Yesterday we saw a different Aaron Sanchez from the one we’ve seen pitch this year. He set a season high in strikeouts, with 8 in 6 innings. His last start he had just 2 strikeouts in 6 innings.
And he wasn’t getting ground balls. He had 7 ground balls, while he had 15 in his last start.
He was throwing to the top of the strike zone, when normally he pounds the bottom of the zone.
John Lott, in the Athletic, had this quote:
Four-seam fastballs up in the zone? You don’t do that a lot, right?
“I don’t,” Sanchez said. “But you see J.A. the night before punch out 10, (including Andrew) Benintendi four times above the belt. I think a lot of his punch-outs last night were above the belt.”
It’s pretty smart to watch worked the day before and copy it. Of course, it only works if you have the skill to be able to do it.
We’ve been told that pitchers are trying to pitch higher in the strike zone because of the emphasis on ‘launch angle’. It’s a change from everything we’ve heard before. Everyone wanted the pitchers to stay in the bottom of the zone. “Pound Down” was a phrase we heard a lot, maybe we’ll hear less of it in the future.
I heard Kevin Barker, on the radio broadcast, complain that ‘Sanchez doesn’t know what type of pitcher he wants to be’, asking ‘does he want to be a ground ball pitcher or does he want to be a strikeout pitcher’. Personally, I don’t care. I want him to be a good pitcher who goes with what is working that time. If the high strikes are working, terrific. If getting the ground balls is working, equally terrific.
I kind of like the idea that he’s a ground ball pitch who can go for the strikeout when he needs one.
Barker also complained that his changeup was too hard, saying he was throwing it around 90 MPH. It seemed to work, so I’m not going to get too worried about it.
He does seem to get in trouble because his pitches just move too much sometimes. Yesterday he had a bad fifth inning, starting the inning with a walk and a hit batter. It just seemed like he had no idea where the pitches were going to go. A double scored one and then a walk loaded the bases, but he got one of his ground ball double plays to get out of the inning with just one run scoring.
On the flip of that, I don’t think it is a bad thing to be a little wild every once in a while. There is a bit in Bull Durham where Crash Davis (the catcher) tells pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh to hit the mascot...oh I can just show you...
I did think that, yesterday after the second hit batter, Red Sox hitters seemed to be a little concerned to be standing in the batters box. I don’t think he should be hitting guys, but being effectively wild, now and then, must get into batters heads.
Aaron is my favorite starter to watch. It seems like you could get to see something special each start. Of course, he’s also the starter that I worry about the most. I’m sure we’ve all be watching to see if he looks at his hand at all.
Gibby pulled him at 96 pitches yesterday and that seems about where Gibby wants to take him out of games. He’s pitched 89, 98, 98, 99 and 96 pitches in his five starts. Considering his injury history, I’m ok with being a little careful with him.
I wish Aaron was as good in OOTP baseball as he is in real life. The game really doesn’t like him.