Swinging and Missing
Sometimes, when I work a game, I can get so wrapped up in the individual details that I lose the forest for the trees. It won’t be until after the game that I’ll notice that a player has gone three-for-four with five RBI, or that a pitcher retired fifteen consecutive batters. On the other hand, sometimes something at the microdetail level will strike me. Last night, in the Norfolk Tides’ 5-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers, it was about in the fifth inning that I noticed that very few pitches were swung at and missed by Clipper hitters. I started paying attention, and by the end of Chris Jakubauskas’ seven innings, only four of his 96 pitches had been swing-and-misses. (One more pitch may be recorded as a swing-and-miss, but it was really a non-strike-three foul tip, caught by the catcher.)
I think that the few numbers of swing-and-misses doesn’t bode well for Jakubauskas’ chances. Batters swing and miss because the pitch is overpoweringly fast, or because the pitch breaks substantially, or because the batter thinks the pitch is doing one thing when it’s really doing another. If a pitcher isn’t recording a lot of swing-and-misses, then he’s neither overpowering nor fooling batters. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.
The Tides brought in Alberto Castillo to pitch the eighth inning; he ended up facing five batters, retiring them all. Of his 24 pitches, there were four swing-and-misses — exactly as many as Jakubauskas had, facing five times as many batters.