Friday September 24, 2004
Analysis of Durbin's Debut
NFL "Expert" Picks
Good morning, All! It is Friday and the weekend is nearly upon us! As always, that is a good thing. Today, I am going to have some thoughts on the Twins, including a bunch on JD Durbin's first start, and more. I will discuss the goings on this weekend and much more. So, let's get right to it.
If you have any questions on anything; if you have comments on the Twins, some players, the playoffs or anything else; if you have any ideas for possible topics send me an e-mail.
If you remember, last month, I was interviewed on the Max n' Maloney Show on Sports Radio 950 (KSNB). It was a great experience. I was on-air for about 10 minutes. Last night, I was interviewed again for the show by Rita Maloney. I really thought it went well. Last night, I was on with Rita from 5:25, through the 5:40 commercials and right up until 6:00.
Again, it was very fun. We started by discussing my Johan Santana pitch analysis posting from Monday, and the analysis that Jeff Angus posting on said article on his Management of Baseball site. We discussed Santana's Cy Young candidacy and the postseason roster. We talked some about the crop of players that have come up from Rochester and contributed. We discussed the turning point in the Twins season. We also discussed blogging in general. It ended with some trivia questions that they asked for callers to answer. So, I was on from 5:25 until 6:00 and it was a lot of fun.
I have to say again that Rita Maloney is a really great interviewer. She asks great questions and segues well between topics. She really makes it easy and incredibly fun.
If you happened to hear the interview on the radio, send me a quick e-mail and say hi and what you thought. Thanks for stopping by the site!
ANALYSIS OF DURBIN'S DEBUT
Twins top pitching prospect JD Durbin made his first big league start last night for the Twins. It really didn't go very well at all for him or the team. That said, I saw a couple of things that showed me just how good he can and will be. But first, let's take a deeper look at his performance.
Durbin went just three innings, although he did pitch to four batters in the fourth inning and allowed hits to all four without recording an out. He gave up five earned runs on seven hits and four walks. He did strikeout two batters. But let's look a little closer at how he threw and why he did so poorly, looking at some of the same stats we used to analyze Johan Santana's starts.
Of the 67 pitches Durbin threw, just 33 were strikes. Less that 50% of his pitches were strikes. Compare that to Santana's game on Sunday when 78% of his pitches were strikes.
It was very clear that Durbin was simply unable to throw his curveball for strikes. From my perspective, he was really fighting to find a proper release point on it. But, let's take a look at how many of each pitch Durbin threw...
Fastball - 46
Curveball - 13
Changeup - 8
... and how many of those pitches were strikes:
Fastball - 26 (56.5%)
Curveball - 4 (30.7%)
Changeup - 4 (50.0%)
So, he wasn't even close with the curveball, but he wasn't particularly good with the fastball either. On a positive note, let's look at the average speed of Durbin's pitches:
Fastball - 94.3 mph (high of 97 twice, hit 96 six times)
Curveball - 81.3 mph
Changeup - 86.4 mph
I almost think that Durbin needs to take just a couple of miles per hour off of his changeup. Remember, Santana has a velocity differential of 15-18 mph between his fastball and changeup. Eight mph is good, but hitters may be able to keep their hands back just a little bit. As far as the curveball, he looked to be over-throwing it as well. When he relaxes, I think he'll take a couple mph off of it and harness it.
There was one at bat in the game that showed me just how good Durbin can be. The best hitter for the Indians is Travis Hafner. His second at bat, we got to see what Durbin's pitch options can do for him. Here is the pitch sequence:
First Pitch - Changeup (87-Ball)
Second Pitch - Changeup (87-Strike) - Hafner was way out in front.
Third Pitch - Fastball (95-Strike) - blew it right by him.
Fourth Pitch - Fastball (96-Ball) - just off the inside corner. Good pitch and location.
Fifth Pitch - Fastball (94-Strike) - Hafner was late on a fastball just off the outside corner and fouled it off.
Sixth Pitch - Changeup (89-Strike) - Even just five mph off the fastball, Hafner was way in front and swung and missed.
Now, in this at bat in the third inning, Durbin showed his control. He has not walked a lot of hitters in his minor league career, so control is something he typically has. In this at bat, he showed a dominating fastball, hit spots and mixed in that changeup that he went to the minor leagues to work on. From this one at bat, I am still very positive about what JD Durbin will be able to do for the Twins already next year.
Now, let's look at his inning-by-inning pitch breakdown:
First Inning - 29 (21 Fastball, 7 Curveball, 1 Changeup)
Second Inning - 11 (8 Fastball, 2 Curveball, 1 Changeup)
Third Inning - 14 (8 Fastball, 2 Curveball, 4 Changeup)
Fourth Inning - 13 (9 Fastball, 2 Curveball, 2 Changeup)
Total - 67 (46 Fastball, 13 Curveball, 8 Changeup)
Clearly things did not start out well for Durbin. 29 pitches in an inning can't be good when a pitcher would really like to stay around 12-15.
OK, I'm going to look at just one more chart of numbers in this analysis. Remember Johan Santana's game on Sunday. He only threw one pitch with three balls on the hitter, and he never had a single 2-0 or 3-1 count. How did Durbin do on different counts?
FB CB CU
0-0 10 6 3
0-1 2 2 0
0-2 2 1 0
1-0 8 0 3
1-1 3 1 0
1-2 2 2 0
2-0 6 0 0
2-1 1 0 0
2-2 2 1 1
3-0 3 0 0
3-1 3 0 0
3-2 4 0 1
Eleven of 19 batters were thrown a ball on the first pitch. Six hitters had the daunting 2-0 pitch and three hitters saw a 3-1 pitch. That's just asking for trouble. Just a lot of fastball counts.
I would love to be able to say "The rookie was being squeezed by the veteran ump Bruce Froemming," but I really can't. For the most part, Durbin wasn't even close. When he threw a ball, it was nowhere near the strike zone. But again, JD Durbin has not only been a power pitcher in his minor league career, but he has pitched with control. I really believe that the ultra-confident Durbin was just nervous.
If you watched his pitching motion, everything just seemed rushed. I like watching pitchers that work quickly, and I did like that Durbin caught the ball, got the sign and pitched. I just think that he should slow down his windup. He seemed like he was in such a hurry. But again, I think that nervous energy can cause that. (Either that or... if you watch similarly sized Roy Oswalt pitch, it is very similar)
We saw the "stuff" that has made Durbin a top prospect. We saw fastballs consistently between 93 and 97, with some movement. He didn't throw many, but he did throw some changeups that had hitters off-balance and out front. Last night, he just could not locate his curveball, which is actually a pitch that he has not had problems with in the past. We have also seen in his relief outings that he does have a very good, almost 12 to 6 curveball that drops off the table.
In other words, it was a rough first start for JD Durbin. He fell behind too many hitters. He walked too many. He couldn't find the right release point on his curveball. He wound up too quickly. These things are not atypical of a major leaguer's first start. They are things that can be fixed. For as arrogant as we always hear Durbin is, we also hear that he is very coachable and will take any advice. I still see big things in his future. I think he deserves to make one more start, even if it is against the Yankees.
What do you think? What were your impressions of Durbin? E-mail me.
I'm going to start out with a few Twins topics for discussion.
MORNEAU PINCH HITS
Justin Morneau received a cortisone shot in his wrist this past weekend. He has not played since. In the top of the 9th last night, he came in and took a couple of powerful swings before slapping an RBI single to left field, continuing the game. Keeping him out of the lineup is a smart decision. He is a power hitter. He needs his wrist for that. Let's make sure he will be at 100% the rest of the season
FORD 10-GAME HIT STREAK
Lew Ford has had another double-digit hit streak as he stretched his current streak to 10 games. He was 2-4 last night to raise his average to .302.
RESTO ROCKS LEFTIES
When I saw that Cliff Lee was starting for the Indians last night, I was really hoping that Michael Restovich would be in the lineup. Even more, I was hoping that Jacque Jones would not. Restovich has consistently mashed lefties his whole pro career and went 2-4 in the game.
JOHAN PITCHES FRIDAY!!
Cy Santana will be making his first start with a chance to win his 20th game. I don't know what the lineup behind him will look like, but it may not matter. A guy by the name of Kyle Denney will be starting for the Indians. He was 10-5 with an ERA of 4 1/2 at AAA. He has started two games with the Indians and is 1-1 with a 9.72 ERA in 8 1/3 innings. Not impressive. The Twins should be able to score some runs for Santana, but these are also the kind of guys that the Twins have had problems with. Maybe this is a case where going with the likes of Jason Kubel, Jason Bartlett, Michael Restovich and other AAA hitters might do better.
RADKE ON SATURDAY!
Radke was scheduled to start last night, but the Twins are now able to set up their postseason rotation. They want him to pitch Game 2, after Santana. After Radke was tired his last outing, giving him a couple of extra days here is a good thing, and puts him right after Santana. He goes against Scott Elarton. Sunday afternoon, it will be Carlos Silva matching up against Francisco Cruceta who will be making his second big league start. In his debut, he gave up four runs and struck out four in four innings.
Any other thoughts on the Twins? E-mail me.
This weekend, I will be watching a couple of college football games. On Saturday afternoon, I will be in Collegeville to watch Gustavus take on the defending Division III National Champion St. Johns Johnnies. I have two cousins who start for Gustavus.
When that game finishes, my brother and I will be heading to the Metrodome to see the Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the Northwestern Wildcats in their first Big 10 game. The Gophers again went through their non-conference schedule without a loss, which isn't surprising. The combination of Marion Barber III and Lawrence Maroney at RB makes the Gophers a formidable opponent for anyone. With Bryan Cupito throwing to the likes of Jared Ellerson, Ernest Wheelright and Matt Spaeth, they have a new balance. The defense is still not great, but is improved. The Baseball Savant is also quite knowledgeable on college football. Recently, he wrote an article on which of the current undefeated teams could finish the season that way. Somehow, he forgot the Gophers, so I e-mailed him and gave him some grief. I mentioned that the Gophers not only are very good, but they also do not have Ohio State or Purdue, two of the best Big 10 teams, on their schedule. So, David wrote up an addition to his entry regarding the Gophers and agreeing that they are a legitimate championship caliber team. So, check it out here.
There have been so many team's affected by injury so far this year. The Vikings are no exception. Michael Bennett will miss another game or two. Moe Williams did not play last week. Jermaine Wiggins is likely out 4-6 weeks. Jim Kleinsasser and Mike Rosenthal are both now out for the season. Ken Irvin hurt himself warming up for the opening game.
Now, these are not names like Deuce McAllister or Stephen Davis or Edgerrin James or Priest Holmes, however, they may be just as important to their team's success. Did you see how Daunte Culpepper suddenly had no time to sit in the pocket after Rostenthal was replaced by Adam Haayer? Although Kleinsasser is hurt so frequently, when he has been able to play, he has proven himself invaluable because of his blocking .
What does it all mean, especially in regard to the Vikings home game against the Bears on Sunday? Probably nothing. The Vikings were really embarrassed on Monday night by the Eagles. Despite owning the time of possession, turnovers and penalties cost them a lot of points. But as a Vikings fan, I am actually encouraged by that game. First, the Eagles are no slouch, they are a very good team. Second, the Vikings did have plenty of chances to win. Third, the Vikings could play better, or at least smarter. I think that kind of game should tell them how good that they can be by simply correcting a few mistakes.
The Vikings defense is much maligned, and deservingly so. However, I really don't think they're as bad as we think. I really think that Antoine Winfield and Brian Williams have done well at the corners and Corey Chavous and Brian Russell have been good safeties! I like the defensive backs. The problem is that the defensive line is just doing nothing. They are putting little pressure on the quarterback and they really aren't stopping the run. They're getting beat. And yes, I bash Chris Hovan all the time, but am I wrong in saying he does nothing? Kevin Williams hasn't been solid yet. Keneche Udeze has been adequate at best. Having Kenny Mixon back should help.
The Bears have given the QB job to Rex Grossman. Their new RB is Thomas Jones who has really never done much of anything in his career which has had stops in Arizona and Tampa Bay. But he has been good this year too, so far. This is not a very good team. However, last week, they went into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers, decisively. So, the Vikings will need to be ready.
After Monday's game, combined with seeing the Bears beat the Pack, the Vikings will be ready. Playing at home will make it a blowout. I expect there to be some long TD passes, a couple to Randy Moss and at least one for Kelly Campbell. I also think that Marcus Robinson will put up some numbers. And, Onterrio Smith will go well over 100 yards total offense and have at least one score. Daunte bashers will have to be quiet for another week!
Seth's Prediction - Vikings 45, Bears 10
What do you think? Am I just a homer, or could this happen? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
It is Friday, which means our expert panel of NFL game pickers are back. Mike Brasel has taken a little bit of a lead after two weeks, but there are still 15 weeks to go. I think there should be some very good games this weekend, which make the games difficult to pick. But hey, we'll try!
Oh, and if you Twins fans are looking for someone to root against in this competition, look no further that Michael Labuda. He writes ChiSox Daily. This week, he wrote saying that he completely agrees that the Twins will not last past the first round in the playoffs!
Seth Stohs Melissa Olson Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman John Bonnes Ryan Maus SethSpeaks.net SethSpeaks.net Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Twins Geek Twins Chatter New Orleans @ St. Louis Rams Saints Rams Rams Saints Saints Pittsburgh @ Miami Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Chicago @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Cleveland @ NY Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Browns Giants Arizona @ Atlanta Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Baltimore @ Cincinnati Bengals Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Bengals Philadelphia @ Detroit Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Jacksonville @ Tennessee Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Titans Houston @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs San Diego @ Denver Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Chargers Green Bay @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts San Francisco @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Tampa Bay @ Oakland Raiders Buccs Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Dallas @ Washington Cowboys Cowboys Redskins Redskins Redskins Cowboys Michael Labuda David Bergner David Bloom Vic Quick Mike Brasel Jeremy Kovash ChiSox Daily Baseball Savant Ya Gotta Believe KDUH-Sports Fantasy FB Guru Wolf Lake Mgr New Orleans @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Pittsburgh @ Miami Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Steelers Chicago @ Minnesota Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Cleveland @ NY Giants Giants Giants Giants Browns Giants Giants Arizona @ Atlanta Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Baltimore @ Cincinnati Bengals Ravens Bengals Bengals Ravens Ravens Philadelphia @ Detroit Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Jacksonville @ Tennessee Titans Titans Titans Titans Jaguars Titans Houston @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs San Diego @ Denver Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Green Bay @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts San Francisco @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Tampa Bay @ Oakland Raiders Raiders Buccs Raiders Raiders Raiders Dallas @ Washington Redskins Redskins Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys
New Orleans @ St. Louis – Rams 9-3
Pittsburgh @ Miami – Steelers 7-5
Chicago @ Minnesota – Vikings 12-0
Cleveland @ NY Giants – Giants 10-2
Arizona @ Atlanta – Falcons 12-0
Baltimore @ Cincinnati – Ravens 7-5
Philadelphia @ Detroit – Eagles 12-0
Jacksonville @ Tennessee – Titans 11-1
Houston @ Kansas City – Chiefs 12-0
San Diego @ Denver – Broncos 11-1
Green Bay @ Indianapolis – Colts 12-0
San Francisco @ Seattle – Seahawks 12-0
Tampa Bay @ Oakland – Raiders 10-2
Dallas @ Washington – Cowboys 7-5
On that note, have yourself a great day and a thoroughly enjoyable weekend! As always, please feel free to e-mail me about anything.
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