LA Angels News

LA Angels Series Preview: Limping Yankees stumble into Anaheim

By Ryan Falla
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Catcher Joe Hudson #44 and closing pitcher Ty Buttrey #31 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrate with a high-five after the MLB game at Angel Stadium on September 11, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Ranger 1-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Catcher Joe Hudson #44 and closing pitcher Ty Buttrey #31 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrate with a high-five after the MLB game at Angel Stadium on September 11, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Ranger 1-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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Pitching will prevail

Just like we talked about with Ausmus allowing the hitters space to improve, it is the same with the starting rotation. You may not think so, but Chris Stratton is extremely talented and has great potential to come through for the team in the longer run. His problem has been getting hurt big time in single innings.

Twice he’s given up four runs in a single inning against the Mariners, but even after that big inning he settles into a more palatable form. The thing with Stratton is his excellence in spin rates, but success goes father than spin-rate. A combination of spin-rate and effectiveness is key here because the game of baseball is moving past velocity being king.

Yes, it’s true; velocity is not going to be the undisputed king in baseball for much longer. That’s not to say that velocity won’t always be a huge factor in success, but at the same time it’s getting to a point where everyone is pushing to throw in the high 90’s, and once everyone is throwing in the same realm of velocity what is going to be the factor that makes pitchers special in a world of hard throwers?

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Spin-rate and effectiveness. By effectiveness I don’t just mean “being good”,  there is a whole plethora of requirements to classify oneself as an effective pitcher. Effectiveness comes in attacking the zone, staying away from chomping at the black unless you has a favorable 2 strike count and switching up you pitches not just in a single at-bat, but across every at-bat.

You don’t want to be a one or two-dimensional pitcher who pitches to the lineup the same couple of ways, that’s the easiest way to get figured out and really see damage done to your own team.

Stratton has elite spin rate and all that needs to come is an understanding of how to be more effective. The little improvements need to be given time to grow into something tangible and there is a great chance Stratton can improve into something more than just a serviceable starter. He can actually be a good pitcher.

Just like traditional baseball it’s all about how hard your ball breaks, how well you fool hitters into biting at your hard breaks and how often you leave them guessing at the plate. If you can leave the hitter unsure at the plate then he’s all your to eat up and with Stratton’s elite spin rate he can shred apart unsure hitters. The only issue is his inability to make hitters unsure of themselves, but that is something that can be learned and practiced.

One factor that could help Stratton big time in the long run is having the opener start games for him. Not only does this take pressure off Stratton to start the game off on the right note, it most importantly offers different looks to hitters. In the modern age of baseball pitching multiple times through a lineup has become a huge focus on managing pitching staffs.

The bias goes to hitters as they become more familiar with the starting pitcher, but with an opener like Hansel Robles giving his looks for two innings and then a starter (Stratton or Barria) coming in to offer different looks is a strategy that can keep hitters unsure at the plate all day.

No strategy is perfect and you can’t guarantee it will work 100% of the time, yet when you have a strong strategy it should be implemented time and time again without regards to the lone failures.  It’s not an exercise in insanity, it’s confidence that the planned strategy will prevail in the long run.

We already saw the Angels find success in the opener with Hansel Robles leading into Jaime Barria against the Mariners. More open-mindedness in employing the opener can help pitchers like Stratton work through lineups with more effectiveness.

As I said before, it is the little improvements that, over time, turn into massive success. The opener is another smaller improvement leading into success. We as Angel fans just need to sit back, observe the little improvements building into greater successes, and trust the process.

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