The Hangover: Observations From A Condensed Game

I didn’t get a chance to catch any of yesterday’s game in real time, so last night I queued up MLB.tv’s condensed game feature instead. Here are some random observations from 16 minutes and 25 seconds of footage.

The first inning

The opening action of the condensed game is Bartolo Colon striking out Travis Jankowski on an 0-2 fastball, which leads us to two points . . .

. . . Holy cow, Bartolo Colon is almost 44 years old. The funny thing is, Colon isn’t just a novelty act. He’s led the league in walk rate for two years running, he strikes out six guys per nine, and he’s posted an ERA+ of 105 since he turned 40. Colon, in his forties, is the very definition of a league-average innings eater (no, he does not actually eat the innings).

He also does it almost exclusively with the fastball. According to Brooks Baseball, 72 of his 85 pitches yesterday were either two- or four-seam fastballs, with 10 sliders and three changeups mixed in for good measure. That’s Colon’s MO, as he throws some version of the heater 80-plus percent of the time.

This pitch to Jankowski is like the perfect two-strike fastball, off the plate outside but enticing enough to induce a halfhearted hack. It’s a purpose pitch, with the purpose of getting someone out.

. . . Travis Jankowski is struggling. Jank pulled an 0-4 on the day, with two strikeouts. The main concern with his early numbers are the strikeouts, as he’s whiffed in 32 percent of his plate appearances so far this season. Jankowski struck out 26 percent of the time last season, which was surprisingly high given his minor-league numbers—he had k’ed in just 12 percent of his PAs in Double-A and Triple-A. It’s imperative that he put the ball in play more often due to his lack of power.

On the plus side, Jankowski is walking a lot. He actually has similar plate discipline numbers to Ryan Schimpf, whom we discussed the other day. Jankowski is swinging a Schimpf-like 37 percent of the time; the only difference is that pitchers are attacking Jankowski more, feeding him strikes 55 percent of the time. He might be better off looking to be more aggressive early, jumping on hittable fastballs before getting too deep in the count.

The second inning

Schimpf hit another home run. He now has three home runs, 13 walks, and 14 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances. Ryan Schimpf is a Three True Outcomes god.

The impressive thing about this home run is that the pitch was well off the plate, outside, and Schimpf drove it out to left-center. He hit four opposite field home runs last season, so it’s not like we haven’t seen this before. It always jars you a little bit when a 5-foot-9 infielder takes one the other way, though. Launch angle, people.

The third inning

Colon is still striking out guys with perfectly located fastballs. This one is on opposing pitcher Trevor Cahill, but it still counts for something.

The next batter, Manuel Margot, took an 0-2 outside fastball to deep right-center, a nice piece of hitting. Margot’s in a 2-for-17 stretch, but whatever. These type of skids are bound to happen with a rookie, or pretty much anyone for that matter. One of the inherent difficulties in trying to write semi-daily game recaps/ramblings is getting too caught up in small sample sizes, either for good or bad.

Speaking of small sample sizes . . . from what I’ve seen out of Trevor Cahill, he looks something like 1998 Kerry Wood. That’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, but that curve doesn’t look bad. According to Brooks Baseball, Cahill gets a whiff on every other swing with his curve ball. By comparison, that’s only a few ticks behind someone like Craig Kimbrel, even in his prime. There’s something here, even if it’s ultimately a reliever.

The fifth inning

A couple of walks, a stolen base, a few wild pitches, a base hit back up the middle . . . the wheels kind of fell off for Cahill here.

The seventh inning

With Miguel Diaz pitching, Jankowski makes a nice running catch against the fence in left field. With the short fence out there in left, there will be plenty of robbed home runs in the Braves’ new digs. And, now that I bring it up, that’s a ballpark that seems hellbent on being mediocre. Probably a better use of $622 million, even if you’re into using public funds to build sports stadiums.

Hate to bag on someone in a limited viewing, but catcher Hector Sanchez really struggled blocking pitches behind the dish. The numbers at Baseball Prospectus, not surprisingly, have him as a below average blocker.

Diaz obviously struggled, with a couple of hard hit balls, the wild pitch, the balk, and then the homer allowed to Ender Inciarte to cap it off. As much as we got excited about his stuff, he’s still a dude who should be in the minors. Growing pains come with the territory; we still believe.

The eighth inning

Maybe the umpire wasn’t much of a fan of Sanchez either, because he rung him up on an 0-2 pitch that was just barely in Cobb County:

sanchez

Margot had more chances to show off his arm this game, and the results were lackluster. Just not sure he has a good arm, even by the lower standards of a center fielder. I mean, he’s not Johnny Damon, but we’ll see.

The ninth inning

Wil Myers got a hit, and Schimpf, with a rare ball in play, flied out to end it.

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