A Phillies' Fan Analyzes Pedro's Stuff


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↵First of all, let me say that as a lifetime Phillies's fan, and also as a former long-time New Yorker who took more than a passing interest in the Joe Torre Yankees, rooting for Pedro Martinez is straight-up bizarro-world material. I mean, there's Pedro on the mound with his trademark half-sidearm whiplash of a delivery and cocky, heavy-lidded glare, and there's me watching and, like, not hoping he suddenly gets struck by lightning. Cats laying down with dogs, innit? Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart French kissing.
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↵But enough of that. I missed most of the game last night due to insane traffic in San Francisco that I later figured out was due to the fact that I was driving right past AT&T Park on the 101. I forgot the Giants had an afternoon game. I paid dearly for that oversight.
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↵Luckily, I'd had the foresight to TiVo the Cubs/Phils, and so I watched it when I got home. My assessment of Pedro's outing fits the general tenor of assessments – I thought he was so-so (and I want to go round up a bunch of Philly mooks with stickball bats and rampage through Chicago until we find Mr. I Throw Beers on Baseball Players to Impress My Friends and strangle his ass with those punkass wristbands).
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↵You can't help as a Phils' fan but be excited by the fact that Pedro hit 93 on the gun, and regularly cracked the 90 mark. On the flip-side, he had next to no movement on his fastball and was spotting that pitch terribly. Pedro got hit hard last night with the kind of dead-eye cannon-shot line drives that generally indicate that major-league hitters are completely locked in. Most of the shots that were really smoked came off fastballs. You combine that with the fact that this was Pedro's first game back and he was clearly amped to the gills, and you have to wonder just how long he's going to be dwelling in the 90's with that heat, heat that even when it's in the 90's doesn't seem like it's all that difficult for anyone to hit.
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↵That said, he still has quite an impressive storehouse of junk. His cutter was falling off the planet last night, and he was throwing it for strikes. Usually when he's doing that, even when he's topping out at 87 with the fastball, he's still going to give you innings without getting too hurt.
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↵The other thing that Phils' fans rooting for Pedro can take heart from is that a lot of his problems last night came with runners on base. He's been pretty up front about the fact that pitching from the stretch has been messing with his mind, and that's obviously a problem, but look... this is Pedro Martinez here. The guy is not going to suffer from that particular psychological glitch for long. He's been pitching from the stretch for quite some time now – eventually it will start to feel natural to him again.
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↵The stat that I most like on Pedro's outing last night was the five K's. They were classic Pedro strikeouts, setting up the heat with the junk or vice versa. The one strikeout in particular that led me to think, “maybe Pedro is going to be a force this year,” was when he nailed Soriano on this change-up down and in that Soriano flailed at uselessly like a little leaguer who's never had the string pulled on him in his life. He was fooled by the velocity, he was fooled by the location, he was flat-out fooled. Now, Soriano will be striking out up there, but still, when you're taking him to school that hard, you're not that far away from your A-game.
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↵It's ironic that it's Jamie Moyer that Pedro is replacing in the rotation, because if he survives (and stays healthy, big if) he's eventually going to be a Moyeresque cog in the wheel, a junk-baller with guile who depends upon his craftiness and his location. The craftiness was there last night, and the location was too, but only sometimes. I sort of wondered whether Pedro wasn't suffering from Pedro flashbacks a little bit, feeling the adrenaline flowing and trying to throw the heat right past people. If he was, he needs to immediately come to grips with the fact that that ain't gonna happen.
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↵Then again, he was missing his spots all night, plain and simple. He got behind a lot of hitters in the counts, and he walked Sean Marshall, for Pete's sake. Frickin' Pedro doesn't walk pitchers.
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↵In conclusion, I'd say his outing last night answered one major question but left us with many more. Is he worth this Phillies' experiment and does he at least have the potential to be a more formidable presence in the rotation than Moyer? Absolutely. But will he be able to find the pinpoint location that he needs to be effective? And will he get over his problems in the stretch before it bites him in the ass? Because if he doesn't do both of those things soon, I'm telling you - the way the ball was leaping off the Cubs' bats last night indicates to me that he has some very long outings in his future.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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