Hello again! It’s SO nice to be back in Sacramento after the long road trip. To say the least, our team continued to bond the last 4 days of the trip in the EXTREMELY cozy confines of the Nashville visiting clubhouse. We played some pretty good ball on the trip, and going into the last 30 or so games, we put ourselves in great position for a shot at the PCL playoffs. To continue the bonding, the beginning of August marked the start of a very grizzly time for the River Cats – we’re all growing beards to give us an increased amount of team unity as we head down the home stretch in hopes of a postseason run. Hopefully the arrival of the facial hair will help us end our 3-game skid tonight!
Of note on the road trip: J.D. Closser hit his 100th career minor league home run. He launched it into our bullpen in Memphis, so I decided to have a little fun with him. I quickly grabbed the ball and tossed it to Jeff Gray before anyone in the dugout noticed. Then I grabbed another ball and threw it into the mob of fraternity guys sitting in left field. The whole dugout, including Closser, thought I’d thrown his HR ball into the crowd. They all looked down to the pen with outstretched arms as if to say, "Ziggy, did you not know?" Someone even called down to the bullpen on the phone, asking that very thing. At that time, we let them in on our trick. It was a good time and neat to be on a team with a player commemorating a special event.
Since the last GZWI, I’ve had 4 outings. On July 20, I threw 2 scoreless innings after Dan Meyer gave us 6 strong ones. I came in with our team leading 10-1. I ended up striking out 2 while allowing 2 hits (1 in each inning).
Then two Sundays ago, I got a chance to be a closer (our regular closer, Ruddy Lugo, had pitched the 2 nights before). I came into the game at the beginning of the 9th inning with our team holding onto a 1-0 lead, thanks in part to a brilliant 15-up, 15-down performance by Colby Lewis (limited pitch count) and Jeremy Brown’s 7th-inning homer. I was able to record strikeouts on the first 2 hitters, and then got a 1st-pitch groundout on the 3rd guy to wrap up the game and notch my 1st AAA save.
In the 3rd game at Memphis, I came on in relief of Meyer (7.1 scoreless) with runners on 1st and 2nd and 1 out in the 8th inning of a 0-0 game. I was able to get the first hitter to hit a grounder right back to me, starting a 1-6-3 double play to get out of the inning. Then in the 9th (still 0-0), I got a groundout and a strikeout on the first 2 hitters, but then walked the 3rd hitter. I was taken out of the game, and, unfortunately, that runner came around to score, resulting in a 1-0 defeat (and me credited with the loss).
Our 3rd game in Nashville was the scene of my next outing, as I came in while we were trailing 4-0 in the 8th inning. The 1st 2 hitters, both lefties, flew out and grounded out. Then I struck out the lone righty of the inning, ending my night as we failed to score in the 9th.
In the month of July, I was able to find a groove and somewhat settle into my role on the team. I finished the month with 11 K’s, 1 BB, a .200 batting average against and a 7.67 GB ratio (7.67 groundouts per flyout/line out).
Since the last GZWI...
River Cats record: 9-5
My stat line: 4 G, 0-1, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 BB
UPDATED SEASON STATS...
River Cats record: 64-48 (1st place – 4 games ahead of Tucson)
All-level Cumulative: 8-3, 2 SV, 2.73 ERA, 62.2 IP, 23 R, 19 ER, 59 H, 52 K, 12 BB
AAA stats: 4-3, 3.69 ERA, 39.0 IP, 17 R, 16 ER, 40 H, 34 K, 8 BB
AA stats: 4-0, 1 SV, 1.14 ERA, 23.2 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 19 H, 18 K, 4 BB
I mean no disrespect with this but how does a pitcher get "tired" after throwing 44 pitches? Particularly since I believe you came up as a starter, where you're expected and prepared to throw much longer, why the difference in stamina now that you're relieving? Does the smaller margin for error that you mention create more stress on a reliever (thereby causing fatigue to set in sooner) than on a starter? Or is "tired" another way to say "doesn't have it today" or "had it but is losing it"? -- camperdog
No disrespect taken. It’s all about how you condition yourself. I’ve been conditioning myself for short relief since last September (lots of sprints and other things involving short, explosive bursts). As a starter, you do a lot of distance running to build up endurance. As a reliever, you usually go in and go full-bore for 20-30 pitches, whereas a starter paces himself over 100-110. Mental stress, to me, doesn’t change my energy level, because a lack of focus for one pitch could ruin a start, just like it can blow a game as a reliever.
There's not a lot of information out there on how hard Dan Meyer is throwing now that he's back and pitching well. Although we're all very happy with the recent results either way, can you give us the mph range of his fastballs? -- xbhaskarx
It would be a lot easier to give you an answer if I was charting in the stands with the radar gun like I did when I was a starter. But if the stadium radar guns are accurate (only thing I can go by), I think he’s in the 86-92 range, sitting at about 88-89. He’s been throwing the ball EXTREMELY well (1.91 ERA in 6 July starts), and his last couple outings, he’s gone deeper into games than he had been, doing a great job of maximizing his allotted pitch count.
What is the MOST pitches you had to throw to a batter before you as the pitcher won and got the out? -- Yas822
I can’t remember an exact at-bat, but I know I’ve had a couple that have gone 10-12 pitches...but most were as a starter. The longest I can think of this year was in my July 20 outing vs. Salt Lake City. Adam Pavkovich had about a 9- or 10-pitch at-bat before being called out on strikes.
From user: Bottom of the 9th...
This is only the second or third post of yours I've read, so a couple questions I ask may have been covered before.
Shame on you! Haha :-)
Anyway, my questions:
1. What sort of learning curve have you gone through with each of your pitches?
2. How far along do you feel you are with each pitch you throw?
3. How challenging is it to avoid tipping any of your pitches?
- Well, with the conversion to submarine, I’ve had to totally re-learn how to throw. The mechanics of every pitch are different than anything I ever threw overhand. Pitching is a contstant mental battle to keep things consistent, and I’m just getting to the point where I can repeat my delivery nearly every time without really having to focus on something specific.
- I really like where my fastball is right now. I’m locating it down in the zone most of the time, and staying out of the middle of the plate, and it’s creating a lot of groundballs (and even a few swings-and-misses). My slider and changeup are effective at times, but I’m just trying to rely heavily on my fastball to get outs.
- This is something I’m dealing with right now. Trying to keep a similar arm slot and release point with my off-speed pitches in relation to my fastball release. It’s just a matter of repetition. I've seen guys tip pitches before by their pre-pitch posture or movements, but as far as I'm aware of, I've never done that.
A few questions from richwol...
The A's pitchers talk about how incredible Kendall is at calling a game. For you, how much difference does a catcher make in that regard and can a catcher make the difference between having a good or bad outing? How often do you yourself shake off your catcher? In terms of calling games, how do you rate Suzuki (if he's caught you) and Landon Powell? What can they learn from Kendall? What can you learn from a guy like Kendall?
Also, Kendall is starting to hit now, but let's say for argument's sake that he continued to bat under the Mendoza Line. At that point, is his pitch calling (or any catcher's pitch calling) so important that you can keep such a dead bat in the lineup?
Any pitcher will tell you that being in-sync with a catcher is one of the most important things to getting in a rhythm on the mound. If you trust a catcher who has proven he knows how to pitch to certain hitters, it’s one less thing to have to worry about on the mound. Suzuki and Powell are both good at calling games, but more importantly, they’re both good at making adjustments to fit the pitcher’s strengths the more they get to work with each guy.
And I don’t think you can ever over-estimate the importance of a catcher’s game-calling skills. If a catcher can call a game, receive, and throw well, I don’t care if he goes 0-for-6 every game.
I've really enjoyed following your progress over the years, Brad. Hang in there. We're all pulling for you. Brian Reeves. -- Brian R
Awesome! One of my favorite teachers from high school! Thanks for the comment, Mr. Reeves. Great to hear from you!
You do realize your veteran teammates are going to extract a heavy price from you in Oakland because of this blog don't you? Hopefully you look good in a sheer pink teddy with matching purple stillettos. It's not a look many guys can carry off with success. ;) -- alox
If not this, it’d be something else. They’ll get my kangaroo court money one way or the other. And, no matter what it’s for, it’d be well worth it to be in the big leagues.
I hope everyone has a great week! We’ve got 8 games at home before the chance to enjoy our only off day of the 2nd half. Also looking very forward to the release of The Bourne Ultimatum this Friday! Then, after the day off, we’re on the road for 12 straight games – a trip that could factor heavily into making or breaking our playoff chances. I’ll try to post again before we go on the road. Come out and catch a game! See ya at the ballpark!