A nice bouquet of memories, analyzes and profiles.
The Legendary Moment stuff is just an excuse for me to take a nostalgic trip back in time, honestly. Walker Buhler and Game 163 will be together forever.
I feel like shit, I just want him back.
Bellinger’s drop was the biggest of the bunch, and he was the only player among the 130 to dip below a wRC+ of 100 in the following three seasons. Overall, these players continued to be stars; the average career WAR for this group is 61.1, and that’s with over a dozen other players still active.
It’s understandable that the Dodgers, a team that has fixed all sorts of seemingly broken players, have been stymied so far by Bellinger’s collapsing offense. After all, there’s reason to believe that, among young superstar hitters, the extent of his downfall was unprecedented.
He got the call. The Dodgers claimed him on waivers, a Rays official told him.
“I could hear the disappointment in his voice,” Phillips said.
minutes later Brandon Gomeswho was then LA’s assistant general manager (and now their general manager), was called in to coordinate what, over the past year, has become a career rejuvenation.
Almost immediately, the Dodgers set up a spend on how they thought Phillips could excel. They loved its slider and felt they could fine tune it to add even more sweep. Assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness tweaked the grip, and this season only three pitchers had sliders with more average horizontal motion than Phillips.
“Connor is an absolute spin and grip magician,” Phillips said.
They reinstated a cutter he had played with in the past, giving him another option to pitch against left-handed hitters. As the right-handed hitters began to wobble to try and cover the width of his slider, they mixed in a two-seam fastball that Phillips hadn’t thrown since he was in the minors to keep them honest.
Mix in a double set, huh? Sounds familiar. A good idea.
Their scouts had known Lázaro for years. They had seen the ability his son had shown at such a young age. Vargas, Cruz said, “checked all the boxes.” They saw the same traits his father showed hitting .322 during his 16 years playing in Cuba: patience and a strong eye, his will and inquisitive nature, and meticulous plans as he took his shots. . Even at a young age, he said hitting was the art of breaking up a pitcher rather than reacting. Very early on, he became an expert in identifying the areas in which he excelled. He often noticed from the dugout whenever he discovered that a pitcher was tipping his pitches, and he was often right. “He’s just unique,” Cruz said.
In one game this season, Vargas stood in the box as the runner on first broke for second on a 0-1 count. Vargas didn’t flinch on the steal attempt, even when the pitch cut the area to make it 0-2. Vargas ended up taking a walk, and when Barbary approached him afterwards to tell him he didn’t have to go if he didn’t want to, Vargas didn’t hesitate.
“I knew the guy had nothing to take me out,” Vargas told him, “so I was going to take it.”
“He knew he was going to win at bat,” Barbary said.
Oh yeah, that’s the thing.
“He has a unique ability to hide and ride the ball,” he said. “It’s a very effective shot. I think he probably benefited from being an outfielder in college – there are elements that transferred from an outfield pitch – and he’s a fast arm. The way he sequences his body on the mound puts him in a really good position to let the ball jump at hitters.
“It’s more spin than approach angle,” he added. “It’s partly due to the speed of the arm, but he takes advantage of the approach a bit. He’s kind of got a whole package with the fastball [and] with aberrant characteristics. Part of what makes him unique is that he didn’t design the throw to do what it does. It is quite natural for him. »
For me, the surprising thing is that it doesn’t have a delivery with a ton of funk like I expected. It works, I guess.
Live Insights: A must read on pitch tunneling. Helps you understand what’s happening in the game now and where it will be in the future, and a lot of it revolves around the Dodgers.
Even mediocre things can become exceptional when they tick all three boxes for a perfect tunnel. Look no further than Tony Gonsolin. Gonsolin could win Cy Young if it wasn’t for another tunnel wizard in Sandy Alcántara. Gonsolin has void pitches that rank above 50 according to the Pitching Bot. Still, the slider is one of the most dominant pitches in baseball. The stuff is not there, but the tunnel is impeccable. Gonsolin has an IVB separation of 12.7 inches, an HB separation of 11.7 inches and throws the slider only 5.7 MPH slower than the fastball. Due to his perfect tunnels, he has a chase rate of 37.6% on terrain that ranks as below average based on raw materials. This is how a good sliding tunnel can be a game changer.
Evan Phillips is a testament to how good the Dodgers’ tunnelers are compared to the rest of baseball. He was terrible in Baltimore and continued to struggle when he first joined the Dodgers. This year, Phillips has been one of the best relievers in MLB. The slider has a 21-inch horizontal motion separation from his fastball and had no chase until 2022. He added a cutter, putting his slider and fastball in the ideal ranges to perform. The fastball and the slider don’t have to look the same, they just have to look like the cutter, which both looks like them.
There is still a lot of work to be done to understand the height tunneling effect. It’s not the end of the journey, but one of the first stops in understanding a phenomenon that has governed the game we’ve loved for decades. Hopefully this new understanding of height tunnels will help someone build a model to effectively predict chase rates for each height. If we can build this model, then projecting which minor league weapons will translate could be a hundred times easier. The pitch tunnel has changed baseball, and if the Dodgers see it as key to building an all-time great pitching staff, perhaps the rest of the league should start considering it, too.
Always nice when other teams seem to be trying to catch up.