Mariners Analysis

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Washburn opened some eyes last night

Dave at U.S.S Mariner argues Washburn was brilliant last night. Which everyone totally agrees.

However, I disagree this was a one-time outing. I've been arguing two things consistently based on observations during the season.

One, Weaver is really, really bad and not close to getting even decent anytime soon. (I also see no evidence HoRam belongs in the rotation, but that's a different topic.)

And two, Washburn's a different pitcher this season.

The rub on Washburn from critics early in the season was to downplay the opponents he faced. But it was quite clear to me he was pitching in a manner that would maximize his effectiveness regardless who was hitting, and we saw that last night.

A number of people have wondered what the differences are between Washburn and Weaver. Both throw in the mid-to-upper 80's and both rely on trying to keep hitters off balance rather than overwhelm them with filthy pitches.

The differences are subtle but as you can see make a huge difference. The primary differences are location and movement. Weaver's pitches have moderate movement and catch way too much of the plate. Washburn's pitches have more movement and he keeps them on the edge of the strike zone.

That's pretty much it. If you watch Washburn pitch this year, he consistently throws borderline pitches. When he throws a ball, it's not generally out of the strike zone much, and the hitters fall behind it they take too many pitches because the majority of his pitches are strikes. His control has been outstanding. Combine that with a mix of off-speed pitches and Washburn is drawing comparisons to Moyer. I think it is a very fair comparison, and if Washburn develops into a Moyer his contract will become more palatable.

Now history says Washburn can't keep this up. And if critics of Washburn want to point to that, fine. But last night was not a one-time outing. It's indicative of his pitching this entire season.

Kudos to Washburn- the key is if he understands why he's been effective, and if he can continue his pinpoint control.