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Was there a game last night?  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I had to go to a funeral last night and I don't mean at the RC.  By the time I came home the Jays had conceded twelve runs.  I got to see the Jays mount their comeback of a sort.

Kyle Drabek had been dodging bullets all season with his loose command but last night it came back to bite him in a big way.  I have to say the Indians impressed me with their willingness to go the other way with a lot of pitches in this series.  The question du jour, as per the poll on the left, is what to do with Drabek?  Was this just a bad game, or was it a reflection of his season and a sign that something has to get fixed?  It can be hard to fix things in-season but I am sure the big brains in the front office are trying to figure out what to do with Drabek today.

Other than Drabek, the Jays spring training home run leader finally got a regular season one.  And Eric Thames had three hits, something to remember on saturday when Adam Lind bumps him down to Las Vegas.

Forgetting about last nights game I have noticed recently that the Jays running game has slowed down.  I recall that early in the season the Jays were running a lot but recently the speed seems to have taken a break.  I went back and looked at steals by month:

April 32 steals in 27 games

May 19 steals in 28 games.

The runaway express has definitely hit a speed bump.  Was this deliberate?  Have there been fewer opportunities to run?  Has Farell realized who can run and who cannot?  I am not sure why the running game has gone quiet(er).

There was one thing I noted:

In six games against the Red Sox the Jays stole 14 bases.

In eight games against the Yankees the Jays stole 12 bases.

Therefore, in their other 41 games, the Jays have 25 steals.  Call it a selective speed game.


Casey Janssen

Yesterday, before last night's game, I decided to take a closer look at Casey Janssen.  I think we all can agree that Casey Janssen is pitching a lot better in 2011 than he did in 2010.  Janssen has even become an 8th inning option for manager John Farrell.  Compared to 2010, Janssen's ERA is down from 3.67 to 1.61, his FIP is down from 3.85 to 2.49.  So what lies behind the improvement?

again compared to 2010, Janssen's K rate has actually gone down from 8.26 to 6.85, his walk rate has gone down marginally too.  So it looks like Janssen has been somewhat lucky, more batted balls are making outs.  Hitters BABIP against Janssen is .254 this year vs .327 last year.  Is this just a fluke or is there something behind this?

When I went digging the first thing I noticed was that Janssen is throwing more fastballs, he is throwing 37% 4-seam fastballs this season vs 28% last year.  Janssen is also throwing more cutters (3%) and more 2-seam fastballs (8%).   These extra fastballs have come because Janssen has essentially ditched his slider, he is down to 4% sliders in 2011 vs 22% in 2010.  The odd thing is that if you go to Fangraphs pitch values, the slider was Janssen best pitch last season, although not by a large amount.  Janssen's line drive allowed % is down from 22% to 18% but the big change is that Janssen HR/FB rate this season is zero vs 12% last year.

Next I looked at the results of at-bats when facing Janssen:

2011 At-bat Results

Groundout 25.00%
Strikeout 18.18%
Single 14.77%
Flyout 13.64%
Walk 6.82%
Lineout 3.41%
Pop Out 3.41%
Double 3.41%
Forceout 2.27%
Bunt Groundout 2.27%
Grounded Into DP 2.27%
Hit By Pitch 2.27%
Field Error 1.14%
Strikeout - DP 1.14%

2010 At-bat Results

Groundout 22.82%
Strikeout 21.14%
Single 18.12%
Flyout 9.73%
Walk 6.71%
Lineout 4.36%
Pop Out 4.36%
Home Run 2.68%
Double 2.68%
Forceout 2.35%
Hit By Pitch 1.34%
Grounded Into DP 1.01%
Triple 1.01%
Fan interference 0.34%
Double Play 0.34%
Sac Fly 0.34%
Bunt Groundout 0.34%
Intent Walk 0.34%

The big changes from 2010 to 2011 are that singles are down by 3%, ground balls are up by 2%, strikeouts are down by 3% and fly balls are up by 4%.  So more balls are being put in play but Janssen is allowing fewer hits and fewer home runs.  Last season Janssen conceded 8 homers in 56 innings.  This season in 22 innings he has given up none. 

So what does this all mean?  To me it looks like Janssen has had luck on his side this season.  The normal BABIP is around .300.  Last season Janssen was unlucky, or he made some bad pitches that went over the wall.  This season Janssen is lucky, his .254 BABIP is well below normal.  Janssen has also kep the ball in the park this season.  I looked at the pitch fx charts to see if Janssen is keeping the ball down more this season but the charts don't support that view.  So it does look like Janssen is doubly lucky in allowing no home runs on his fly balls this year.  Maybe last night was a sign of things to come.


Fangraphs Janssen page

Pitch Fx for 2011 for Janssen

Pitch Fx for 2010 for Janssen


So what are you thinking of on this off-day? 

2 June 2011, A Disaster or a Blip? | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
92-93 - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 11:22 AM EDT (#235968) #
Sending Drabek down for a month gives the Jays another year of his service. It's a no brainer.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#235969) #
Magpie's point from last night (made somewhat obliquely) was that the removal of Drabek in the first inning suggested that Farrell had lost confidence in him because of the control issues, in the same way that Farrell lost confidence in Purcey.  When your manager's background is as a pitching coach and pitcher, his confidence is key for a young pitcher. 

Personally, I would love to see them stick with Drabek but it won't work without the magic of confidence between manager and pitcher.  I suspect that he's ticketed for Las Vegas.

Kasi - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#235970) #
They should tell him to pitch right now how Thornton with the White Sox does. Take his pitch and toss it down the middle. It has so much movement in it that it will go to one side or the other.
Gerry - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#235971) #
I believe Drabek had thrown 38 pitches.  Farrell might have had to take him out if the Jays had a strict limit on the number of pitches per inning.
Flex - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#235989) #
We don't know what's going on behind the scenes with Drabek. It's possible that he's been put on notice about his walks and maybe not getting the message. Taking him out in the first inning would be sending a message with action rather than words.
TamRa - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#235992) #
Gerry's point is the same one I made on twitter last night - Farrell simply made the same choice he made earlier with Morrow. He apparently has a pretty firm understanding that you are not going to exceed 40 pitches in one inning. Ever.

He was quoted last night, by Lott I believe, as saying the Jays are not remotely considering demoting him ala Cecil.

I do think the sentiment expressed above is a good one. Drabek is (so I read) not usually missing wildly but just on the margins - possibly he's trying to be too clever and he needs to, as said, throw it over the plate and let the movement work for him.

BlueJayWay - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#235993) #
They should tell him to pitch right now how Thornton with the White Sox does. Take his pitch and toss it down the middle. It has so much movement in it that it will go to one side or the other.

This might be a good idea, and it was recommended for Juan Guzman back in the day.  Drabek does have a lot of movement, so much that he should just aim for the middle and let his stuff do the rest.  If he aims for the corners, he misses huge.

We don't know what's going on behind the scenes with Drabek. It's possible that he's been put on notice about his walks and maybe not getting the message. Taking him out in the first inning would be sending a message with action rather than words.

I'd have to think he's getting the message, or he's the dumbest guy ever.  He looks ticked off everytime he falls behind or walks a batter - which means he looks ticked off pretty much all the time.  I just don't know if he's physically capable of throwing strikes right now.  There might be mechanical issues.  In any case, he didn't have nearly this problem with BBs in the minor leagues.  So I don't know what's up, but I do know this is pretty hard to watch.  I knew Drabek would be a project this year, and I'm hoping to see him turn a corner a la Morrow in 2010.  And I'm hoping Morrow can turn that same corner again. 

The team's hanging around, and I don't think they're very far from being quite good.  Lind back, Lawrie up, Drabek/Morrow/Snider living up to their potential, and this team looks A LOT better.
rtcaino - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#235998) #
He looks to me like he is pitching pretty 'amped-up'.

He looks like he is not repeating his delivery very well and is often over throwing.

Can we not get him a copy of The Mental ABC's of PItching??

rtcaino - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#235999) #
(That was regarding Drabek, btw.)
Magpie - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 02:46 PM EDT (#236005) #
I mentioned that it was unusual for a pitcher to get the hook in the first inning (it happened exactly twice in the AL last season and once was because of injury). The last time a Blue Jays starter was pulled in the first inning was just over four years ago, on May 30, 2007, when John Gibbons yanked Jesse Litsch after eight batters, during which he recorded two outs while allowing four hits, two walks, and five runs.

Drabek is pitching like a kid (duh, shock...). He gets in trouble, he tries to throw even harder, and he gets in more trouble. He misses his spots even more, and his stuff straightens out.
krose - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#236008) #
I heard it somewhere. "Young pitchers will break your heart." MMM! I think it was right here...
Magpie - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:13 PM EDT (#236009) #
He needs to stop throwing so damn hard - as Ron Gardenhire said just recently, at this level hard, hard, harder just gets hit, hit, hit. But that's always been very difficult thing for a young pitcher to do. After all, it's generally because they can throw very hard that they've made it this far in the first place. And when you're in a jam, and the crowd is buzzing, and the adrenaline is flowing... it doesn't get easier.
Magpie - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:29 PM EDT (#236010) #
... toss it down the middle. It has so much movement in it that it will go to one side or the other... it was recommended for Juan Guzman back in the day

It worked for Guzman, but while Drabek's stuff is pretty lively, I don't think it's that good. Guzman wasn't just unhittable, he was very nearly uncatchable.

I do see some similarities with the Todd Stottlemyre saga. Drabek throws a little harder than Todd, but I like the other parallels. Sons of very, very successful major league pitchers, both blessed with far more impressive arms than their fathers. But Todd didn't have a very good idea of what to do with his gifts....
subculture - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#236013) #
Agree with everyone above, and also add that the current Indians look like a bad matchup for both Morrow, and especially Drabek. 

They seem to have a lot of guys (including lefties and switch-hitters) with nice short compact swings, that are very willing and able to hit outside fastballs the other way.

Unrelated note:  I'd love to see Shin Soo Choo, or Hang Conger (or other Korean positional player) on the Jays.  The local community seems pretty vocal and active at the games, and would be another draw for attendance.  And I'm really looking forward to the hopefully significant impact Lawrie has on the Jays popularity in Canada.

krose - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#236015) #
Part of Drabek's "kiddness" problem is also an emotional overreaction. Combine the jam and the crowd buzz and there appears to be an overflow of adrenalin. His head loses control of his heart. I'm pretty sure the golden arm will make him successful only if the head is in charge!
uglyone - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#236016) #
I'd have no problem with sending him down for a bit. it's clearly in his head now.

And besides, Brad Mills clearly deserves a chance to show that he's the lefty Shaun Marcum, anyways.
krose - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#236017) #
I agree subculture.
Cleveland looks like a smart and talented young team. Drabek's control problems were fodder. Morrow seemed to be throwing well, but appeared unable to adapt to the hitters' approaches.
krose - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#236020) #
The learning curve to become an effective major league player is steep. It appears to be a reasonable assumption that even the most talented prospects will fail in their first opportunity at the MLB level. Giving them the opportunity is just part of the development process.
Gerry - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 04:31 PM EDT (#236028) #

For those of you advocating taking Josh Roenicke off the 40 man roster, today is, or was, the day.

Roenicke was claimed by the Rockies and is now an ex-Jay.  Zack Stewart now is the only return for Scott Rolen.

This move was probably to clear a spot for Brett LAwrie.

dan gordon - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#236029) #

Coming into spring training, I preferred that Drabek start the year in AAA.  It is a big jump from AA to the majors, and when I saw Drabek with the Jays last year, he looked to me like he didn't have great control.  He pitched so well in spring training and in his first start of the regular season, I started to think maybe I was wrong, and that he might just belong in the big leagues, but I guess that was just too small a sample size - he really does need work in AAA.  He's leading the majors in walks, has walked more than he's struck out, and has a WHIP of 1.69.  I see nothing wrong with having him work on his control in AAA.

That's an interesting analysis of Janssen.  I was thinking he was better because it was another year beyond his surgery, and sometimes it takes 2-3 years after surgery before a pitcher really regains his form, but perhaps luck has a lot to do with it in Janssen's case.  I've always questioned the degree to which changes in BABIP reflect luck, and the degree to which they reflect differences in actual pitching such as better control within the strike zone, better pitch movement, etc.  If it was mainly due to Janssen pitching better, though, you would think you'd see other signs, such a big drop in line drive %, that type of thing.  He does seem to have been luckier than last year.

I read an interesting article in a science magazine recently that got me thinking about Aaron Hill.  The article was about human behaviour in the face of various types of economic situations, and one of the things that really caught my eye was the study of performance when faced with higher and higher levels of motivation (i.e. pay) for the performance of various tasks.  They found that when the stakes are high, the brain tends to narrow its focus, which impairs performance on creativity and on athletic performance.  People also became too focused on how much money they stood to gain or lose, to the detriment of focusing on the task itself.  Hill's contract placed a huge performance-based incentive in front of him, in the form of option years that might or might not be picked up by the team, largely based on how well he performed.  The vast majority of the money he could make on that contract was in the option years.  Perhaps that had something to do with his poor performance subsequent to the contract.  I have certainly noticed many times that when a player signs a big contract his performance drops off.  Look, for instance at Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn and Adrian Beltre this year.  I know that many people attribute such drop offs to lack of motivation - perhaps that is the case with some of these guys, as you can see they have a pattern of performing well in the year before they become free agents, Beltre being an example.  Perhaps other are succumbing to the effects shown in the article I read.  It would be interesting to see an analysis of how well players tend to perform when signing contracts with multiple option years at much higher salaries, such as Hill's.     

85bluejay - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 04:52 PM EDT (#236031) #

Technically, we still have EE also although I don't know if that's a positive - I remember when that trade was made the Reds GM Walt Jocketty took a lot of  criticism from fans calling it a terrible trade - but Rolen has worked out well for the Reds and now the pressure is on Stewart or it's a bust for the Jays - I remember some fans calling it JP's best trade at the time. 

Flex - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 07:32 PM EDT (#236036) #
Very nice piece here by Mop-Up Duty advocating sending Drabek down:

It includes some insightful quotes from Dustin McGowan and Joe Saunders related to confidence, which Drabek definitely seems to lack at the moment.
krose - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 08:36 PM EDT (#236037) #
Thanks Flex. Excellent articles. Really articulates the struggles of Drabek in particular and of many young player in general.
Gerry - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 09:30 PM EDT (#236038) #
Adam Lind is 3-3 with a walk, two doubles and a SB so far tonight. I think he is ready.
greenfrog - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 09:43 PM EDT (#236039) #
Hey Adam, save some of those hits for Baltimore!
Thomas - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#236043) #
This move was probably to clear a spot for Brett Lawrie.

Does this indicate that Mike McCoy is about to board the Las Vegas shuttle? This might be something close to his eleventh trip, so maybe the club gets free air fare. I had thought we might see the end of Encarnacion, and hence his removal from the 40-man, but I doubt it if they're clearing a spot and losing Roenicke.

If Encarnacion isn't starting, his utility approaches zero. If you're keeping him around for trade value, as some people have speculated, he's not going to gain any by sitting on the bench.

ramone - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 10:51 PM EDT (#236044) #

It appears Lind was pinch hit for in the 9th, I sure hope it was because he had a plane to catch.

Gerry - Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 11:33 PM EDT (#236048) #
Brett Cecil heard there might be an opening in Toronto. He has given up one hit and 3 walks in five shutout innings so far tonight.
TamRa - Friday, June 03 2011 @ 05:03 AM EDT (#236052) #
I've seen that McCoy suggestion a few times bur i'm not seeing them risking being without a reserve SS. McCoy will be here until McDonald comes back IMO.
Dave Till - Friday, June 03 2011 @ 07:17 AM EDT (#236053) #
The mainstream media appear to have become aware of Jose Bautista, but do they know yet that he has transformed himself from Babe Ruth into Ichiro?

In his last 10 games, Joey Bats is taking what the pitchers are giving him, and is slapping a lot of singles:

36 AB, 8 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 7 SO, .388 AVG

His on-base percentage is about .500 (I think there's an HBP thrown in there somewhere). Are the Jays happy with this? Why, yes - yes, they are.

zeppelinkm - Friday, June 03 2011 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#236058) #
I know he's hitting singles Dave, but I'm just not sure if you can say he's slapping singles! I know in that game against the Indians on Monday he absolutely roped a single into left and the double down the right field line was on a hard line too (not just "blooped" in there or something).  And I'm pretty sure Hannahan snagged what would have gone for a roped single against most other 3B's. Even his linedrive out late in the game on Wednesday (to left center) was on a line.

He's going to take a walk or he's going to hit the ball hard. There is no middle ground.
Parker - Friday, June 03 2011 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#236061) #
The only time any Bautista hit is scored a single is when he clobbers it off the outfield wall so hard that it bounces back into the infield by the time he's making his turn at first.
AWeb - Friday, June 03 2011 @ 10:31 AM EDT (#236062) #
Or when Patterson screws up running the bases (although that particular problem seems to have lessened in the past weeks) and only makes it one base on a ball off the wall...
vw_fan17 - Friday, June 03 2011 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#236079) #
I know he's hitting singles Dave, but I'm just not sure if you can say he's slapping singles!

I think what Dave meant to say is: Bautista is slapping the ball after hitting [only] singles... How DARE you ball not go over the wall! <slap, slap, slap>
2 June 2011, A Disaster or a Blip? | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.