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)
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.