The Closer: return of the Impaler

Last season, Vladimir Guerrero played in 100 games for the Angels, hitting just 15 home runs. This past offseason Texas took a chance on the former MVP and it has paid dividends. After hitting 2 home runs Tuesday, Vlad is hitting .347 with 12 home runs through 45 games. We break down why Vlad the Impaler has been bigger in Texas in this edition of The Closer.


Vladimir Guerrero on
Pitches Out of the Strike Zone

It's no secret that Vladimir Guerrero is historically one of baseball's best bad-ball hitters. An injury-plagued 2009 season clearly hindered Guerrero's ability to do what he does best. Now healthy again and playing in Texas, Guerrero is swinging more often at pitches out of the zone with improved results. He had only three home runs on pitches out of the zone in 2009, but has two already this season.

Why Ryan Dempster won:
- Put hitters away with two strikes: Dodgers hitters were 0-12 after the count got to two strikes.
- Had a season-low miss percentage of 19.1, but Inside Edge classified just one of the 20 pitches put in play against him as "well-hit".

Why Mitch Talbot won:
- Efficiency: 77 pitches in seven innings, including three innings of eight pitches or fewer. Talbot reached just one 2-0 count and no three-ball counts.
- Season-high strike pct of 74.0 and swing pct of 50.6. According to Inside Edge, 64.9 percent of Talbot's offerings were in the strike zone, also a season-high.

Why Jon Lester won:
- Dominated the inner third of the plate, registering six of his nine strikeouts on inside pitches.
- Lester got a season-high five strikeouts with his cutter, with the Rays putting just one of his 30 cutters in play.
- Four of Lester's strikeouts came on pitches down and in. All four of those pitches were chased out of the strike zone.