Saturday, April 12, 2008

Evolution of an Ace

Wang has had some serious struggles versus the Red Sox in the past - for some reason they have an approach that works against him and he knows it. Those games combined with the way he performed in the postseason left about as many question marks as is possible for a back to back 19 game winner. The question was how would Wang respond? Would he evolve and adjust or would he continue to be a one pitch pitcher? Wang went in the offseason focused on expanding his game and he spent most of spring training fine tuning his secondary pitches and figuring out how to work them into his repertoire.

Last night we got a first hand look at the results of all his work. Wang threw a lot of four seam fastballs which resulted in a lot of flyballs. Also, he featured some sliders and changes. He can get away with a four seamer because of his outstanding velocity. Most sinkerballers can't maintain his type of velocity and this is what separates him from your typical sinker baller. According to the pitch data he has actually increased the percentage of fastballs this year from 76.4% last year to 82.1% this year. The difference is the type of fastballs. We are seeing his traditional turbo sinker and the good hard four seamer. He has also learned how to run it over the inside corner to lefties (the strikeout pitch to Ortiz was a thing of beauty). Simply put he has expanded his repertoire and can get people out more ways then he used to. That is a sign of a great player and a good sign that he might be able to maintain a very high level for years to come.

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