Games » Cincinnati RedsJun13
Wherever Zack Greinke’s been hiding, it appears he’s back. Let’s see: Six points for a victory, six points for a complete game, four points for three or fewer runs in a complete game, three points for a quality start, 12 points for 12 strikeouts, nine points for nine innings without a walk, six points for six innings completed in 12 pitches or less, which brings us to a total of 46 points in one game.
In the first inning, he was up in the zone and gave up a single and a homer. After that, he was pretty much untouchable. Two things jumped out at me: His location was much better and he mainly threw fastballs and sliders (105 pitches and only 11 curves and two change-ups).
After the game, Ned Yost said that Zack and pitching coach Bob McClure had identified a mechanical flaw (glove position) that had Zack’s body starting forward too soon by a fraction of a second. When that happens, the arm is late and drags behind, the hand can’t get in the right position on top of the ball and the pitch stays up. When the mechanical sequence is correct, the hand gets to the correct release point on top and out in front, and the pitch heads downhill to the lower part of the strike zone.
A fraction of a second either way spells the difference between losing and dominating…amazing, ain’t it? (This game is hard.)
The other factor seemed to be sticking to his strengths: fastballs and sliders. He threw both two and four-seamers. The two-seamer has more movement and less velocity, the four-seamer is harder and straighter. So he was actually throwing three different pitches.
I’ve wondered about his desire to add a change-up and whether it was necessary. In what situation do you want to throw your fourth-best pitch? And if you throw five different pitches, (two kinds of fastballs, a slider, a curve and a change-up), how often and how well do you expect to throw the last two?
As a mediocre hitter, I can tell you there’s a big difference between expecting a pitch and dreading it. If a hitter knows what pitch is coming, but can’t hit it, what’s the problem? A pitcher shouldn’t think his way into trouble. He should throw his best stuff until the hitters prove he needs to adjust.
Having a curve and a change you show on occasion (and usually a less-than-crucial occasion) just to put the thought into the hitter’s mind is fine (and thirteen times out of 105 is probably just about right), but when the game’s on the line, dance with the one whut brung ya.
That’s what Zack did in this game, and it was a blast to watch.
Good to have you back, Zack.
Squaring it up…
Thirteen hits, five doubles, two home runs: lots of “squaring it up” in this game. That’s a term you’ll hear a lot around baseball these days…so what does it mean?
Squaring it up means making contact with the barrel of the bat at a right angle to the flight of the ball.
Think of the path of the ball and then the barrel of the bat hitting the ball straight back at the pitcher: that’s a ball that’s completely squared up. The more angle the barrel has at contact (as in a ball that’s pulled or hit to the opposite field) the better the chance of missing the sweet spot on the barrel.
Squaring up is what a hitter is doing when they talk about him “pulling his hand in.” The hitter recognizes an inside pitch, pulls his hands closer to his body, which tightens the arc of his swing and presents the barrel to the ball squared up.
This is why Vlad Guerrero can hit a pitch off his front kneecap and keep it fair. He’s great at maintaining that 90-degree angle and hitting the center of the ball with the center of the barrel.
Lesser hitters will hit the side of the ball with an angled barrel and pull it foul or roll over (another term I’ll explain sometime) and hit a weak grounder.
Or in my case: Miss the whole damn thing…although I am pretty good at squaring up trash cans afterward.