Some things to talk about while we sit in horror that there is no Astros game today...
1) Lucas Harrell and the curve
In this post by Tags, we learn that Lucas Harrell has been trying to mix in his curve more frequently than he did last year. So far, so good, as he got a strikeout with it in his nice spring start the other day.
“It’s just a thing I knew my curveball wasn’t very good and I knew to be successful, too, you have to pitch longer in the game,” he said. “Any time you can help your team and get deeper in the game, that’s the key.”
Two things stand out about this. First, it seems to me that an extreme ground ball guy like Harrell adding a curve should be counter-intuitive. Well, scratch that. He's not adding a curve, he's simply using it more. While the curve is a great pitch to get the occasional strikeout and to be used as a weapon to keep pitchers off-balance, it typically leads to more fly balls than grounders.
Plus, to throw the curve more frequently means he's going to be deselecting one of his other pitches. As we saw last year, that cutter/slider he throws was the biggest reason his strikeout numbers went up. It stands to reason that if he works in the curve, either that or the change will be de-emphasized somewhat.
I'm betting that the pitch which gets the boot is the changeup. It's also a pitch that leads more to fly balls than ground balls and Harrell got significantly less whiffs on it than he did the curve last season, while throwing them about the same amount.
If Harrell can keep up his heavy sinker's effectiveness while also raising his strikeout rate a bit, he should have an excellent chance to have more success in 2013.
2) Glenn Wilson's gas station
Great post by Jay Jaffe on former Astro Glenn Wilson owning a gas station in Montgomery.
The whole piece is worth reading, but a segment on one player in particular stopped me in my tracks: “…Glenn Wilson, the bespectacled traveling outfielder who owned the Hit and Run Gas Station in Montgomery, Texas.”
Wilson’s gas station was famous enough that it was featured in the May 29, 1989 Sports Illustrated, in a sidebar written by Franz Lidz. Though he was making $750,000 at the time — tied for the third-highest salary on the Pirates, $10,000 more than Bobby Bonilla and more than twice as much as Barry Bonds — Wilson was clearly focused on his other work, and refused even a $2 tip for a routine oil change:
I drove through Montgomery a lot on Highway 105 going to and from College Station, but I cannot for the life of me remember if I saw this gas station operational. Anyone who lives around there know anything about this? Does Wilson still run it? Can anyone remember when he did and where it was?
3) BURN THE MADNESS BRACKET DOWN!!
Like many of you, I've enjoyed the TCB March Madness bracket immensely. It's been a ton of fun, voting on different matchups, getting into arguments over players, etc.
Also like many of you, I didn't peruse the initial bracket with the eyes of an eagle when it first came out. So, I missed one of the most glaring offenses imaginable.
J.D. Martinez. Was. Left. Off. The. Bracket.
That the TCB selection committee could be THAT blind is inconceivable. Was it the wrist injury? Was it the swoon after a hot early start? Was it that loss in the conference tourna-wait, I'm getting confused.
I've left word with the committee about this oversight to see what it's all about, but for now, I'm incensed.