Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Passing" Judgment

How do you assess the effectiveness of a pitcher? Obviously, there's the eyeball test about what kind of stuff he has, the ability to control his pitches, velocity and movement of the fastball (four-seam, sinker, cutter), the sharpness of the breaking stuff, and the deception of changing speeds and hiding the ball.

I spoke of quantitative measures, too, like K to BB ratio. High strikeout pitchers invariably have the ability to generate swings and misses. As I watch DiNardo today (dismayed by four consecutive passes in the first), I can't help but lack confidence in his ability to get swings and misses and his need to be razor sharp to get people out. I appreciate his willingness not to 'give in' (Orioles announcer Jim Palmer never surrendered a grand slam), but at some point you have to throw strikes. As the pitching coaches say at the mound, "throw strikes, Babe Ruth is dead."

DiNardo just pulled a Matt Young on a tapper to the mound, and almost sealed his trip back to Pawtucket with an errant throw into right field.

The Red Sox haven't had a plethora of successful lefty starters in my forty plus years of Sox-watching. Bill Lee had better 'stuff' than DiNardo, and Bruce Hurst probably was the best overall lefty they've had. For the most part, they've had a lot of finesse lefties, as oposed to power lefthanders that are hard to come by.

Ultimately, I ask myself, "what is his OUT PITCH?" Jamie Moyer has the slow curve and enough guile to get hitters out with smarts. The Sox had a local product, Brian Rose, who had enough ability to get to the majors, but lacked the pitch to get people out in crunch time. Does DiNardo have enough pitching duende to compensate for his lack of stuff? Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time. The only differences between DiNardo and Abe Alvarez right now are a crooked cap and a bus ticket.

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