Sometimes It Really Does Make Sense to Throw It Down the Middle and Other Bullets

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Sometimes It Really Does Make Sense to Throw It Down the Middle and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

dan haren cubsThe ‘Deadwood’ movie is happening. I’m mostly happy about this, because I enjoyed the show quite a bit, and it didn’t get much of an ending after three seasons. On the other hand, my interest in the show had waned by the third season – the novelty of the setting and the characters can take you only so far, and the story, itself, was lacking. Perhaps condensing what would have, perhaps, been a final season into a single movie will alleviate that issue.

  • Dan Haren offered up some interesting tidbits about his career earlier this week, as well as some humor. Within those remarks, he mentioned that sometimes, late in his career, when he went down 3-1, he would just throw it right down the middle and hope for the best. Jeff Sullivan actually analyzed that phenomenon, just to check it out (because that’s an awesome thing to do about an off-hand Twitter admission – this era we live in!), and it was true. And most incredibly: Haren’s performance drop from an 0-0 count to a 3-1 count (when all pitchers get knocked around) was one of the smallest in all of baseball from 2012 to 2015! Moreover, the times his meatball really was right down the middle on a 3-1 count, it pretty much always worked out just fine. That’s probably a bit of a fluke, but hey, it’s a reminder: if you’re already down 3-1, maybe you should just see what the batter can do, rather than trying to further nibble. Again, in the aggregate, batters perform really, really well in 3-1 counts, so there’s no magic bullet once you’re already in that hole. But maybe for some pitchers, those batters can perform just a tiny bit less well if you simply let them swing.
  • Also, in that article, you are reminded: Dan Haren, overall, had a really great career. Cubs fans will probably have a skewed memory, since Haren wasn’t exceptional with the Cubs after the 2015 midseason trade (although remember that one start against the Cardinals?). But he was really, really great in his younger days. And, hey, even with the Cubs, that 4.01 ERA wasn’t that far below the overall NL average of 3.91.
  • Yesterday, we talked about the impact of cold weather on offensive performance, as broken down by position. If you didn’t read it, you should, because it wound up making for an interesting discussion on Jorge Soler. The Hardball Times study that led to that discussion has a second part today, which focuses on other relationships between game temperature and player performance, with a nod to Soler. Of particular interest to sports myth busters: there appears to be no negative relationship between geography of origin and player performance in cold temperatures. That is to say, while it’s possible that Soler is uniquely bad in the cold (though, again, I point to the issue that all outfielders face, as we discussed yesterday), it’s not necessarily simple because he comes from a warm weather climate. Read up on the study for more on player performance and temperature. Interesting stuff.
  • A Cubs nutrition consultant is about to be on a reality show. It’s about exercise and diet, so there’s a connection there. Otherwise, that would be really random. Like if a top executive went on Survivor or something. And got voted out immediately.
  • A fantastic, deep read from Matt Trueblood at BP on the various ways the Cubs could innovate in 2016 – one of which is to even more aggressively utilize their four super utility pitchers, Trevor Cahill, Adam Warren, Travis Wood, and Clayton Richard (though Trueblood misses the obvious opportunity to use the super utility pitcher designation).

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.