Last week, it sounded like I was going to jump off a bridge following Kei Igawa’s unimpressive start. A few commenters talked me off the ledge, but I remain skeptical of his ability to hold down even a back of the rotation job in the majors.
Furthering my obsession with Igawa, I decided to detail his outing last night. I was going to go pitch-by-pitch and describe what I thought of each, but that seems a little too overboard. Maybe I’ll do that for a regular season game once, but not for a Spring Training start.
Keep in mind that he’s kept the ball up in the zone all spring, which is going to turn into an enormous problem sooner or later (and likely sooner). Let’s see if he made any adjustments this time around.
Igawa faced Phillie’s one through four batters in this inning, allowing a leadoff single to Victorino (grounder that just found the hole). Both pitches out of the zone were to the No. 3 hitter, Wes Helms, and were on 0-2 and 1-2 counts (breaking ball and changeup, respectively), so they’re forgivable. After a called strike and a swinging strike, Ryan Howard made some solid contact, but right at Johnny Damon to end the inning. Igawa did a good job of keeping the ball low, and found the strike zone for the most part.
After an impressive first inning, Igawa returned to being the pitcher he was in the first couple of ST games. After giving up a single to Pat Burrell (on a pitch down in the zone, after missing down on the first pitch), he walked Jason Werth on five pitches, missing high twice (but also low twice). Why he wasn’t throwing strikes to Jason Werth I’ll never understand.
Igawa started off another terrible hitter, Rod Barajas, with two straight balls, missing outside and high, respectively. He came back nicely from 2-0, though, to retire Barajas, but immediately went 2-0 on Abraham Nunez. Luck prevailed, though, as Werth tripped on the basepaths while scurrying back to first on a Nunez pop up. Double play. Wild inning over.
What I really didn’t get was why he was missing to terrible hitters, but was throwing strikes to the top of the order, Burrell included.
In all fairness, this no doubt should have been a six-pitch inning for Igawa, all of which would have been strikes, but Jeter muffed a grounder that was right to him. That brought up Wes Helms, who walked on four pitches (though the first one looked close). He missed high once, but that looked to be one that got away from him. He missed low and outside to Howard twice before he chased another low pitch on 2-1 and grounded out to Giambi to end the inning.
All I saw was him go 2-0 to Werth before MLB.tv crapped out on me. Even though I didn’t see how the at bat ended, I once again wonder why the hell he can throw strikes to the top of the order, but seemingly refuses to hit the zone for the weak hitters.
From what I’ve seen so far, he looks like he’s making adjustments. The biggest thing for me is that he didn’t miss high very much, and when he did, it was mostly in a wild manner (meaning he might not have been looking to throw high). The only really hard hit ball was Howard’s first AB, which is also reassuring. His luck evened out (Werth tripping to force a double play and Jeter’s error). His falling behind the bottom of the order is still perplexing.
I’ll post an update if I ever get the damn video to load past Werth’s AB.