Every pitcher who ever performed on the big league stage for a significant period of time has had to adapt. As we learned a couple of months ago from Eno Sarris, from the day a professional pitcher is born, his velocity begins dying. This means that today’s whiff-inducing hard fastball up in the zone is tomorrow’s meatball that gets taken deep.
This inevitable decline is hardest felt on pitchers who depend on their fastball, not only to get swing and misses, but also to set up their other pitches. Perhaps the most cited recent example of this phenomenon is San Francisco Giants’ starter Tim Lincecum who has seen a major drop in velocity on his fastball coupled with atrocious numbers in terms of runs being scored against.
Enter Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson, who has been around the block more than a few times. The fourteen year veteran is the standard bearer for adapting approach to match capability as one ages. Once a swing and miss maestro with the Oakland A’s, after a drop in velocity, he turned himself into a ground ball inducing machine with the Atlanta Braves through a sinking fastball that looks like it uses magnetic forces to avoid line drives and fly balls off of the bats of opponents.