Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scouting Report: Mets at Nationals (9/18)

Tonight is the first of back-to-back pitching genius features at Nationals Park. It's not often that you get to see two future Hall of Famers in their primes take the mound on consecutive nights. Yeah, I guess it's a little premature to declare Peavy and Santana Hall of Famers, but I think they'll both be cinches when their time comes. It's a real treat, even though they are throwing for the opposition.

Here's my take on the final game this season against the one and
only team in MLB that we have bragging rights over. (For more on New York's offense and bullpen, check out my preview of game one of last week's two game series.)

Pitching Match-Up
Johan Santana: What makes Santana so great? It's pretty simple actually, and as a fan
you can see it really easily if you know what you're looking at. He throws four pitches: four-seam (with 'rising' action) and two-seam (more sinking action) fastballs, a change-up, and a slider. His arm action on all four is the same, but in the last instant the slider dives down and away from lefties and the change up just stops and falls off the table. The four-seamer is his best get-ahead pitch. And then against righties he puts them away with the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't change-up and against lefties he tends to use the slider, breaking hard down and away. But the trick for both is the same. Hitters think they're getting a fastball, swing, and look silly. If you see the downward movement, it's the change, and if you see the darting action away from lefties, it's the slider.

This chart from a much more detailed breakdown of Santana at "Statistically Speaking" shows you the late break on his pitches from the hitters' perspective:

That much break in the last .25 seconds, plus the difference in velocity--it's a killer combination, even though he rarely even touches 94.

Tim Redding: Earlier this week I pointed out how well Odalis Perez's 2008 holds up in comparison to other free agents. No matter what your budget was, no FA besides Kyle Lohse posted a better ERA than Odalis.

Looking back at the FA class of 2006, Redding stacks up pretty well too. Again, even with an unlimited budget, Redding's 2008 ERA of 4.54 is better than anyone Bowden could have signed not named Ted Lilly (4.13), Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.93), Mike Mussina (3.62), or Gil Meche (4.14). Some of the much more expensive and worse options? Barry Zito (5.48), Kei Igawa (13.50), Adam Eaton (5.80), Miguel Batista (6.19)...

My point? Well, number one, never let it be said that I don't give Bowden credit for the good things he does. But also this should tell you something about free agency. There are not a lot of great options out there, and there are basically zero sure things. Like any other form of player acquisition, it's about player evaluation and projection--picking the right guys, not spending the most money.

Fearless Prediction
(Season record: 29-18)
Mets win, 6-2.


An Briosca Mor said...

Could you please explain why we have bragging rights over the Mets? Despite what happened in the first two games this week, they lead the season series against us 11-6. Admittedly, that's better than we're doing against the Marlins, but I wouldn't call that bragging rights by a long shot.

Maybe we have bragging rights over the Braves. We did win that season series big time.

Steven said...

Because when it really mattered last year we kicked them all over the yard.

I don't know if there's a "great bragging rights scorecard in the sky," but I have friends to are Phils fans, Cubs fans, Mets fans, Braves fans, pretty much every team.

The only ones who don't feel free to trash us mercilessly are the Mets fans. And when they do, I can give it back to them and at least work it to a draw. Everyone else, it's just, yeah, you're right, we fucking suck.

bmfc1 said...

I'm a Mets fan that shares Nationals season tix and think that this is a brilliant website. You know your stuff and are concerned with the team and not the food at the ballpark, like other Nationals sites.

Whether or not you have "bragging rights" with my team is up to you but Mets fans don't talk trash. Not with our history. Even if the Mets were 18-0 against the Nationals, you wouldn't hear trash from us. We're not Yankees fans. (There are exceptions, like the dope near me last night that yelled "Go back to Quebec.")

Best of luck to your guys.

Steven said...

Thanks. And there's no question about it. Mets fans are nowhere near the worst guests we get here. I'm sure some people will disagree, but I found the Phillies, Braves, Cubs, and Yankees crowds all less respectful.

BTW--I just went back to what I wrote and probably should have said something like, "the one and only team in MLB that we have ANY bragging rights over AT ALL."

Look, the Mets are a much better team, who are we kidding. But we Nationals fans have to take whatever we can get.