Ever read those stories about how some insanely rich guy made a business deal to make him even more insanely rich? That’s how pitchers must feel when they hear how Roy Halladay picked up a new trick or two in the offseason:
In spring training, Halladay worked hard at developing his changeup, a
pitch that had always been a distant fourth option behind his
two-seamer, cutter and curveball. First, with some consultation from
pitching coach Rich Dubee, he changed his grip on the pitch. Instead of
nestling the ball in his palm, a technique that pitchers like Cole
Hamels and Jamie Moyer use to loosen their grip on the ball and lower
its velocity while maintaining arm speed, Halladay began using a
split-finger grip. Next, he spent much of the latter part of spring
training throwing it over and over and over again. Now, he is more
comfortable with the pitch than ever before.
Roy Halladay was already more talented and successful than just about every active pitcher in baseball, and if he didn’t change a thing in his approach we probably wouldn’t have really noticed. The fact that he spent his spring trying to get even better and did so — note the article’s analysis of his strikeout rates — is truly terrifying.
(Thanks to Jonny5 for the heads up)
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.