Saturday, August 14, 2010

Deception, or Lucky

John Lannan recorded a season high five strikeouts last night, rolling through the Arizona lineup like Halladay. Obviously he has to be doing something different, right?

I dropped in a few links below to the pitch f/x data of a couple of his previous starts to contrast to this one.

Arizona, Aug 13

Colorado, May 13

Chicago, April 26

And for good measure, his start against the Yankees last season.

One thing is for certain, by that Colorado start, the velocity on his fastball was down 2 mph. Another thing that makes Lannan unique is that he really uses the whole strike zone. He almost never throws to the same location twice. Is it by design or lack of control, hard to tell. The release point last season was much higher, but earlier this season he had drawn it. Most pitchers drop the arm slot to compensate for an injury, and he has, but the horizontal point of release is also in, meaning he was bending and dropping his elbow more.

The key to his success last night was the swinging strikes on the changeup. If he can maintain these mechanics, he is disguising his release point a little better than earlier in the year. The key is to keep the motion "over the top" so that the ball is hidden behind his head as long as possible, making it tougher for righties to pick up. When the elbow is bent, the ball is coming from off his ear, and it is much easier to see (ironically, his opponent last night, Joe Saunders, has had similar issues with his changeup). Whether or not this is something he and Tomlin worked on is unknown, but he is throwing the ball slightly different than he had earlier this season. The increased velocity (89 mph avg) leads me to believe the adjustment is working.

It is still too early to tell if John Lannan is back. That was the Diamondbacks, and they tend to get themselves out a lot. He has about eight to ten starts to resurrect his season and get back into the rotation for next.

Now about that Marquis guy starting tonight...

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