Mo back to pumping his regular old fastball

Is Melky's hot start for real?
Damon named AL Player of the Week

One of the early-season concerns regarding Mariano Rivera was his reduced velocity. Coming off shoulder surgery, this was not a good sign. Sure, Mo needed to build arm strength and get used to the day to day activities of a relief pitcher, but at what point does the fanbase start to worry?

If anyone had any concerns, yesterday should have alleviated them. Gone were the 89-90 mph fastballs we saw in April and early May. In their stead were 92-93 mph versions, the ones we’ve grown used to seeing over the years. Only one pitch registered below 92 mph (91 mph), and two pitches hit 94 mph. In other words, as in many seasons past, the reports of Mo’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Here’s the leadoff batter from Mo’s appearance Thursday night vs. the leadoff batter yesterday:

So things seem to be back in order. At the end of last year, when he was saving Mike Mussina’s 20th win, Mo was hitting 94-95, but the 2 mph difference isn’t really a concern now. Nevermind that after a few more appearances he could be hitting that again. But when you have command like Mo, you can succeed even if you’re pitching 89-91.

Part of the reason people grew concerned with Mo this year isn’t only because of his shoulder surgery. Since 2004 or 2005 we’ve had an annual Mo scare, where he pitches poorly for a stretch, usually early on, and people wonder if this is finally the year where he becomes human. That did not happen last year. He had a poor stretch, but it was only about two games, and those were easy to overlook considering his dominance before and after. This amplified things a bit this year, especially because two of his blown saves came against division rivals. It looks like things are reverting to normal, which is not good news for the rest of the league.

Is Melky's hot start for real?
Damon named AL Player of the Week
  • http://statspeak.net dan

    No mention of Papelbon and his 1.43 WHIP and 5.14 BB/9? I figured you had to take a shot at the red sox somewhere in here to get back at Surviving Grady from this morning.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Joe was too busy pumping his fist over completing this post.

  • The Oracle

    Gameday’s Pitch f/x is a useful tool for analyzing pitchers, but I fear you may be leaning on it too much with posts such as this and others involving pitch fx charts. It is a flawed system that still needs some refining before the data it provides can be used with confidence. Radar readings vary and the pitch types are often flat out wrong.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      We know it’s not The Gospel, but it gives us a tool for analysis. Anyone reading should be aware of the limitations of pitch f/x.

      But did you know that it relies on more than one radar reading? It’s not just some guy with a gun punching numbers into a computer.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Here is a great article on what the Pitch f/x system is.

        • The Oracle

          Thanks for the response. I don’t mean to discredit the Pitch f/x system, which probably will continue to become more accurate and detailed. With all of the analysis done using Pitch f/x across the baseball blog community, I just think it needs to be acknowledged that there are errors within the data that may skew results.

      • whozat

        I _think_ this guy is referring to the fact that calibrations across parks are not necessarily the same. At least, this is how it was with Questec. The system at Camden Yards might consistently read high on the radar while the Yankee Stadium system might read low. Over the course of an entire season, you could do cross comparisons to figure out what adjustments to make to bring readings from different parks into line.

        This probably applies to the new Pitch FX systems too, but I don’t know how much. Suffice to say, I’d feel more confident in directly comparing the numbers if they were all from the same set of gear in the same stadium, but this still feels like a good indicator. We could look at the other pitchers’ numbers in the Orioles series to see if they consistently read 2 MPH high…

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          Judging from Joba’s velocities on Tuesday vs. Sunday, I’d say that is not the case.

          • whozat

            Then I’d feel pretty confident in these pitch f/x velo readings.

  • A.D.

    Had some damn nice movement on those pitches yesterday to go along with the velocity

    • Joe R

      Yeah. I thought maybe it was just me but it seems his cutter has had a very good amount of movement on it lately.

      • Jake H

        His cutter was moving a ton. I think it was moving in on lefties more then he wanted actually.

        • A.D.

          That and the umps strikezone was effectively shifted over, he didn’t call the true strike in on lefties, but did call strikes off the plate away.

  • Nady Nation

    Mo bless Mo.

  • Cozimoto

    All we need now, is a long win streak. Mo willing I think we’re due.

  • JP

    I still think he should bring his spring training changeup into the regular season. As silly as this sounds, he could probably learn a really good changeup from Edwar – Edwar may not be a good pitcher, but he has a very good changeup.

    Isn’t Mo at the stage of his career where there’s no shame in making adjustments.

    See, I disagree that he can be successful with 89-91 “and command.” No, watching baseball all these years it seems there is a definite difference between 89-91 and 91-94. If Mo is consistently at 89-91, and he throws basically every pitch at that speed, good hitters catch up with him. Boston sees him so many times per year, that I don’t think you can count on Mo in the playoffs against Boston unless he has his normal velocity.

    Unless, that is, he has a changeup he can command.

    • UWS

      I may be wrong on this, but didn’t Mo have a very good changeup back in his starter days? I seem to recall reading somewhere that he shelved it when he became a reliever and more so when he started throwing that cutter (something about arm action?).

      • A.D.

        The nature of gripping one pitch can be difficult to grip another and stay consistent with both pitches, this may be true of the change – cutter relationship, but I don’t know for sure

        • whozat

          I’ve heard that Mo feels that way, that it’s hard to remain consistent with the cutter and change at the same time. Whether it’s a grip thing or a wrist action thing or what I dunno, but I’ve heard YES announcers say that before.

  • Shdwrptr

    I’m still skeptical. I saw one good outing from him right before he gave up those 2 solo HR’s to the Rays. I won’t be satisfied till I see at least 2 more good outings in a row.

    • Colombo

      Really? There’s no need to be skeptical at all. As joe stated, Mo goes through one of these runs every year. To be skeptical of him over a few bad outings is even more alarmist than most of the other Yankee fans out there. What happens if he has two more rough games in a row? Will you be calling for Joba to replace him as closer?

      (Please note the tone of that statement. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a B-Jobber)

      • Shdwrptr

        I would never advocate Joba as anything other than a starter (but that’s off-topic) I was not saying that I think Mo is going to need to retire soon, I meant that I’m not ready to believe that he’s back to being great Mo after one good outing.

        • Mike HC

          The guy has an entire career of being great, and a couple of bad outings are now your base for evaluating Mo. Mo needs to show you more based on his past couple of shaking outings? Don’t you think your logic should be opposite? That it would take far more than one or two bad outings for you to believe Mo was anything but great?

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

    Is there any closer out there now that has a realistic shot at Mo’s longevity?

    • steve (different one)

      Trevor Hoffman.

      • jsbrendog

        hoffman started saving games 3 or 4 yrs before mo. so i d say he has done it, not that he has a shot.

        its amazing hes got the save record.

        17 yrs. one with 0, one with 2, and one with 3. but then one of 20, 4 between 30-39, 8 between 40-49 and 1 over 50.

        consistency. joe morgan would be proud.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Joe Nathan. Although he’s probably older than you were thinking, Rebecca.

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

        I’m 23 years old. Anyone not named Melvin Crousett or Michael Inoa is old to me.

        • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

          Melvin is older than you might have thought as he was proof-reading the magna charta.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Melvin’s birthdays are not tracked by Jupiter’s rotation around the sun, not Earth’s.

            • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

              Melvin was called “Jupiter” in ancient Rome.

    • Jake H

      I don’t think so. His delivery is the key to him being successful for so long.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Soria. That guy is downright amazing. Of course the recent shoulder issue is a red flag.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ledavidisrael ledavidisrael

    In MO we trust.

    Yes’s radar gun said 81 on a couple of them. Had me thinking dude was starting to show a changeup.

    Much happier to see dude just pumpin the heatt