M's 2, Rox 3
good news for 4 out of 5 slots in the M's starting rotation


Dr. D is becoming transfixed by this pitcher.  The original graphic above shows the movement of Leake's six pitches, all 6 of which he can throw to spots in the zone.  The F/X spin deflections are from the catcher's POV and can be found here.  There are several Dr. Strange oddities about these pitches:

(1) Most changeups fade gloveside - about as much as the sinker does.  Leake's change "cuts" way back gloveside; it's the only changeup Dr. D knows of that does this.  It sinks quite well, though not uniquely*, as Iwakuma's and Felix' often do.

(2) Leake's slider has a hellacious drop to it.

(3) Not shown on F/X:  Leake can throw his -12 MPH overhand curve for a called strike to either side of the plate.

(4) Leake's 2-seam fastball, his "sinker," is backwards against his four-seamer:  it cuts in to the gloveside.  As you see from the rings on Tom Tango's "typical" chart, it is supposed to fade armside.

(5) His "cutter" is useless, in terms of differentiation from his fastballs.  In fact all three of the pitches essentially present the same thing to the hitter, which means Leake is working with 4 de facto pitches rather than 6.


For some reason unknown, Leake's "light blue" pitch produced a huge amount of groundballs in 2017.  Also his changeup, the maroon pitch that is so far gloveside compared to typical, produced an almost-bizarre number of grounders compared to other pitchers' changeups.

On Slack Chat it was discussed, as orginally presented on LL, that Mike Leake has a "secret weapon" in that his pitches "tunnel" extremely well against each other:  for example, if you "freeze" his sinker in the air at the batter's "decision point" (about 20-30 feet from home plate), Leake's sinker is only 1.31 inches away from where his slider would be at the same point -- compared to the ML average of 1.54 inches for all pitches.

But!  Then after the hitter decides to swing, Leake's slider is going to drop 6-7 inches, swerve gloveside 6 inches, and parachute -8 MPH compared to his sinker, which comes in from the same approach tunnel up to 30-40 feet.


Enough of the facts.  What makes Dr. D giddy is the way Leake throws that changeup, and slider, UP in the zone for garbage swings.  Last year he threw each pitch about 10% of the time and I just enjoy watching him do it.

Reminds you of something Bill James said about Drew Smiley, a couple of decades back:  "mixes a fastball, curve, changeup.  Throws strikes, works ahead in the count.  Been workin' for a hundred years, and in a hundred years, it'll still be workin'.

As you know, Dr. D is optimistic about the effect that a league change will have on Leake's fortunes.  It may take quite a while for enemy hitters to lock in and get a feel for anticipating Leake's pitch sequences.

By the way, they said on the broadcast that the velocity on Leake's velo was touching 94.  Say WHAT?!


Leaving us where?  The Mainframe wouldn't be surprised to see a career year out of Mike Leake, which would leave him at a 115-120 ERA or so.  He's been at 110'ish four times already.  HQ sez?  He is who he is, a quality innings eater, "bid accordingly."  That's a reasonable take, but Dr. D would go the extra couple of bucks to roto-roster the lad.


Dee Gordon laid down a firm bunt that caught the 3B on two brisk, low hops.  The 3B was so frantic to bare-hand it and get a 90 MPH throw off, that he mishandled it and Gordon was on.  He has shown a delicious willingness to lay that bunt down about every third game; many of you are aware that the bunt leaders each year often go 14-for-19, or 10-for-17, or whatnot, on attempts for bunt hits.

Gordon was on, and swiped 2B.  Jean "sudden" Segura moved him over to 3B.  Robby Cano whistled an RBI single into LF.  What were the Rockies supposed to do?  You feel me?


James Pazos came in against a LH-rich set of hitters and --- > all he needed to do, was throw those thunderbolt 96 MPH strikes.  I mean, the best they're going to do is put the ball in play against 8 fielders, right?  This is a rare situation in which it doesn't even really MATTER that much whether Pazos is behind in the count; he just has to rear back and throw a strike at them.

He wound up with 1.0 IP, one hit, no walks, and 2 strikeouts.  In 2017 his allowed a .213/.292/.269 slash against lefties, 21.0 total IP with a 6:28 CTL and get this:  a crazy 3.56 groundball rate.

So if you get to the 7th and the Angels have Shohei Ohtani (L), Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun (L) coming up, James Pazos is liable to wreak some serious Arthur Rhodes action on the inning.



The M's are jazzed about Ichiro's presence in the clubhouse.  That is definitely not nothing.  He still has to hit, .280-.310, but if he does he's looking like a big add to the chemistry.

Mike Zunino got out in front and crushed a long HR to LF.  Checking HQ's skills leaderboards here... it's got Zunino for a 170 PX, compared to Boomstick's 140.  Aaron Judge and Mike Stanton rank at #2 and #3 for PX, Zunino at #6, below them Mike Trout, Miguel Sano, Chris Davis.

Felix is playing up his injury a little bit, but is throwing in the bullpen and will be fine.  The Denizens, notably Wishhiker, Malcontent and SABRMatt, provided Dr. D with a welcome list of recent pitchers who had bounced back to previous stardom, based on a light year or two:

  • Bret Saberhagen - I think that's who I was really grasping at
  • Chris Carpenter
  • Rick Sutcliffe
  • Francisco Liriano
  • Roger Clemens' mid-career doldrums, followed by a charge back to Cy Youngs and an age-44 retirement
  • Javier Vazquez
  • John Lackey
  • Kevin Brown
  • AJ Burnett

I knew intuitively the phenomenon was common, but the memory at this point isn't worth much.  Anyway, Felix has had MORE rest than most of the above star SP's when they bounced back to big seasons, so let's hope for some March sharpness from him.


Dr D




Checking HQ's skills leaderboards here... it's got Zunino for a 170 PX, compared to Boomstick's 140.  Aaron Judge and Mike Stanton rank at #2 and #3 for PX, Zunino at #6, below them Mike Trout, Miguel Sano, Chris Davis.

*eVieL gRIn*


It generated Leake's second best whiff rate last season at a hair under 11%, and that was before he joined Seattle where it bloomed to a 20% whiff rate (for actual reasons).  Here's a pretty neat article from early last season about how the Cutter changed.  The 3rd .gif in the article shows one cutter from 2017 in slow motion, and it looks like the pitch attempts to break first right, then sharply left, then slides gently right again as it approaches the plate, which seems to me as something of an ideal inbetween pitch to muddle the pitch decision between Leake's sinker that breaks arm-side and his slider that breaks glove side.

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