Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports has the details on Derek Lowe’s new delivery:
Lowe used to hunch over and keep his hands near his chest as he
turned into the balance position before striding toward the plate. Now
he brings his hands above his head and stays as tall as possible over
the rubber, increasing the downward plane of his pitches.
“When you are 6-6 you don’t want to pitch at 5-10,” he said, adding
glibly, “teach your kids that.”
Lowe’s new motion resembles that of a taller Greg Maddux,
his golfing buddy and former teammate with the Dodgers.
Lowe tossed two perfect innings in his spring debut against the Nationals on Friday.
The sinkerballer hopes the new motion will help him induce a few more groundballs. Last season, Lowe posted a career-low 56.3 percent groundball rate while opposing batters made contact a career-high 85.3 percent of the time. It all added up to a disappointing season in which Lowe finished 15-10 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. After an offseason full of trade rumors, Lowe will get an opportunity change the conversation early. He was recently named as the club’s Opening Day starter against the Cubs.
World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.
And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.
Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.
Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.