I figured this would be a decent topic today, since the winter leagues haven’t started and there isn’t much else going on. I’m sure many of you watched Happ’s start last night. I did as well, and here are a few thoughts I had while observing…
* His velocity is still consistently in the high 80′s. Last year and the year before there were reports of him hitting 91-94, but according to MLB Gameday, which is the most accurate reading you’ll find, more accurate than the TV guns, he was 87-89 the entire night. What makes that seem faster is the way he hides the ball behind his back, and the fact that he’s very tall and lanky, meaning the ball gets on the hitter quicker because it’s released closer to home plate. This should also be a lesson, don’t always believe the velocity numbers you hear from scouts, they have a reason to embellish at times.
* Happ leaned very heavily on his fastball and changeup. By my quick count, this was his breakdown
Fastball: 57 (61.3%)
Change: 26 (28.0%)
Slider: 9 (9.7%)
Curve: 1 (0.01%)
You can argue over whether he throws a slider or a curve, its kind of a tweener pitch, so just make that 10 total, which would be 10.8%. He clearly was leaning heavily on his fastball and changeup, which seems like the smart thing to do. His one big mistake came on the slider, which Kelly Johnson deposited into the seats in RF. This winter and in spring training, tightening the break on his slider/curve should be his #1 priority.
* If he is a two pitch pitcher, he’s still better than the 1 pitch pitcher he replaced in the rotation. He needs to refine his location a bit, but last night he kept the ball down when he had to. The book on him will get out, and he’ll need to do a good job of mixing his pitches. If he can tighten the break on his slider, I see no reason why he can’t win a rotation spot next season.
What were your thoughts?