Update: Here’s the video clip from MLB Now:
In an article for MLB.com Thursday, Thomas Harding detailed how Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino made adjustments during the 2014 season. Part of that adjustment included visiting FanGraphs, one of the leading Sabermetric analysis sites.
“My fastball was just getting hit too much and I felt like I’ve always been a pitcher that succeeds actually with my fastball up in the zone,” Ottavino said. “First I researched online. I think I read an article on Fangraphs about [the Athletics’] Sean Doolittle utilizing the high fastball, saw some quotes from some hitters saying they just couldn’t get on top of it. I tried to implement that into my game.
“I also paid attention to guys like Lance Lynn or Jordan Zimmermann. They’re doing similar things. That area, that’s like a strike, but just a little bit too high. It yields a lot of weak popups and swings and misses.”
The article he’s referencing was written by Mike Petriello on June 24. Ottavino had much more success in the second half, ostensibly after some stats-influenced adustments. In the first half, the right-hander had a 4.12 ERA and a 46/10 K/BB ratio in 43 2/3 innings. In the second half, he had a much lower 2.53 ERA and a 24/6 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 innings. Though his line drive rate rose from 16 percent to 27 percent and his ground ball rate stayed static, he induced many more infield pop-ups as his rate increased from four percent to 27 percent. High fastballs are a great way to induce those.
The Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. The Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, and are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West, will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base. If the M’s make the playoffs he’d likely do so in the postseason too, given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension.
Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings.Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.
Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.
The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.