Mets Game 68: Loss To Padres
Padres 5 Mets 0
Zack Wheeler doesn’t pitch well, but it didn’t matter, since the Mets didn’t hit well. At least they didn’t waste a strong pitching effort.
Mets Game Notes
Jesse Hahn — high school teammate of Matt Harvey — was brilliant, shutting out the Mets through six and allowing one hit, an infield single. (And I’m not even sure it should’ve been scored a hit — Everth Cabrera, who seemed to be out of sorts all afternoon — tried to barehand a Ruben Tejada dribbler that should’ve been gloved). He showed a sharp-breaking, 12-6 curveball and a sinking, 90-MPH fastball with a lot of horizontal “run” into the righthanded hitter.
Zack Wheeler, on the other hand, was not so brilliant. He was habitually falling behind hitters, unable to locate both his fastball and curve.
It was pointed out by Gary Cohen that Wheeler’s stats are better when on “regular” rest (four days) rather than “extra” (5+ days’ of rest). Ron Darling said that wasn’t surprising because Wheeler’s motion “has a lot of moving parts” and therefore “the more moving parts you have, the harder it is to make sure they’re all on time when you have that extra day.” Hmmm … well, I’d say IN GENERAL it’s hard to keep a bunch of moving parts “on time,” regardless of rest. But anyway, the next question by Gary — “would he be better off throwing a couple bullpen sessions in between to keep his mechanics sharp?” elicited a revealing response from Ron: “Yeah I would throw two days in a row… so he threw Sunday, Monday was an off-day — I would throw have thrown Tuesday and Wednesday, and then taken Thursday and Friday off before the start here on Saturday. Different strokes though, for every organization, you don’t know how they want to go. It used to be the pitching coach dictated when you threw on the mound, now the pitcher dictates when he wants to throw.”
A few things to address. First off, throwing a bullpen on Tuesday is incredibly dangerous because one day of rest is not nearly enough recovery time for the 86-pitch effort of Wheeler on Sunday, June 8. Wheeler needed to stay off the mound a minimum of three days per ASMI recovery guidelines. However, nearly every single MLB pitcher goes against these guidelines and throws a bullpen too early after a start. Why? Because MLB knows better than science, of course.
Secondly, the “different strokes for every organization” quote is a telling truth and an indicator of why there is a pitching injury epidemic in pro baseball. It’s true — and mind-boggling — that each MLB organization has its own rules / routines in regard to what pitchers do between starts. Few, if any, adhere to the ASMI guidelines, which were created not arbitrarily or via guesswork, but based on scientific research. But baseball knows better. It’s remarkable that other sports use scientific research to train their athletes, and as a result, most world-class athletes follow similar if not identical regimens, but baseball … well, it’s all over the place. Teams do whatever they think might work, based on … hmmm … not sure. And we wonder why there are so many pitching injuries, when everyone is being trained differently.
Finally, I hope that more pitchers dictate their own throwing programs — after they learn about proper recovery. If teams can’t provide safe and effective methods, it’s up to the pitchers to take their health in their own hands.
/off soap box (for now)
Here’s a GREAT, and CORRECT quote by Ron, in regard to how Braves pitchers coached by Leo Mazzone famously threw two bullpens between starts, in contrast to most pitchers who do more “flat ground throwing” in between: “You hear guys all the time (saying) ‘well I did my flat-ground work today.’ Well what the hell does that mean? You make your living throwing off a slope, you should throw off a slope as much as you can.” Absolutely. Yes. All pitchers should worry less about long toss, flat ground work, etc., and make sure they get in maximum work — with proper recovery time in between, of course — off the mound.
More point for Ron: discouraging young pitchers from “wrapping” the ball behind the back. As Ron mentioned, it adds more time and complexity in getting proper timing. Additionally — as it was in Ron’s case — it’s likely to create shoulder problems, because it usually causes the arm to be behind the rest of the body, therefore putting more stress on it.
Strange quips by Ron: first, that the reason Wheeler has “a lot of moving parts” is “due to his long and lanky body.” No. It’s due to Wheeler having a complicated motion — a pitcher 4 feet tall or 7 feet tall can have a complicated motion with “a lot of moving parts.” Second: Ron’s explanation that Rick Sutcliffe was able to pitch despite wrapping the ball because he was 6’7″ and therefore his body could take the abuse. No. More likely, Sutcliffe somehow found a way to adjust the rest of his body to get the ball to the right spot at foot strike. Ironically, Ron sort of explained this being the case, describing Sutcliffe’s motion as being extremely slow / deliberate. So Ron was wrong, but he was right.
A few tough plays on balls in the dirt for Taylor Teagarden in the first frame, with a runner on third. The first one got by, the second didn’t, and both illustrated the reason that I teach my catching students to ALWAYS start movement with the glove and to get the glove to the dirt immediately, and follow behind it with the body — and NEVER try to stop the ball with the glove, as an infielder would. The catcher’s glove is not built like an infielder’s glove, and it’s not suited to catching ground balls — so if you try to stop a pitch in the dirt (which is essentially the same as a grounder), there’s a good chance it will bounce off a bulky, padded part of the glove and into an unintended direction. So, you always attempt to stop the ball with your body, ideally your stomach or chest, and direct the ball back toward home plate. If you can “surround” the ball with your upper body and angle your chest protector toward home plate, the ball almost always will deflect into a controlled direction in front of you, where you can see it and pick it up fairly easily.
Crazy play in the bottom of the first that will go into the file of dual stupidity, right behind the Yasiel Puig / Wilmer Flores infield fly rule debacle from last month. On a double-play attempt, Everth Cabrera threw the ball away, and Ruben Tejada — who began the play on second base — could have easily scored, because Jesse Hahn lollygagged after the overthrow, and didn’t once look to see if Tejada was attempting to score. Tejada should have noticed that Hahn didn’t notice him. Instead, because both players weren’t paying attention, Hahn luckily got out of the inning unscathed.
It was mentioned that Jesse Hahn was drafted in 2010 by the Padres knowing he would need Tommy John surgery, and he didn’t throw a pitch in ’10 nor ’11. Further, he never threw more than 73 pitches nor as many as 6 full innings in a pro game prior to his last minor-league start (he threw 93 in 5 2/3 innings). I don’t understand that, it makes zero sense. It’s astonishing how ignorant pro teams are when it comes to keeping pitchers healthy. I would love to know what evidence-based research suggests that limiting pitches and innings will lead to healthier, stronger pitchers? I understand that there is anecdotal evidence suggesting that injured pitchers had racked up innings / pitches, but there’s nothing (that I know of) suggesting that less pitches will prevent injury. What we DO know is that injuries DO result when pitchers ignore recovery guidelines, and pitchers’ bodies/arms WILL be stronger and less prone to injury when they receive proper rest in between outings. This is fact, not guesswork.
After four frames, Hahn threw 60 pitches, Wheeler, 88.
The Mets had a golden opportunity to score runs in the fourth, when the first two batters reached base and the Mets eventually loaded the bases. However, none of the runners could be plated, as the Mets batters struck out three times.
The Mets’ inability to score runs overshadowed several little things that went awry. For example, a rundown between third base and home that took something like a half-dozen or so throws before retiring a San Diego runner, allowing batter-runner Cameron Maybin to advance all the way to third. A properly executed rundown should take exactly one throw; at most, three (and even that is stretching it).
Yet again, Gary and Ron discussed the idea that pitchers no longer have as many shoulder problems in the past because there are exercises to strengthen the shoulder, while the ability to strengthen the elbow is “limited.” WOW — at least Gary finally stopped saying that the elbow can’t be strengthened, which was even more ridiculous. OF COURSE pitchers can strengthen the muscles around the elbow, and an elbow-strengthening program should be part of every pitcher’s routine. The fact it isn’t is part of the reason for so many elbow injuries today. And for every pitcher reading this blog, go to Angel Borrelli’s website and purchase her book Engineering the Pitching Elbow, as there are a ton of exercises in there for strengthening the elbow. FYI, I don’t make a dime from any sales — I recommend the book because it is one of the most useful investments a pitcher (or parent of one) can make to stay healthy.
Next Mets Game
The rubber match in Flushing begins at 1:10 PM. Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound against Ian Kennedy, whose 5-7 record belies the fact he’s having a pretty good season (1.12 WHIP, 3.63 ERA, .238 BAA).