You wouldn’t believe how long it took for Grof to get this pose right.
Marcus Stroman is on the hill in Buffalo, as the Bisons make their season debut today, while Aaron Sanchez will be in Trenton starting for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and Brandon Morrow will look to carry over his excellent-ish performance from Montreal as the Jays hope to actually complete a rare series win in Tampa… but let’s not start looking to the future just yet. Let’s savour a little bit about last night, as Mark Buehrle was simply brilliant against the Rays.
As I noted in this morning’s Daily Duce, Baseball Tonight tweeted this handy graphic that gives you an idea of how outstandingly he was painting the black — “Just a friendly two seamer here on the gorgeous backdrop of the plate, followed by a nifty curveball that cascades majestically like tears falling from the gods,” as commenter KellyGrubersBastardSon put it, Bob Ross voice in full effect.
Crazy sauce. Though Buehrle, for his part, was as awesomely humble as he was awesomely awesome, laying this on an assemblage of reporters after the game, including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star:
“You get 33 starts a year: 11 of them you’re going to feel like the catcher puts up his glove and you’re going to put it there, 11 of them you’re going to feel OK, and 11 of them you ain’t going to know where the ball is going. Today was one of those 11 when I was putting the ball where I wanted to.”
That quote was also used in an excellent piece at FanGraphs, in which Jeff Sullivan broke down the burly (see what I did there?) left-hander’s night, in which he explained, quite rightly, that “81 on the edge is better than 101 in the middle, and as much as good velocity gives a pitcher a greater margin of error, margin of error doesn’t matter if you don’t make any errors in the first place.”
The GIFs he provided us show that Dioner Navarro was very quiet as a receiver, and that certainly helped things. [Insert J.P. Arencibia bashing here, followed by quiet noting of the fact that he generally gets surprisingly high marks as a framer -- surprising as in it shows that there's an element of the game at this level that he might actually not suck at. HEYO!]. Sullivan explains:
One of the things we’ve learned or confirmed from pitch-framing research is that pitchers are more likely to get calls if they don’t make their catchers move very much. A command pitcher is easier to frame than a wild pitcher, compounding the difference in strike rates they’d already end up with. Buehrle benefited from a slightly generous strike zone, but he always has, because he’s always commanded the corners and edges pretty well. Wednesday, he commanded them even better than he’s used to, and in a role reversal, it was the Rays who got to retreat to the clubhouse and think about the big strike zone they had to fight against.
See, I knew I wasn’t wasting my time making a shitty Photoshop instead of actually attempting to provide some real analysis! Someone did it for me!
Oh, and also Mark Buehrle was seriously awesome to watch last night. Y’know terrifying as it is to be breathlessly watching a guy throwing in the low 80s do it. Moar please!