Sunday, April 25, 2010
The Closer: Love Me Non-Tender
By ESPN Stats & Info
Any team that wanted Matt Capps or Kelly Johnson last winter could have had them cheaply, after each was non-tendered this offseason.
Both have found early success in new scenery and that continued Sunday. Johnson hit his seventh home run, one fewer than he had in 303 at-bats in 2009, as the Arizona Diamondbacks topped the Philadelphia Phillies. Johnson is taking what's given to him, just as he did this offseason, to produce power.
Of Johnson's seven home runs, four came on pitches that our Inside Edge video review deemed to be on the outside part of the plate. He didn't have a home run on an outside pitch in all of 2009.
Capps set a Washington Nationals team record with his eighth April save, lowering his ERA to 0.79. The key for Capps? Opponents are hitless in 16 at-bats against him with runners in scoring position (he got three of those outs Sunday). They hit .350 against him in such spots last season. That provides an easy explanation for a drop in ERA of nearly five runs.
What else was noteworthy Sunday?
* It was a rough day for Pirates starter Charlie Morton and Yankees starter Javier Vazquez. Morton actually reduced his ERA to 16.20 after allowing five runs in three innings against the Astros. If Morton doesn't pitch again, his April ERA will rank second-worst among those who made four starts. Vazquez's ERA jumped to 9.00, matching the worst-ever April ERA by a Yankee who pitched at least 20 innings.
* Cla Meredith saved the game for the Orioles Sunday in his 272nd career appearance. He previously had the most relief appearances by an active pitcher who didn't have a save. Pirates reliever Jack Taschner, with 211, is now on the clock.
Hitters of the Day
Paul Konerko and Ryan Theriot
Konerko was clutch and Theriot was consistent. Konerko's sharp eye has been a key this year. He took six swings on Sunday, missing none, and making his last count for a game-winning home run.
Theriot got five hits, with the last four all coming early in counts. In the at-bats that netted his last four hits, Theriot saw just nine pitches. Since 2009, Theriot is hitting .362 within the first two pitches of an at-bat, 30 points better than the major league average.
Why David Price won:
- Retired 14 of 15 hitters when gaining a two-strike count, getting hitters to swing at half of the pitches he threw out of the strike zone in those spots.
Why Scott Olsen won:
- His slider worked. Seven of his eight strikeouts came with the slider, with the hitter chasing a pitch out of the strike zone on five of those seven. This was a sharp contrast from his first two starts, in which he got three strikeouts with the slider.
Why John Danks won:
- Efficiency: Threw three or fewer pitches to 60 percent (18 of 30) of the batters he faced. The major league average is about 47 percent.
Why Randy Wells won:
- Besides his team scoring a lot of runs, Wells may have been a little lucky. Brewers hitters were 0-for-7 in situations in which they had a favorable count.
Why Gio Gonzalez and Brad Penny won
- They shared the common thread of shutting down the leadoff man. Gonzalez didn't let a leadoff man reach in his seven innings. Penny only let the leadoff hitter reach once (7.2 IP).