I was watching on TV tonight (getting angrier and angrier by the minute) and he was more wild than he'd been earlier in the year, falling behind in the count more than usual. Also, there were a few dinky hits that fell in that were actually good pitches.
During his recent slump, he's getting more fly ball outs than ground ball outs, which is much different than it was earlier in the year, which would make one think he's getting the ball up in the strike zone. As an example, he started the year with 2 shutouts in which he had a 16/4 and 15/4 GB/FB ratio. Today, it was 1/6 (one groundball out, 6 flyball outs), after 7/9 and 4/8 in his previous 2 starts (also terrible starts).
His mechanics have always been a wild card. He was spot on with his location early in the year but has totally lost it lately. I think they should go over video footage from the beginning of the year and figure out what the heck is going on.
Roger Angell: I was talking with Bob Gibson and I said: 'Are you always this competitive?' He said: 'Oh, I think so. I got a three-year old daughter, and I've played about 500 games of tic-tac-toe with her and she hasn't beat me yet.'
Big time dap to you BR for being a man and showing your face when you're wrong. A lot of people around here would have probably ducked the issue or tried twisting words or something but you took it like a man.
I honestly don't see how an argument can be made that his mechanics are off because he's too strong.
His first bad start was before the ASB - and he had "normal" rest prior to that time, meaning he should not have been stronger for that start.
Also, as someone else said, even without high pitch counts, the extra 8 warm-up pitches per inning, extra ABs and his running of the bases as a batter, etc. are all reasons for his IP to be watched early on and, again, are things that show he should be weaker, not stronger at this point.
Lastly, when someone gets tired, they lose form - not gain it. And too many times I've heard announcers (former pitchers) state that when a pitcher gets tired, he leaves his pitches up in the zone because he has trouble finishing off a pitch - which would lead to more flyblls.
So, IMO, Willis has a unique wind-up and is susceptible to having those mechanics break down should he get tired. This break-down would cause him to not get on top of his pitches, leaving them up in the zone. This is my guess as to what is happening now.
Can he fix it? I don't know. Maybe some extra rest, a few games where he's pulled after 80 pitches, some work in the video room or something can allow him to regain his mechanics, and therefore his sink, before the end of the year. I surely wouldn't drop him right now, though maybe putting him on the bench for a start in a hitter's ballpark might be in order until he shows he's fixed it.
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