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Junichi Tazawa: the new kid in town


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#1 Sprowl


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Posted 07 August 2009 - 11:54 PM

Junichi Tazawa has some funky stuff: here's the link to his pitchfx charts. A few brief but obvious notes: he didn't crumble under the pressure: he gave up a few cheap hits, but it didn't affect his composure. When he knew Damon was bunting, he jammed him with a high inside fastball. One other observation: Tazawa got a wide but short strike zone -- that gave him a few extra called strikes on the edges, but cost him as many or more pitches at the knees.

Tazawa's repertoire is mysterious: he throws both 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs (velocity 91-93, just as advertised), as well as a hard-biting curve. The curve was good (2 swinging strikes, 2 foul balls) and bad (A-Rod's home run). Its reputation as an out pitch looks justifiable. The fourth pitch, which he threw only in the first of his innings, had low effective spin, like a Lidge slider or a gyroball, but it runs rather than cuts, like a forkball, changeup, or slow splitter. In movement it is fairly close to Buchholz's unique changeup, but a little faster and with less vertical rise. I think we will need to see him in a different stadium before we can be sure, since Yankee Stadium (both the Toilet and the Bidet) has often had unreliable data for horizontal break.

Your impressions of the new kid in town?

Edited by Sprowl, 08 August 2009 - 12:45 AM.


#2 Phragle


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:07 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 8 2009, 12:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Junichi Tazawa has some funky stuff: here's the link to his pitchfx charts. A few brief but obvious notes: he didn't crumble under the pressure: he gave up a few cheap hits, but it didn't affect his composure. When he knew Damon was bunting, he jammed him with a high inside fastball.

Tazawa's repertoire is mysterious: he throws both 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs (velocity 91-93, just as advertised), as well as a hard-biting curve. The curve was good (2 swinging strikes, 2 foul balls) and bad (A-Rod's home run). Its reputation as an out pitch looks justifiable. The fourth pitch, which he threw only in the first of his innings, had low effective spin, like a Lidge slider or a gyroball, but it runs rather than cuts, like a forkball, changeup, or slow splitter. In movement it is fairly close to Buchholz's unique changeup, but a little faster and with less vertical rise. I think we will need to see him in a different stadium before we can be sure, since Yankee Stadium (both the Toilet and the Bidet) has often had unreliable data for horizontal break.

Your impressions of the new kid in town?

Definitely funky charts, his 'fork' is super heavy, and the rest of his stuff is better than I thought it would be. Looks like he used his sinker more than the four seamer. No sliders.

I wonder if his stuff was a little bit better because he came out of the pen instead of starting.

edit: he got thrown into the fire right away

Edited by phragle, 08 August 2009 - 12:11 AM.


#3 Harry Hooper


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:14 AM

Tito sending him out to the mound tonight was borderline child abuse.


I liked what I saw, though. His work on Teixeira was masterful. Overall, the breaking stuff was inconsistent, but he did a nice job getting fastballs in on the hands of both righty and lefty batters.




#4 SeoulSoxFan


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:18 AM

QUOTE (Harry Hooper @ Aug 8 2009, 01:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Tito sending him out to the mound tonight was borderline child abuse.


To be fair he had no choice. He was literally the last guy on the pen. Not sure what Tito could have done tonight.

#5 Paul M


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:23 AM

Arod was looking curveball, I was thinking curveball, and the YES announcers said he throws it when even or ahead in the count. I guess Arod was due. Putting that aside, he definitely should be able to contribute and they had no other choice tonight and it almost worked out. He seems like he could be a good starter in a couple years and I think he will be in the pen for a little while.

#6 Harry Hooper


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:30 AM

QUOTE (SeoulSoxFan @ Aug 8 2009, 01:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To be fair he had no choice. He was literally the last guy on the pen. Not sure what Tito could have done tonight.


Oh, we know why he did it. I just didn't care for the organization tossing Tazawa into the fray.

#7 Gene Conleys Plane Ticket

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:39 AM

QUOTE (SeoulSoxFan @ Aug 8 2009, 01:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To be fair he had no choice. He was literally the last guy on the pen. Not sure what Tito could have done tonight.


Get another inning apiece out of Papelbon, Delcarmen and Saito. Then go to Penny and Lester if you have to. If it's still 0-0 in the 20th inning and you have to go to Tazawa then, well, such is life. But to be effectively out of arms by the 14th inning is almost criminal mismanagement.

Maybe they thought Bud Selig was going to show up and declare it a tie.

#8 Paul M


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:50 AM

Papelbon hadn't gone more than an inning in over 3 months, but he did tonight

Delcarmen's velocity was down and he's been laboring lately

Saito is always tap-dancing on the 3rd rail

They gave the offense 15 times to score a run and they couldn't. That was the crime.

With Buchholz going tomorrow, I am sure the last thing they wanted was to use Tazawa, but Francona applied more pressure and managed with a little more October but this offense since the ASG has been brutal most of the time.

#9 E5 Yaz


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:53 AM

AP

QUOTE
“As far as making my major league debut, I’m very happy. I was honored to be in such an important situation,” Tazawa said through a translator. “I wish I could have done a little better.”


#10 P'tucket, rhymes with...


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:59 AM

QUOTE (Gene Conleys Plane Ticket @ Aug 8 2009, 01:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Get another inning apiece out of Papelbon, Delcarmen and Saito. Then go to Penny and Lester if you have to. If it's still 0-0 in the 20th inning and you have to go to Tazawa then, well, such is life. But to be effectively out of arms by the 14th inning is almost criminal mismanagement.

Maybe they thought Bud Selig was going to show up and declare it a tie.


Or, he knows Buchholz is showing up tomorrow and figures he'd better have a few arms to spare.

Tonight's loss? Not. On. The. Pitching.

#11 SeoulSoxFan


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 01:04 AM

QUOTE (P'tucket, rhymes with... @ Aug 8 2009, 01:59 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Or, he knows Buchholz is showing up tomorrow and figures he'd better have a few arms to spare.

Tonight's loss? Not. On. The. Pitching.


Indeed. If Saito pitched another inning the outcome most likely would have been the same. Just can't peg this one on Tito. With the bottom half of the lineup hovering around .250 and Ortiz continues to spiral fast downward, this one is on the offense (well, obviously with no runs produced.)

The scary part is Yanks pen has been pretty solid lately, and completely shut down the anemic Sox offense. Only Ellsbury touched 3rd, and that was in the 1st inning.

#12 CaptainLaddie


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 02:56 AM

QUOTE (E5 Yaz @ Aug 8 2009, 01:53 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
AP

You know what? I love this quote. I really do. I love this guy's mental makeup based solely on this quote.

#13 Eric Van


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 04:54 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 7 2009, 10:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The fourth pitch, which he threw only in the first of his innings, had low effective spin, like a Lidge slider or a gyroball, but it runs rather than cuts, like a forkball, changeup, or slow splitter. In movement it is fairly close to Buchholz's unique changeup, but a little faster and with less vertical rise. I think we will need to see him in a different stadium before we can be sure, since Yankee Stadium (both the Toilet and the Bidet) has often had unreliable data for horizontal break.

I think that's his "slider." Varitek's signal was definitely three fingers. OTOH, I watched all six of them in slow motion on a big high-def TV and there were times when I could swear I saw his fingers split! And the signals for the Japanese pitchers are sometimes different (Oki's, at least).

In terms of release and rotation, it is not a conventional slider. The "red dot" on most sliders (top of the spin axis) is, from the batter's POV, on the upper half of the ball and on the third base side, i.e., the spin axis is sort of pointed at the stands above the 3B dugout. A Bard slurve has a red dot on the top half of the ball, but pointed directly at the hitter. The mythical gyroball has the red dot dead center facing the hitter both horizontally and vertically. Tazawa's "slider" also has the spin axis pointing towards the hitter, but it also seems to be pointing at the ground, i.e., if he's throwing it so that the spin axis goes through a seam, the red dot is on the bottom half of the ball. That's why it runs rather than cuts. Very odd.

He was throwing it 10 mph slower than the fastball, which is typical for a slider.

So, 4-seamer and 2-seamer with decent separation, a very good textbook curve, a weird-assed slider, and supposedly a splitter as well. But it's possible that the missing pitch is a normal slider and that what appears to be a weird slider is actually his "splitter" which is actually a very strange forkball ...

The other thing I noticed was that the 4-seamers almost all had higher rotation than the 2-seamers. There were 3 big exceptions (including the one that he fanned Teixeira with) and we'll see if that's actually a hybrid variant (sort of a sinking 4-seamer).



#14 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 06:05 AM

Definitely a tough spot for a first outing, but Tazawa has got to have a great reputation already in the organization and Tito must have thought he might as well see if the buzz is real.

I saw him pitch in Portland from right behind the plate and it was one of the most enjoyable games I've watched in a long time. He worked quickly, executed just about all of his pitches, and had great composure (at that point, he'd been in the U.S. for about two months).

He might not have enough pure gas to get through a major league line up three or four times, but he won't get beat because he's stupid or scared, that's for sure.

#15 mfried

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 06:10 AM

The difference in talent and even readiness between Tazawa and his predecessor Traber was undeniable. Unfortunately they will probably have to send him down in exchange for Bowden so that they have a starter in Tuesday's game. I'm not sure if his future is as starter or reliever but I was impressed by his stuff and guts. The MFY have a very tough lineup and he almost made it through two scoreless innings. Hope to see him soon again.

#16 Redkluzu


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 07:08 AM

QUOTE (Gene Conleys Plane Ticket @ Aug 8 2009, 01:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Get another inning apiece out of Papelbon, Delcarmen and Saito. Then go to Penny and Lester if you have to. If it's still 0-0 in the 20th inning and you have to go to Tazawa then, well, such is life. But to be effectively out of arms by the 14th inning is almost criminal mismanagement.


And what then would you do today if Buchholz implodes? Seems we still have MDC and Saito left, maybe Paps. I thought Tito managed the pitching well even though we lost, with an eye to a 4pm game today.

Oh, and I thought using Tazawa was the best of the possible options.

Edited by Redkluzu, 08 August 2009 - 07:09 AM.


#17 Catch Me Bruno


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 07:29 AM

Although the Sox took it on the chin, that had more to do with being completely unable to plate a run rather than Tazawa's appearance. I thought he looked great - he worked really fast, looked like he was spotting his pitches where we wanted them (especially the low fastballs, he threw two in a row to one batter and while they were probably borderline strikes, but he didn't get the call), and he got batters out. That curve hung for A-Rod and that was it.

I can't imagine what it's like to be put into that type of situation. Sometimes it's a good thing to get knocked around a bit early on in your stint with the team - now you know what it feels like. I would assume that strips away the nerves a bit in the next outing.

#18 John DiFool

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 07:44 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 8 2009, 12:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Junichi Tazawa has some funky stuff: here's the link to his pitchfx charts. A few brief but obvious notes: he didn't crumble under the pressure: he gave up a few cheap hits, but it didn't affect his composure. When he knew Damon was bunting, he jammed him with a high inside fastball. One other observation: Tazawa got a wide but short strike zone -- that gave him a few extra called strikes on the edges, but cost him as many or more pitches at the knees.

Tazawa's repertoire is mysterious: he throws both 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs (velocity 91-93, just as advertised), as well as a hard-biting curve. The curve was good (2 swinging strikes, 2 foul balls) and bad (A-Rod's home run). Its reputation as an out pitch looks justifiable. The fourth pitch, which he threw only in the first of his innings, had low effective spin, like a Lidge slider or a gyroball, but it runs rather than cuts, like a forkball, changeup, or slow splitter. In movement it is fairly close to Buchholz's unique changeup, but a little faster and with less vertical rise. I think we will need to see him in a different stadium before we can be sure, since Yankee Stadium (both the Toilet and the Bidet) has often had unreliable data for horizontal break.

Your impressions of the new kid in town?


Gameday called something a "slider" despite the pitch dropping straight down with absolutely no horizontal break-is that the forkball?

#19 There is no Rev


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 09:20 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 7 2009, 04:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think it's more likely that Tazawa will be given multiple low-leverage innings for his first appearances. With Traber gone, Tazawa's role will probably be to come into a game if Buchholz or Penny implodes in the 4th inning and the Red Sox are already down 4 runs. Giving Tazawa a start against one of the contenders coming up strikes me as a very bad way to get him started; the Earl Weaver long-relief treatment for a promising young starter seems the best way to go.

Sprowl, do you ever get tired of being right?

#20 Eric Van


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:04 AM

QUOTE (John DiFool @ Aug 8 2009, 06:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Gameday called something a "slider" despite the pitch dropping straight down with absolutely no horizontal break-is that the forkball?

He threw six of those and Gameday called four of them sliders and two of them changeups. They were all the same pitch and they were either an unconventional slider or a perhaps even more unconventional splitter. We have to wait till he throws both his "slider" and "splitter" in the same game to be sure.


#21 Jnai


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:11 AM

In case anyone is wondering which pitch we are currently all wondering about:



RED is clearly 2-Seam Fastball
YELLOW is 4-Seam Fastball
GREEN is curveball
BLUE is the mystery pitch.

An unmarked one of these can be seen here:
http://brooksbasebal...h...&v_size=500

I'm leaning slider, because although he's supposed to have a forkball, he supposedly throws it rarely. Plus, I'm not sure we've ever seen Tek call a game with that high a percentage of splitters/forks before.

Edited by Jnai, 08 August 2009 - 10:11 AM.


#22 Saints Rest

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:17 AM

I think what impressedme the most was the fact that he kept the ball down pretty effecitvely, but most notably on his first pitch. It seems like pitchers amped-up on adrenaline overthrow and sail a pitch high. His first pitches were all low.

Overall, despite ARod's HR, I liked what I saw. Someone mentioned the pessimistic view that if the Sox had plated a run, the Yanks would have come back to tie. If ARod's HR had merely tied, rather than won, the game, it would have been interesting to see how Taz handled that.

#23 Sprowl


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:33 AM

QUOTE (CaptainLaddie @ Aug 8 2009, 12:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You know what? I love this quote. I really do. I love this guy's mental makeup based solely on this quote.

Me too, but maybe it's just because the Japanese translators have The. Best. CrashDavis. Clichés. Ever.

QUOTE (Eric Van @ Aug 8 2009, 02:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think that's his "slider." Varitek's signal was definitely three fingers. OTOH, I watched all six of them in slow motion on a big high-def TV and there were times when I could swear I saw his fingers split! And the signals for the Japanese pitchers are sometimes different (Oki's, at least).

In terms of release and rotation, it is not a conventional slider. The "red dot" on most sliders (top of the spin axis) is, from the batter's POV, on the upper half of the ball and on the third base side, i.e., the spin axis is sort of pointed at the stands above the 3B dugout. A Bard slurve has a red dot on the top half of the ball, but pointed directly at the hitter. The mythical gyroball has the red dot dead center facing the hitter both horizontally and vertically. Tazawa's "slider" also has the spin axis pointing towards the hitter, but it also seems to be pointing at the ground, i.e., if he's throwing it so that the spin axis goes through a seam, the red dot is on the bottom half of the ball. That's why it runs rather than cuts. Very odd.

He was throwing it 10 mph slower than the fastball, which is typical for a slider.

So, 4-seamer and 2-seamer with decent separation, a very good textbook curve, a weird-assed slider, and supposedly a splitter as well. But it's possible that the missing pitch is a normal slider and that what appears to be a weird slider is actually his "splitter" which is actually a very strange forkball ...

In reviewing the NESN video this morning, I couldn't pick out the catcher's signals on most of the pitches, but I also saw a definite split-finger grip on 2 of the 6 pitches between 81 and 83 mph, so I'll refer to it as a splitter. The grip on those 2 pitches was a widely splayed two-finger grip, without the additional contact from the ring finger that I usually associated with a forkball. Tazawa gets a range of horizontal movement on the pitch, anywhere between 0 and -5" in horizontal break, so the release seems to be somewhat variable. That could be due to inconsistent delivery, or possibly some intentional counter-clockwise supination of the wrist, like a split-finger grip with a modified screwball release.

In the cold light of day, there's a lot NOT to like about this offspeed pitch. Tazawa threw 6 of them, all to LHB in his first inning of work, and 3 of them were hammered. The Yankee lefties seemed to have no trouble at all in picking it up and rounding on it. Posada's sharp line drive for a single came on a hanging splitter. Hinske's even sharper drive also came on an inside splitter -- Drew's catch definitely belongs on a highlight reel. The last three were thrown to Cabrera, including one that Cabrera hit hard but just foul. Six instances of the pitch, three hard-hit balls by LHB down the RF line... not a very good ratio. It's not a surprise that Tazawa and Tek discarded the pitch entirely during the second inning, even when facing Teixeira.

QUOTE (Redkluzu @ Aug 8 2009, 05:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And what then would you do today if Buchholz implodes? Seems we still have MDC and Saito left, maybe Paps. I thought Tito managed the pitching well even though we lost, with an eye to a 4pm game today.

Oh, and I thought using Tazawa was the best of the possible options.

Using Tazawa in the 14th inning looked like the only option left -- the last man in the bullpen. With a bullpen of six one-inning relievers gradually having been exhausted, Tazawa would have pitched the rest of the game, or until he dropped. Not the greatest first exposure for a young pitcher, since the leverage could hardly have been higher, but somebody had to do it...

Bard, Ramirez and Papelbon each threw under 20 pitches: I would guess that they will be first in line this afternoon, but that Tazawa may be sent down to bring up another last-in-line reliever. It's not that Tazawa deserves to be sent down, but he's the only one with options left who should not be pitching today.

QUOTE (Reverend @ Aug 8 2009, 07:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sprowl, do you ever get tired of being right?

Sprowl: often wrong, never in doubt. Tito's really gotta get with the Sprowl program. rolleyes.gif

#24 Barbara

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 11:14 AM

QUOTE (Jnai @ Aug 8 2009, 11:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In case anyone is wondering which pitch we are currently all wondering about:



RED is clearly 2-Seam Fastball
YELLOW is 4-Seam Fastball
GREEN is curveball
BLUE is the mystery pitch.

An unmarked one of these can be seen here:
http://brooksbasebal...h...&v_size=500

I'm leaning slider, because although he's supposed to have a forkball, he supposedly throws it rarely. Plus, I'm not sure we've ever seen Tek call a game with that high a percentage of splitters/forks before.


I don't always get it, but I am learning and I love this. Amazing stuff Jnai.

Which is the one ARod hit? The turquoise in the green circle (the curve) or the upper right one in the blue?


#25 Sprowl


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 11:23 AM

QUOTE (Barbara @ Aug 8 2009, 09:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't always get it, but I am learning and I love this. Amazing stuff Jnai.

Which is the one ARod hit? The turquoise in the green circle (the curve) or the upper right one in the blue?

It's the turquoise in the green circle -- Tazawa couldn't get it to drop into the dirt as he did when striking out Cabrera in the 14th inning, and left it low in the strike zone. The umpire made at least two dubious calls: a gift strike and a ball that looked awfully good. I'm surprised that Tek didn't call for another fastball high and tight on A-Rod: the book on him has always been not to let him extend his arms.

#26 Eric Van


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 11:26 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 8 2009, 09:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In reviewing the NESN video this morning, I couldn't pick out the catcher's signals on most of the pitches, but I also saw a definite split-finger grip on 2 of the 6 pitches between 81 and 83 mph, so I'll refer to it as a splitter.

The one pitch where you could read the signal was the second one to Posada; the signals on the three he threw to Cabrera were visible but unreadable (with a man on second).

I also saw the fingers split, but I think the split is between the index and third. Sort of a splay-fingered slider ... the jury is definitely still out.

In the original version of my post I noted that, in theory at least, the pitch might have an upward-pointing spin axis with backwards (screwball) rotation, which would be indistinguishable data-wise from a pitch with clockwise rotation and downward pointing axis. I decided that was unlikely so I removed the remark -- interesting that the thought occurred to you, too.

#27 Eric Van


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 11:29 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 8 2009, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The umpire made at least two dubious calls: a gift strike and a ball that looked awfully good. I'm surprised that Tek didn't call for another fastball high and tight on A-Rod: the book on him has always been not to let him extend his arms.

The ump had a strike zone that hugely favored Beckett over Burnett; once the relievers came in the game he was just terrific. I don't have my data in front of me but A-Rod's PA sure looks like a gift followed by a conscious make-up call.

#28 Blacken


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:49 PM

QUOTE (Eric Van @ Aug 8 2009, 12:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The ump had a strike zone that hugely favored Beckett over Burnett; once the relievers came in the game he was just terrific.
Except for the whole "low strike? what low strike?" thing on Tazawa. Had it up on Gameday, which I know isn't always reliable, but two consecutive pitches well within the drawn-out strike zone square had me fuming. They looked perfect to the eye, too.

Edited by Blacken, 08 August 2009 - 12:50 PM.


#29 Harry Hooper


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 01:02 PM

QUOTE (Blacken @ Aug 8 2009, 01:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Except for the whole "low strike? what low strike?" thing on Tazawa. Had it up on Gameday, which I know isn't always reliable, but two consecutive pitches well within the drawn-out strike zone square had me fuming. They looked perfect to the eye, too.



Yes, and to make it extra frustrating the ump immediately gave the strike call for the same location to the Yankee reliever in the following inning.

#30 Sprowl


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 02:02 PM

QUOTE (Eric Van @ Aug 8 2009, 09:26 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also saw the fingers split, but I think the split is between the index and third. Sort of a splay-fingered slider ... the jury is definitely still out.

I don't think the split can be between the index and ring fingers -- the middle finger still has to go somewhere, and would be visible on top of the ball if that were the case. The three-finger grip with the index finger on the left side of the ball, the ringer finger on the right side and the middle finger on top of the ball and providing most of the force would be recognizable as a forkball, but what I saw was definitely a two-finger grip with the ball wedged between the index and middle fingers. Tazawa seems to have very long fingers, as the two fingers were separated by a large distance, more than I am used to seeing in a splitter grip. A wider grip would also apply less direct force from the two fingers, which could explain how a splitter could have such a large velocity differential from the fastballs (~82 mph vs. ~92 mph).

More horizontal break data from a different stadium should give us a much better basis for analysis.

#31 TallManinOregon

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 02:22 PM

Liked what we saw... save that last pitch. Clearly the Taz has some nasty in his repertoire, but I'm in the "not quite ready" camp... Not much of a choice for Tito, so, sink or swim kid. A damn shame the way it turned out. I'll be excited in 2011... until then, enjoy the cup of coffee and mop up roll.

#32 Spacemans Bong


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 04:34 PM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 8 2009, 08:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't think the split can be between the index and ring fingers -- the middle finger still has to go somewhere, and would be visible on top of the ball if that were the case. The three-finger grip with the index finger on the left side of the ball, the ringer finger on the right side and the middle finger on top of the ball and providing most of the force would be recognizable as a forkball, but what I saw was definitely a two-finger grip with the ball wedged between the index and middle fingers. Tazawa seems to have very long fingers, as the two fingers were separated by a large distance, more than I am used to seeing in a splitter grip. A wider grip would also apply less direct force from the two fingers, which could explain how a splitter could have such a large velocity differential from the fastballs (~82 mph vs. ~92 mph).

More horizontal break data from a different stadium should give us a much better basis for analysis.

Most forkballs are gripped in the same way as a splitter is gripped, with the ball between the index and middle fingers, just spread wider to give it greater sink but less velocity. You get people like Contreras who grip it with the index and ring fingers, yet the middle finger is raised and not applying pressure to the ball.



If it looked anywhere near as extreme as Elroy Face's grip, then it's a fork. Edit: of course he's gripping it with the thumb and index finger. whistling.gif

Edited by Spacemans Bong, 08 August 2009 - 05:50 PM.


#33 amarshal2

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 05:26 PM

Fastball was a bit above average and curve was good. He's got a future.

#34 worm0082


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Posted 09 August 2009 - 04:32 PM

Amalie says on twitter Tazawa is starting Tuesday.

edit: if im reading it right.. it says "Tazawa to start to Tuesday #redsox"

?

Edited by worm0082, 09 August 2009 - 04:35 PM.


#35 sibpin

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 04:55 PM

QUOTE (worm0082 @ Aug 9 2009, 04:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Amalie says on twitter Tazawa is starting Tuesday.

edit: if im reading it right.. it says "Tazawa to start to Tuesday #redsox"

?


Seconded by WEEI, straight from Francona's mouth.

Consider me befuddled that they would opt to start Tazawa on Tuesday after pitching him on Friday, even though Bowden last started on Wednesday (with terrible results). Maybe this is a reward for giving him such a tough first outing, and maybe the Sox want to end the cycle of cycling players through that last roster spot and making them unavailable for 10 days through minor league option or DFA.

#36 mfried

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 05:01 PM

QUOTE (sibpin @ Aug 9 2009, 04:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Seconded by WEEI, straight from Francona's mouth.

Consider me befuddled that they would opt to start Tazawa on Tuesday after pitching him on Friday, even though Bowden last started on Wednesday (with terrible results). Maybe this is a reward for giving him such a tough first outing, and maybe the Sox want to end the cycle of cycling players through that last roster spot and making them unavailable for 10 days through minor league option or DFA.


A 2-inning appearance on Friday shouldn't make a short-leash start on Tuesday impossible. I think they liked what they saw, and think he gives the Sox a chance to win. The kid is gutsy, and if he isn't in the eggshell situation of an away game in extra innings, he could do very well.

#37 RedOctober3829


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Posted 09 August 2009 - 05:04 PM

QUOTE (sibpin @ Aug 9 2009, 05:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Seconded by WEEI, straight from Francona's mouth.

Consider me befuddled that they would opt to start Tazawa on Tuesday after pitching him on Friday, even though Bowden last started on Wednesday (with terrible results). Maybe this is a reward for giving him such a tough first outing, and maybe the Sox want to end the cycle of cycling players through that last roster spot and making them unavailable for 10 days through minor league option or DFA.

Or maybe simply because they have more faith and more of an investment in Tazawa. I believe that Tazawa is already more of a bet to help the major league club down the stretch and will have a better career. Bowden hasn't been consistent this year and I think with the way Tazawa is throwing the baseball right now that he will get major league hitters out better than Bowden.



#38 El Tiante

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 05:24 PM

That sounds like a reasonable explanation. And I hope Tazawa performs well as we all know the Sox could use "any" good news at this stage. At best he helps keep the team on course for a WC spot. At worst he shows that he may be a big league keeper.

#39 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 09 August 2009 - 06:30 PM

In a related story, what's the deal with Bowden? They refused to deal him in the off-season (and presumably during this season although I don't recall his name coming up much), and they refuse to call him up when they need a starter. 2 big league appearances in 2 years. Granted, he's still young, but did the Sox err in not cashing in on Bowden when he had more value than he may have now, or do they still have high hopes for him going forward?

#40 pokey_reese


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Posted 11 August 2009 - 11:11 AM

I'm torn on this because I knew that I would have tickets to this game, and when Smoltz was DFA'd I was psyched, assuming that I would see Bowden instead. I was blown away by Tazawa in ST, given how many good, low strikes he threw and the GB ratio he put up, but a piece of me still think that this is really soon for him to come up, after 2 starts in AAA his first year in America. Still, if the team thinks that he is ready then they must have seen something in his time in the minors that says to them his stuff will translate, and if he can avoid trying to nibble and can locate his pitches down in the zone, then I don't see why it wouldn't. Still, passing over Bowden for this must say something, if only that they want him to be working on pitches rather than worrying about a pennant race right now.

edit: additionally, given his youth and the pressure that he is being put under with this rush to the majors, what are we looking for him to do tonight, having pitched on Saturday on top of everything? I would be pretty happy with 4-5 innings and 3 runs, but I am curious what others would consider "success" in this situation.

Edited by pokey_reese, 11 August 2009 - 11:19 AM.


#41 Wade Boggs Hair

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 11:43 AM

QUOTE (pokey_reese @ Aug 11 2009, 12:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
edit: additionally, given his youth and the pressure that he is being put under with this rush to the majors, what are we looking for him to do tonight, having pitched on Saturday on top of everything? I would be pretty happy with 4-5 innings and 3 runs, but I am curious what others would consider "success" in this situation.


Smoltz went 6 innings or fewer and gave up 5 ER or more in 6 of his 8 starts, so anything above that would generally be an improvement over what this rotation spot has been offering recently. My hope is that Tazawa gets a good defensive lineup behind him (e.g., no Lowell in the field, maybe Kotchman at 1B with Martinez DH'ing or Bay DH'ing with Reddick in LF) so he can build some confidence.

#42 sachilles


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Posted 11 August 2009 - 11:53 AM

Certainly there was a lot of pressure in his first appearance. However, I doubt he had a lot of time to think about it, before being sent into the fray. He will have a greater amount of time to think and get nervous before tonight. Given that it is his first MLB start at home, I'm sure he'll feel the pressure. If he can come out of the gate strong, it will be a very encouraging sign. I think we'd be wise to watch with cautious optimism. Even if he manages to throw a perfect game first time out there, he's still pretty young, and there will surely be some growing pains.

As far as choosing Tazawa over Bowden for this start, it seems like a reasonable risk. For the most part you know what Bowden offers. I'm not a big fan of the cliche, but with Tazawa you may have a chance to "catch lightning in a bottle". If he tanks, it's not the end of the world for the team. The extra innings appearance at least showed he will not be completely lost out there. If he does well, it might light a fire under the rest of the team.

#43 Eric Van


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Posted 11 August 2009 - 04:58 PM

QUOTE (sachilles @ Aug 11 2009, 10:53 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As far as choosing Tazawa over Bowden for this start, it seems like a reasonable risk. For the most part you know what Bowden offers. I'm not a big fan of the cliche, but with Tazawa you may have a chance to "catch lightning in a bottle". If he tanks, it's not the end of the world for the team. The extra innings appearance at least showed he will not be completely lost out there. If he does well, it might light a fire under the rest of the team.

I actually think the logic is exactly opposite. It's Bowden who's been massively inconsistent and Tazawa who has been like clockwork. They are not in a position to gamble on getting the good Bowden versus the bad, whereas with Tazawa they have someone they are confident can be an MLB 5th starter, maybe 4th, and should keep them in just about every ball game.

Here's Bowden's game log. Seven brilliant starts, then it's been toss a coin, brilliant or terrible.

Bowden AAA 2009
Date IP H R ER TR BB SO HR ERA BFP 2B 3B SH SF HB SB CS DP WP
10-Apr 4.7 2 0 0 -0.3 2 5 0 0.00 19
15-Apr 4.0 5 1 1 1.0 2 3 0 1.04 19 2
20-Apr 5.3 3 0 0 0.0 1 7 0 0.64 20 1 1
1-May 6.0 1 2 2 1.0 2 2 0 1.35 21 1 1 1
6-May 6.7 1 1 0 1.3 4 2 0 1.01 25 1
11-May 7.3 4 1 1 1.0 1 2 0 1.06 27 2 1
17-May 8.0 3 0 0 0.0 4 7 0 0.86 27 1 2 2 2
23-May 2.0 4 4 4 4.0 1 2 1 1.64 11 3
28-May 4.3 6 2 1 1.5 2 3 0 1.68 21 1 1
2-Jun 4.0 8 6 6 6.4 1 1 2 2.58 21 2 1
7-Jun 6.0 6 1 1 1.0 1 3 0 2.47 25 1
13-Jun 7.0 6 2 2 2.2 1 5 2 2.48 25 2
19-Jun 1.0 5 6 6 6.0 3 1 1 3.26 11 2
24-Jun 6.0 3 1 1 0.9 1 6 1 3.11 22 1 1
29-Jun 4.7 8 4 4 4.2 0 3 2 3.39 21 1 1 3 1
6-Jul 4.3 5 2 1 3.1 5 2 0 3.32 22 1 1 1
19-Jul 5.0 0 0 0 0.0 4 5 0 3.13 19 1
24-Jul 7.0 4 2 2 2.3 0 5 2 3.09 24 1
30-Jul 7.0 6 1 1 1.0 0 6 0 2.96 25 1 2
5-Aug 3.0 6 6 6 5.0 3 4 0 3.40 18 2 1 1

Edited by Eric Van, 11 August 2009 - 05:03 PM.


#44 xjack


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Posted 11 August 2009 - 06:16 PM

QUOTE (sachilles @ Aug 11 2009, 12:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The extra innings appearance at least showed he will not be completely lost out there.

I'm sure must rookie pitchers, if thrown into a situation like that, would have had a hard time throwing strikes. He didn't.

If Tazawa goes on to have a significant major league career, A-Rod's home run will become part of the kid's legend. (And unfortunately, ESPN will probably show a clip every time he starts a game.)

#45 brimac

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 09:49 PM

When you look at the PitchFX charts, you can see the way Tazawa settled down after the first inning, keeping the ball down and not giving the Tigers' righties -- including Polanco, Ordonez and Inge -- a chance to get their arms extended. In the first inning, he was a little bit all over the place and left the ball up and over the middle far more than he did in his next four innings.

(Forgive the self-link, but I'm among those still kind of trying to get a feel for interpreting and using Jnai's creation.)

#46 pokey_reese


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Posted 11 August 2009 - 10:56 PM

From the stands, Tazawa looked great, though Nick Green almost made me start murdering people. He got more Ks looking than I expected, and certainly more Ks in general. Ground balls when he needed, stayed down in the zone, not walking a lot of guys. This was better than any start by Buchholz this year. That isn't predictive, but at least promising.

#47 Sprowl


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Posted 12 August 2009 - 01:06 AM

Tazawa didn't have his usual velocity. Instead of the 91-93 from the scouting reports and the NY game, Fenway's rejigged pitchfx system had Tazawa throwing only 88-90, topping out at 91 and 90.8 on his last two pitches of the 5th inning. He showed some resilience during the FUBAR first inning, getting not one but two double play balls at the time when he needed them. After Green botched what would have been an inning-ending double play, Tek came to the mound to settled Tazawa down. Tazawa's expression was a brief exhalation and a smile -- to my eyes, he did not look upset by the roller-coaster ride, but capable of riding the ups and downs.

Fenway's vertical and horizontal break readings for Tazawa are odd. Just as the Bidet may have exaggerated horizontal movement, the Fenway data seemed to exaggerate vertical drop. Phragle pointed out that if the data are accurate, then Tazawa's curveball is spinning faster than his fastball, which seems very unlikely. Spin is derived from break, so if the vertical and horizontal movement are off, then most of the other data will be too. Velocity might be stingy rather than generous: there look to have been some adjustments made, and this isn't the Fenway system of June and July. There are also ~14 pitches missing from the data. We'll need to have a few more datasets, including one from a third park, before Tazawa's velocity, repertoire and movement can be pinned down.

It was fun watching Tazawa work the generous strike zone: he got a Rivera-generous called strike several inches outside, and then proceeded to pound that out-of-zone spot for the rest of the night. A pitcher who can command a fastball that well can exploit a bad but consistent home plate umpire by turning one mistaken call into a game-long advantage. Tazawa's command was iffy in the first inning, missing inside to hit Cabrera and missing over the plate on Inge's single, but he got better and better at pinpointing his fastball, as well as more efficient.

The curve lived up to its advance notices: 6 strikes (4 called, 2 swinging), 3 balls, 1 foul, 1 out, and Thomas's single in the first inning. Tazawa appears to throw his curve at two different speed: 74-80 mph for strikes, and a slower, near eephus curve 69-71 to be kept outside the strike zone (2 balls, 1 foul). The split/forkball behaved more like a normal splitter today (and nothing like a slider), with tailing action fairly close to his fastball. He threw it outside the strike zone -- a wise choice, given how hard it got hit in NY -- getting one swinging strike with it to strike out Polanco to end the fourth.

#48 TFisNEXT


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Posted 12 August 2009 - 01:24 AM

QUOTE (Sprowl @ Aug 12 2009, 02:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Tazawa didn't have his usual velocity. Instead of the 91-93 from the scouting reports and the NY game, Fenway's rejigged pitchfx system had Tazawa throwing only 88-90, topping out at 91 and 90.8 on his last two pitches of the 5th inning. He showed some resilience during the FUBAR first inning, getting not one but two double play balls at the time when he needed them. After Green botched what would have been an inning-ending double play, Tek came to the mound to settled Tazawa down. Tazawa's expression was a brief exhalation and a smile -- to my eyes, he did not look upset by the roller-coaster ride, but capable of riding the ups and downs.

Fenway's vertical and horizontal break readings for Tazawa are odd. Just as the Bidet may have exaggerated horizontal movement, the Fenway data seemed to exaggerate vertical drop. Phragle pointed out that if the data are accurate, then Tazawa's curveball is spinning faster than his fastball, which seems very unlikely. Spin is derived from break, so if the vertical and horizontal movement are off, then most of the other data will be too. Velocity might be stingy rather than generous: there look to have been some adjustments made, and this isn't the Fenway system of June and July. There are also ~14 pitches missing from the data. We'll need to have a few more datasets, including one from a third park, before Tazawa's velocity, repertoire and movement can be pinned down.

It was fun watching Tazawa work the generous strike zone: he got a Rivera-generous called strike several inches outside, and then proceeded to pound that out-of-zone spot for the rest of the night. A pitcher who can command a fastball that well can exploit a bad but consistent home plate umpire by turning one mistaken call into a game-long advantage. Tazawa's command was iffy in the first inning, missing inside to hit Cabrera and missing over the plate on Inge's single, but he got better and better at pinpointing his fastball, as well as more efficient.

The curve lived up to its advance notices: 6 strikes (4 called, 2 swinging), 3 balls, 1 foul, 1 out, and Thomas's single in the first inning. Tazawa appears to throw his curve at two different speed: 74-80 mph for strikes, and a slower, near eephus curve 69-71 to be kept outside the strike zone (2 balls, 1 foul). The split/forkball behaved more like a normal splitter today (and nothing like a slider), with tailing action fairly close to his fastball. He threw it outside the strike zone -- a wise choice, given how hard it got hit in NY -- getting one swinging strike with it to strike out Polanco to end the fourth.


Great stuff Sprowl...from my eye (and I'm a huge stat head, so I don't like anecdotal evidence much)...I thought his curve looked pretty good. He fooled a few hitters on it. Also his fastball looked a bit better than the Fenway velocity was giving him which was a bit weird to me because he have seen the Fenway gun juiced on a few homestands this year. If it was slow...that might explain why Paps was in the 91-94 range tonight though that might be for the Paps thread anyway...he didn't look that sharp.

The biggest piece of anecdotal evidence i saw from Tazawa was his demeanor on the mound. He could have easily melted down and turned in a 2+ inning 7 run start and blame iton the pitiful defense behind him but he rebounded so well and never seemed flustered at all. Obviously he is no Josh Beckett...but I thought there were some great signs tonight that he can be a very serviceable #4-5 starter. The only downside is that he def. seems like the type of pitcher who will struggle vs the MFY...an impatient lineup like Detroit is fine, but the MFY will wait him out and make him come into the zone with his mediocre fastball. But if he spots his pitches...maybe I'm too pessimistic on that front. Hell...Frank Castillo used to shut down the MFY way more than we would have thought.

#49 LynnRoyalRooter

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 07:18 AM

Considering the support he had in the 1st innings and the long waits thrown in there, I will take it. In addition to what others have said in great detail, I was happy with the fact that he was able to get some Ks later in his start, when you would have thought that the hitters would have adjusted to him.

Let's not get crazy though as there were several shots hit to CF/RF in the game as well. Not saying that as a bad thing as he didn't let the short porch in LF give him any problems. A couple of times early he had trouble locating the curve, Eck commented on it at the time. He was trying to bounce it low and in but ended up just spinning it outside (to lefties). He did get past that in the last 2 innings however, locating much better.

All in all - better than Smoltz/or anyone else available right now, throw him out there again.

Edited by LynnRoyalRooter, 12 August 2009 - 07:18 AM.


#50 mfried

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 08:01 AM

QUOTE (LynnRoyalRooter @ Aug 12 2009, 07:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Considering the support he had in the 1st innings and the long waits thrown in there, I will take it. In addition to what others have said in great detail, I was happy with the fact that he was able to get some Ks later in his start, when you would have thought that the hitters would have adjusted to him.

Let's not get crazy though as there were several shots hit to CF/RF in the game as well. Not saying that as a bad thing as he didn't let the short porch in LF give him any problems. A couple of times early he had trouble locating the curve, Eck commented on it at the time. He was trying to bounce it low and in but ended up just spinning it outside (to lefties). He did get past that in the last 2 innings however, locating much better.

All in all - better than Smoltz/or anyone else available right now, throw him out there again.


I agree with many of the posts, and was impressed by his stuff, variety of speeds, location and poise. If he can replicate I prefer seeming him pitch more than Penny and Buchholz. Given Green's horrible error it's amazing that he kept bearing down. I'm not saying he's clearly a better pitcher than BP or CB, but he's more fun to watch, and displays a clear intent and reasonable execution. Against the MFY - I'm not sure he can maintain all of this - perhaps better as middle relief against very disciplined hitters.