Thursday, July 24, 2008

Follow up Questions on Ayala

Chico Harlan has some interesting quotes from St. Claire on Ayala's troubles. Says he's not hurt, not overworked, but that his left shoulder is flying open, and he's relying too much on the change and slider and doesn't have confidence in the sinking fastball that used to be his bread and butter:
* His mechanics are a mess. He's opening up his body too quickly during his wind-up, which leads his pitches to tail.
* He has no confidence. Most of all, he's lost confidence in his go-to pitch -- his sinker. He used to throw it four out of every five pitches. Now, he's using it just half the time.
* Neither St. Claire nor Manager Manny Acta think Ayala has been over-worked. They don't think he's injured, either. He can still hit 95 on the gun, both said.
Ayala, as you probably know, had Tommy John surgery after blowing out his arm pitching in the World Baseball Classic in 2006. Usually, a TJ survivor slowly rebuilds arm strength and isn't really back till they're second year of pitching, or third year after the injury. That would be this year, but the human body is a funny thing, and some people take longer than others to heal.

When Harlan reports that Ayala used to throw the sinker more, he's referring to before the injury. You can see here, he's thrown it less ever since the TJ.

So, considering that, you have to wonder if they can so easily dismiss the possibility that there's nothing wrong. No, he may not be hurt, but the overwork, plus the rebuilding arm strength could be causing him to try to throw the pitch harder, which could be causing him to fly open and lose command.

I don't know if that's what's happening, but it seems like a plausible theory. Certainly those are follow-up questions I'd like to see Harlan ask, rather than just accepting at face value that he's physically ok because he can hit 95 and that the problem is that a 30-year-old formerly dominant set-up man suddenly is just losing confidence and screwing up pitch selection.


Dave Nichols said...

following a time-honored JimBow tradition of blaming the player for the symptoms instead of finding out what's really wrong.

he obviously can still throw the pitch, he made Aurilia look stupid on two straight to start the at bat, then he lays to softie up there for the double.

is the slider putting too much stress on his arm? is that why he's pitching backwards? is he spending too much time in the bullpen scouting for honies instead of concentrating on his job?

Nationals Fan said...

Did bowden comment on Ayala? I don't think I've seen that. If you can share the link, I'd be interested.

I am overdue for a pure full-throated Bowden-bashing post, and the comments on Cordero and the obscene puffery on the Rauch and Guzman deals have my Bowden-bashing juices flowing.

Anonymous said...

So the pitching coach says his mechanics are a mess. Correct me if I am wrong, isn't it the pitching coach's responsibility to work with the player to fix his problems? I'll bet a week or two with McCatty at AAA would get him fixed.

Steven said...

I don't know who McCatty is. Enlighten me if you will.

Here's my take on the coaching staff. Manny should be able to hire and fire them. Lenny, St. Claire, whatever.

And then I just kind of thing people tend to overestimate the importance of pitching and hitting coaches. I think there are precious few who matter one way or anther.