Disclaimer first... If you ever decide you're gonna take a look at the last few outings by a pitcher and want to include data from Fangraphs, MLB, and baseball-reference... DON'T. Seriously. It's a waste of fucking time. I had my own opinion, but decided to let numbers back it up. Sure enough, I was correct, but I spent hours doing it and now have way too much information to use. It boggles my mind how much info is out there about the games. Down to every single pitch. It's fucking crazy!
So, what was the bottom line that I saw with my eyes, and formulated in my head but wanted to back up with numbers? That Joel is more effective when throwing more fastballs, and getting away from his slider. Result? Confirmed. Also a result? Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Let's go back to May 18th. He entered the game against the Pirates down 3 runs. He ended up facing 7 batters, and the Pirates left that inning adding 3 more runs. Joel gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and had 2 strike outs. He threw a total of 32 pitches. 17 strikes and 15 balls. The break down on pitch type; 20 Fastballs and 12 sliders. He threw 13 of those fastballs for strikes, 7 for balls. He threw 5 of the sliders for strikes, leaving 7 thrown as balls.
The next bad outing for him was May 20th versus the same Pirates. He entered that game with the score tied in the 9th. He faced 7 batters. Again. He also got the loss in that game, giving up 3 hits, striking out none, and walking 1, which led to a run. He threw 35 pitches this time. 23 strikes and 12 balls. The pitch type was 20 fastballs, and 15 sliders. 15 fastballs were thrown for strikes, with 5 fastballs thrown for balls. The sliders broke down as 8 for strikes, and 7 for balls.
He then turns a corner of sorts. It was mentioned in the press somewhere (but fuck if I can find it now) that they were asking him to get away from the slider, and to rely on his best pitch... his fastball.
May 21st against the Pirates, he came in with a 1 run lead and got the save. He only had to face 4 batters, and gave up 1 hit, 0 walks, and had 2 strikeouts. The kind of line you love to see from a closer, right? He only had to throw 19 pitches that inning, as well. Here's where it gets interesting... 17 of the 19 pitches he threw were fastballs. 11 fastball strikes, 6 fastball balls, and 2 sliders, both for balls. He threw a slider to start the first batter he faced, and then brought it out once more... throwing it to the third batter he faced and giving up a single on that pitch.
On May 23rd he entered the game down a run versus the Orioles. He makes sure the score stays that way when he's done, too, giving our offense a chance for the win. He only faced 3 batters, and gave up no hits. He threw only 7 God damn pitches. All fastballs. No sliders. Five of the fastballs were strikes, with only two outside the zone.
Finally, his last game was May 24th, also against the Orioles. He got the save by coming into the inning up 3 runs, and leaving it that way. He faced only three batters again, this time throwing 13 pitches; with 12 of the 13 pitches being fastballs. He struck out two, with the third out being a 4-3 ground out. 8 strikes and 4 balls for the fastballs, with the lone slider being fouled off by the first batter with the count 3-2.
I think it's safe to say he's feeling good throwing his fastball, and it's about damn time, ain't it? He also did that throwing to Wil (1) and Josh Bard (2) both, so the game calling has been dictated to the catchers as well.
It's also safe to say I'm more comfortable with him coming in to close games than I have been all season. You can throw that fastball by guys, kid, so keep on keeping on. (He averaged 94.9 MPH/fastball those last 3 games.) If the offense could have scores two runs in the May 23rd game, his last 3 appearances would've garnered two saves and a win. As it is it's 2 saves.
So, to sum this shit up, I've got two pictures for you. The first being Hammer Hands well deserved Awesome Dude of the Day Medal, which I have been slacking on. My apologies, fans of the ADOTDM. I'll be sure to pick up the pace later.
The second picture is how much effort I put into this shit. And I will never do it again.*
*Probably a lie. There is a good chance I'll be bored enough at some point to break down something else that doesn't need breaking down.