Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Craig Stammen: Sometimes Lucky is Better Than Good

For the first time in his 9 game career, Craig Stammen survived the 7th inning. He was the tough luck loser in a 1-0 game, putting just seven runners on base in seven innings (5 hits, 1 walk, 1 error), doubling three of them up.

The causal observer would believe Stammen pitched his best game. Someone who watched the game would argue that Stammen finally escaped a couple jams with two line-out double plays, plus prevented the big inning in the first by pitching around masher Brad Hawpe and getting the ground ball out of Tulowitski.

Who's correct? That is why pitch f/x is around. First, Craig Stammen has marginal major league stuff. His fastball struggles to find 90, and his breaking pitches are not unhittable. Stammen can survive as a decent back-end pitcher by working the outer quarter of the plate, getting one or two favorable calls per game, and learning to keep the ball down. Greg Maddux made a career of this crap, and a few other righties have followed suit, but with less success. Below are a couple of example of Stammen working batters away this season:

Almost all of his starts, he has shown similar location, regardless of how the other team hit him. In Colorado last night, however...


He was all over the place. The Rockies were not patient enough to wait for a mistake, especially when Stammen becomes more vulnerable the third time through the lineup.

Now for what I like to call "The Coors Effect", and no, that doesn't involve anybody shotgunning "A Taste of the Rockies". Even as far back as his first start against Pittsburgh, Stammen featured three distinct pitches:

Last night however, the thin air had a noticeable effect on the movement of all three of his pitches. His curveball and changeup were reduced to the same pitch and the movement on his fastballs were drastically reduced. Combine that with the struggling location, and you'd think that we are looking at Daniel Cabrera.

The Rockies failed to execute with the bat when Stammen made a mistake. It is that simple. While I hope Stammen rebounds and drops another 7 inning, 1 run performance on the Astros, I am not holding my breath. Expect continued struggles later in the game, once batters get a read on his fastball and his location starts to fail.

No comments:

Post a Comment