April Scouting Notes
I just wanted to jot down a few observations while I had some
time. I'm covering the Orioles homestand from Friday through
Tuesday and I haven't had much time to organize anything
significant. By the way, if you're in Baltimore and taking in a
game at Camden, stop by the pressbox and say "hi." I'm the guy
sitting just behind the Orioles' PR folks. Anyway, there are a
couple of recent developments that might be useful for fantasy baseball
I wrote earlier that I thought he had a chance to be Mike Hampton-lite
this season, but that his strikeouts probably wouldn't continue.
After seeing him pitch a couple of times, I'm not sure either is true.
First, I didn't realize how hard he is throwing. He throws a
fastball with lateral movement from 89-92 mph. He can crank it up
to 94, but it's very straight. He also throws a sweeping slider
he likes use to backdoor hitters with, but can also sweep it across the
front corner. I didn't see an effective offspeed pitch. He
wouldn't be the first starter to succeed with just two pitches, but
it's unlikely he will get a lot of wins that way. Throwing just
two pitches means he has to nibble a lot and that in turn means going
deep in counts and throwing lots of pitches. The result is that
he can only work around 5 or 6 innings which means he has to rely on
the Tiger bullpen to get him the lead. It also means he's gonna
have a fairly high number of walks.
It's a tough tightrope to walk for a full season but it has been done
Erik Bedard and Joaquin Benoit
Even though his overall numbers look pretty bad, this might be a great
time to get Erik Bedard. Here are two pitching lines from
Saturday that have a strange similarity:
ER BB K
Pitcher A 5.0
Pitcher B 3.2
What is interesting is that both pitchers threw exactly the same
number of strikes through 88 pitches - 51. The difference was
that Pitcher A (Pat Hentgen), who ended up throwing 5 more pitches
before being pulled, nibbled throughout his stay in the game and when
he made a mistake it got hammered. When Pitcher B (Bedard)
pitched aggressively, he got hitters out, throwing a no-hitter through
3 innings with 4 strikeouts. But when he tried to be too fine
with his pitches, he ended up missing the strikezone and walking
hitters. Looking at his pitch-by-pitch, twice he had hitters down
0-2, but tried so hard to make the perfect pitch that he ended up
walking the guy 5 pitches later. And only one of the hits he
surrendered was hit hard (the fourth-inning single by Delgado).
The other two were half-hearted swings that made contact and dumped the
ball out of reach of an infielder.
What was clear watching the game is that he has the talent to be a very
good pitcher. He throws a fastball that runs up to 93-mph with
late life, a nice change-up and a pitch that has a large break like a
curve, but the velocity and lateral movement of a slider. Almost
40% of all strikes thrown in the majors are foul balls, but the Blue
Jays were only able to foul off 27% of Bedard's offerings. They
made no contact at all with almost half the strikes he threw
(49%). Anyone who has the ability to either fool hitters and/or
make them miss that much has a strong chance to be a good pitcher.
Joaquin Benoit is the same way. He showed exactly how good he can
be Saturday against a decent Mariner's offense, pitching 6 innings,
allowing 5 hits, one walk, no runs and striking out five. Once
these two start believing their stuff is consistently good enough to
get major league hitters out and stop trying to be too fine with their
location, they are going to become very good pitchers in a hurry.
The only question is when.
The Expos are having terrible trouble scoring runs, a problem made
worse by Nick Johnson's complete inability to stay healthy for more
than a month at a time. The Expos have a solution in AAA: Val
Pascucci has similar defensive skills in the outfield as Juan Rivera -
decent ball-catcher, strong arm - and is off to a strong start at the
plate in Edmonton, hitting .317 with 4 homers and 17 RBI already.
He's not completely averse to taking a walk - 7 so far this year and
averaged 97 a season the last two years - so there's a good chance that
once they call him up, he'll contribute enough to stay. He's
average 21 homers a season the last 3 years, so it would not be an
upset if he became the everyday right fielder by the end of May.
The Blue Jays' rotation is desperate for some quality starts and Justin
Miller may be just the tonic they need. He's had three starts in
Syracuse so far, striking out 21 hitters in 16.2 innings. His ERA
was 2.16 and dating back to 2002, he's allowed just 14 homers in 169
innings, and that includes 102 innings in the majors. His
fastball reaches 96 mph and he features both a sinker and a splitter so
groundballs are his specialty. If he has come up with an offspeed
pitch, he won't have too much trouble becoming Toronto's second best