21 Differn't Changeups --- > "Strikes Not In Play"
Wanna watch my chest hair move in slow motion?

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THE DEAD-FISH CHANGEUP

If you check out the first pitch on this vid rat cheer, well, a pitcher's worth 1000 throwahs.  It's like in 1969, Ball Four when Jim Wynn, in the dugout, rolled up a magazine and interviewed Joe Morgan after a swinging strikeout:

"Joe, Joe Morgan, can you tell us what pitch that was you struck out on?"

"Jim, that was a frazzle-racking curve."

"Joe, can you explain to our viewers at home the difference between a curve and a frazzle-racking curve?"

"Sure, Jim.  A normal curve, you can recognize the spin on it real early.  It comes in and breaks down a little bit, and out.  Now, your frazzle-racker, that's different.  It comes in hard, looks like a fastball.  You catch the spin on it after you're already committed.  You adjust, but it rolls off the table on you and before you know it, it's frazzle-racking strike three."

"Thank you, Joe Morgan."

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Buck Showalter added tonight, on the postgame:

"A lot of changeups. If you look at his percentage. It happens a lot against us. His percentage of fastballs was a whole lot higher than what we figured he would throw tonight, and he threw a lot of changeups. There's no such thing as a hitter's count anymore in the big leagues. It's almost more of an off-speed count - 2-1, 1-0, 2-0, 3-2. And you go back through it, that's probably the key for him." -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter, on Elias

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Skip-O-Vision translation:  it's like having a little gray mouse cornered in your hallway.  You got three guys left right and middle, and you cut everything off, but .... zzzzzzzickkkk it's a little furry streak you can't get your hands on.

You could see the Orioles gear up to bring the pain, but Elias brought the low-outside changeup and completely neutralized their attack mode.  

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Showalter's postgame quote isn't the kind you hear a lot.  When a manager gives the other starter that kind of credit, you gotta wonder what was going on out there.

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When you are talking about a Jamie Moyer-style "Dead Fish" change you are talking about:

  • Starts above the knees, to drop below the knees
  • LH thrown outside black to a RH batter
  • Nice still head, repeatable aim and release point
  • -10 to -12 MPH off the fastball (which itself commands respect)

If you go back and savor the video, pitches 1 and 4 are as good as anything Jamie Moyer ever threw.  Looks to us like Elias is developing a real nice feel for that changeup.  In fact with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Johnny Pareda, he Orioles came in #8 of 30 ballclubs hitting LHP's and here are the stats Elias ran with his changeup:

  • 33 changeups vs 63 other pitches (this % would lead the AL, except for .... Felix)
  • He drew 23 swings but only 6 (!) were hit into play
  • Look at the separation in ball movement compared to his fastball:

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Without a doubt, on May 20th the changeup was his go-to pitch.  If he could throw it like that every time, he would dominate with it every time.  That's all.

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As you can see in the second half of the video, he gets into a FB-CH whipsaw and then the curve becomes almost an afterthought.  And yet ... he's got the Cuban signature move of varying the release points on that, of dropping down and throwing it to swerve 14" gloveside off a LH hitter's bat:

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Coming out of AA last year, Elias' problem was polish:  his delivery telegraphed his pitches at times, and his selection was predictable.  But!  Early on this year he's made real progress on that.  There aren't so many left hand pitcher who have three legitimate attack pitches.  He's gettin' fun to watch, kiddies.

Ron Shandler's projection, coming into 2015:

Decent, unexciting debut, but is there more here than meets the eye? Near-100 BPV in May-July. Gets plenty of swings and misses with change-up, curve ball. Bunch of GB, too. Ctl got wobbly in 2nd half, then September elbow strain ended season. If he puts injury behind him, gains stamina... UP: 15 wins, 3.50 ERA 

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From a scouting point of view, Elias has shown exactly what we had been hoping for back in February. The progress on the changeup and the overall command are all we could have axed for.  Dr. D is getting psyched, baby.  That kid, the one we saw May 20th, has a future.

Enjoy,

Dr D

 

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Comments

1

You get the idea.
I love the ease and confidence that the kid shows.  Loved him last year, screeched at his demotion, and love him more this year.  He pitches in a manner that suggests he knows he is in control and he doesn't let the speed bumps he hits (BB's/HR's) alter that course/attitude.
There is a lot of Felix bubbling to the surface of Elias.  Not that he's THAT good, mind you, but he has something Cat-like in his makeup.
He's going to win 17 or 18 games in the next 2 or 3 years.  Oh, he'll have a year where he's 10-12, or something like that, but he will pitch deep into games, rack up innings, and never be an easy mark.  And then he'll have a summer of fun and go 17-7.  
I would bet that he gets better when the games get bigger, too.  
He's a #3 right now, with a rocket to #2.  Except for the 2 guys who are better than him on this squad.  I won't give Happ that status just yet.  
 
 

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