Adjustment time for Schilling

Few pitchers understand themselves better than the Big Schill, Curt Schilling. This isn’t a case of him giving up six homers in his last two starts and not knowing why.

Schilling grasps exactly what he is doing, which is making it more frustrating for him. He is a power pitcher, always has been, probably always will be.

The problem he is having is that that power is now 91-93-mph instead of 95-98 mph. When Schilling is in jams, his killer instinct still makes him go for a high-octane fastball instead of concentrating more on location.

By trying to throw the ball too hard, Schilling is mislocating at key times — case in point, tonight’s 95 mph pitch that Gibbons deposited over the wall for a two-run homer.

Remember that Pedro went through this same adjustment around 2002, suffering a drop in velocity and learning how to win in spite of it. This is a hard transition for any pitcher to make, even guys who have the stuff of Pedro and Schilling.

Schilling needs to start focusing more on painting instead of power. I think he realizes that. The Yankees will be a crucial and telling test on Monday night at Fenway.

Tonight was a win, let’s not forget that. Loretta continues to be lights out. Papelbon is still unhittable. And Timlin is still getting it done at the age of 40.

To me, the bullpen and timely hitting are the two reasons this team is in first place right now.

Also, here is a plug for what sounds like a pretty cool upcoming event for you local Bostonians.

There is an interesting event going
on at the Boston Public Library from

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

(intermission for lunch) on Saturday.

SABR, the regional chapter
of the Society for American Baseball Research, is having a symposium on
sabermetrics that will give you insight on how general managers such as Theo
Epstein find strong bargains on the open market. The event is free and open to
the public.

Among other things, the
seminar will delve into the cutting edge findings of the stats gurus, including
news about clutch hitting and how to predict a team’s likelihood of success.

For more information,
contact Cecilia Tan of SABR Publicity at 617-290-9043, or e-mail sabrpublicity@yahoo.com.

More later,

Ian.

14 Comments

Yeah I’m confident Schill will figure it out. It seems to me that he’s relied more on the fastball as of late. Why isn’t he pitching the splitter more often? In the past when he was so very dominant, the splitter was always a reliable out pitch.

Perhaps this is far easier said than done, but it seems if he could develop a change up or at least vary speeds by letting up on his fastball, it would effectively keep batters off balance. You’re right though, as is true for all pitchers, location is the key.

I’m confident though as the weather warms up and the season progresses, he’ll make the necessary adjustments and be very effective. Like batters, pitchers can have a slumping period, and if this is as bad as it gets for Schill, I’ll be more than happy.

As for the Trot vs. Willy Mo questions. I love Trot. He’s played his entire career with the Sox, is a solid fielder, has great patience at the plate, with good power and average. I’d hate to see him go — much like I did when they released Dewey Evans back in 1990. It also seems with Manny’s status always in question and his contract expiring in 2008, it would be wise trying to keep him on board.

I say Trot has to be our main right fielder. Willy Mo will get his playing time in through platooning, pinch hitting, resting other players, and (god forbid) injuries. I really like the guy, but his plate discipline is suspect.

And you’re right, Ian, I think the combo of the old and the young, Timlin and Papelbon, are two key reasons the Sox are in first place. I’d still be happier with timelier hitting though, ie. the inordinately high number of men left in scoring position of late. Still, I’m sure that’s something that will take care of itself. The team is too solid offensively for that problem to last much longer.

Finally, I predict David Wells will come back and pitch effectively for the Sox. He knows the importance of spotting his pitches, and has made a career out of doing just that. This guy is so competitive and proud that he doesn’t want to limp into retirement, but would like to leave in a blaze of glory. I think he’ll will himself to do it.

Wow was that a close one when Holtz just barely beat out Fahey to first tonight!

Just a quick question. Looking to see if anyone else has noticed. I didn’t expect much from Gonzalez’ bat this year, but his defensive has made up for it, but what about Tek’??? His average is about .230, I know he handles the pitching staff exceptionally, but is anyone else concerned with his lack of hitting? Need to be worried?

Ian,
Who do you think goes down to the PawSox when Wells and Riske are reactivated? Who goes when Coco is reactivated? Oh, thanks for starting to recognize Lowell for his offensive output. I enjoyed hearing what he had to say on MLB radio.

I have noticed Varitek’s low batting average, but when it comes to that stat, I think one needs to remember it’s and AVERAGE. All players will go through hot streaks and slumps. He’ll get back on track; I’m not worried.

Schilling was working on a new pitch in spring training, if I recall correctly. A change-up maybe? Did he not get it figured out well enough to add it into his arsenal? Can’t blame a guy for wanting to go to his fastball to get people out when he’s been able to do it for so many years. I think Ian’s probably right. Schilling will go through those extensive notes of his and look at what he did in April when he won four straight and had an ERA under 3.00. Don’t forget the guy is still 6-2 on the season and his ERA is still under 4.00. Don’t panic.

I’m pretty confident this slump for Schill isn’t anywhere near a say, Randy Johnson-esque breakdown. He’ll make his way back to the Schill of old in one or two more starts. He’s getting the W’s and we can’t expect Cy Young type outings every single game he’s in.

As for Tek, I have absolutely no concern there. He’s getting his clutch hits, RBI’s, and a few jacks on top of it. Altho batting average is a worthless stat it’ll start to rise soon. He’s still a dangerous middle of the lineup hitter.

I think it’s pretty much set that Holtz gets sent down when Riske gets back. I’d love to see Harris go when Coco gets back but i’m not sure that would happen. Wells will assumingly replace DiNardo on the roster.

Basically I agree with you, lan.
I really hope Curt Schilling overcomes the difficulties.

He is the ace of the team.

Re Who goes down when Crisp, Riske, and Wells return? My guesses are Mohr (because Tito seems to like Harris), Holtz, and probably DiNardo although I wish they’d DFA Seanez. But, I think more likely this will be a situation like last year with pitching where there’s never really a time when everyone is back.

i think mohr is gone when Coco comes back; As for Riske, you figure he takes Holtz’s spot. Boomer? It could be DiNardo.

I think that with as much research as Curt does and as disciplined as he is,that this “slump” is very soon gone. I think that he will come to the realization that he needs to shift from power to finesse. Once he does that I say we’ve got our Ace back. then we’ll have Ace 1 and Ace 2. I see the problems that the other teams have (weak bats, weak D, no position depth) and I think that our problems (except for our mid relievers) are quite minimal. As far as who goes/who stays, I still think that Terry and Theo will be able to shake that out to our advantage. For tonights game I’ll give thanks again that Mirabelli is back and catching Wake. I know that Josh Bard did as well as he could being thrust into a nightmare position, but I love the fact that Theo put the deal together to get Doug back. Once again I’ll say pray for good weather and GO SOX!!!!!

You know, I got to thinking about rosters, and I took a look at all of the AL rosters to see how many players each team carried in each category. The Red Sox are one of only four teams that carry five outfielders; the rest carry only four. They are also one of only four teams (not the same four) that carry 11 pitchers instead of 12. My point is that they could send an outfielder down to the minors when Wells or Riske comes back instead of sending down a pitcher, couldn’t they? Or has Terry Francona decided that he wants to have five outfielders so he can essentially keep Willy Harris around to pinch run and doesn’t need 12 pitchers?

Interesting side note: the Chicago White Sox have EIGHT infielders on their active roster. Talk about platooning!

let’s hope they send Willie Harris back down. last two steal attempts he was picked off and thrown out at 2nd. so much for our Designated Runner.

too bad about tonight. one of the runs was due to a wakefield WP (actually it looked like a passed ball to me, but what do I know). sad to lose the close ones, but i guess the streak had to end somewhere and 13 was unlucky anyway…

Ian, can you please explain to us how a pitch over the middle of the plate, 4-6 inches high or 4-6 inches low is never called a strike, but is very hittable… yet pitches 4-6 inches inside or outside are virtually unhittable and consistently called strikes? Everyone knows that Maddux worked this flaw for 20 years, but should every average pitcher get these calls from almost half the umps? It’s great that the K-Zone exists and I really like seeing it on ESPN. Just because the catcher lines up outside and the pitcher hits the target… DOESN’T MEAN IT IS A STRIKE! Doesn’t the umpire occasionally say to himself… “Geez, there is usually a catcher sitting here right in front of me… and now he’s sitting over there… hmmm, plate is still here in front of me… maybe I should call that pitch a ball.”. My first main question is why all the rhetoric around enforcing the true strike zone? IT NEVER STICKS! And secondly, when are we going to start seeing the umpire statistics? We all know Questec grades them, we all know the technology is there, why not use this to push everyone towards more accurate calls? For goodness sakes, a class act like Bernie Williams threw his helmet at the umpire last week and got ejected! He missed the ump with decent velocity on the flying helmet by about 2 feet. Would there have been a suspension if he hit the ump? Maybe not after the powers that be saw the strike 3 call! I think it’s really painful to see a rally die because of these calls.

rayman: when Bernie was thrown out for supposedly throwing the helmet at the ump, what the ump called was probably a better call than the pitch that Bernie took. (oh my god, did I just kind of stand up for a Yankee??)now to all::Nation’ers please forgive me, but some of the calls tonight had me asking some of the same questions that rayman asked. How far off the plate does Doug have to sit before the ump notices?? OOPS! But forget (oh can I) the pitches, how many times are we going to let a man sit on 2nd or 3rd with 1 or no one out,and just abandon him (them) there?? That is a truly disturbing factor. I know that the other night I saw the bases loaded at least once with nothing happening to make the score keeper work. This is truly a dilema. Right now we don’t have the luxury of Papi or Manny cranking on a regular basis (which I’m sure will soon start to happen), so each base runner is GOLD!!! What is it that is going on that is keeping us from advancing our basemen? Let me say that I have been a Seanez “send him down” screamer, but he did o.k. tonight. I got scared when he came in but, I didnt yell but just a little. Sorry that Mr. Double didn’t have a good night. Loretta still made good contact. Youkilis had good eye against Bedard. What’s with the Willie Harris fasicination?? A fan rating of mediocre woud be gracious. I don’t normally get this negative but we got Mirabelli back, we have men on base, but we lose. I’m glad we’re off tommorow, I need a night off. So what will I do?? I’ll go talk about the last three games with my friend who doesn’t have MLB.COM…… GO SOX!!! practice, practice, practice.

Roger Clemons made adjustments by learning new pitches including a change of pace. Maybe Schill can, too, or the Red Sox are done for the year.

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