Tale of the Tape: Yovani, Big Sexy and the Rocket
• Whether you like to call him "Big Puma" or "Fat Elvis", the lack of pop in Lance Berkman's bat isn't going to be remedied by eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Berkman's being thrown off-kilter by off-speed pitches; he's out in front of changeups frequently, getting his bat on top of the ball, and has hit the ball on the ground more as a result. He's displaying good plate patience and was starting to drive the ball deeper before his recent bout with the flu, so he's still likely to go on a power tear in July or August.
• I found it hard not to get excited about Yovani Gallardo's debut against the Giants. Then again, I said that about Tim Lincecum, too. However, Gallardo seems to have this calm demeanor about him, which should make all the difference. Even when he got into jams, Gallardo kept to his game plan. He commanded a great fastball that touched 95 mph, a tight curveball with late snap to it, and a straight changeup. He was squeezed on a couple of questionable balls to Barry Bonds and I was very impressed that he threw his curveball while behind in the count to Bonds. Granted, it's only one start, but I'm higher on Gallardo's prospects this season than Lincecum or Homer Bailey.
• With the help of hitting coach Dave Magadan, Coco Crisp's stance is less open and he stands taller in the box now. The adjustment gives him a better line of sight on pitches and it clearly has paid off in the power department. I'd definitely grab him in mixed leagues, if he's out there. Sometimes, passionate fans pick up on things before I even get a chance to see it. I have to give credit to poster "Marbleheader" of the Son of Sam Horn message boards for being one of the first people to spot comparable picture proof of Crisp's recently-adjusted stance.
• Carlos Beltran is not talking to the media about his sore left quad muscle anymore, but it's clear that the injury is affecting his ability to hit from the left side of the plate; he's not getting good plant power from his front leg and is often popping out. Right now, it appears he's focused on playing through it and is unlikely to hit the disabled list anytime soon. He recently ran full speed during pre-game warm-ups, but there's a good chance that the injury will continue to affect his power numbers. Carlos Gomez would be the only option to replace him in center field at this point, although a possible trade for Milton Bradley can't be ruled out. Johnny Damon, on the other hand, is certainly DL-bound. A myriad of nagging injuries -- namely an abdominal strain and cramping in his calves -- are clearly bothering him, and his defensive ability and range has taken a rapid downturn. Maybe he needs calf implants like Johnny Drama (Hey, I was overdue for an "Entourage" reference).
• Felix Hernandez pitched his best game since the beginning of April on Thursday; he was able to dispense of the Pirates mostly with his fastball, which he had excellent command of. He had the confidence to throw a nasty curve and changeup when behind in the count and didn't run into a three-ball count until the fifth inning. One of his only mistakes, reminiscent of his previous four starts, was when he threw a high fastball over the plate to Jose Castillo on a 1-2 count in the fifth inning. While you can't put too much stock in a dominating start against the Pirates, it was a rather encouraging display. If you can buy him at a low price, I'd do so, because if he blows away Boston Tuesday, you won't be able to get him cheap.
• Richie Sexson has improved his pitch selection and is extending his hands more, which allows him reach pitches on the outer half of the plate. Overall, he's just showing better balance on his many of his swings. Interestingly enough, Sexson has been taking some cuts with an aluminum bat at batting practice (as have some other Mariners), which is something he did last season right before he got out of his funk. Grab him in a trade if you can, because he's already set to go on a power tear.
• In his last couple of starts, Roger Clemens has been rattled by speedsters on the base paths. First it was Jose Reyes of the Mets, and then it was Willy Taveras of the Rockies on Thursday. When Kaz Matsui was up to bat, Clemens threw over to first base four times in a row to check on Taveras -- and six times altogether during the at-bat.
• It was back in training camp when Chien-Ming Wang worked on refining his slider, but it wasn't until his recent outing against the Mets that he had the confidence to truly mix it in. The pitch helped him rack up a very atypical -- and career-high -- 10 strikeouts, and it should continue to be an asset in giving American League batters a different look.
• J.P. Howell might have a plus changeup, but with poor command of a fastball that doesn't touch 90 mph often, he's not going to have much success. His fastball was often below 89 mph and hovered over the heart of the plate against the Diamondbacks. Andy Sonnanstine's fastball was also subpar and crushed when he faced Colorado on June 16.
• Shaun Marcum has done a great job of throwing first-pitch strikes. He's locating his fastball early at the corners, and commanding a slow curve and slider with regularity. He's throwing a nice changeup as his out pitch, getting hitters to chase for strikeouts and groundouts on it.
• If you're still holding on to Anthony Reyes in an NL-only league, it might be time to cut ties, as his problems appear to be more about mechanics and an approach that need to be re-worked. He's been far too hittable this season, as the majority of fastballs have been very straight and up in the zone; and hitters are laying off his changeup. It also appears he has a big problem with his command when pitching from the stretch, and the stats back it up: He has 16 strikeouts and 12 walks with runners on base.
Chad Gaudin has been leaving his fastball over the plate and falling behind hitters. I think it's about time to jump ship
Alex Gordon has been doing a better job at staying balanced when taking swings on inside pitches
Even before the drop in velocity, Curt Schilling was having some issues with following through on his delivery and keeping his heater lower in the zone
Ted Lilly's fastball command has worsened over his last few starts; he's leaving it up in the zone, even when ahead in the count. Even though he's still racking up the strikeouts with his loopy curve, the ERA will rise
Lately, it seems like the whole Giants staff is having problems with locating their fastballs. Tim Lincecum is especially struggling early in games, getting into quite a few three-ball counts, and his fastball has sailed too low or to the outside
Homer Bailey barely missed with some of his fastballs against the Athletics, but was able to have success by keeping the ball low even on his mistakes. He hasn't gotten a feel for his changeup or curveball yet, and got beat a couple of times by trying to go to his changeup on a 3-2 count.
Tom Herrera is a sports video logger and a fantasy sports analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com. E-mail him with your questions and comments at THerrera@talentedmrroto.com.
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