Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Southpaw Chronicles Pt. 2

The weekend in terms of Mets stuff got away from me, and this is the first chance I have had to write about Johan’s second outing. I thought about skipping the game (since life can sometimes get in the way of capturing every waking moment of the evolution of the 2012 New York Mets) but the fact it was a 2-4 Mets loss in 5-inning rain-shortened game, coupled with the Johan factor, left me no choice but to see the innings through. 

Was that enough of a run-on sentence for you?

It continues to be lovely to see Johan as jovial as he has been. He’s as bubbly and as bouncy as any player I’ve ever seen. He’s all business on the mound, however. Instead of working mostly on his fastball as he did his first game (which was still around 90), there began to emerge his repertoire of pitches, some which will get more screen time now that he has had his shoulder repaired. With Johan’s pitching acumen, I am beginning to envision as overtly effective of a pitcher post-surgery as there was pre-surgery. Check out this pitching sequence to right-handed batting Emilio Benefacio:
  • 0-1  Fastball up and inside
  • 1-1  Low inside fastball
  • 1-2  84 mph slider down and low check-swing foul
  • 2-2 High Fastball
  • 2-2 Slider foul upstairs and in
  • 2-3 78 mph change-up low and inside; swung on and missed
Even if he doesn’t improve the fastball speed, it still has enough bite to be a great set-up for his improved off-speed pitches. The change-up has slowed down as well, but that’s a good thing, since it needs to be around 8-12 mph less than the fastball. This kind of pitch sequence shows off Johan’s high pitching IQ. While I know the league hasn’t even come close to adjusting to the new Johan (which looks awfully similar to the old Johan), Johan will clearly have the intellect to adjust right back. Here's to his good health.

Some other takeaways from the short game:
  • The boo birds are already out for Jason Bay.  In his first at-bat, we see the usual Jason Bay hustle lead to an infield hit. Then, when he strikes out the second time up, the boos rain down. Jason Bay is sucking not because of a lack of effort, and I appreciate seeing him run down the line every time. This is why I so desperately want to see him turn this thing around…besides it being an excellent thing for the Mets.
  • Loewen’s got some good opposite field power, and I like how he stayed with Buerle’s outside breaking ball.
  • Murph keeps putting his knee in the wrong place, as is evident on a pick-off play at 2nd base. He’s gotta correct this otherwise his knees will keep getting taken out, taking him out for longer than any of us needs. He has such a great swing; A “Charlie Hustle” type swing.
  • Schwinden has a good arsenal, but none of them have that much bite. He also fiddles with the ball a lot in his glove before pitching. Serviceable spot starter.
  • Lagares, who crushed minor league pitching last year, had some serious pop in his bat, even though he grounded out to short.
  • Rauch is very hittable right now. I like his arsenal, with a good slider and curveball, but he can’t seem to miss bats. He’s got an interesting tattoo on his neck, though.
  • Thole is getting better at blocking the baseball
  • Lucas Mayhem - #62
  • Ruben Tejada’s got that focus in his eyes. I like this kid. His determination to succeed will be a fantastic thing to watch for Met fans.
  • Nice exchange to end the game; Wally Backman, who was supposed to talk to the  booth during the 6th inning: “Hey guys. See ya! (Takes his headphones off) Ron, I’ll see you at Duffy’s in a half hour.”

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