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There are two things White Sox fans aren’t allowed to criticize regardless of evidence to the contrary:
- Greg Walker
- A.J. Pierzynski’s pitch-calling abilities
In the former case, one good month always negates two terrible months, even if the math doesn’t check out. Likewise, Pierzynski is never blamed when the rotation takes bad turns, but warrants half the credit when the pitching gets on a roll.
Maybe he shouldn’t have to take half the blame in Daniel Hudson’s start, but pitch location wasn’t the only problem — pitch selection was another big one. And, like Hawk Harrelson often says, starting pitchers don’t shake Pierzynski off.
See if you can notice a trend in Hudson’s starts:
- vs. KC: 75 pitches, three sliders, one curve.
- vs. SEA: 99 pitches, 18 sliders, six curves.
- vs. OAK: 108 pitches, seven sliders, two curves.
Stretch your necks, because you’re about to do a double-take: Hudson’s success somewhat correlates with the prominence of a third pitch.
Case in point: Look at these two sequences to Daric Barton, who is Oakland’s toughest out with a .383 OBP entering the game:
The third pitch in the second at-bat might’ve been Hudson’s worst of the day. On an 0-2 count with the bases loaded and two outs, he threw a fastball that tailed over the plate in the upper half of the strike zone. He missed the target by a lot.
But why was he throwing a fastball in the first — or 11th — case?
Even if Hudson doesn’t have a good feeling for anything besides a fastball or changeup, he at least needs to make hitters know a third pitch exists. Hell, Barton didn’t even know he had two of them.
At that point, Hudson had thrown 46 pitches, and only one was a slider. He started using it a little more afterward. The first batter after Barton, Kurt Suzuki, took it for a called strike. The same thing happened the next two times he threw the slider. In fact, of the seven he threw, none of them did any harm! Three were called strikes, one was fouled off, three were out of the zone.
Maybe Hudson’s been rushing his delivery, getting under his pitches and losing bite on his slider in the process. That’s no excuse for not giving hitters any kind of breaking ball to be aware of, though. It would be one thing if his sliders were ending up in the stands, similar to the way John Danks can go bad when his changeup drifts high.
But until hitters start telling the battery his third pitch isn’t good enough, Pierzynski has to start calling them, and Hudson has to start throwing them. Then again, hitters are telling them that his fastball-changeup combo isn’t sufficient by itself, and they aren’t listening to that, either.
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*I like what Doug Padilla is bringing to the table after returning to the White Sox beat for ESPNChicago. Ozzie Guillen says turning down Jim Thome was still the right move, and Padilla does the best job framing the flimsiness of that statement.
*Speaking of beat writers, CSNChicago.com’s Brett Ballantini measures Kenny Williams’ trades by WAR, which is encouraging.
*The Detroit Tigers, having lost Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, are now after Adam Dunn.
*Back from a self-imposed exile, frontrunner blog Pale Hose Pariah (cough) says Ozzie Guillen needs to be choosier on the basepaths.
*Oral Sox has a new podcast up.