Mets Game 73: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 6 Mets 5

At least it wasn’t a sweep.

Mets Game Notes

For the first time all year, R.A. Dickey didn’t have it. He was spinning the knuckleball — a pitch that isn’t supposed to spin. Why was it spinning on this night, of all nights? I think I have an idea, and it is illustrated below:

I illegally snapped a photo of my TV screen to show you the issue. What do you see? Check out the arm angle, the elbow height, and most importantly, the angle of the hand. This is a split second prior to release. See how his thumb knuckle is pointing to the sky? Not good. Where R.A. needs to be there is more overhand, with his index and middle finger knuckles pointing to the sky. With those two knuckles sliding off to the side of the ball, his ring finger applies pressure to the ball as his arm swerves across his body. That pressure is very slight but it’s enough to cause the ball to spin a full rotation or more on its journey to home plate. When the ball rotates that fully, it tends to travel on a straight path and doesn’t sink nearly as much as it would if there was little or no spin.

Why was R.A. releasing like this? My guess is fatigue. Usually his arm angle is higher, with his elbow at or above shoulder level on release. In this game he had a more three-quarter release, with the elbow at or below the shoulder. Very generally speaking, a dropped arm angle is a symptom of tiredness / fatigue in the shoulder muscles. There is this illogical myth that knuckleball pitchers can throw every day and don’t get tired because they don’t throw as hard as conventional pitchers. But the truth is that’s nonsense — the knuckleballer is still putting his body and arm through the same activity as any other pitcher. In R.A.’s case, it’s even more true because of the 80-85 MPH velocity with which he throws a knuckleball. R.A. was a little tired, it resulted in a lowered arm angle, causing the fingers to slide to the side of the ball, and in the end the knuckleball often had a bit more spin than Dickey would have liked.

Off the mound, you have to love R.A. rapping an opposite-field single and later scoring on a play where he crashed into the catcher — showing zero fear. Now THAT’S a ballplayer, and a super example of why the DH should be outlawed.

Nice to see Ruben Tejada back in the lineup and spraying the ball.

Frankie Francisco is out until further notice with an injury to his side.

Next Mets Game

The Mets begin a three-game series in Chicago against the Cubs beginning on Monday night at 8:05 p.m. EST. Johan Santana takes the hill against Travis Wood.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. gary s. June 25, 2012 at 12:29 am
    I guess Collins is saving Byrdak to pitch to Yankee Lefthanded hitters in the World Series.
    • Quinn June 25, 2012 at 6:51 am
      Cant you see he was saving him for the 22 inning against the last lefty on the bench. Mets pen is awful. Hopefully they un log jam there 13 position players and trade for a veteran reliable reliever.. What team out of contention needs any of the following, Murphy, Torres, Rauch or Hefner?
  2. DaveSchneck June 25, 2012 at 1:43 am
    Joe,
    The worst pen in the league (by far) needs to play at least two weeks without its best pitcher (by far). If you were GM, would you “wait a few weeks” to do something or act now?
    • Joe Janish June 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm
      Tough question, as I don’t know what direction this team intends to go. Is the plan still to focus on the future, and trash this year? If so then I as GM do nothing, and whatever happens, happens.

      On the other hand, if the Wilpons are excited enough about the Mets’ surprising record that they want to go for “meaningful games in September,” then I would try to find something — but, what’s out there? Doesn’t every team in MLB not based in the Bronx need a reliever?

      My best guess is that the Mets will roll the dice on a reclamation project, and/or find someone who doesn’t necessarily fit the profile of a reliever right now. In other words, find another Miguel Batista. Maybe Jeremy Hefner or Justin Hampson is that guy. Maybe they take a flyer on Scott Linebrink or Jamie Moyer. I’m not sure I see a trade, as I’m not sure what the Mets have to offer of value to another club that is expendable.

      • DaveSchneck June 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm
        Joe,
        Street and KRod are making big coin, are proven MLB closers, and are on crappy teams. I agree that new blue chippers should be dealt, so as to not mortgage the future, but the Mets have a crowded 40 man roster, have some mid-level depth in the minors in both position players and starting pitchers. I’d have to think they could deal a Gorski/Marte or both, provide salary relief to the trading partner, and energize the fan base now without giving up one of the big pitchers or Flores. Just saying, so please pass this on to Sandy the next time you speak to him. I won’t charge him for the consulting.
    • MikeT June 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm
      I would argue that Parnell has been their best (non-LOOGY) reliever by far.

      And if you remove the Acostalypse from the bullpen (as the Mets did) the numbers are not the worst in the league. Obviously those innings have to be replaced, but my point is those not names Manny Acosta have not been as bad as the bullpen ERA would have you believe.

  3. Dan June 25, 2012 at 7:51 am
    ESPN showed a closeup of one of Dickey’s pitches, it seemed to me that it was hardly spinning, but I didn’t really get a good look at it and I don’t recall what inning it was. What inning was your picture taken? He certainly didn’t have his magic in the third and fifth innings.

    The pen took the loss, but the 4 given up by Dickey are what lost the game, not the one run off Batista. But the pen does need to improve now or it’s downhill from here.

    • Joe Janish June 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm
      It only takes a little bit of rotation for the knuckler to “straighten out” and lose its effectiveness. That particular pitch was the one that hit Curtis Granderson in the fifth.
  4. Scott June 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm
    The Mets should fire Collins and get a good Manager he totally Blows!
  5. Scott June 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm
    Two Sundays ago Swisher hit a 2 run HR that even the Yankee Announcers said wasn’t a HR b.c it hit the top of the wall and bounced back on the field and Collins didn’t appeal it, and this last night Collins used Batista instead of Byrdak after Batista game up a long HR to Cano on Friday, so Collins just plane Su,cks!!!
  6. Scott June 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm
    Giving game after game away to the Yankees and Phillies remember the game where Collins put Acosta in the 9th inning in a 1 run game against the Phillies
    and the Phillies blew the game wide open (with 3 or 4 runs) so the Mets had no chance of winning in the 9th, this is Collins Speciality create a bunch of blowouts in close games so the Mets have absolutely zero chance of winning.
  7. Izzy June 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm
    You guys are hilarious. Collins is horrible you all say. Can’t manage the pen. A few years a go it was Manuel is horrible, can’t manage the pen. none of you look at the talent and blame the culprit. The Gms provided both with horrid relief pitchers, making every choice a bad choice. Ignore the crap, ignore the fact the GM gave him a horrible set up man a horrible closer, no long man and on and on. You got nothing good the manager has to suck?????? WRONG.
  8. friend June 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm
    At least you have the chicken thing going!