K-Pax' High Fastball
slap me silly, what will Jerry D think of next

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Bob Dutton wrote a fine article on Paxton's 2016 outlook.  This little excerpt below .... wait for it ... wait .... wait . :

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Paxton sharpened his changeup and began working with minor-league pitching coach Rich Dorman on a high fastball.

"Guys were always looking down in the zone for me," Paxton said, "because I have that (12-to-6) angle. But when I change the angle, and have a high fastball, they can’t cheat down there all of the time. It makes it a lot harder for them.

"I’m looking forward to continuing to work on that in spring training."

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Words fail me.

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Well, we've got a couple of words MAYbe:  that pitcher groundball % thing turned out to be really noxious.  ... Noxious in general, and especially noxious for Lloyd McClendon / James Paxton in particular.

So the February news is that Taijuan is going to start throwing his 89 splitfinger down out of the strike zone, and James Paxton is going to throw his 97 MPH fastball up where batters can't get to it.  If Jerry DiPoto could cause just those two things, he'd be likely to take the first two of his Big Twelve Decisions deep.  DiPoto added, in Dutton's article,

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[Dutton on Paxton's ERA] Some perspective: A year ago, only five American League pitchers had better marks than 3.16 while pitching the 162 or more innings necessary to qualify for the ERA title. 

"James Paxton has shown that he’s capable of being (dominant) when he’s out on the mound," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We need to make sure he’s out on the mound."

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Dr. D says it doesn't even matter that much whether Karns or K-Pax wins the #5SP job because (1) the M's will need 6+ starters for sure, and (2) Paxton out of the bullpen while waiting on his turn ... would that be pret-tay or what?

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BASEBALLHQ is not bullish on Paxton:

  • PRO = good vs RHP's, nice groundballs
  • CON = first pitch strikes not sorted out; swing-and-miss rate is disappointing
  • SUM = limited upside

My reaction?  Here's a case that shows you the limitations of stats analysis, if you don't understand who a pitcher is and where he's going.  Based on velocity alone, no other factor considered, go research the 10 fastest lefties in the game and see how effective they are as a group.  

After you pore over those names, Chris Sale and David Price and Cole Hamels and co., then let's talk Paxton's overhand curveball, his easy velocity after 100 pitches, the fact that his lifetime ERA (his early result ) is 3.16 in 30 starts, and so on.

For pure enjoyment, here's a vid of his 10-strikeout performance against the Royals.  You definitely do not need a game program to orient yourself as to what's going on:  a blizzard of 96, 97, 98 fastballs whipsawed against an overhand yakker.  Even without going up in the zone (except the last pitch on the vid) it's mayhem.

BABVA,

Dr D

Blog: 

Comments

1

Remember when Verlander came up and his K rate was like 6.5 for a little while because he wasn't getting swings and misses?  And then he -> became a man-eating, bat-smashing, whiff-making dynamo instantly by throwing his fastball up in the zone more? :)

3

BBHQ said he had "limited upside??" Really?

That's like saying that Kate Upton, at age 19, had limited upside.

Well, maybe....if Pluto is the limit!

The other astounding thing here is that Dipoto's guys are trying to get him to work up in the zone.  My goodness, what pitching coach in the wide wide world of sports wouldn't want a 97 MPH lefty to work up in the zone.  Lloyd?  Explain please?

Mayhem is a good nickname for Paxton.  I like it.

Blister and all, a subtle lack of refinement and all, who can't watch Paxton throw and quickly see something pretty special peeking above the surface?

Karns will look nice out of the pen in May.

4

Especially enjoyed lines 2, 3, 7 :- )  But 3 most of all.

5

Awesome, Moe: Kate Upton and Pluto. You paint a vivid picture in my mind :-)

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