Thursday, July 23, 2009

Colin Balester: 3 Things to Expect

I have to say, I am not nearly as excited for the season debut of Colin Balester as I have been the other you starters. Maybe it is because he has been up here before and we know what he can and can't do, while the other guys were mysteries without ceilings. Maybe it is because his AAA stats and performance this year didn't reflect a player with half a year of big league seasoning.

Deep down, though, I think it is because I don't want to be disappointed. Mock and Martin got knocked around a little bit; Balester has proven that could be the same based upon his previous track record.

Here is what to look for with Balester on the hill tonight.

1. One bad pitch per inning. Even in his better starts last season, Balester was all over the place, which can be fine. The problems start when he starts getting too much of the plate. Don't be surprised if he gets taken deep a couple times.

2. Good use of velocity. Balester throws three distinct pitches: a 92 mph fastball, a 84 mph change, and a bowel-moving 75 mph curve. The only problem is that his change stays very flat. Unlike Tyler Clippard, who hides his very well and has the bottom fall out at 54 feet, Balester stays open. He throws it infrequently enough that it doesn't get killed, but the second and third time through, batters can more readily identify the fastball.

3. A fair pitch shake. JD Martin got an irresponsible after 4 as he was beginning to hit his stride. Unless Balester gets ripped for a big inning and can't find his way out, expect him to get 95-105 pitches. He's been here and done this before, and while the bullpen is "rested", it shouldn't be trusted.

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