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Papelbon ???


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#1 OttoC


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:17 AM

In his last six appearances (5.2 IP). Papelbon has struck out one batter out of the 23 he faced. In his first 11 games, he struck out 20 of the 45 batters he faced (12 IP). This precipitous decline in strikeouts has me concerned.

#2 PedroSpecialK


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:21 AM

I can see the cause for concern, definitely; however, I'm pretty sure he'll be fine the rest of the way, and am not surprised to have seen the way he pitched tonight given his relatively heavy workload the last 5 evenings. He'll be fine.

#3 soxfaninyankeeland


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:33 AM

Papelbon already has more inning+ appearances than he had all of last season. I think we've seen a shift in Tito's handling of Papelbon. I wonder if we're seeing the results now.

#4 redinchicago

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:38 AM

Minor bump in the road. I'm more annoyed with some of the pitch selection than actual stuff. Neither Gomez or Lamb were catching up to the fastball. He still has good life on that pitch.

However, a 3-2 split to Gomez thinking that he'll never take that pitch and the game winning split to Lamb obviously shouldn't have been the choice of pitches.

#5 DeJesus Built My Hotrod


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:56 AM

I think the Sox need to seriously think about Lowrie as the new full-time closer. While he's never done it at the ML level, or the minors for that matter, he has to be better than the pile of suck that Papelbon's become (I think its more his cocky attitude rather than his stuff) over the past two freakin appearances.

Or at least give Ellsbury a shot to close out games. That way, you get Crisp playing time to showcase his foul-line power to someone like the Twins. Then you trade Crisp and Papelbon for Nathan and you slot Jacoby back in CF, Nathan at closer and can start planning the third trophy tour since 2004 as soon as August.

#6 yecul


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 01:04 AM

Unless there's an injury there's not much to be done.

The performance has been lesser of late. Is that going to last? I doubt it. Either he will get straightened out or he's hurt and will wind up not pitching.

#7 geoduck no quahog


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 03:26 AM

This reminds me of those periods where Mariano "slumped" and some thought his career was coming to a close. It's an unfortunate combination of solid hits and pukey bad-luck singles after being conditioned to expect K's.

I'll wager that we'll be laughing about this come August.

#8 Pearl Wilson


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 07:27 AM

They babied him to extremes last year following the injury, which was less than a year earlier. I reason that they are still being careful, but the increased usage over last year indicates to me that the team believes he is healthy.

Papelbon believes he is not finishing off his pitches and needs to work on that. In his post-game comments, he looked like a man on a mission. They may have to hold him back.

#9 bd11

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 07:48 AM

Minor bump in the road. I'm more annoyed with some of the pitch selection than actual stuff. Neither Gomez or Lamb were catching up to the fastball. He still has good life on that pitch.

However, a 3-2 split to Gomez thinking that he'll never take that pitch and the game winning split to Lamb obviously shouldn't have been the choice of pitches.


Totally agree. But 'Tek defensively seems to be teflon on this board.

#10 Razor Shines

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 08:08 AM

The strikeouts haven't been there, but there weren't really any hard hit balls against him in these two blown saves. Both game winning singles were just excellent pieces of hitting; in both cases the batters were basically fighting off his pitches.

Seeing-eye singles happen. Unfortunately, sometimes they happen in the 9th inning of a 1 run game.

Edited by Razor Shines, 10 May 2008 - 08:09 AM.


#11 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:02 AM

Papelbon believes he is not finishing off his pitches and needs to work on that. In his post-game comments, he looked like a man on a mission. They may have to hold him back.

That makes sense, since his splitter had no dive last night at all and his fastball, which usually has a little bit of jump at the end of it was straight as a string. He's either mechanically screwed up or he's hiding a minor injury.

I'm glad he knows he has work to do, because simply getting out there and firing away with no plan, no approach, and no secondary pitches ain't doing it. I don't know what the hell that ball 4 pitch to Gomez was supposed to be, but he completely overthrew it and walked a guy who never, ever walks to put the winning run on base. The last pitch to Lamb was as poor of a splitter as I've ever seen him throw. That's woeful pitching.

I hope he dedicates himself to becoming more of a pitcher and less of the persona he's developed for himself of the big dumb jock who just throws real hard.

#12 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:08 AM

Also, I have to seriously question the strategy of allowing Young and Gomez to steal bases to their heart's content instead of actually throwing over and paying attention to the runners a bit. Paps made 1 throw over to first when Young was there, but that was it. He's very easy to run on and that played a huge part in the loss last night as the single and walk were essentially turned into doubles by the Twins since Paps/Tek/Farrell decided the runners on base weren't important.

Again, it comes down to learning how to become a complete pitcher. Holding runners on is an important part of the game, and save for the Holliday pickoff Paps simply doesn't bother. Whether this is an intentional strategy or something he's simply not concerned with is unknown.

#13 NJ Fan

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:33 AM

Echoing what SJH said, from what I saw, there appeared to be a number of instances where, during his windup, Paps didn't even glance at the runner.

#14 OCD SS


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:35 AM

Again, it comes down to learning how to become a complete pitcher. Holding runners on is an important part of the game, and save for the Holliday pickoff Paps simply doesn't bother. Whether this is an intentional strategy or something he's simply not concerned with is unknown.


While he could throw over a bit more or keep the runners closer, it seems like he's really just concentrating on the batter becuase Varitek doesn't have much of a chance to throw anyone out if they're trying to steal. I had the Twins' broadcast last night so it's I really couldn't tell just how much of those steals were indifference to the runners or hiding Tek's poor throwing.

#15 FelixMantilla


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:37 AM

But 'Tek defensively seems to be teflon on this board.

Not to everyone. Posted Image

Calling for the splitter tor Lamb when (1) he couldn't catch up to the fastball and (2) Papelbon had little control over the splitter was just dumb. IMO.

#16 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:39 AM

While he could throw over a bit more or keep the runners closer, it seems like he's really just concentrating on the batter becuase Varitek doesn't have much of a chance to throw anyone out if they're trying to steal. I had the Twins' broadcast last night so it's I really couldn't tell just how much of those steals were indifference to the runners or hiding Tek's poor throwing.

I think it's been shown by Bill James that throwing over is effective at keeping SB totals down, and throwing over multiple times is more effective than throwing over just once. I agree that Tek isn't going to have much of a shot at throwing them out (hell, he probably wouldn't even throw down there), but the idea is to keep them close and make them hesitant about just going. Young stole 3rd without so much of a glance or a throw.

I know Paps isn't the most sophisticated guy in the world, but I'd really have a hard time believing that his concentration is so spotty he can't be trusted to throw over to bases at all. He needs to start doing it more than he has been. The Sox can't afford to have every single and walk Paps allows be turned into a double.

#17 jayhoz


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:47 AM

While he could throw over a bit more or keep the runners closer, it seems like he's really just concentrating on the batter becuase Varitek doesn't have much of a chance to throw anyone out if they're trying to steal. I had the Twins' broadcast last night so it's I really couldn't tell just how much of those steals were indifference to the runners or hiding Tek's poor throwing.


On the Gomez steal it was defensive indifference. No one even made a motion to cover second. The team had made the decision they were going to give him the base. That's not to say that Papelbon shouldn't have paid more attention to him. Getting the runner to wait a pitch or two could make the difference in high leverage situations like last night.

Papelbon did seem out of sorts last night. He was missing location, and that last splitter had no life to it. Jnai's Pfx data shows that his release point was slightly higher than in past games. This may correlate with Papelbon's comment regarding finishing his pitches, but the difference is very slight and may be more due to fluctuations in the readings than actual mechanics.

Good to hear that the outing frustrated him and that he is focused on working out the kinks.

#18 8


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 10:13 AM

Echoing what SJH said, from what I saw, there appeared to be a number of instances where, during his windup, Paps didn't even glance at the runner.

I don't think thats a big deal. The runner stole second with defensive indifferance. Paps was concentrating on the batter, yea it turns out he was the game winning run , but you see this all the time.

#19 OttoC


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 10:30 AM

They babied him to extremes last year following the injury, which was less than a year earlier. I reason that they are still being careful, but the increased usage over last year indicates to me that the team believes he is healthy.

17 games/17.2 IP in 45 days vs. 14 games/14.1 IP in 42 days? I'd be surprised if that was enough extra work to account for his having only one strikeout over his last six games.

On April 22, the starting velocity of his pitches ranged from 98.2 to 99.7 mph (avg=98.5), according to pitchFX data. That's roughly 3-4 mph faster than other games. His next appearance was a week later (Apr 29) and was relatively normal--1.0 IP, 4 batters, 1 hits, 2 strikeouts--but after that, he went into a strikeout drought that has culminated in two consecutive blown games. Mechanics or health??? I don't know, but I do remember thinking about potential effects from his throwing much harder than usual in the April 22 game.

#20 baghdadjamie


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 11:11 AM

I don't think thats a big deal. The runner stole second with defensive indifferance. Paps was concentrating on the batter, yea it turns out he was the game winning run , but you see this all the time.

I think it has more to do with it than people realize though 8. Like SJH and others were saying, if he attempts to hold the runners they wont steal as easily off him. I also think it could be an ego issue. While it's great for pitchers to think their stuff is unhittable it can come back and bite you in the ass. Paps was not interested in Young or Gomez.

#21 InsideTheParker


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 11:30 AM

The fondly-remembered pick-off of Holliday at first in Game Two of the WS was called by Brad Mills.
Maybe Mills needs to do that more during the season if Papelbon and Varitek are going to ignore the runners on base.

#22 Purpose Pitch

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 11:35 AM

I've been kind of scratching my head at not the actual pitch selections, but the locations where Tek sets up for Paps. The two previous strikes on Lamb were fastballs right down Broadway. Lamb missed them. That was where Tek was set up, right over the heart of the plate. Then the splitter should have never been in the strike zone. You can say that Paps didn't finish his pitch, and maybe that's why it hung up there, but again....it seemed like he threw it right to Tek's mitt.

I have discussed in another thread how sometimes Tek will set up down the middle and let Paps try to blow away hitters when he has a run to play with. But I can't understand why he would do this with even the tying run at the plate, let alone the go-ahead run in scoring position.

Edited by Purpose Pitch, 10 May 2008 - 11:47 AM.


#23 8


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:33 PM

I think it has more to do with it than people realize though 8. Like SJH and others were saying, if he attempts to hold the runners they wont steal as easily off him. I also think it could be an ego issue. While it's great for pitchers to think their stuff is unhittable it can come back and bite you in the ass. Paps was not interested in Young or Gomez.

Understood, but pitching from the stretch has its disadvantages.

#24 Frisbetarian


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:47 PM

Papelbon believes he is not finishing off his pitches and needs to work on that.


Some interesting quotes from Farrell expanding on this in today's ProJo


Papelbon wasn't as clear in his description of what "finishing his pitches" means, but pitching coach John Farrell shed some light on the issue.


"He went through a stretch early where he was so dominant with such good command of his fastball and great location," said Farrell. "Right now, I'm not going to say he's off, but he's not in that same groove. He's not as dominant as he was during that stretch."


And that is a mechanical problem, suggested Farrell.


"He's a little spread out with the lower half of his body at times just a hair," said Farrell. "That doesn't give him a downhill plane for his split so it doesn't have the bottoming out action. It's not every pitch, but it happened (on the pitch to Lamb) and it cost him two runs."



#25 NYCSox


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:49 PM

Re: Paps K rate, note that he had 20Ks in his first 12IP or a rate of 15Ks per 9IP, which is above the highest single season rate in MLB history. So some amount of correction should have been expected.

While the last two appearances have been frustrating, there was not a single hard hit ball. The only three balls to leave the IF in the two games were a GB single by Young and two flairs to LF (Polanco and Lamb). Where Paps can be blamed is the walk to Gomez. That's inexcusable, though honestly I was shocked that Gomez didn't chase either the 2-2 or 3-2 pitch. Makes me wonder if he's tipping the splitter.

#26 Doug Beerabelli


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:58 PM

In the long run, it's probably a good lesson for the team and for us as fans to take nothing for granted.

Bad losses happen. They've happened a decent amount this season. But they's had some really good wins, wins they had no business getting.

Sounds like Paps is on the right track, and the mechanical issues sound correctable.

#27 Catch Me Bruno


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 01:45 PM

I wonder if this has more to do with Paps not fully comprehending the need to make adjustments in his pitching as things change. Even if he's healthy as a ruttin' buck, you can't strike everybody out, and over time he's got to make adjustments that will play to his strengths and make him less predictable. Granted some of these hits have been bloop hits, but certainly not all of them, and he's just not getting people out. He's got to make some changes in his pitch selection. I wonder if there's any disconnect between what Tek's calling and what Paps wants to throw, and what he's actually throwing. I see Paps as more of a "announce my presence with authority" kinda guy rather than a patient, "pick at the strike zone and fuck with the hitter's mind" kinda guy.

#28 Rooster Crows

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 02:50 PM

The fondly-remembered pick-off of Holliday at first in Game Two of the WS was called by Brad Mills.
Maybe Mills needs to do that more during the season if Papelbon and Varitek are going to ignore the runners on base.

Mills and Schilling, I believe, using the advance scouting reports. link
An interesting quote from Schilling in that piece, and others at the time, makes you wonder why they don't signal to Paps more often.

We dont throw over to first base on our own for the most part, ever, Schilling said. Its always a sign from the bench.

I also recall reading earlier this month, after the Toronto game in which Paps had his first regular season successful pick-off of John MacDonald, that he was aware the league knew he didn't throw to first, so often tried running on him, and had worked on changing his delivery to prevent it. The Herald article had a fairly extensive article, but it is archived now - the Courant also mentions it, as do others. Perhaps that has affected him somewhat, particularly if he is still perfecting?

"I knew they were going to try and run on me and put a man in scoring position," Papelbon said. "I've tweaked my delivery with guys on base, making it quicker. It's something I can add to my game and make me better and give the opposition something else to think about."

link
archived Herald article

#29 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 03:42 PM

Something else to chew on: Papelbon has recorded zero strikeouts in 7 out of his last 10 appearances after getting at least 1 K in each of his first 7 appearances this year.

In 2007, he only had 12 appearances (out of 59) where he did not record a strikeout.

He's also been used 7 times in the past 10 games by Tito; perhaps he is merely tired and that's why his mechanics are off.

#30 Pearl Wilson


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 06:28 PM

I wonder if this has more to do with Paps not fully comprehending the need to make adjustments in his pitching as things change. Even if he's healthy as a ruttin' buck, you can't strike everybody out, and over time he's got to make adjustments that will play to his strengths and make him less predictable. Granted some of these hits have been bloop hits, but certainly not all of them, and he's just not getting people out. He's got to make some changes in his pitch selection. I wonder if there's any disconnect between what Tek's calling and what Paps wants to throw, and what he's actually throwing. I see Paps as more of a "announce my presence with authority" kinda guy rather than a patient, "pick at the strike zone and fuck with the hitter's mind" kinda guy.


I remembered this article from ST, where he talked about the need to make adjustments. What he says and what he does may be different of course, but anyone can get out of whack. Let's hope that's all it is.

Papelbon, who is trying to work a slider into his arsenal, has allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings so far this spring.

"I feel good," he said after his perfect inning against the Pirates. "The ball seems to be coming out of my hand better and better as the spring goes on. And I got two of my outs today on my slider, which to me was a big step for me. ... [Pitching coach]John [Farrell] thought one of my sliders, the last out that I threw, was a split-finger. So, I'm getting depth on it and I'm getting that third pitch and getting it ready for the season, and I feel like it's coming along well.

"I feel like I can go out there and start the season and be a three-pitch closer, and I feel like the confidence is steadily growing on it," Papelbon said. "Today was a real positive for me."

Papelbon said the decision to add the slider was actually based on his feel from last season.

"There were times last year that I said, 'Man, it would really be nice to have a third pitch that I could throw in any count,'" Papelbon said. "When I say a third pitch, I mean a pitch I can throw in any count, in any situation, against any team, against any hitter. And there were definitely times where I wish I did have that, and so I went to the offseason with that mindset and took Spring Training with the same mindset of going and learning a new pitch.

"I think this year, you got to keep them on their toes, and for me to add that third pitch would not only help me keep the hitters on their toes, but just have another bullet in the arsenal to deal with," he added. "These hitters are so good nowadays, and they have so much video footage that you always got to be one step ahead of them. If you're not trying to be one step ahead of them they'll bury you, and I feel like that's what I need to do -- is stay one step ahead -- and that's what this pitch hopefully will allow me to do."

Has he used a slider this year?

Edit: Link

Edited by Pearl Wilson, 10 May 2008 - 06:29 PM.


#31 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:01 PM

He used the slider a lot tonight.

Much, much better tonight. Had all his pitches down in the zone, had the splitter diving and he struck out 2 guys. If he made a mechanical adjustment it worked wonderfully tonight. I'm very pleased that he was able to make a change that paid immediate results. I was wondering if he was able to make that kind of change on the fly; he certainly did that tonight.

#32 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 10:07 PM

Lurker ekim colorwaterpit has some very interesting info re: Paps:

I was at the game tonight sitting 8 rows back right where the Sox pitchers were warming up. Anyway Papelbon threw a ton of pitches to warm up tonight. He started warming up in the bottom of the 8th and warmed up very hard throughout the entire (long) top of the 9th. He was visibly frustrated during the initial part of the warmup. It looked like he was trying to throw the split a lot and kept missing far outside to the left handed batters side(definitely overthrowing. He also seemed to be hanging a few. I was pretty surprised at how many pitches he threw, but it definitely seemed to help. He started to get the split over and you could see his mood change and the bullpen coach got a big smile on his face too when it seemed to click again.

Don't know if they showed it on tv, but the pop up in the 9th that Tek didn't catch hit the roof and totally changed directions, but it still should have been caught.



#33 jayhoz


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 10:15 PM

I agree that Papelbon looked much sharper tonight. I took the opportunity to chart his pitches.

Kubel - 4 fastballs and 3 splitters. All but one pitch hit Tek's glove. All splitters were sharp and down in the zone.

Young - 4 fastballs and one slider. Missed location twice including the broken bat ground out.

Lamb - One each of slider, fastball, and splitter. Missed location on the splitter. It also seemed to move away from the left hander rather than sharply down. (edit - sounds similar to what ekim colorwaterpit observed during Paps warm up)

Monroe - 3 sliders and 2 fastballs. Hard to tell intended location on a couple pitches.

His slider seemed a bit flat to me, but there was roughly an 8 mph differential off his fastball (86-87 v. 94-95) and that seemed to be quite enough for the Twins batters as he got a couple swings and misses on it.

Edited by jayhoz, 10 May 2008 - 10:17 PM.


#34 glennhoffmania


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Posted 10 May 2008 - 10:23 PM

The fondly-remembered pick-off of Holliday at first in Game Two of the WS was called by Brad Mills.
Maybe Mills needs to do that more during the season if Papelbon and Varitek are going to ignore the runners on base.


Papelbon also picked off McDonald a couple of weeks ago.

#35 cwright

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 01:30 PM

I think the Sox need to seriously think about Lowrie as the new full-time closer. While he's never done it at the ML level, or the minors for that matter, he has to be better than the pile of suck that Papelbon's become (I think its more his cocky attitude rather than his stuff) over the past two freakin appearances.

Or at least give Ellsbury a shot to close out games. That way, you get Crisp playing time to showcase his foul-line power to someone like the Twins. Then you trade Crisp and Papelbon for Nathan and you slot Jacoby back in CF, Nathan at closer and can start planning the third trophy tour since 2004 as soon as August.

Nah, Ellsbury doesn't have NEARLY the arm that our corner outfielders have. Personally, I vote for Manny, for the following reasons:
1. Nothing ever fazes him. NOTHING. He's as mentally tough as they come.
2. How would hitters react to that quick release that he has? He'd be standing on the mound, and then bam! The ball would be in the catcher's mitt.
3. With Manny in the spotlight all the time, there would be no end to the hilarity that would ensue. How often have you seen pitchers disappear into the green monster during a break in the action?

Seriously, I fully expected to see a reactionary thread after Papelbon blew it again, and was pleasantly surprised to see actual stats backing up the paranoia. If Papelbon is our biggest worry, then we're in pretty good shape. And his pitches looked much, much better last night (though he still has some work to do). He's as fierce a competitor as I've ever seen, and he's gone through stretches of losing his mechanics before. He'll get it together.