Thursday, April 1, 2010
Better Know a Grifter
In the interest of completeness and giving a man his due, how about a hand for reclaimation project Dana Eveland. The Opening Day roster of the Toronto Blue Jays is not a place I'd ever see his name, but there he is.
Just what do we have on our hands with Mr. Eveland? A kitchen sink lefty, throwing all manner of crap against the wall hoping something sticks and you get yourself out. Not the kind of thing likely to shock the world, but a useful arm none the less. Let's look at nerdy stuff.
There they are, all 50 of his pitches. Fastball, cutter, slider, change, curve. He throws them all. They all move as you'd expect pitches like that to move, touching 90 on occasion but realistically he's upper 80s.
So we can see what, but what about how? What's his deal, what didn't he stick at the big league level before? Walks my friends, walks. Lots of them.
Even when Dana Eveland was pretty good, he still wasn't very good. He does some important things well (his career ground ball rate is over 50% and he gives up NONE home runs, way less than 1 per 9) but walks haunt him year after year. He doesn't really strike anybody out, making his walks that much more impactful.
He only missed 5.4% of bats in 2009, a bad year ever for him. His slider generates a good number of ground balls and a third of his total whiffs. Basically he lives for the grounders while dying by the middle of the plate. He fits the current model of Jays starters (ground balls, left handed, control issues) but the others have an out pitch that Eveland's lacked in the past.
Does Bruce Walton know how to glimpse into the soul of these troubled hurlers and cure their arms of wickedness? A lot of the Jays hopes in 2010 (innings eaten) and beyond (titles won) depend on nibbling lefties figuring out how to throw strikes. If Bruce Walton knows the key to that lock, he has a long, long career as a pitching guru ahead of him.
Image courtesy of Inside Social, pitch f/x from Joe Lefkowitz and rates stats by Fangraphs.