Results tagged ‘ Vine Line Game Day Edition ’

Series 4 Preview: Saturday’s Giants vs. Cubs matchup

at Dodger Stadium on April 2, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Giants starter Madison Bumgarner will throw Saturday at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Got your Vine Line Game Day Edition scorecards ready? We’ve got a dandy pitching matchup at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon. Here’s a quick guide to today’s two starters:

MADISON BUMGARNER
Repertoire (Avg. MPH)*: 4-seam (92), Slider (88), Change-up (86), Curve (85)
Age: 23
2012 Stats: 208 IP, 22.5 K%, 5.1 UBB%, 3.37 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

bumgarner_pitchmix2012Bumgarner’s repertoire is simple on its face—fastball, slider, curve and change—but it’s how he’s able to locate modify his pitches that makes him such a great left-hander. He adds and subtracts from his fastball and adds in some natural cutting action. The result is a continuum of velocities and movement, even though the vast majority of his pitches will fall in a slim high-80s to low-90s range.

Righties will have to deal with being pounded inside with cutters and sliders, and protecting against curves and change-ups that will drop on the low-outside corner from different directions. Bumgarner delivers from a low three-quarters angle that makes both locations tough to deal with. Against lefties, he throws his fastball over half of the time, attacking the outside corner as well as using it up and over the plate. His slider will sweep hard away from a lefty, and his slow, mid-70s curve gets batters way out in front. Watch out for some backwards pitching: While hitters are likely to see a first-pitch fastball, they’ll deal with more sliders when Bumgarner falls behind in the count and more fastballs when he’s ahead.

Bumgarner’s signature is his command, and it’s no doubt the product of clean, repeatable mechanics. He turns toward second base at max leg kick before unwinding his hips and arms, keeping his head perfectly still and getting great extension toward the plate. It gives him “effective” velocity more than pure velocity and is a big reason he’s had an above-average strikeout rate in his two full seasons in the big leagues.

JEFF SAMARDZIJA
Repertoire (Avg. MPH)*: 4-seam (96), Sinker (95), Cutter (92), Splitter (86), Slider (85)
Age: 28
2012 Stats: 174 IP, 24.9 K%, 7.5 UBB%, 3.81 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

samardzija_pitchmix2012One thing’s clear through two starts: Samardzija is determined to surpass his breakout 2012 campaign. His 22 strikeouts through 13.2 innings gives him a 41 percent strikeout rate, and he’s kept opponents to a .125 batting average. Is it possible for Samardzija to be a breakout candidate again? Some certainly believe so.

There’s been at least one specific improvement in the very early going: his use of a back-door slider against lefties. That’s a pitch that starts off the plate before sweeping over the outside corner. In fact, southpaws have struck out four times on the slider versus six on the splitter, whereas the ratio was one to five last season. He’s also used it nearly a quarter of the time against right-handed hitters with two strikes. It’s possible that he just has better “feel” of that pitch so far, but we’ll be watching the development of that pitch to see if it helps Shark unlock another gear this season.

Both of Samardzija’s fastballs sit in the mid- to high-90s, and his two-seamer is made even more impressive by his ability to run a few extra inches of movement while matching the velocity of his four-seamer. Overall, he likes to move pitches away from batters—using more two-seamers and splitters that fade away from lefties, while employing the cutter and slider against righties. And Samardzija’s splitter is his No. 1 weapon when he gets ahead in the count. He’s gotten more whiffs on the pitch each year in the big leagues, up to a 46 percent swing-and-miss rate last season.

*PITCHf/x numbers from Brooks Baseball.

—Sean Ahmed

Inside the Numbers: Delayed gratification?

ESPN SweetSpot’s Christina Kahrl, who contributes analysis to Vine Line and Vine Line Game Day Edition, discusses the reasons Cubs fans may or may not see Josh Vitters (left) and Brett Jackson (right) at Wrigley Field this September. (Photo by Stephen Green)

So the 2011 season isn’t going to involve a renewed bid for contention, and fans are understandably turning the page and wondering when they’ll get to see the organization’s top prospects getting called up. Chances are, you’ll be waiting for a while. The way baseball’s rules work, there are significant disincentives for the Cubs to add their best kids to the 40-man roster.

First, there’s the disincentive to bring somebody up if they’re not likely to make the team next spring. This is strictly economic: Why would a team unnecessarily grant a prospect already under team control early ignition on his service-time clock? Doing so now means very little in terms of improving the Cubs’ chances for 2011. By granting service time, the team is already putting the prospect down a path toward arbitration eligibility—and an escalating pay scale—while not necessarily guaranteeing the Cubs that they’ll control the player’s best seasons before free agency.

The second challenge for a player looking to get called up between now and Opening Day 2012 is the question of whether or not the Cubs need to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in December. Although a player taken in the Rule 5 draft would have to be kept on the big league roster all season or else offered back to his original organization, clubs prefer to avoid the risk of losing a prospect this way whenever possible. (more…)

1000 Words: Come out and play

Be a part of the action today as the Cubs wrap up their series against the Astros. Don’t forget to grab your scorecard, too. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Vine Line Game Day Preview: Cubs vs. Giants

Christina Kahrl, who writes for ESPN’s SweetSpot Blog and is a founding partner of Baseball Prospectus, contributed this preview of Game 3 starter Tim Lincecum in our Vine Line Game Day Edition program, available at Wrigley Field. Grab your official Wrigley Field scorecard for just $2 and catch Christina’s full look at the Cubs’ matchups every month.

“The Freak” may not throw as hard as he once did, but the short, slim righty is getting the same results from his classic fastball/slider/change combo. Lincecum’s still striking out more than a man an inning, cranking out quality starts two-thirds of the time or more, and every hard-hit ball represents a small moral victory for the batter. Whether with his fastball or his off-speed stuff, he rarely makes a mistake inside, and he’s able to snap off sliders and change-ups for strikes in hitter’s counts.After four years of relative indifference to baserunners—who swiped 77 bases in 90 attempts—Lincecum had benefitted from Posey catching. Now he may have a spot of vulnerability again.

Vine Line Game Day Preview: Cubs vs. Yankees

Christina Kahrl, who writes for ESPN’s SweetSpot Blog and is a founding partner of Baseball Prospectus, contributed this overview of the New York Yankees for the Vine Line Game Day Edition program, available at Wrigley Field. Grab your official Wrigley Field scorecard for just $2 and catch Christina’s full look at the Cubs’ matchups every month.

The last time the Yankees played in Wrigley Field was in 2003, their first visit to the Cubs’ home turf since the still-controversial “Called Shot” World Series of 1932, when—depending on who you want to believe—Babe Ruth either did or did not call a home run off Cubs pitcher Charlie Root in Game 3 of New York’s sweep. In 2003 as in 1932, the Cubs were a postseason-bound ballclub, but the ‘03 edition won their interleague series with the Bronx Bombers by taking two of three. With the Yankees looking to build a lead over the Red Sox and Rays in yet another three-legged AL East race, can the Cubs call the shots by putting a dent in their playoff hopes?

HITTING: With Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson dueling for the overall lead in home runs and Robinson Cano in the race for the RBIs lead, the Bombers bring a ton of firepower to the plate against righties. But their overall record against them was just above .500 (through early June)—it’s lefties they’ve been killing, winning 14 of 22 against them.

PITCHING: It’s a bend-don’t-break rotation helped by a better-than-average defense, and setup man David Robertson headlines a middle-relief crew that rates third in the majors in stranding inherited baserunners. All the better to hand leads off to another pinstriped immortal, closer Mariano Rivera.

Vine Line Game Day Preview: Pirates come to town

Christina Kahrl, who writes for ESPN’s SweetSpot Blog and is a founding partner of Baseball Prospectus, contributed this overview of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the Vine Line Game Day Edition program, available at Wrigley Field. Grab your official Wrigley Field scorecard for just $2 and catch Christina’s full look at the Cubs’ matchups every month.

May 2011 Vine Line Game Day Edition

Their consecutive losing seasons might be at a major-sports-record 18 and counting, but there are signs of progress. Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen and third baseman Pedro Alvarez are former first-rounders, and players the Pirates can build around. But with a roster almost entirely made up of other team’s prospects, they’re something like a full-season spring-training team, using the year to evaluate what they have, how much of it they should keep, and for how long.

Vine Line Game Day Preview: Road Trip to Fenway

Fenway Park

(Photo by Elsa/Getty)

Christina Kahrl, who writes for ESPN’s SweetSpot Blog and is a founding partner of Baseball Prospectus, contributed this preview of the Cubs’ visit to Boston for the Vine Line Game Day Edition program, available at Wrigley Field. Grab your official Wrigley Field scorecard for just $2 and catch Christina’s full look at the Cubs’ matchups every month.

If the American League had a preseason favorite for the pennant, it was the Red Sox. After adding former Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez and free-agent leftfielder Carl Crawford to an already star-laden lineup, nothing less would be seen as success.

That was before the Sox got off to a slow start, inducing instant panic in Red Sox Nation. Boston’s extraordinary roster depth is the product of extraordinary expense beyond just the $160 million-plus big-league payroll: The farm system has cranked out MVP candidates Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia in the lineup, power lefty Jon Lester in the rotation, and flame-throwing Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard in the ’pen. This series won’t just be historical—it’s as tough a matchup as you can draw, presenting the Cubs with a major challenge during their one away series in May.

May 2011 Vine Line Game Day EditionA season shy of its centennial as a big-league venue, Fenway Park is the East Coast’s answer to Wrigley Field and the site of the 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cubs. Fourteen years before Babe Ruth’s infamous “Called Shot” that helped cost the Cubs the Series, he was helping the Red Sox beat the Cubs as a pitcher in ’18, getting the win in the first and fourth games. (more…)

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