ST Game 7 vs. Nationals
Mets 6 Nationals 5
Let’s not read too much into the win nor the Mets’ 5-2 record; it’s spring training.
But, I would like to share my thoughts on some of what we saw on channel 11 on Sunday.
His stat line was awful — 7 hits, a walk, a HR, and 5 ER in 3 IP. But, evaluating his pitching mechanics, there were good signs. What I saw was Ollie doing a decent job of staying in a straight, efficient line to the plate from the stretch (which he was throwing from for most of his outing). From the stretch, he was displaying a good, straight-up leg lift, fairly straight stride, and a balanced follow-through that left him in position to field the ball on comebacker. From the windup, however, he is still struggling, and I feel it stems from where he starts his feet. He is standing on the third-base side of the rubber, which allows him to easily start his right foot back and toward third base on a 45-degree angle. This in turn causes his body to go slightly sideways and “off line”, which then causes a slight over-rotation / close of the front hip, and then results in an over-rotation / premature opening of the front hip. That rotation then causes his follow-through to be off-balance and toward third base — you’ll see him facing third base after the release. That over-rotation is inefficient and is the reason for inconsistency in his release point. There have been periods in the past when both Rick Peterson and Dan Warthen had him beginning his windup by stepping straight back — which resulted in him staying more on that efficient, straight-lined path toward home plate — and I’m not sure why Warthen has allowed Perez to deviate from that habit.
Daniel Murphy’s New Stance
Murphy’s batting stance is now more upright. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind the change, but Howard Johnson knows a thousand times more about hitting than me. I guess what confuses me is the fact that once the pitcher starts his motion, Murphy hunches right back into the same crouch he started from last year. So maybe it’s a timing thing? The one potential negative is with this new stance, Murphy’s eyes start at one level, then move to a lower level as the ball is coming in — which seemingly would make the ball more difficult to see and track.
I like Takahashi’s fluid, stress-free motion and balanced mechanics. It looks as though he can throw low strikes in his sleep. He reminds me a bit of Jamie Moyer, in that he pitches “backward” (setting up the fastball with off-speed pitches), stays around the plate, and can occasionally sneak a fastball by a hitter. He topped out at a surprising 89 MPH on the fastball, which was mixed with a 81 MPH changeup and a 78 MPH breaking ball. Already I’m convinced he’ll be more effective than Ken Takahashi. Whether he’ll be able to keep MLB hitters off-balance the second time around the league will remain to be seen, but I like his chances.
There has been a lot of buzz around Davis, and he’s been scorching the ball in spring training. But if I hear one more person compare him to John Olerud, I’m going to scream. He doesn’t remind me at all of Olerud, other than the fact he stands in the left batter’s box. At some point, Davis is going to be in the big leagues — no question. This year? Hard to say. There are two glaring issues about his swing that concern me — first, the fact he “steps in the bucket” and commits his front hip before starting his swing; and second, the loopy length of his swing. It’s a long, long swing — one that will and does generate power. That’s why I’m not getting the Olerud comparisons — Olerud in contrast had a short, compact stroke. In fact, Davis looks to me like a hitter who can turn into an Adam Dunn-type, rather than an Olerud — someone with prodigious power, good strike zone judgment, but perhaps not a .300 average … though I wouldn’t expect Dunn-like numbers right away — Adam LaRoche may be a more realistic comp. If he comes close to evolving into either Olerud or Dunn (or at minimum LaRoche), we will certainly be happy.
This team scares me a bit. They have a ton of exciting, talented, young ballplayers on their roster. I don’t see the Nats making the playoffs in 2010, but with a little luck they could surprise people. They will be a team to reckon with in 2011 and beyond.