Yasmani Grandal and Padres Pitchers
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Not to beat a dead horse, or any kind of horse, however the Matt Kemp trade continues to be lopsided. Theres still an awful long way to visit, but for now the Matt Kemp trade is much more such as the Yasmani Grandal trade, and Grandal and the Dodgers couldnt be happier. A few days ago on Twitter I was tipped off and away to an article about Grandal written by Matt Calkins. The headline: Padres blew it with Yasmani Grandal. It talks about Grandals limited playing time, and also the insufficient trust some Padres pitchers had in him. One paragraph stood out to me as particularly interesting:
Despite the general North park approach being to throw down and away, Grandal thought the ability pitchers should be throwing inside in early area of the count before while using outer 1 / 2 of home plate to record the out. However the veteran hurlers werent catching his drift, and as a result, he wasnt catching their pitches.
Pitchers identified were Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ro s, and Ian Kennedy. Last season, Grandal didnt catch Cashner. Ro s eventually stopped throwing to him, and Kennedy did too. They preferred working with Rene Rivera. This year, the Padres pitching staff has struggled. From the bottom of the same article:
San Diegos pitching, however, has disappointed, and Grandal cant help but wonder if that might be the case had his advice been heeded.
On the main one hand, this doesnt really matter. Grandal isnt in North park anymore, so everyone just must move on. But Denzel Rice Jersey however, this is often an interesting aspect to investigate. So lets talk about what Grandal discu sed.
The Padres do like working low and away. Take a look at some heat maps from Baseball Savant. Tyson Ro s, last year, against righties:
Ian Kennedy, a year ago, against lefties:
Okay, so thats more away than down and away, however the bigger point is that you simply dont see a lot of activity inside. Grandal says he needed more inside pitches. The pitchers didnt want to throw them. Last year, against right-handed hitters, Padres pitchers threw the cheapest rate of inside pitches in baseball. Against left-handed hitters, they were in the center of those Brian Peters Jersey . This season, for the sake of comparison, against righties, the Padres inside-pitch rate ranks 28th. Against lefties, its eighth. If anything, this season the Padres are throwing in a tiny bit more.
Now, lets take a look at some individual examples. As noted, this past year, Grandal didnt catch Cashner. He did catch Ro s and Kennedy, earlier on. Cashner threw a good average rate of inside pitches against righties. His rate was below-average, against lefties. Kennedy had a very low rate of inside pitches against righties, along with a nearly-average rate of inside pitches against lefties. Ro s had a level lower rate of inside pitches against righties, however a high rate of inside pitches against lefties, due to his slider.
Looking at Kennedy, he threw exactly the same rate of inside pitches against righties, whether he was or wasnt pitching to Grandal. Against lefties, he threw fewer inside pitches with Grandal than he did with Rivera.
Its a similar story with Ro s. Not much of a difference in inside-pitch rate against righties, when broken down by catcher. Against lefties, though, you see more inside pitches with Rivera compared to Grandal. Not by a lot, but by a few percentage points.
But this could just be Grandal being overruled. He didnt get a lot of inside pitches, but he didnt get them presumably because the pitchers didnt want to throw them, and the pitchers determine what they want to throw. Grandal could make suggestions, but he was never the man actually around the mound.
What when the Padres had gone with Grandals philosophy? What if Cashner, Ro s, and Kennedy included more inside pitches? Now, its absolutely impo sible to know what wouldve happened had things been done differently. Theres just not a way to run those experiments. However this is a really important point: Cashner, Ro s, and Kennedy combined to be pretty damn good, doing what they did. Even mostly not throwing to Grandal, even not doing what he wouldve preferred, here are the data:
Cashner/Ro s/Kennedy, 2014
89 ERA-88 FIP-90 xFIP-
They were a good deal better than average. When Kennedy was excellent in 2011, he threw inside more regularly against righties, but he was still good last season. So, last year, nothing really was wrong. Its only this season the numbers are worse:
Cashner/Ro s/Kennedy, 2015
114 ERA- Lamar Miller Jersey 107 FIP-96 xFIP-
Home runs have skyrocketed. The strikeouts remain, but now there are other walks, fewer strikes. The easiest explanation to me, beyond some bad dinger luck: the receivers are worse. Grandal did but still does rate as an excellent pitch-framer. You have to Rene Rivera, that has long been hailed like a defensive specialist. The Padres dont have those framers anymore, to purchase them extra strikes. The Padres receivers now arent bad, but theyre no more elite, also it is sensible the pitching staff would suffer as a result. Therefore it could be le s about philosophy, and much more about going for a step back at the margins.
We might as well keep going. It makes sense that Grandal will bring the same ideas to Los Angeles. And he says hes a lot happier, suggesting people are paying him more attention. But a year ago, against righties, the Dodgers inside-pitch rate D.J. Reader Jersey ranked in the upper half. This year, theyre 27th. Theres been no rise in inside pitches thrown against lefties. Heres Zack Greinke, singing Grandals praises at the begining of April:
Hes been unbelievable back there, Greinke said. His catching is better than advertised, and dealing with me individually, hes been just like you could expect. I dont think, from what Ive seen so far, you can actually have expected something more.
Hes done everything. His hands are great. Hes blocked everything Ive thrown. People stole on him this past year, but hes had some really good throws in games Ive thrown in spring training. After which his game callings been good.
I couldnt draw up a much better catcher right now.
Greinke against lefties, in each from the last two years:
This year, Greinke has one of baseballs lowest inside-pitch rates against lefties. And, Greinke against righties:
This year, Greinke has certainly one of baseballs lowest inside-pitch rates against righties. Hes working away more than he did in 2014. Hes disposed of more often with Grandal than he has with A.J. Ellis. Such like can be observed with Carlos Frias. When compared with last year, Frias is spending le s time this season in the inner parts of the zone and beyond. Hes been caught mostly by Grandal. What these points suggest is the fact that, if Grandal has the same ideas because he did a year ago, he still isnt getting those pitches. But he doesnt appear to mind, and the Dodgers are having succe s. Greinke hasnt allowed a run in a month.
Per usual, its complicated. Grandal had his disagreements with a few of the Padres pitchers. Those pitchers chosen over throw to someone else, and while Grandal might take that like a slight, its not like Rivera is chopped liver in fact, last season, he was quite valuable, both behind and near the plate. Rivera was good, and the pitchers were good, even though that limited Grandals time, it wasnt a terribly obvious mistake. And while those pitchers have performed worse in 2015, theyre mi sing the a sistance they got last year, so theres more into it than just not pitching inside. Its not like the Dodgers are suddenly pitching in the ton, with Grandal around the roster. Greinke does the opposite. Frias is doing the opposite.
It might be that Grandal just didnt mesh using the pitchers in North park. And its easier to get rid of one catcher than multiple starters. Most likely the personalities didnt get along. And because the original article noted, Grandal had the PED suspension, and that would be a clubhouse problem. Maybe there was no coming back from that. Alternatively, maybe things wouldve worked out in 2015, when the Padres kept Grandal, while dealing Rivera. That much is difficult to say. But we know this in La, Grandal was handed a brand new start. And due to his experiences in North park, he learned some things about developing better relationships with the pitchers. When youre a catcher, those relationships mainly figure out how often youre going to play. Grandals situation in North park ended up getting me sed up, somewhat. But there is Gerald Rivers Jersey a great deal happening. Moving to the Dodgers has worked out perfectly. There just isnt the same conflict.
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