful hints for you to think about as you get back into that school mode. Of course, I think you should bookmark his site and check back daily for some interesting thoughts on anything!
ANALYZING AN "ACE" (Part 2)
Last week, I asked the question "What is an ace?" I followed that question up by asking whether the Twins ace is the veteran, Brad Radke, who has pitched well for almost a decade for the team and is having a spectacular 2004 season. Or is it the young, dominant Johan Santana, who is putting up Cy Young numbers? Now, the question isn't "Who is the better pitcher?" or "Who has the better statistics?" but who is the ace?
Well, again, my response was simply to say... WHO CARES? Who cares which one is the "ACE"? As a Twins fan, I am very happy to be able to say that my team has two pitchers that I could classify as an ace. That is an excellent thing to have.
Last Tuesday, Brad Radke pitched an incredible game for the Twins against the New York Yankees. Radke threw 97 pitches in seven innings. He allowed just one run on six hits and a walk, and struck out five. I tracked all 97 of those pitches that game and did a brief analysis of how he pitched and what he pitched. The next day, I wrote up an analysis of why Johan Santana should be the AL Cy Young Winner.
Last night against the vaunted Texas Rangers lineup, Johan Santana threw a great game. He improved to 14-6 and his ERA dropped to 3.13. He went 8 innings and gave up just one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out 11. Again, I tracked each of his 109 pitches and noted the type of pitch as well as the velocity shown on TV.
A couple of quick points before we go further. Brad Radke has pretty much two pitches, the fastball and the change up. Those two pitches are generally easy to differentiate. He also throws the occasional curveball, but that is easy to notice. With Johan Santana, it is a little more difficult to distinguish his pitches. I think that he throws his fastball at different speeds. Many of his fastballs came in at 93-94, but once in awhile, I think he threw just get-me-over fastballs in the mid-to-upper 80s, just a few miles per hour faster than his changeup. Maybe it was a fastball. Maybe it was a change up. In my analysis, I just put those pitches in the pitch-type that I felt it was intended to be. Also, his slider came in a little faster than the changeup most of the time. It is easy to see when he throws that pitch because of the break of the ball. However, it did appear that Santana threw two or three slow curveballs as well, but I just counted those in with his sliders.
Let's get to the analysis. You know that The Twins Geek and Aaron Gleeman will be discussing Mr. Santana and his most recent outing. So will Twins Chatter and Batgirl. TwinsFanDan writes about Johan on the Will Carroll Website.
With Brad Radke, I wanted to disprove the fact that he was a 'soft-thrower.' I think I did that, showing that he averaged 89.2 mph on his fastball and hit as high as 94 on the radar gun. I also wanted to see how many fastballs he threw in relation to the number of change ups. I thought he would throw more change ups, but he is certainly fastball pitcher.
What were my assumptions about Johan Santana coming into the game? Well, I know he throws hard, so I figured he would throw more fastballs. I knew his changeup was incredible, so I was interested in seeing the speed differential between those two pitches. My assumption was that he also had a breaking ball (slider or curveball), and I didn't know how often he used it.
I think it is also important to make a couple of notes about the Rangers lineup to be fair. The Big Four infielders are all major power threats and good hitters, but all do have a tendency to strike out, something obviously Santana is known for. But 1-9, this is a good solid lineup, with power potential in all but the leadoff spot (Eric Young). In other words, Santana did have to pitch well to put up solid numbers.
Of the 109 pitches that Johan Santana threw in his eight innings last night, 71of them were strikes (65%). Almost surprisingly, just 52 of his 109 pitches were fastballs (47.8%) This number does seem really low for a left-hander who throws as hard as Santana does. That said, clearly the Rangers lineup is a strong, fastball hitting team and the scouting reports would have shown that. Here is a breakdown of pitches Santana threw by inning:
1st inning - 6 fastballs, 7 changeups, 2 sliders
2nd inning - 5 fastballs, 4 changeups, 3 sliders
3rd inning - 7 fastballs, 6 changeups, 4 sliders
4th inning - 8 fastballs, 4 changeups, 0 sliders
5th inning - 5 fastballs, 2 changeups, 5 sliders
6th inning - 5 fastballs, 2 changeups, 3 sliders
7th inning - 7 fastballs, 4 changeups, 4 sliders
8th inning - 9 fastballs, 3 changeups, 4 sliders
TOTAL - 52 fastballs, 32 changeups, 25 sliders
So, this "flamethrower" throws a fastball less than 50% of the time. How does he get away with it? Well, the fact that he does throw so hard yet has such an unbelievable changeup, AND is willing to throw either pitch at any time, makes each one of his pitches that much harder to time. Watching Santana is a perfect illustration of why keeping a hitter off-balance is so important. Hitters expecting a fastball will be far in front of the changeup. If the hitter is sitting on the changeup, they can't catch up to the heater and either miss, or get jammed. Then when he sprinkles in that hard, sharp-breaking slider, it is impossible.
Let's take a quick look and see the velocities of those 52 fastballs that Johan Santana threw last night:
87 mph - 1
90 mph - 2
91 mph - 6
92 mph - 5
93 mph - 12
94 mph - 20
95 mph - 6
The average Johan Santana fastball last night registered at 93.1 mph (Radke's was 89.6). Not only can he throw hard, but he is pretty consistent with the speed of the fastball and does hit the corners. Now, we factor in that the average velocity of the thirty-two Santana changeups last night came in at 79.5 mph. Radke's fastball can look fast because of the 'threat' of his change up in the hitter's mind. It is the same thing with Johan Santana. The hitter almost has to guess if he will see a fastball or a changeup. If he guesses wrong, he will look bad. Even if he guesses right, Santana makes them miss.
Last night, Santana threw first pitch strikes to just 17 of 29 batters. Of those 29 batters, he started 15 of them off with a fastball (11 with a slider and 3 with a changeup ).
Johan Santana was definitely on last night. He even passed the 200 strikeout plateau during the game. That was an excellent performance for him and by the Twins offense. It was a good start to the road trip.
So, my thoughts about Johan Santana remain the same. He is an incredible talent. I knew he had three great pitches and that he has the confidence to throw any of them at any time. I was surprised at the low percentage of fastballs that he threw. I was also surprised by the number of sliders he threw. But it could have just been because of their advanced scouting reports of the Rangers. It is easy to see how he is so dominant, and yes, the best pitcher in baseball right now!
Quickly, let's take a look at what Grant Balfour's pitches looked like in the 9th inning. He threw 28 pitches and 21 of them were strikes. He threw 21 fastballs and seven curveballs. The average speed of the 21 fastballs was 95.1 mph. The seven curveballs averaged 83.0 mph. Of course, he also gave up a bloop single to Kevin Mench on a 96 mph fastball, a single up the middle to Brian Jordan on a 95 mph fastball and a long, 3-run homer to Hank "The Tank" Blalock on a 96 mph fastball.
Any thoughts on Johan Santana or the Twins performance? E-mail me.
MORE THOUGHTS ON THE TWINS WIN
- Justin Morneau was given the day off to rest his hand after being hit by CC Sabathia on Sunday afternoon. I think it's a smart move. No need to rush him back too quickly. Matthew Lecroy can use the at bats. Kenny Rogers is left-handed, so it may have been a day off for Morneau anyway.
- OK, Torii Hunter has come through with big RBI doubles the last two games for the Twins. That might equal the number of times he came through with runners in scoring position all of the 2003 season. Maybe the move to the #3 spot in the order has done something positive for him. Might as well keep him there while he is producing.
- Every Twins starter had at least one hit in last night's game. Well, except for Jacque Jones. But Jones actually walked twice in the game. That might be the game's biggest surprise.
- How many infield singles does Lew Ford have this year? I know that this statistic is kept somewhere. I don't want to look it up. But I wonder if there is a way that we could find the total number of infield singles and then subtract how many of them came on drag bunts. Ford has not bunted for a hit too often. I wonder if he would lead the league in non-bunt infield singles. OK, I wonder if he is SECOND in the league in non-bunt infield singles. I think we know that Ichiro has to lead the league in that category.
- With the 2-4 game, Henry Blanco boosted his average above .200, to .203. But he had a long homer that gave the Twins a 2-0 lead. And, I was very impressed by his second at bat. He fell behind 1-2 in the count, fouled off a couple of pitches, and then just slapped a fastball on the outer part of the plate for an RBI double down the right field line. In his next at bat, with Cristian Guzman at 2B and no one out, Blanco gave himself up by grounding out to 2B to advance Guzman to 3B with one out.
- More surprising is that Luis Rivas came through with an RBI single.
MORE HELP - The Indians were beaten by Gary Sheffield and the New York Yankees last night. Shef hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to give the Yankees a 6-4 win. It was the Indians 7th straight loss. The Tigers got a complete game shutout of the Chicago White Sox from Jeremy Bonderman to push the White Sox another game back. It also put the Tigers in a position to fight for 3rd place, maybe even 2nd.
Current AL Central Standings
Minnesota Twins 70-54 --
Cleveland Indians 63-63 8.0
Chicago White Sox 60-62 9.0
Detroit Tigers 59-65 11.0
THE REST OF THE SERIES - The Rangers have set the rest of their rotation for this series. Tonight, Chris Young will be making his big league debut against the Twins. It will be a tall order for the Twins. Young is 6'10". Maybe you remember reading about his in Baseball America before the 2001 draft. He was talked about for two reasons. First, because of his height. But secondly, because he was from an Ivy League school, Princeton. The 25 year old Young is actually originally from Dallas, so I'm sure it will be special for him to make his debut for his hometown team tonight. Young started the 2004 season with the AA Frisco Roughriders. There, he went 6-5 with a 4.48 ERA. He recently moved up to Oklahoma, the AAA affiliate of the Rangers where he is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA. In 30.1 innings, he has struck out 34 and walked 9.
Here are the remaining pitching match ups for this series :
Tuesday - 7:10 Carlos Silva (10-8, 4.78, 1.49, .320) vs Chris Young (Major League Debut)
Wednesday - 7:10 Kyle Lohse (6-10, 5.23, 1.61, .307) vs Ryan Drese (11-6, 3.35, 1.25, .256)
Thursday - 7:10 Terry Mulholland (4-6, 4.50, 1.51, .313) vs Mickey Callaway (0-1, 7.94, 2.21, .367)
What are you looking for in the rest of the Rangers series? Can the Twins #3-#5 pitchers keep the Rangers hitters in check? Any thoughts? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
REDWINGS 6, Syracuse 13 - You know how I've been talking about the Twins promoting JD Durbin to the Twins and inserting him into the starting rotation? And how Terry Ryan keeps saying that he isn't ready yet? Well, that's why I work a 8-5 job and Terry Ryan is the GM of the Twins. Last night, Durbin made his fifth start for Rochester and to say it didn't go well for him might be an understatement. He went just two innings and gave up 10 earned runs on nine hits and three walks. Not good! Aaron Fultz is working his way back to the Twins with another scoreless inning. Luis Rodriguez was a big-time bright spot for the Twins. The 2B went 5-5 with a double and 2 RBI. Jason Bartlett was 2-4 with a walk. Chris Heintz also had two hits.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
ROCKCATS 6, Reading 7 - Like JD Durbin, Henry Bonilla had a rough start. He gave up five runs in 4.1 innings. He allowed seven hits and four walks. Victor Moreno did great in relief for 2.2 innings. He gave up just one hit. The team had a one-run lead going into the last inning, but Travis Bowyer gave up two runs and the Rockcats lost. James Tomlin went 3-5. Tommy Watkins went 2-4 with his 4th home run and 3 RBI. Luis Maza was 2-5. Jake Mauer was 2-3 with a walk.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
MIRACLE 6, Lakeland 7 - All nine Miracle starters had at least one hit. Batters 7 (Kaulana Kuhaulua), 8 (Ron Perodin), and 9 (Felix Molina) each had two hits. Danny Matienzo hit his 5th home run. Another poor starting performance from a Twins affiliate starter, Nick Blackburn gave up five earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Levale Speigner replaced him and pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings, striking out four. Manny Tejada didn't give up a run in the next two innings. So, Pat Neshek came in and gave up the lead and took the loss, his first loss of the year.
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
SWING 2, Wisconsin 1 - Finally, a good start for the organization! Adam Harben has put his name on the Twins map this season. Yesterday, he gave up just one run on three hits and three walks in eight innings. He struck out five. Eric Brandon came in and recorded the save despite allowing two hits in the ninth. Denard Span led the offense with a 3-4 day. Mark Zamojc went 2-4.
Friday - E-TWINS 0, Greeneville 12 - The team was obviously shut out. They had just eight hits, all singles, and three of them were by 1B Johnny Woodard. David Shinskie gave up 7 runs (6 earned) in three innings. He gave up nine hits.
Thanks for stopping by this site. Have a Happy Tuesday! As always, if you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
Back to Archives Home