Agreed. With Dempster, it was never his idea to go back to starting, rather Lou Piniella and Larry Rothschild believed that Dempster and his wide array of pitches would be put to better use starting. If in fact Heilman’s repertoire is as limited you say it is, then your conclusion is more than reasonable.
The funny thing is that a lot Mets fans think Aaron Heilman is a terrible pitcher, one of the worst relievers, just because of this one year. Over at metsblog, I see people calling him the worst reliever in baseball. I sure hope Omar Minaya does not feel that way, he can still be a good reliever if he drops that slider. Or better yet, he improves his slider.
I believe some of the pitch f/x data suggests that the change-up was less effective than in the past, and that some of the change-ups had less movement. It just looks as though he left a lot of them up over the middle of the plate. But I’m skeptical about whether they were really change-ups, or were hanging sliders that didn’t break. I’m not sure pitch f/x would know the difference.
Comment by acerimusdux — November 25, 2008 @ 11:45 pm
This is anecdotal, but I watched a large % of Mets games this year, and Heilman generally was not burned too often by the slider. I feel hitters weren’t expecting it, so they didn’t swing very often due to surprise, whether in the strike zone or not. His changeup was the #1 culprit for his problems with the long ball and line drives.
The slider may have hurt his BB/9 though. You’re right, it would take more analysis to confirm.
It should first be noted that Heilman pitched this season with a knee problem which was believed to have had an effect on his delivery and most likely his control.
Secondly, Heilman didn’t start incorporating his slider until Rick Peterson’s dismissal as pitching coach. Warthen suggested that he throw his slider to get hitters off of his fastball/change up combination which hurt him early on.
Lastly, the Mets do not see him as a starter because of he pitches three-quarters with a “high-end elbow” delivery, making him an injury risk. Though a die-hard Mets fan, I’m quite cynical of the organization’s evaluation.
Comment by Will Davidian — November 29, 2008 @ 11:16 pm