LHP Duane Below made his third start of the season for the Mud Hens Tuesday versus Indianapolis and struggled, allowing six hits and four walks in four innings of work. Below did strike out three, but he was tagged with the loss.
Below threw 87 pitches, 52 of which were strikes (59.8 percent). Here’s how Below’s pitches and strikes broke down by inning:
- First inning: 22 pitches, 15 strikes (68.2 percent)
- Second inning: 32 pitches, 15 strikes (46.9 percent)
- Third inning: 12 pitches, 9 strikes (75 percent)
- Fourth inning: 21 pitches, 13 strikes (61.9 percent)
A few more numbers – including one that I think best explains Below’s struggles. The 26-year-old lefty threw first-pitch strikes to just nine of the 20 batters he faced (45 percent). Here’s the crazy part: those nine first-pitch strikes led to two singles, a double and two walks with only one strikeout, one double play and two other outs.
While Below struggled with first-pitch strikes, he only went to 2-0 on one batter all night: Tony Sanchez, whom he walked in the second. Below reached an 0-2 count three times, which resulted in a single, a strikeout and another out.
Ready for pitch speeds? Here we go ...
Below’s fastball sat at 89-91 mph (six at 88, 14 at 89, 14 at 90, 15 at 92, one at 93). His slider sat at 85-86 mph (three at 85, five at 86, one at 87), while his curveball sat at 78-79 mph (one at 76, two at 78, four at 79). Finally, his change-up sat at 83-84 mph (two at 81, two at 82, 10 at 83, five at 84).
Of the 51 fastballs I charted, 33 were strikes (64.7 percent). Having just checked my math, I just don’t believe it … It felt as if Below was missing a lot with his fastball. Three of the hits came on fastballs, and there were only three swings-and-misses on the fastball (although there were 12 foul balls).
Of the seven curveballs I charted, NONE came after the second inning although four were for strikes (57.1 percent). Of the nine sliders, six were strikes (66.7 percent), including five called and one swinging. Of the 19 change-ups, nine were strikes (47.3 percent), including three swings-and-misses and two fouled off.
RHP Jose Ortega relieved Below to start the fifth and clearly was the Mud Hens' most effective reliever on Tuesday. Ortega retired six of the seven batters he faced, and the only hit he allowed was an opposite-field bloop single by Dallas McPherson with two outs in the fifth. Ortega struck out two and didn't walk anyone.
Ortega threw 28 pitches, 21 of which were strikes (75 percent). Here’s how Ortega’s pitches and strikes broke down by inning:
- Fifth inning: 19 pitches, 15 strikes (78.9 percent)
- Sixth inning: 9 pitches, 6 strikes (66.7 percent)
Here is the most impressive part of Ortega's effort tonight: He threw first-pitch strikes to all seven batters he faced. He went to 0-2 on four of the seven, which resulted in two strikeouts, the single and another out. When he gets ahead of hitters, he has the stuff to be effective, as tonight showed.
On to the pitch speeds ...
Ortega's fastball sat at 96-98 mph (two at 94, one at 95, four at 96, nine at 97, five at 98), while his slider sat at 86-88 mph (three at 86, one at 87, two at 88, one at 90). Of his 21 fastballs, 18 were strikes (although four were swing-and-miss strikes, while four were fouled off and five were taken). Of his seven sliders, three were strikes (one swing-and-miss, two fouls).
LHP Daniel Schlereth made his second rehab appearance with the Mud Hens Tuesday and struggled with a bit of bad fortune, eventually giving up a run on three hits and a walk. His only out came on a strikeout.
Schlereth threw 20 pitches, 15 of which were strikes (75 percent). In fact, Schlereth threw only one pitch that was called a ball until his final batter faced, McPherson -- a left-handed hitter -- drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch.
Schlereth threw first-pitch strikes to all five batters he faced, and moved to an 0-2 count on three of them. But one resulted in a high hopper that fell behind the mound and second base and went for a single, the second was lined to center for a single (that was the bad pitch, I thought), and the third ended in a strikeout (of a good hitter for this level, Matt Hague -- who is right-handed).
More pitch speeds ...
Schlereth's fastball sat at 88-91 mph (two at 88, four at 90, seven at 91), while his curveball sat at 78-81 mph (one at 78, one at 79, three at 81 and two at 83). Of his 13 fastballs, 10 were strikes (including three swings-and-misses and three fouls, both good numbers). Of his seven curveballs, five were strikes (including the strikeout pitch and a foul ball).RHP Al Alburquerque pitched in the eighth and gave up only one hit, which came on a slow roller down the third-base line, along with one walk. He did not have any strikeouts.
Alburquerque threw 21 pitches, 12 of which were strikes (57.1 percent). He threw first-pitch strikes to three of the five batters he faced and reached an 0-2 count on two of those hitters. He did reach a 2-0 count on one hitter, which yielded the single.
Let's move on to the pitch speeds ...
I missed a few pitches with Alburquerque (sorry), but I counted seven fastballs ranging from 91-96 mph (one at 91, one at 92, two at 93, two at 94, one at 96) and 10 sliders ranging from 83-88 mph (one at 83, three at 84, one at 85, four at 86, one at 88). I also had one pitch register at 74, but I don't think he throws a curveball, so I'm inclined to ignore it.
Of the seven fastballs, four were strikes, and of the 10 sliders, seven were strikes. There were two swings-and-misses, both of the slider (both by Jeff Larish, by the way), and only one foul ball (on a 94 mph fastball).
And finally, LHP Matt Hoffman came on in the ninth and gave up a run on three hits -- one of which was by a left-hander. All three were solidly struck. Hoffman was aided by a double-play ball with the infield in to choke off a run (the runner at third stayed there), but Hoffman gave up a two-out single to score the run.
Hoffman threw 22 pitches, 12 of which were strikes (54.5 percent). Hoffman threw pitches called a ball to the first four hitters he faced before finally getting a first-pitch strike to the fifth hitter. He fell behind 2-0 to two of the hitters, both of whom got singles (including Brandon Boggs on the two-out RBI hit).
In fact, the counts on the balls that were put in play were 1-0 (single), 3-2 (after falling behind 2-0 and 3-1, leading to a single), 2-2 (, fell behind 2-1, double play), 2-0 (RBI single), 2-1 (out).
Last batch of pitch speeds ... Hoffman's fastball sat at 91-92 mph (one at 89, one at 90, three at 91, three at 92, one at 93, one at 94), and seven of those 10 fastballs were strikes. But the breaking stuff was another matter, as it sat at 81-82 mph (one at 80, four at 81, two at 82, one at 83, one at 84) and there were just four strikes among those nine pitches (one swinging, one foul, two put in play).