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  1. but if Gonzalez can continue to refine himself the way that he did in 2012, including reducing free passes, this success ought to be sustainable going forward

    I agree that his success ought to be sustainable going forward. However, I don’t really know if moving to the NL counts as “refining himself.”

    Comment by Bip — November 20, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  2. Does changing the way he uses his pitches count as “refining himself”? Or did you not read that far?

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — November 20, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  3. But in all seriousness, I wonder if a curveball is the type of pitch that works better as a sort of finisher and not really as a secondary go-to pitch. Here’s what I mean. Both a changeup and a slider seem to have success partially by their resemblance to a fastball. We know a change has to be slower than the fastball so the batter will have his timing disrupted and hopefully swing in front and over the pitch. A curveball, on the other hand, has a movement diametrically opposed to that of a fastball. Whereas most changeups have a bit of rise, and sliders tend to be neutral in terms of vertical movement (src: PitchFX data) a curveball can have as much as 10 inches of drop. Gio’s, in particular, averaged 7.9 inches of drop this season, which is significantly more than average. As such, perhaps a curveball isn’t supposed to trick the batter into seeing a fastball but rather confuse the batter with a pitch that moves so differently from the fastball that the batter doesn’t know where it is going to end up. This could cause the pitch to become less effective with greater frequency, since the batter will get a sense of the movement of the pitch and possibly be able to square it up. It will also probably jar his timing more if it comes less often and he gets more used to seeing fastballs.

    Final note: it’s kind of funny that the fangraphs community is the one wondering why the league leader in wins isn’t getting more Cy Young attention. Of course, being the FIP leader as well has something to do with that.

    Comment by Bip — November 20, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  4. I was making a joke at the expense of NL hitters. See next comment.

    Comment by Bip — November 20, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  5. My apologies, I thought you were one of those trolls we occasionally must club around here.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — November 20, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  6. The reason I think he did not get much CY love is because of his number of innings.

    Comment by binqasim — November 20, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  7. Thing is, his number of innings was partly due to Davey’s managing style, which is not to let his starters go deep into games, rather, pulling them for pinch-hitters A LOT. Part of that is because in close games, Davey goes for the offens, and partly to prevent fatigue, knowing that the team is in contention (did not clinch the Division until Oct. 1). Gio did have a complete game when the bullpen was tired, IOW, he was called up on it for that occasion. Also, Gio did not make his last scheduled start, which would have put his innings over 200. He didn’t make that start because it was not clear what the postseason schedule would be, and Davey wanted to rest him.

    Comment by NatsLady — November 20, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  8. Particularly in September Davey was cautious about his starters. The bullpen was completely healthy and two very good arms came up in September callups (Zach Duke and Christian Garcia). So while Dickey could pile up innings basically at will, Gio’s innings were limited. (I don’t know how Kershaw compares in September innings.)

    Comment by NatsLady — November 20, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  9. So, in a sense, though it is counterintuitive, Gio got penalized for being on a contending team, if in fact the innings was a consideration.

    Comment by NatsLady — November 20, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  10. Kershaw actually missed a start in Sep due to a hip issue and his following start was shorted because he was rusty coming off the long rest. He was on pace to lead the NL in innings as well.

    Comment by Bip — November 20, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  11. He also averaged 16.04 pitches per inning vs. Kershaw’s 15.23 and Dickey’s 14.38.

    Comment by Bip — November 20, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  12. Mattingly, like Johnson, has a quick hook and pinch hits for his pitchers early in the game. However, it wouldn’t be fair to claim this as a disadvantage for Kershaw, since I’ve noticed – and Mattingly has admitted – that Kershaw has earned special treatment. Basically his status as ace of the team means he gets more leeway than the other starters.

    Comment by Bip — November 20, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

  13. Bip is correct. It’s not a matter of Gio being pulled early – it’s a matter of him hitting 100 pitches earlier than other CY Young pitchers. He only threw about 2 fewer pitches per game than Dickey, yet Dickey averaged almost a full inning more than Gio. That’s what happens when you have trouble throwing strikes.

    Gio pitched 199.1 innings in 32 starts in 2012. As a reference, he also had 32 starts in 2011 and he threw 202 innings. He had 33 starts in 2010 and threw 200.2 innings. Not much of a difference over the last three years.

    This isn’t to take anything away from him as a pitcher – he had a great year – but there’s a reason people didn’t vote for him ahead of Dickey.

    Comment by vivalajeter — November 20, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  14. Correct, Gio did not pitch efficiently on many occasions, a source of frustration for Davey and McCatty. Davey mentioned it in several press conferences. He also got himself in trouble (and got out of it) several times, which contributed to his not seeming to have “ace-like” dominance. Hopefully those traits will improve with maturity.

    Comment by NatsLady — November 20, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  15. That second curve ball was just straight filthy. I love being able to watch him pitch all season long!

    Comment by stuck in a slump — November 20, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  16. Have you seen Randy Wolf’s curve? It has 26 inches of drop and 18.8 inches of glove-side run. And, he only throws it around 45 mph. And his fastball is around 75, for a 30 mph difference.

    Comment by SSS — November 20, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  17. I heard the news of the trade on the way home from work and knew I would be in disagreement on the excellent federal baseball website. I loved it, as it showed the Nats as contenders since that is what contenders do … Go for potentially big pieces in exchange for a number of low celinged players and hope and prayer upside guys. Cole is the latter, and may be great and may suck, but Peacock was exposed, Norris was exposed as an MLB quality catcher, and Milone is only good in spacious Oakland. In return they got a guy trending towards top of the rotation while still young. What a trade when they were looking at four years of prime contention!

    Comment by will h — November 20, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

  18. I do like gifs.

    Comment by Brian — November 21, 2012 @ 5:22 am

  19. I love gifs.

    Comment by Dave — November 21, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  20. I agree with your thinking, but the count and hitter will dictate the pitch selection much more than the percentage. He is in advantage counts in all of the the GIFs above allowing him to pitch outside of the zone inducing more chase. With less vertical movement SL, CHG and FB are easier for a hitter predict making them less defensive and less likely to chase.

    Comment by Leatherman — November 21, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  21. Those last two curves together should serve as the definition for “back foot breaking ball” in the baseball dictionary.

    Comment by Bane — November 22, 2012 @ 12:50 am

  22. I love girls, but whatever floats your boat.

    Comment by kiss my GO NATS — November 25, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  23. examining gio: steroids improve baseball

    Comment by bob — January 29, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

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