When Andrew Cashner came to the Padres in a January 2012 trade that sent first baseman Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs, fans in San Diego were not amused. Rizzo, part of the haul for Adrián González, posted X-rated numbers in the hitters paradise known as Tucson and gave folks hope for a future brighter than anything Brad Hawpe or Jorge Cantú had to offer.

Rizzo struggled in his first big-league stint, facing better pitching in an unforgiving ballpark. The talent was obvious, as were the holes. People dreamed of vintage Ryan Howard rather than the more realistic Adam LaRoche.

At the time, I believed the Padres could get more than “just a reliever” for Rizzo. My belief may or may not have had any basis in reality. Same with my understanding of Cashner. When I saw him in spring training. I nearly did a quadruple take. Read More…

Yesterday I examined Chase Headley’s struggles this season. We discovered that Chase was swinging and missing at more pitches but that he wasn’t swinging at the first pitch with anymore frequency (but when he did the results were terrible). We also learned that pitchers appear to have adjusted to Chase in 2013. He’s seeing a lot more change-ups and cutters.

This information sets the stage for last night when the Padres launched a fantastic come-back during the 7th inning. Chase Headley led-off the inning and was hit by a pitch from Rob Scahill. Chase took the first pitch for a ball and was hit with pitch #2.

Then the progression went as follows: HR (Quentin), HR (Gyorko), 2B (Blanks), 1B (Maybin), pitching change.

Josh Outman entered the game yielded the following: BB (Grandal), F3 (Guzman), BB (Denorfia), 1B (Cabrera), and then Chase Headley stepped to the plate (batting right handed) for his second AB of the inning.

Outman was all over the place, throwing not only a lot of balls, but a lot of ball high out of the strike zone. Chase should have been extremely patient in this AB, based on Outman’s previous 4 batters. Chase struck out after seeing 5 pitches.

Let’s look at the Pitch F/X data from Brooks Baseball to see the location and types (speed) of pitches . . .

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Luke Gregerson owns one of the best sliders in baseball, and when it’s working, he is tough to beat. The pitch that brought him to San Diego in March 2009 has made him an integral part of the Padres bullpen ever since.

Kevin Towers acquired Gregerson from the Cardinals as the player to be named later in the trade that sent Khalil Greene to St. Louis. Towers did so thanks in large part to former Padres outfielder John Vander Wal:

Then Vander Wal uttered the words Towers won’t soon forget, words that right then and there essentially sold the then-Padres general manager on relief pitcher Luke Gregerson and his devastating slider.

“He said it disappears,” Towers said.

Gregerson, a former 28th-round draft pick, promptly made the unexpected jump from Double-A and enjoyed a strong rookie campaign. He was even better as a sophomore, turning opposing batters into Don Drysdale or Liván Hernández–excellent hitting pitchers, but not consistent threats. Read More…