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Buchholz got a brand new bag


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#1 Sprowl


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 12:18 AM

Clay Buchholz brought back some of the old fire, touching 94 in the second inning, and throwing hard enough to give the rest of his stuff the surprise factor that offspeed pitches need. More impressive was the location, off the center of the plate, but around the zone. This is a lot of paint:

 

location.php-pitchSel=453329&game=gid_20

 

...and throwing seven pitches wherever he wanted (counter-clockwise from the top of the chart):

 

1) 4-seamer

2) 2-seamer, a little slower than the 4-seamer, with noticeably more horizontal bend (distortions in the Tampa PitchFX notwithstanding)

3) splitter -- just a few, but enough to surprise the lefties

4) changeup -- formerly Buchholz' strikeout pitch, but now just a change-of-speed

5) curve -- lots of movement in both planes

6) slider -- the slower he throws the pitch, the greater the horizontal movement, almost all to RHB. The slider and cutter are both slower than they were before Buchholz' injury, with greater velocity separation from the fastballs.

7) cutter -- the faster he throws the pitch, the less it cuts, but it still has enough contrast with the fastball to prevent the batter from getting the sweet spot of the bat on the ball.

 

horzspeed.php-pitchSel=453329&game=gid_2

 

Buchholz looked awfully good for a pitcher who has been out of action for months. What's new: the slower cutter verging toward a slider; the reduced reliance on the fastball (only 27 of 74 pitches); and the wider assortment of offspeed pitches.



#2 mauidano


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 03:59 AM

Scary and incredibly impressive. Well done Sprowl.

#3 Wake's knuckle

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 04:18 AM

Judging from the highlights, Clay Boy got a lot of mileage out of that cutter, the way it bores in on RHH. I couldn't help but think "My, what a nasty pitch that is"



#4 Al Zarilla


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 04:36 AM

Judging from the highlights, Clay Boy got a lot of mileage out of that cutter, the way it bores in on RHH. I couldn't help but think "My, what a nasty pitch that is"

Except it's on the same side as his curve, breaking-wise, so it breaks away from RHHs. 



#5 someoneanywhere

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 07:33 AM

I think the thing to worry about over the next three weeks is the classic period of dead arm, which unfortunately, if it occurs, may coincide with October. It's hard to imagine that he won't struggle with it -- although I think it was absolutely the right call to limit him to 75 pitches to account for the increased adrenelaine and big-league stress and intensity. The velo could drop in that period, but more likely the command could suffer. You hope, of course, that somehow, either through management or circumstance, that he doesn't hit it. But if he does, best that it come in September -- so by all means keep running him out here, manage him but run him out thre, every five days.

#6 mfried

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:53 AM

Except it's on the same side as his curve, breaking-wise, so it breaks away from RHHs. 

I think we're talking about the 2-seamer.



#7 Al Zarilla


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 10:36 AM

I think we're talking about the 2-seamer.

The cutter breaks away from the arm side of the pitcher; the 2 seam breaks toward the arm side of the pitcher. I'm amazed Clay used 7 different types of pitches. 

 

200px-Cut_Fastball.gif

An animated diagram of a cutter



#8 Jnai


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 10:36 AM

I think we're talking about the 2-seamer.

 

To clear it up:

Buchholz's two-seamer (we call it a "sinker") breaks IN on a RHH.

Buchholz's cutter breaks AWAY from a RHH.

 

Here's the data replotted with the Pitch Info tags:

numhorzspeed.php-pitchSel=453329&game=gi

 

Buchholz doesn't really throw a slider.


Edited by Jnai, 11 September 2013 - 10:38 AM.


#9 Snodgrass'Muff


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:13 AM

Buchholz doesn't really throw a slider.

 

Yeah, I was going to ask if what we were seeing with the slider was possibly just the cutter thrown a little softer than we're used to seeing because he's been off the mound so long.  It's possible he just wasn't getting as much on it.  Same with the change up vs the splitter.  Are there any shots of him using a split finger grip at any point last night?  Maybe he just didn't get as much separation from the fastball a few times and it altered the amount of movement he got on the pitch?

 

Edit: According to his player card at brooksbaseball.net he hasn't really thrown the slider since 2009 and the splitter shows up infrequently over the last two years, but wasn't picked up by pitchfx last night.  With the splitter and change up being such similar pitches, it might just be a classification issue.

 

Edit 2: My eyes aren't what the used to be.  I didn't notice the difference in color between the splitter and the change up on the chart Jnai posted.


Edited by Snodgrass'Muff, 11 September 2013 - 11:18 AM.


#10 Jnai


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:16 AM

The Split as marked on that chart is entirely consistent with what we've observed previously, when we did have video (and Buchholz) confirmation.



#11 Savin Hillbilly


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:47 AM

His slider appears to have morphed into a cutter over the course of 2009, starting slurvy--low 80s, with marked downward break and almost as much horizontal break as his curve--and finishing the year as a much harder and tighter pitch. This progression continued through 2010, as the slider-turned-cutter got harder and broke less. Then it hung around in more or less that same state for two years, and now, in 2013, it's moved back in the other direction, at least as regards horizontal movement and velocity. It's a pretty fascinating saga.

 

Another thing I find interesting is the horizontal action on his change and splitter. The change breaks glove-side relative to his 4-seamer, and the splitter arm-side, which is the opposite of what I would expect.



#12 Sprowl


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:54 AM

Buchholz doesn't really throw a slider.

 

Yeah, I was going to ask if what we were seeing with the slider was possibly just the cutter thrown a little softer than we're used to seeing because he's been off the mound so long.  It's possible he just wasn't getting as much on it.


Buchholz replaced his slider with a cutter in 2010: velocity rose, horizontal movement dropped, and usage changed (the cutter gave Buchholz another weapon against left-handed batters). Based on last night's performance, I suspect that he is making the same platoon adjustment that he did when he introduced the splitter against LHB, while retaining the circle changeup against RHB: he is differentiating his offspeed pitches. In this case, the hypothesis is that he is re-introducing the cutter/slider against righties (15 vs. LHB and 12 vs. RHB last night).

 

It's hard to be sure about the horizontal movement, since the Tampa PitchFX appears to have shifted all pitches ~3" to the right, which would exaggerate the slurviness of the cutter/slider (or both). Nevertheless, it looks to me as if he is trying to get more horizontal bend on the slider as well as taking some speed off the pitch, which would give it greater separation from the fastball. If he has made that adjustment, instead of losing a few mph of velocity on all his pitches, then in his next start, look for fastball velocity to climb, while cutter/slider velocity remains in the 86-88 mph range.

 

His slider appears to have morphed into a cutter over the course of 2009, starting slurvy--low 80s, with marked downward break and almost as much horizontal break as his curve--and finishing the year as a much harder and tighter pitch. This progression continued through 2010, as the slider-turned-cutter got harder and broke less. Then it hung around in more or less that same state for two years, and now, in 2013, it's moved back in the other direction, at least as regards horizontal movement and velocity. It's a pretty fascinating saga.

 

Another thing I find interesting is the horizontal action on his change and splitter. The change breaks glove-side relative to his 4-seamer, and the splitter arm-side, which is the opposite of what I would expect.

 

If there is a systematic horizontal movement error from Tampa, then the changeup probably isn't breaking to the glove side, but instead breaking horizontally very little at all, which would be consistent with his changeup in the past. The splitter has had strong arm-side horizontal movement ever since he introduced it. Without the movement error, I suspect it would show even stronger arm-side movement than the charts show.



#13 Kevin Youkulele


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 01:23 PM

 

 

If there is a systematic horizontal movement error from Tampa, then the changeup probably isn't breaking to the glove side, but instead breaking horizontally very little at all, which would be consistent with his changeup in the past. The splitter has had strong arm-side horizontal movement ever since he introduced it. Without the movement error, I suspect it would show even stronger arm-side movement than the charts show.

 

Is the tendency of a changeup to move arm-side (or not at all horizontally) so consistent (across pitchers generally, or for Buch in particular if you know his tendencies well enough) that a reading of glove-side movement is essentially diagnostic of systematic horizontal movement error?  Just curious.



#14 Sprowl


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 01:28 PM

 

Is the tendency of a changeup to move arm-side (or not at all horizontally) so consistent (across pitchers generally, or for Buch in particular if you know his tendencies well enough) that a reading of glove-side movement is essentially diagnostic of systematic horizontal movement error?  Just curious.

 

Most pitchers' changeups move arm-side, some of them quite strongly (eg, Lester, Matsuzaka). Buchholz' circle changeup moves a little to the arm side, but notably less than most pitchers'.

 

There are several other oddities that point toward horizontal movement error from last night: some of the 4-seam fastballs appear to move to glove side as well, and that is very unlike Buchholz. Also, his curve breaks sharply in both horizontal and vertical dimensions, but it is very uncommon for it to break 14" to glove side.



#15 Jnai


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 01:38 PM

Tampa has about a 3.1 inch rightward shift in pfx_x. It has had it all year.


Edited by Jnai, 11 September 2013 - 01:39 PM.


#16 Savin Hillbilly


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Posted 11 September 2013 - 01:49 PM

While Clay's card does show slight absolute glove-side movement on the change for September due to that TB shift, I was talking about the relative glove-side movement compared to the four-seamer, which has been consistent with Clay from day 1 (in fact the gap used to be wider, because he used to get more arm-side movement on his FB). This is unusual in itself (I think), but it seemed even more so in relation to the splitter, which I think of as typically a pitch that tracks the fastball pretty closely in horizontal movement, or if anything runs a bit less to the arm side than the fastball. But looking at a bunch of splitter pitchers, I see that a slight arm-side movement relative to the fastball is actually the norm, though there are exceptions. You learn something new every day.



#17 JimD

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:02 AM

Have to be pretty pleased with Sunday's outing - his fastball command wasn't sharp but he adapted and kept the Yankees from doing any serious damage while the offense piled up the runs and slowly put the game out of reach.  Clay will get two outings against the Jays and O's to close out the regular season (should be relatively pressure-free) and hopefully his command will be sharper when he takes the hill in the ALDS.


Edited by JimD, 16 September 2013 - 10:03 AM.


#18 Jnai


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Posted 16 September 2013 - 12:55 PM

Since it seems pertinent to this thread (and hasn't been announced anywhere else), PITCHf/x game logs for 2013 and 2012 will now include linear corrections in speed, pfx_x, and pfx_z. These corrections are from a +/- 3 week sliding window of data from each stadium calculated w/ multiple regression.

 

So, you can fetch those charts again and repost them.

 

These have not been added to the player cards yet, but will be shortly. Other years are also in the works.


Edited by Jnai, 16 September 2013 - 12:58 PM.


#19 HriniakPosterChild

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 01:00 PM

Have to be pretty pleased with Sunday's outing - his fastball command wasn't sharp but he adapted and kept the Yankees from doing any serious damage while the offense piled up the runs and slowly put the game out of reach.  Clay will get two outings against the Jays and O's to close out the regular season (should be relatively pressure-free) and hopefully his command will be sharper when he takes the hill in the ALDS.

 

If my "not sharp," you mean that the catcher's glove routinely had to move three feet or more from where it was set up, then no, his command wasn't sharp. He got very lucky getting an atypical NYY lineup (to say the least) and getting timely double-play balls to erase his mistakes.



#20 Sprowl


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 12:14 AM

Since it seems pertinent to this thread (and hasn't been announced anywhere else), PITCHf/x game logs for 2013 and 2012 will now include linear corrections in speed, pfx_x, and pfx_z. These corrections are from a +/- 3 week sliding window of data from each stadium calculated w/ multiple regression.

 

So, you can fetch those charts again and repost them.

 

These have not been added to the player cards yet, but will be shortly. Other years are also in the works.

 

Pretty cool. That should make park-to-park variation less annoying, among other things.

 

***

 

Buchholz threw 91 pitches the second time around, building on 74. His velocity is still below his long-term trend, but nobody cares about velocity if you have location and movement. His location didn't look great, but every pitch is bending one way or the other. Jeff Sullivan on Fangraphs:
 

This season, 232 pitchers have faced at least 250 batters. That’s an arbitrary cutoff, but look how willing you are to accept it. Buchholz ranks 164th in swinging-strikeout rate... He ranks first in called-strikeout rate, well in front of Dale Thayer and Cliff Lee in second and third. Out of Buchholz’s plate appearances, 12.0% have ended with called strikeouts.

 

Buchholz is painting better than Cliff Lee. Getting batters not to swing can be more than half the battle. To righties, front door curves and backdoor sinkers; to lefties, frontdoor sinkers and backdoor cutters. He is manipulating horizontal movement better than ever before. He is also throwing more cutter/sliders than ever before, more than 4-seam fastballs, and he is not afraid to throw it in the strike zone. He probably should be more afraid against a playoff team, though: this is a lot of belt-high pitches.

 

location.php-pitchSel=453329&game=gid_20



#21 Niastri

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 02:35 AM

Watching the game, I wondered... Are the Yankees this bad, or is he this good even though he has no idea where the ball is going...

 

Sprowl, your chart seems to say that he is rusty, but just as amazing as ever at being hard to hit. What we all watched with our own eyes says the same thing.

 

The Yankees suck is such a trite phrase, but are they really that bad?  The number of bad pitches that Buchholz threw is absurd.  Why didn't some of those bad pitches turn to home runs?


Edited by Niastri, 17 September 2013 - 02:35 AM.


#22 Savin Hillbilly


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 07:04 AM

He probably should be more afraid against a playoff team, though: this is a lot of belt-high pitches.


When you zoom in on the platoon splits, though, there's a bit more method in the madness. Vs. RHP, he was giving a wide berth to the inner half:

 

location.php-pitchSel=453329&game=gid_20

 

while vs. LHH, he painted a virtual Maginot Line diagonally across the zone, marking for avoidance the down-and-in territory that lefty sluggers love most:

 

location.php-pitchSel=453329&game=gid_20

 

The only two exceptions were cutters, thrown early in the count and fouled off. (To LHH, he basically threw cutters in, and curves and fastballs away.)

 

So even though in the aggregate it looks he was just flinging it in there, it looks like he was observing a pretty specific and consistent game plan for each kind of hitter. 


Edited by Savin Hillbilly, 17 September 2013 - 07:05 AM.


#23 There is no Rev


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 10:59 AM

When you zoom in on the platoon splits, though, there's a bit more method in the madness. Vs. RHP, he was giving a wide berth to the inner half:

 

 

while vs. LHH, he painted a virtual Maginot Line diagonally across the zone, marking for avoidance the down-and-in territory that lefty sluggers love most:

 

I see said line in both charts, in fact. I wonder if they've looked at his pitches and outcomes and concluded his stuff can get beat low in and inside.



#24 Snodgrass'Muff


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:14 AM

The run of posts in this thread the last 24 hours is one of the things I love most about this site. I just wanted take a moment to acknowledge the good work you guys are doing.

#25 Jnai


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:39 AM

 

I see said line in both charts, in fact. I wonder if they've looked at his pitches and outcomes and concluded his stuff can get beat low in and inside.

 

Most pitchers, as a rule, do not try pitch low and inside. There are some exceptions - for example, sometimes guys will try to "back foot" a cutter or a slider at an opposite handed hitter, or guys will try to start a hard split or changeup on the inside half and have it run down and in on a same handed hitter. But, generally, it is rare to see a pitcher attack down and in.



#26 smastroyin


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:42 AM

I would hate to think the "plan" actually involves hitting Chris Stewart and walking Alfonso Soriano and Brendan Ryan.

 

Beyond the pithy comment, though, the question this raises is whether they are intentionally "nibbling" even though that drives us, the fans, crazy.  What I mean is, was there a decision made to avoid the wheelhouse at the expense of missing the strike zone.  He threw only 53 strikes against 38 balls, but definitely avoided much solid contact.  Two of the free passes were erased (ostensibly) by double plays.  Stewart was on second when Cano grounded into a double play to end the third and Soriano just two batters later when Overbay GIDP'd in the 4th.  Looking at the charts, it seems both guys grounded out on balls that were belt high and outside.  

 

Anyway, I think you guys have correctly identified the pattern, but I assume that the "plan" itself involves a bit more clustering around the zone.  It worked for one night but I doubt allowing 4 walks, 1 hit batter, and 15 balls in play in 6 innings is going to be a successful formula for Buchholz going forward.



#27 ivanvamp


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 12:01 PM

 

Most pitchers, as a rule, do not try pitch low and inside. There are some exceptions - for example, sometimes guys will try to "back foot" a cutter or a slider at an opposite handed hitter, or guys will try to start a hard split or changeup on the inside half and have it run down and in on a same handed hitter. But, generally, it is rare to see a pitcher attack down and in.

 

Really?  Isn't Lester's cutter to right-handed batters a classic example of attacking down and in?  And a lot of RHP throw hard sliders down and in to lefties, often with great effect.  (of course, if they don't quite get it down-and-in enough, it can leave the yard in a hurry)

 

I know you mention these as perhaps an exception, but I don't think it's that uncommon.



#28 HriniakPosterChild

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 12:30 PM

I would love to see a chart that shows where the catcher setup and a vector representing glove movement to where the ball actually wound up. A chart that just shows a point for the final resting point of each pitch has a builtin assumption that the pitch reached the intended target,

 

I'm guessing that data isn't collected.  Right?



#29 BCsMightyJoeYoung

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 04:11 PM

I would love to see a chart that shows where the catcher setup and a vector representing glove movement to where the ball actually wound up. A chart that just shows a point for the final resting point of each pitch has a builtin assumption that the pitch reached the intended target,
 
I'm guessing that data isn't collected.  Right?


The "target" isn't always the target .. Catchers sometimes set up opposite to where the real target is in order to deceive the batter.

I remember an interview with Greg Zaun where he claimed he used to do this all the time when Halliday was on the mound.

#30 Jnai


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 05:41 PM

 

Really?  Isn't Lester's cutter to right-handed batters a classic example of attacking down and in?  And a lot of RHP throw hard sliders down and in to lefties, often with great effect.  (of course, if they don't quite get it down-and-in enough, it can leave the yard in a hurry)

 

I know you mention these as perhaps an exception, but I don't think it's that uncommon.

 

Did you even read the post you were replying to? I specifically mentioned throwing the cutter and slider down and in to opposite handed hitters.



#31 Jnai


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 05:42 PM

I would love to see a chart that shows where the catcher setup and a vector representing glove movement to where the ball actually wound up. A chart that just shows a point for the final resting point of each pitch has a builtin assumption that the pitch reached the intended target,

 

I'm guessing that data isn't collected.  Right?

 

It is, actually. But, it isn't public.



#32 HriniakPosterChild

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 06:16 PM

 

It is, actually. But, it isn't public.

 

Interesting. Do the clubs have access to all of it?



#33 ivanvamp


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 07:15 PM

Did you even read the post you were replying to? I specifically mentioned throwing the cutter and slider down and in to opposite handed hitters.


Did you even read MY post before responding to it? In the last line I acknowledge that you did mention it. I said,

I know you mention these as perhaps an exception, but I don't think it's that uncommon.



#34 Jnai


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Posted 17 September 2013 - 08:33 PM

 

Interesting. Do the clubs have access to all of it?

 

They can - it's a Sportvision product (similar to HITf/x, although this one is called COMMANDf/x). I'm not sure what the dataset is (how complete it is, whether it correlates to anything in particular, etc. I've only seen bits and pieces). And, I'm not sure what the cost is. The SV/BAM business model is hard to figure.

 

Link to the product page: http://www.sportvisi...eball/commandfx

 

Did you even read MY post before responding to it? In the last line I acknowledge that you did mention it. I said,

 

I'm not sure why you picked your first ever participation in the main board to be some nitpicky bullshit over the meaning of "rare" and "exception", but this was one of my favorite main board threads in a while.

 

Annyway, let's go back to talking about Clay Buchholz and random incidental pitching observations that naturally follow from that discussion. =)


Edited by Jnai, 17 September 2013 - 08:35 PM.


#35 ivanvamp


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Posted 18 September 2013 - 09:05 AM

 

I'm not sure why you picked your first ever participation in the main board to be some nitpicky bullshit over the meaning of "rare" and "exception", but this was one of my favorite main board threads in a while.

 

Annyway, let's go back to talking about Clay Buchholz and random incidental pitching observations that naturally follow from that discussion. =)

 

It's not my first ever participation in the main board.  But that's ok.  All I was trying to say is that I think a lot of pitchers try to work down and in.  

 

Anyway, I'm optimistic about Clay moving forward.  He didn't have his best stuff the other day and still managed to give up zero earned runs.  If he and Lester continue to pitch like this, the Sox are going to be a very tough out in the playoffs.






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