How was today only the A’s 5th series win on the road all season? That’s hard for the Eyeball Scout to wrap his head around and in the Eyeball Scout, we’re talking about someone shose eyes are located right near his head. Some stray thoughts, which are preferable to stray bullets, following the series…
Sean Manaea’s slider has come and gone throughout the year, but from where the Eyeball Scout sits Manaea’s changeup is the more reliably effective of his two off speed offerings.
When Manaea sells the changeup with the same arm slot as his fastball, it reliably fools hitters and as a result gets them starting to swing late on the fastball. That fastball-changeup combination can be so good that Manaea doesn’t need a third pitch to dominate hitters, and I would like to see him go to it as his primary weapon as he did a lot during the second half of last season – his most effective stretch of pitching in the big leagues to date.
That’s not a knock on Manaea’s slider, which at times can be excellent. It is certainly a good primary weapon against LH batters. I just think sometimes he underestimates how important the changeup is in getting swings and misses while also better setting up his fastball. Where I have seen Manaea’s breaking pitches be most effective is when he subtly changes speed just a bit, pulling the string on a slider enough to throw off the batter’s timing. He did this once today to a LH batter who hit a lazy fly ball and the fact that the Eyeball Scout cannot remember exactly who or when does not take anything away from the excellence of the sequence.
In sum, lean on the changeup more and add and subtract just a bit on the slider, and I think Manaea can be very effective even topping out at 92MPH. Throwing 94MPH again next season, though, would be super-ducky.
The Eyeball Scout has long gone against the tide in suggesting that Mark Canha, for all of his defensive mediocrity, can hit. Perhaps that’s because Canha’s swing reminds me of Josh Donaldson’s and Donaldson was also a late bloomer who has carved out a pretty darn solid career at the plate.
Whatever it is that I liked, I have stayed in Canha’s corner through thick and thin and only now am finally wavering to say that maybe my belief in him was misguided.
Pitch selection, which will be a recurring theme here, is so vitally important to a batter’s success or failure, and Canha continues to be a hacker without a whole lot of discernment. That doesn’t just show up in his low walk totals; it also shows up in his playing into the hands of pitchers who don’t want to give in and throw him good pitches to hit. Canha does not wait for good pitches, but is more like the ad that reads, “Looking for a good pitch to hit, OBO.” You’re only offering a fastball above the letters? OK, good enough. Your best offer this at bat is a slider below the knees? Sold.
That’s not a good approach and Canha’s poor numbers reflect the pitches he is willing to swing at. Perhaps it’s just not going to happen for this foodie.
I tend to see Matt Chapman as a hitter who will futz around for a while, having a high percentage of poor at bats but running into enough balls to contribute, and then who will suddenly rise to that next level and become a true force – just as we have seen happen with Matt Olson in a big way.
Where I feel Chapman is most flawed right now is in his pitch selection. Chapman takes an awful lot of hittable strikes while also chasing too many bad balls – often right after he takes a hittable strike.
Specifically, Chapman takes a lot of breaking pitches which are “get me over” strikes that he could hit hard and far. He should be truly hunting for those, along with fastball between the knees and the belt.
Chapman probably swings about the right amount of the time, but not at the correct offerings. Once he figures out which pitches to swing at I think he has a chance to become “the other beast named Matt”. Here’s looking forward to that development.
Frankly, at this point I really don’t know what to say about Matt Olson, other than “Marry me?” I don’t know what we’ll get going forward but man has the recent past been a blast. Literally.
Which of these analyses feels the most accurate/insightful?
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They are all right on
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