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Anmeldedatum: 02.07.2018
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A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

HITTING BRAVES

Among the many things the Atlanta Braves have done right on their way to leading the National League East this season Fred Warner Color Rush Jersey , they’ve been getting hits. The Braves began their series against fellow division leader Milwaukee on Thursday night with three of the top four hits leaders in the NL, with outfielder Nick Markakis (108) leading the way and infielder Ozzie Albies (102) and Freddie Freeman (101) close behind in third and fourth, respectively. It’s the first time in franchise history the team has had three players reach 100 hits prior to the All-Star game, and the Braves will continue their series when Mike Foltynewicz and Freddy Peralta face off.

GOING GRAY

In a season full of highlights for the New York Yankees, right-hander Sonny Gray has been one of the team’s biggest disappointments in his first full season with club. Gray will try and rebound from his worst start of the season when the Yankees begin a weekend series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. After being acquired from Oakland last season, Gray is 5-6 with 5.44 ERA this season and is coming off an 11-0 loss to Boston last weekend in which he allowed six runs in only 2 1/3 innings.

CHICAGO SEEING RED

Two weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs suffered through an embarrassing four-game sweep in Cincinnati – beginning a stretch of six losses in seven games. Chicago has won six straight games since that rough patch, and has the opportunity to make amends with the Reds when the two teams begin a weekend series at Wrigley Field. Mike Montgomery (3-2) starts for Chicago, and Tyler Mahle (6-6) takes the mound for Cincinnati.

ACE OF NEW YORK

Despite the struggles of the New York Mets for much of the season, Jacob deGrom has been one of the NL’s most dominant starters. The right-hander leads the league with his 1.84 ERA and will be back at work when he takes the mound against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. He has allowed three runs in each of his last two starts, the first time he’s allowed three or more runs in back-to-back games since April.

SUMMER KING

Seattle Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-6) put together his best full month of the season in June, posting a 3.71 ERA in six starts and lowering his overall ERA from 5.83 to 5.11 in the process. The 2010 Cy Young award winner will try and extend his improved performance into July when he starts in an interleague game against the visiting Colorado Rockies.



Over five seasons as ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole threw one of the game’s hardest, heaviest fastballs, and he threw it often. The pitch helped him make millions of dollars. It put him in contention for major awards. Hitters swung through it again and again, and Cole seemed content not to mess with a good thing.

But when Cole was traded to the Houston Astros this offseason, a funny thing happened. He became more frugal with his fastball and ended up more overpowering than ever.

Cole has joined some of the game’s best pitchers – including Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw – in benefiting from a puzzling baseball paradox: In an era when pitchers are throwing harder than ever, they’re maximizing success by using fewer fastballs.

Pitchers – even ones with blazing fastballs like Luis Severino and Chris Archer – are using more offspeed than ever recorded, and while many aces think the downturn is a trend, some believe baseball could be entering a new age dominated not by 100 mph heaters, but by a steady stream of breaking balls and changeups.

So why is the hardest-throwing generation of pitchers ever going the way of the junk-baller?

Depends who you ask, but one culprit stands out to Cole Tarvarius Moore Color Rush Jersey , Kluber and Kershaw: baseball’s swing-changing batters.

”You can call it launch angle, or you can call it the upper cuts,” Cole said. ”There are a lot of swings that are dictating breaking balls.”

Cole’s move away from a fastball-first approach is striking given the reputation of his hardest pitch. He topped out at 99 mph as an ace at UCLA, and his fastball was the headliner on a resume that earned him an $8 million signing bonus as the first overall draft pick in 2011 by Pittsburgh. Under the guidance of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Cole pounded the bottom of the strike zone with that heater, and for years, it worked. He was an All-Star and finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2015, and was considered among the game’s most overpowering starting pitchers.

Then baseball’s flyball revolution took flight – a movement of hitters using upper-cut swings designed to crush exactly the kinds of sinking fastballs Cole was delivering. After never allowing more than 11 home runs in a season, Cole was tagged for 31 last year.

So it was time to change things up.

From 2013-17, Cole threw his fastball 65 percent of the time – well above the league average. But this year, he’s cut that fastball rate by about 10 points, replacing those heaters with sliders and curveballs. The new look is working. Cole is 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA through 15 starts and leads the American League with 138 strikeouts.

”I think you’re just continually trying to mess timing up, especially when guys are trying to slug,” Cole said. ”When they’re trying to hit it out of the park every time, you have an easier time changing speeds.”

Kluber and Kershaw have made similar adjustments in the past couple years. Both Cy Young winners rank among the league leaders in fewest fastballs thrown this season.

”Guys are geared up to swing for a fastball,” Kluber said. ”I guess it’s almost rare now to see somebody actually, like, go the other way with the breaking ball.”

Kluber has set a career low with a fastball rate of 41.8 percent this season. Same for Kershaw, who has dropped from a 72-percent fastball clip in 2010 all the way to 42.8 percent in an injury-hampered 2018.

”The hitters tell you what you need to do,” Kershaw said. ”And for me, I guess it’s been throwing a lot more breaking balls.”

Cole, Kluber and Kershaw suspect the tide will turn back Kentavius Street Color Rush Jersey , perhaps soon, once hitters recalibrate to the number of four-seam fastballs pitchers are throwing up in the strike zone.

But Trevor Bauer, Kluber’s analytically-minded teammate in Cleveland, thinks the offspeed uptick is only going to spread.

Two years ago, Bauer and Indians closer Cody Allen watched as 6-foot-8 Yankees fireballer Dellin Betances carved up Cleveland’s hitters with a fastball that averaged 98 mph. Allen – no slouch himself with a fastball around 94 mph – told Bauer that if he could throw hard like Betances, he wouldn’t even bother with a breaking ball.

”No,” Bauer recalled telling Allen. ”He should never throw a fastball.”

Bauer’s theory is that the threat of a 100 mph fastball might be more dangerous to hitters than the fastballs themselves.

”As guys throw harder, guys have less and less time to hit that offering,” Bauer said. ”So they have to speed up in order to catch up to it, which, that makes the breaking ball more effective.”

Hitters are left picking between two nasty poisons – risk being behind on triple-digit fastballs, or jeopardize taking ugly swings on breaking pitches as they dart out of the strike zone.

Veteran slugger Todd Frazier was with the Yankees last year when New York’s hard-throwing bullpen led by Betances, Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green overpowered hitters while also posting the lowest fastball rate in the majors.

”I have to set my feet for 98 mph, and understand I might get 84-88 mph slider,” said Frazier, now with the New York Mets. ”It makes it tougher on you.”

And yet, Frazier and his fellow hitters aren’t close to jumping off their fastball-first approach.

”The baseline of hitting is the fastball,” Mets teammate Jay Bruce said. ”You have to stay on the fastball. For me personally, that’s what my timing of th

BeitragVerfasst am: Mi 07.11.2018, 08:17
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