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Nomo Needs Relief - Long Relief
2004-06-13 22:55
by Jon Weisman

For as long as it was possible without my negligence of my daughter becoming criminal, I charted the pitches of Hideo Nomo against the Red Sox on Sunday. Doing so allowed me to make some careful observations.

1) Nomo's fastball peaked at 89 miles per hour, and was usually 82-87 mph.
2) Nomo's splitter was generally 76-78 mph.
3) Very rarely did Nomo stray from using these two pitches.
4) Batters swung and missed at Nomo's splitter less than a handful of times.
5) As Joe Morgan observed (and what Morgan does best is observe), Nomo got more velocity on his fastball the higher he threw it.

Will Carroll clarified for me in an e-mail that the splitter is supposed to spin like a fastball, "just slower, so that's the tough part to pick up. The arm action and spin should look fastball, then it comes out slowly and dies as it crosses the plate."

The Red Sox were almost never fooled by Nomo's splitter, leading me to wonder if Nomo's motion for the splitter is what it needs to be. Certainly, the velocity difference was there - about 7-10 mph. But all night, they knew not to swing, or were able to locate it down low with their bats - as Pokey Reese did when he golfed a 78-mph splitter for a two-run double in the fourth inning, an inning that Nomo did not complete.

If the splitter isn't working for Nomo, he's left to rely on his fastball, which is now merely average. And if Nomo has needed to throw it higher in the zone this season to generate speed, as he did Sunday night, that might explain his dramatic increase in home runs allowed this year - 12 in roughly 50 innings, even without allowing one against Boston.

Nomo induced two ground-ball outs in the game - both of them double plays by good Boston hitters. Outside of those, Nomo got only six other outs Sunday. It's not that he's never fooling anyone, but he isn't fooling them enough. And he can't blow the ball past most hitters. It has been that way all year.

What I wrote last week is still true this week. Nomo has not put a zero on the scoreboard after the fifth inning all season. His longest streak of consecutive shutout innings this season is three, last occuring May 2.

It is time for Nomo to work out his problems in the bullpen. Until he can show that he can retire batters consistently, with authority, rather than by chance, he is doing no one any good.

Hideo Nomo vs. Boston
FB = fastball, SP = splitter, CB = curve, SL = slider, ?? = not available
B = ball, S = strike, F = foul

First Inning
82 FB B vs. Johnny Damon
83 FB S
84 FB B
75 SP B
84 FB B very high
84 FB F
84 FB single

86 FB B vs. Mark Bellhorn
87 FB B
87 FB S
87 FB S good tailing movement
76 SP B
78 SP Ball 4, in the dirt

76 SP B vs. David Ortiz
76 CB B high and outside
89 FB ground into double play

77 SP B vs. Manny Ramirez check swing - first time a spltter wasn't taken all the way
88 FB RBI single on the hands

76 CB B vs. Nomar Garciaparra
83 SL B
82 SL S
77 SP S
89 FB K

Second Inning
84 FB S vs. Jason Varitek
75 SP B in dirt
76 SP B in dirt
?? ?? B
85 FB S
84 FB F
85 FB F
85 FB Ball 4, high

81 ?? S vs. Kevin Millar
88 FB B
88 FB fly to right

77 SP B vs. Gabe Kapler
88 FB B high
88 FB B passed ball
?? ?? S
87 FB fly to center

82 ?? B vs. Pokey Reese
88 FB S
78 SP F
77 ?? F high
78 SP K first strikeout on the splitter

Third Inning
78 ?? S vs. Damon
73 SP B in dirt
82 FB fly to left

?? ?? B vs. Bellhorn
83 FB B
84 FB B low
84 FB S
82 FB double off a high pitch

76 SP B vs. Ortiz
77 SP single

88 FB B vs. Ramirez
82 FB B
88 FB B
84 FB ground into double play on 3-0 count

Fourth Inning
74 SP F vs. Garciaparra
75 SP B
74 SP B
86 FB S
87 FB F
86 FB B
85 FB Ball 4

?? ?? S vs. Varitek
86 FB B
75 SP S swing and miss
88 FB F
78 SP B
89 FB B
78 SP K

Nomo faced three more batters, leaving the game after Reese's double.

* * *

Shawn Green still isn't hitting home runs, but he does his batting average up to .250. Small favors.

Adrian Beltre has fallen below .300, to .295.

Paul Lo Duca has struck out in five of his past seven games.

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