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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
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A Thousand Paper Cuts and All That
2008-06-04 21:57
by Jon Weisman

By my reckoning, Clayton Kershaw threw 12 changeups in his first Dodger start - his most effective of his three appearances. Four changeups were taken for balls, five went for strikes and three were hit into outs.

Today, I was at work during his start, and Gameday was regrettably inconsistent in recording Kershaw's pitch types, but there were at least a couple of changeups in there. I don't think it's fair to say that the young lefty has only a fastball and curve. He has a change that can be effective, that should help prevent batters from sitting on his fastball, and it's a pitch that should only get better for him.

However, one of Kershaw's issues in the early going might just be the number of pitches that are getting fouled off. Here's the inning-by-inning foul ball count:

Inning 1: 6
Inning 2: 8
Inning 3: 3
Inning 4: 1
Inning 5: 5
Total: 23 (out of 104 pitches)

I've never tallied pitcher foul balls before, but that kind of seems like a high percentage to me - particularly in the first two innings. Jeff Baker fouled off four pitches before hitting his first homer of the season that would account for all of Colorado's scoring. So I'm just wondering whether peskiness - i.e., difficulty putting away certain hitters - is the biggest threat to Kershaw's game right now. I'm not drawing any conclusions, but it's just something I'm going to keep an eye on going forward.

* * *

  • By the way, the Dodgers aren't applying Kershaw's 25-inning monthly limit in the major leagues, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, but they do have an overall season limit in mind of 170 innings. That would allow for roughly 21 more starts averaging six innings. Of course, pitches-per-inning will affect how many innings he throws.

  • Esteban Loaiza has signed with the White Sox.

  • Former first-round draft pick Scott Elbert pitched for the first time since surgery a year ago, in a year for AA Jacksonville, posting a scoreless eighth inning with a walk and a strikeout.

  • Comments
    2008-06-04 22:29:33
    1.   KG16
    I think the number that is most troubling for pitchers is 2-strike foul balls. Those are the pitches that arbitrarily extend a plate appearance (fouls with no or 1 strike, not so much).

    On the other hand, a high number of foul balls means that hitters generally aren't making good contact with his pitches, something that I think bodes well for Kershaw long term. Unless of course, hitters catch up with his pitches.

    2008-06-04 22:31:17
    2.   Jon Weisman
    1 - I knew I should have broken those down for you all, but a lot of his fouls were with two strikes.
    2008-06-04 22:34:50
    3.   KG16
    All I've seen of Kershaw has been at the ML level, what do we know about his approach to the game? By which I mean, is he a student of the game who will study film and scouting reports, or is he the type that tends to rely on talent?
    2008-06-04 22:35:26
    4.   Jon Weisman
    3 - Even if we knew the answer, would we assume that's the final answer?
    2008-06-04 22:35:36
    5.   KG16
    2 - oh, and that doesn't surprise me, I would suspect that most foul balls are hit with two strikes as hitters are trained to protect/extend the strike zone
    2008-06-04 22:37:12
    6.   KG16
    4 - I wouldn't assume it's the final answer, but it's an important data point. You can't know where you're going unless you know where you are.
    2008-06-04 22:42:14
    7.   underdog
    I'd heard somewhere that Kershaw was a "good student" but I don't know exactly what that means.

    I was hoping the Dodgers would have a shot at Isaac Galloway in the 2nd round, but then forgot about the supplemental round in between; he'll be gone long before #61, easily, alas.

    2008-06-04 22:44:36
    8.   underdog
    Here's the draft order, btw:
    2008-06-04 22:48:16
    9.   natepurcell
    Billingsley had the same problem when he came up. Its just an adjustment young, talented pitchers have to go through.
    2008-06-04 22:51:01
    10.   LAT
    I took in the businessman's special today and it may have been the most boring baseball game, check that, sporting event I have ever been to. Not only boring but frustrating. 8 hits, 4 of which are infield and 2 which go off infielders glove. Did Nomar become the new hitting coach? Everyone swung at the first pitch. How about looking at a few pitches. Why do we keep trotting Sweeny out there. Really, Kent was on the bench. One other observation, Clayton better figure out how to field that push bunt or people will be laying it down all day.

    In the section next to me there was a lady complaining vehemantly about four drunk guys who were yelling all game long and I mean they were loud. When she complained they started yelling at her. The usher called three security guys who ammassed at the top of the asile. Instead of dealing with the problem they stood waiting to make sure it didn't escalate until the game ended. After the last pitch security left and the guys went back to yelling at the woman. I raise this because even when you call that security number on the guest relations board, security doesn't do anything. They never even checked these guys' tickets. It was the same thug mentality that we have all been complaining about. BTW, face in this section was $75. This woman presumably spent $300 for her seats and had to put up with this. Maybe you had to be there but this was such a weak effort by Dodger security, I was stunned.

    2008-06-04 22:52:25
    11.   Bob Timmermann
    Sounds like a letter of complaint to Customer Relations is in order.
    2008-06-04 23:14:40
    12.   jasonungar07
    Lakers in 5... just thought i'd call my shot.
    2008-06-04 23:41:07
    13.   underdog
    12 - As much as I hope you're right, alas I think no way does that happen. But my fingers are crossed, and think it goes 6 or 7 and maybe the Lakers prevail. Stopping Garnett and Pierce won't be easy, just as stopping Kobe won't be easy for the Celtics. And the Lakers have both solid defense and a more up tempo offense than the Celtics saw in the playoffs. So that gives me hope. But to win in 5 would be a shocker. A happy shocker to me, but a shocker.
    2008-06-05 00:16:30
    14.   trainwreck
    Not like you or many were expecting them to beat the Spurs in 5.
    2008-06-05 00:30:36
    15.   bhsportsguy
    14 I thought they would beat the Spurs in 5 but I have no idea how this one will turn out. I know what I want to happen but things do not always work out that way.
    2008-06-05 00:39:35
    16.   Tom Meagher
    I was working on something else when I did a query of the best pitchers by ERA+ with 250+ IP from 2006 to present:

    Of the top 40, only FOUR pitchers were 30 or older in 2006. Those four were Smoltz (#5, out with season-ending shoulder surgery), Kelvim Escobar (#10, out with season-ending shoulder surgery), Curt Schilling (#21, rehabbing from shoulder injury and not expected back soon), and Derek Lowe (#24, and 17th in innings pitched over the time period).

    An argument can honestly be made that Derek Lowe, who turned 35 on Sunday, is the best over-32 starting pitcher in baseball. Perhaps Maddux, Johnson, Mussina, or Pettite are better than him, but if so it's definitely not by much. He can't quite claim to be the best pitcher over 30, as there are a few pitchers who are probably better and are younger than him but over 30, but not many: Hudson, Vazquez, Halladay, Oswalt, maybe Burnett (and Harang, Sheets, Lackey and Penny are all 30). I would say that I'm convinced there are 31-year-olds that are better (Halladay/Oswalt), there might be a better 32- or 33-year-old (Vazquez or Hudson) and there probably is not a better active starting pitcher older than Tim Hudson who is better than Derek Lowe. Wow.

    Looking at the time since Lowe was signed, he is 16th in ERA+ among pitchers with 500+ IP. 52 pitchers threw 500 or more innings with an ERA better than league average, and the only ones to have signed free agent contracts were Pettite (121 ERA+, 724.2 IP), Lowe (117, 717), Rogers (114, 529), Burnett (113, 587.1), Suppan (107, 664.1), Glavine, Millwood, Garcia, Zito, Johnson, Maddux, Wakefield, Byrd, Meche, Lilly, and Washburn (all with ERA+ between 106 and 100). Lowe's deal appears to be the free agent starting pitcher of recent vintage that has yielded the most value.

    Other Dodgers in the top 40 for ERA+ 2006-8 are Penny (#31) and Billingsley (#9). Also representing the NL West are Webb (#1), Peavy (#18), Haren (#20), Aaron Cook (#22), Chris Young (#27), and Cain (#37).

    2008-06-05 02:28:20
    17.   natepurcell
    Mayo's last draft projection:

    15. Los Angeles Dodgers: Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian. There are many players in the conversation here, with the most interesting one being Arizona State's Ike Davis ... as a pitcher. While that sounds like a possibility, look for the Dodgers to go with the power-armed TCU closer over Davis or players like Zach Collier and Ethan Martin.

    Nothing in that makes sense at all.

    2008-06-05 05:43:28
    18.   old dodger fan
    16 Fascinating list-thanks.

    I notice that Edwin Jackson is 104th of 116 on the list. I'm glad he is doing so well now but it sure was a hard road for him.

    Other ex-Dodgers include Tomko (110); Odalis (109); Hendy (85)and Jeff Weaver (116).

    2008-06-05 05:49:15
    19.   Penarol1916
    9. I definitely remember that and the fact that a lot of posters getting frustrated that he would generate just a ton of foul balls and not strike out as many people as they thought he would.
    2008-06-05 05:55:33
    20.   Marty
    I see that Neal Pollack has landed a regular column in CityBeat. Good for him.
    2008-06-05 06:00:02
    21.   old dodger fan
    Dodgers NL rankings
    Runs per game 12th
    HR's 16th
    BA 4th
    OBP 5th
    SLG 14th
    OPS 13th

    Our runs scored correlates best with SLG and OPS vs BA or OBP.

    2008-06-05 06:14:07
    22.   Bob Hendley
    11 - "Sounds like a letter of complaint to Customer Relations is in order."

    What's a letter?

    2008-06-05 06:43:12
    23.   timm
    I caught the game on the tube yesterday and my impression of Kershaw is he is a thrower instead of a pitcher at this point. I saw the same thing in Billingsly early on. I think he will become a pitcher as he gains experience and knowledge of the hitters. And I agree, he needs to perfect that changeup. Their sitting on the fastball right now.
    2008-06-05 07:00:26
    24.   Bob Timmermann
    The only person I know the Dodgers will draft today is Andrew Porter.
    2008-06-05 07:20:33
    25.   Jon Weisman
    Via BTF:

    "The best of all out of the gate for the Dodgers, maybe the best of all-time, occurred on April 12, 1962. On that night, Peter Gerard Richert, rookie lefthander, came out of the Dodger bullpen at Chavez Ravine in relief of Stan Williams.

    "He struck out Vada Pinson of the Reds to end the third inning. Whoosh. He struck out Frank Robinson to lead off the fourth. Whoosh. He then struck out Gordy Coleman, but a passed ball allowed Coleman to reach first safely. Whoosh, oops. The next two Reds went down swinging. Whoosh, whoosh. Richert then froze Tommy Harper with another fastball to open the fifth for his sixth consecutive strikeout. Whoosh. Six in a row, still a major league record for a first-time appearance. "

    2008-06-05 07:21:58
    26.   Bob Hendley
    23 - I remember Moose Mussina in his time with the O's having the problem of good stuff but not being able to put batters away. Getting a lot of fouls and then basically having to groove it and hope for the best. I think development of his knuckle-curve helped him, so he could at least show another pitch. I don't recognize him ever being a Yankee. Curses on Angelos!
    2008-06-05 07:29:19
    27.   Bob Timmermann
    4/12/1962 was the major league debut of Richert, Dick Tracewski, Joe Moeller, and Larry Burright.

    There were 62 runs scored total by both teams in Dodger Stadium's first six games.

    Pitcher's park indeed!

    2008-06-05 07:34:10
    28.   old dodger fan
    25 As soon as I say Richert's name I remebered him being part of the 1964 trade that brought us Claude Osteen. I looked him up and I had forgotten he came back and played for us in '72 and '73. In fact even after reading it I still don't remember him coming back.
    2008-06-05 07:35:27
    29.   Bob Timmermann
    Richert came back with Friend of the Griddle, Frank Robinson.
    2008-06-05 07:35:43
    30.   old dodger fan
    27 That season ended really badly.
    2008-06-05 07:39:32
    31.   Jon Weisman
    New amateur post with upside up top.
    2008-06-05 10:09:52
    32.   Mike De Leon
    23. I agree, at this point he doesn't really know how to pitch. That was one thing I was worried about by rushing him, at least Jackson had a full season at AA where as Kershaw has had less than 1/4 of that. Although he does seem to have worked on his pick off move and how to hold runners, so that's a good sign. But I don't think a change is enough, I'd like to see him develope a hard slider. He relies on his fast ball, he threw it exclusively to Baker who was sitting on it and finally hit one out, a slider looks like a fast ball til it breaks.

    12. That'd be great but the C*#ts create matchup problems. If the Lakers win I think it's going to depend on how Fish, Lamar, Sasha and Farmer play. If Fish and Lamar can bring a consistant A or B game and Sasha and Farmer can be consistant as well they'll take it. The main problem is Phil's love of Walton who has looked terrible throughout most of the PO's. His offense has been inconsistant or has just disappeared and his D is just terrible. I'd fell better if Ariza got most of Lukes minutes. Trevor's quicker, better on D and can actually jump so will actally finish a break away rather than try a a weak layup ala Walton. Win or lose the Lakers have gotten farther than I expected them to get and I'm looking forward to seeing them next year with Drew back.

    2008-06-05 17:20:14
    33.   elandcohen
    Jon 2 years ago i remember the same thing (fouling off of pitches) happening to Bills

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