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It’s been a while since we saw Daniel Hudson with the White Sox, but he’s still largely the same pitcher. He’s just not the one Steve Stone described.
Stone talked about what a great slider Hudson had, to go along with a good changeup. Many of you folks know that he’s really a fastball-changeup pitcher, with a slider that comes and goes and a curveball that is just for show.
And on Sunday, his slider was largely AWOL. Before I sat down to watch Hudson’s start, I noted this comment by bigfun:
I was at the game (very scary stepping away from the spreadsheets, but I managed) and it looked like his fastball and maybe his slider weren’t finding the zone often enough, but I thought his changeup looked good. I checked Brooks Baseball and it seems to suggest that he practically only threw fastballs and changeups, but those categorizations don’t always label pitches correctly.
Brooks jives with my count. Out of 74 pitches, Hudson only went to his slider three — count ’em, three — times. Two were to Mike Aviles back-to-back, and both were out of the strike zone.
He only threw one curve, too, and it wasn’t a particularly smart choice — on an 0-2 count to Billy Butler, who sat back and stroked a single to center.
I can’t find any explanation for the disappearance of Hudson’s slider, but I’m guessing nerves were a key. Both Hudson and A.J. Pierzynski said they came into play, and you could see it with his fastball control. It looked to me like he was gripping it too tight. For one, he was averaging 94 m.p.h., which is a top-end velocity for him, and a lot of them ended up on Pierzynski’s backhand side, which was the result of him holding onto it too long.
It’s entirely possible that he had little feel for his fastball, which resulted in no concept of a slider. The good news is that his changeup is a plenty good second pitch, and he was able to throw it for strikes and swings and misses. He just fell behind way too many batters to really put his change to good use.
If he can relax and throw his fastball for strikes, he’ll have a better outing than he did on Sunday. A lack of command with his fastball is what did him in.
Otherwise, you could see that he doesn’t quite know big-league hitters yet, and Pierzynski doesn’t quite know Hudson yet. He’ll probably never throw a curve to Butler again — at least when ahead 0-2 — and there was another at-bat against Alberto Callaspo where Hudson went too hard for the K and ended up walking him. Callaspo doesn’t strike out much; he just hits a lot of weak flies (as of late, at least). That’s what Hudson should have been targeting, and he’ll learn.
There’s one other characteristic of Hudson that has stayed true since the first time I saw him pitch in Charlotte — when he misses, he misses low. That’s good for a small park like the Cell, but I wonder if he does enough to change hitters’ eye levels.
If you go by the strike zone chart, you’ll only see two pitches where Hudson definitely missed high. And I thought it might be useful to compare his last start to Freddy Garcia’s most recent outing. Garcia doesn’t have a fastball to get away with working up too often, and even he goes higher more often than Hudson:
And if you take a look at Mark Buehrle’s chart, he spends even more time around a hitter’s eyes.
This could be meaningless, for all I know. But given the fact that Hudson throws hard, I’d be inclined to think that his three-quarters slot might make letter-high pitches look more hittable than they really are.
First things first, though, we need to see Hudson lay off the death grip and throw fastballs for strikes early in the count. Slider percentages, eye levels and everything else can only be sorted out when he’s using his top two pitches the way we know he can.
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Ozzie Guillen has lined up his starters for the second half: John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Buehrle and Garcia will take the mound in the key four-game series against Minnesota starting on Thursday. Matt Thornton has called the Twin Cities journey “a nasty road trip.”
*Phil Rogers is awfully concerned with signing players before the offseason. He wanted Pierzynski extended in the spring, which now would look foolish. This time, he’s beating the drum for Paul Konerko. I’m not opposed to re-signing him (in a vacuum, two years, $16 million sounds like a fair extension), but plenty of 30something first basemen are hitting free agency next year. Let the market do its work, Phil.
*Mark Gonzalez touches on what insurance coverage could entail if Jake Peavy is unable to return, but Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll is optimistic about Peavy’s chances for full recovery. He starts talking about the surgery at 1:15:
*At South Side Sox, Rob Hart gives a brief history lesson about the White Sox on TV, and Larry delves into the White Sox’s efforts in supporting the troops.
*Oral Sox has a new podcast up.
*Carl is back to the Sox on Smells Like Mascot.
*J.J. has plenty of trade deadline reading material for sale.
Minor league roundup:
- Winston-Salem 7, Lynchburg 4
- Chris Sale allowed his first two pro runs: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
- Brandon Short went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBI, striking out once.
- Eduardo Escobar doubled, tripled and struck out over five trips to the plate, and committed his 15th error.
- Jon Gilmore went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and committed error No. 25.
- Jose Martinez was 0-for-3 with a walk.
- Stephen Sauer was back to his old ways, allowing a run on six hits and no walks over six innings, striking out three.
- Kyle Bellamy was touched up for a run on a hit and two walks over two, striking out three.
- Augusta 4, Kannapolis 3
- Andre Rienzo struck out 10 over six shutout innings, allowing just four singles and a walk.
- Kyle Colligan and Nick Ciolli were both 1-for-2; Colligan struck out once, Ciolli was plunked.
- Brady Shoemaker was 0-for-4 with a walk and two K’s.
- Great Falls 9, Missoula 8
- David Holmberg wasn’t great: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
- Andy Wilkins continues to rake: 3-for-5 with three RBI.
- Ross WIlson went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
- Juan Silverio had a single over four ABs.
- Bristol at Elizabethon PPD
- Charlotte OFF
- Birmingham OFF