Daily Astros News and Notes

HOUSTON - MAY 09: Shortstop Jerry Hairston Jr. #15 of the San Diego Padres keeps his foot on the base as Jeff Keppinger #8 of the Houston Astros is forced out on a bunt by Jason Michaels in the eleventh inning at Minute Maid Park on May 9, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

As we await the start of yet another series in St. Louis, let's talk about the weekend. I needed a little time to get over the Paulino loss, so if you want to head over and check out the new SB Nation Power Rankings first, be my guest.

Felipe Paulino - Let's dive in head first...

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 95.41 97.1 -5.02 7.59 62 45 / 72.58% 4 / 6.45% -1.2746 0.402
CH (Changeup) 86.80 88.8 -3.59 4.02 7 1 / 14.29% 0 / 0.00% 0.5910 0.445
SL (Slider) 87.45 90.3 -0.24 -2.74 23 15 / 65.22% 6 / 26.09% -1.5141 0.438
CU (Curveball) 76.67 79.6 0.47 -5.24 15 10 / 66.67% 2 / 13.33% -0.7089 0.498
FT (TwoSeam Fastball) 95.50 97.1 -10.16 4.84 6 3 / 50.00% 0 / 0.00% -0.2363 0.405

 

One thing to notice, the linear weights line up nicely with number of swing-throughs. Also of note, Paulino throw a crap-ton of fastballs. Of course, when he was averaging 95-96 and hitting 97 on occasion, can you blame him? He had phenomenal control of his fastball, throwing 72 percent strikes on 62 pitches. It also had pretty good sink. His again didn't have a ton of horizontal movement but it was effective enough to get six swing-throughs in 23 pitches. In fact, it was his best pitch of the night, according to the linear weights.

Looking at his speed chart, it seems Paulino also held up remarkably well throughout the game.

Paulino_speed_medium

He was still hitting 95 after 110 pitches. That's not laboring, folks, that's dealing. It's probably his most encouraging start because of his stamina and ability to avoid getting discouraged by the score. His drops in speed weren't as common as Oswalt's are, but Paulino's two most effective pitches are his slider and four-seamer. He was able to use the 8-10 MPH differential between the two as an effective 'change of speed' pitch to keep batters guessing. At the same time, his ability to throw three more pitches other than those two give hitters more to think about. In essence, they can't sit on one or the other like they may be doing with Norris.

Roy Oswalt - On to the Wizard!

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 92.87 94.6 -3.56 10.10 28 19 / 67.86% 3 / 10.71% -1.2920 0.414
SI (Sinker) 92.64 95 -6.49 7.85 29 19 / 65.52% 3 / 10.34% -0.7105 0.414
CH (Changeup) 83.50 85.1 -6.85 3.33 23 13 / 56.52% 3 / 13.04% 0.1799 0.459
SL (Slider) 84.24 85.7 2.64 2.44 15 10 / 66.67% 2 / 13.33% -0.0831 0.452
CU (Curveball) 70.17 73.6 5.21 -9.17 18 12 / 66.67% 3 / 16.67% -0.9414 0.550

 

When I talk about a four-seamer has more sink than normal, it's because Oswalt's four-seamer has the kind of movement you expect from the pitch. It's more of a 'rising' fastball, meaning it stays up in the zone more than you'd expect (since the pitch can't actually rise). The pitches classified as Roy's sinker have a similar movement pattern to Paulino's four-seam fastball. Of course, you might have noticed that Paulino also has a four-seamer, with even more downward movement. Why the different classifications? It's all in how different the pitches seem. Looking at Oswalt's repertoire, you can see that his sinker definitely has a different movement pattern than his fastball. It dives into the hands of a right-hander while dropping about three inches more. If a batter doesn't pick up the change in rotation quickly, it's enough of a difference to make him hit it off the bottom end of the bat. Thus, he'd generate a ton of ground balls. If he threw mainly sinkers, he might not get the same result, but the difference between the two makes him effective.

Same goes for his curveball. Oswalt got three whiffs in 18 pitches for a rate of 16 percent. That's below the league-average of 26 percent. That's one of the reasons why Oswalt is having such a good pitcher. All five of his pitches are working in any given situation. He's able to get out of jams no matter what pitch he throws, so batters can't sit on one or the other. None of his pitches are great individually, but the combination of all five make him somewhat unhittable and clearly the best pitcher on this staff.

Bourn suspended: Michael Bourn was suspended for two games because of an incident with home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. Bourn made contact with Marquez during the ninth inning of Saturday's loss to the San Diego Padres, after Marquez called Bourn out on a close play at first base. The center fielder was ejected from the game. Bourn will appeal the decision and will be available for at least the first game of the St. Louis series until the appeals process is complete.

This was not wholly unexpected, but it may be a nice respite for Bourn, who is 2 for 20 in the last five games.


MLB and NFL steriods double-standard: I have to say, I'm with Berkman on this one. Why do NFL players get a pass on PEDs when baseball players get crucified? Could you imagine if a MLB player failed a test but wasn't suspended until the next season? Skip Bayless might lose his mind on national television.

That's not to say there hasn't been a backlash building about Cushing. Currently, the Associated Press is re-voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year. As upset as I am that Cushing was taking PEDs, I really think this is the wrong move for the AP. History is history. Why sports writers try to play the Moral Police is beyond me. Just because they have the soapbox doesn't mean they have to use it.

The key fact that most writers miss about steroids scandals is that it a health risk for the people who take it. That's what's most concerning, not whether they cheated or whether they are 'role models' for young kids. It's that they could dramatically shorten their life as a result.


Comment of the Day and Leaderboards: This during a game the Astros ended up winning. Kinda describes the season to this point too, now that I think about it...

I had high hopes this time

high apple pie in the sky hopes

and I got tofu burger

Astros fan for life

by Joe in Birmingham on May 9, 2010 3:51 PM CDT up reply actions

Here's Saturday's leaderboard:

Name # of Posts
OremLK 32
clack 25
Joe in Birmingham 23
timmy_ 18
Stephen Higdon 9
jello44 4

 

And Sunday's:

Name # of Posts
Joe in Birmingham 65
OremLK 46
clack 31
Stephen Higdon 23
jello44 7
timmy_ 6
RocketsAstros 6

 


Harry Pavlidis is my hero: How can you follow up a piece like this? Harry Pavlidis, one of the true gurus of Pitch F/X data, has compiled and averaged all the different pitch types thrown in 2010 and looked at how effective they were. He explains his glossary of information, but this is a great way to get a baseline for how to view PItch F/X. What makes an average slider, what's the most effective pitch out there, etc. I'll be using this heavily from now on in my PItch F/X writeups.

While we're on the topic of pitching, Astros County does a great job of breaking down just how good pitchers have been against the Astros this season, by Game Score. He also notes the high number of strikes, which Stephen waxed so eloquently about this morning. It doesn't make the team any better, but isn't it nice to have such smart and competent people writing about the team?


Draft-nicks rejoice: Thanks to Andy Seiler over at MLB Bonus Baby for this excellent link to a draft mechanics review. No, it's not reviewing all the draft-eligible pitchers' mechanics, it's the actual workings of the draft. One of the more comprehensive lists about the rules, regulations and schedule for this year's Rule IV draft.

On that same note, Seiler did his sixth mock draft recently and still has Zach Cox plugged into the Astros spot at No. 8. However, he noted my own concerns about Cox flying up the board. At this point, Houston may be lucky to get him at that first spot. Also interesting? Cox seems to be allaying fears about his bat. Seiler heaped praise on him in the mock, but I've also seen other draft scouts who have similar praise for his approach.

Finally, some draft video from Baseball Beginnings. The first one is on Christian Colon and the second on Derek Dietrich (because I like torturing myself about the 2007 draft). I'm more and more convinced that Colon could be just as worth a pick at No. 8 if Cox is gone.


Minor notes: This story kind of bleeds over from the last note, but it's still a big deal. MLB has implemented a pre-signing drug testing policy in the Dominican Republic. Remember, the last time we talked about the DR, it was in reference to the heat new MLB boss Sandy Alderson was getting down there. Since the Astros just signed a shortstop out of the Dominican Prospect League, I'm sure things are going well again. Still, it strikes me as unfair that these kids have to submit to screenings when there is no such compulsion for high school and college players entering the draft. I wonder if that's something coming up in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Reliever Michael Schurz was promoted to High A Lancaster. Reliever Mike Modica was also promoted to Lancaster after Edwin Walker was promoted to Corpus Christi and Kyle Greenwalt was placed on the JetHawks' 7-day DL. David Duncan was also placed on the 7-day DL recently at Lexington with Wander Alvino replacing him on the roster. Astros County also noted that Michael Garciaparra and Chia-Jen Lo were both placed on the 7-day DL in Corpus. Lo's stint caused Walker to be called up and the whole chain of events to unfold. Garciaparra went on the DL just as Wladimir Sutil returned from it.

You may have seen the FanPost, but I recently answered some questions on the probable Tri-City roster. Some good, tough questions that I really had to think about. That site should be a good resource to help follow the NY-Penn League this season.

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