Hudson needs better location, navigation

There are two things White Sox fans aren’t allowed to criticize regardless of evidence to the contrary:

  1. Greg Walker
  2. 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.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Default image
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3416
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mechanicalturk

I was wondering yesterday about what the hell AJ was doing with those calls. And a thought that is probably common among Sox fans occurred: with Baron Underbheit hitting up a storm and working well with Freddy, can he become Hudson’s personal catcher too? His pitch selections can’t be much worse than AJ’s, he can’t hit much worse than AJ, and sometimes a change of scenery does some good. Castro is probably the best catcher on the roster at the moment (he’s even been worth more in terms of WAR than AJ), so let’s give him a shot.

Shinons

Anyone know what helped Hudson turn it around when he was struggling earlier this year in the minors?

sophist

Unless Dunn is going to play third and right, bat 3rd and 5th, and start and set-up for the Tiggs, that’s going to be one useless deal. That rumor is Rizzo telling Kenny to poop or get of the pot or Riz is going to settle for 2 late first-round/sandwich round draft picks for Dunn.

ricksch

If the Sox brain trust thinks this kid has to live off of perfectly located fastballs, they better hope they have the next Nolan Ryan. Clearly Hudson’s not that. Poor kid looked scared and never figured out how to work with the strike zone that was given.
Sox need to acquire a pitcher to back up Garcia and Hudson. It doesn’t have to be Oswalt or even a “number two” guy. Just someone who will give us a chance. Carlos Torres will get lit up and there are zero other options on the farm.
The lefty bat doesn’t have to be much of anything to be an upgrade as we’ve discussed. I would NOT break the bank for one-dimensional Dunn or “Prince” Frickin’ Fielder. There are lots of DHs or guys waiting to become DHs (Quentin) in ML ball. If we’re going to give up a treasured piece like Hudson, I’d want a guy in the Haren neighborhood or a position player who hits and fields.
Scott, LaRoche or Overbay are worth a single decent prospect, if we have any left after dealing for the pitcher. I’d part with Viciedo before Flowers cause it’s painfully obvious that even if this Dayan develops into a ML first basemen, he’ll never be a good one. He may turn out to be a dangerous hitter though. I look forward to his first WALK!
Still, we are in desperate need of a catcher, now and in the future. Too bad Flowers has shown no sign of being Major League ready.
I wouldn’t trade Beckham or Hudson under any circumstance, but everyone else on the farm and on the roster like Lillibridge is packed and are ready to ship.
Standing pat won’t work. The team needs a stick and an arm to round out the roster.
A truly memorable season probably ended with Peavy, but we can still make the playoffs in our weak division.

bigfun

Regarding Flowers, teams need to be patient with catchers. Matt Wieters was one of the most highly rated catchers in a generation, and look how slowly he has developed for the Orioles. Teams that are patient can get great production out of a premium defensive spot.
An OPS over .800 in AAA actually isn’t bad for a catcher. He’s had a weird year. Torrid in April, then horrible in Greg Walker’s May, then he got the power back in June, and then in July the power disappeared but his plate discipline improved again. I think he’ll finish with a solid line and be a replacement-level major league player next year and a plus value player in 2012.

ricksch

I think we’re all on the same page. We either can’t or shouldn’t overpay. The Tigers obviously have needs too. Far more than ours. What does their Minors’ stash look like?
I think it would be helpful if Kenny forgets about marquee names like Dunn and Fielder (I really don’t think either are a good fit long term and foccussed on the Luke Scotts out there. Also, I think we need an AL guy. I would love to see stats about how well guys do jumping leagues at the deadline vs. staying in the same.
On Flowers, yes, I think it would be good to hang onto him. Catching at the ML level is a tough job that takes time to learn. Hopefully he starts showing us something next year. I just know the Sox are going to sign AJ to an extension. I hate AJ’s plate discipline and it’s really caught up with him this year. Can we please have Castro start a few more games?
Hawk’s fawning over Kotsay almost has me buying it — though the homer Ichiro brought back WAS a tough break for poor Mark. I guess they should just stamp “UNLUCKY” on the back of Kotsay’s baseball card — and then stick it up Hawk’s behind. With the exception of the morons the Twins have in their booth (aside from Blyleven) I’ve come to prefer the opposing teams’s announcers.