Todd's Takes: Giolito's Change, Doval's Control and a 37-Year-Old Regret

Todd's Takes: Giolito's Change, Doval's Control and a 37-Year-Old Regret

This article is part of our Todd's Takes series.

The Dog Ate My Homework

I wonder what excuse kids use now that most homework is done online. My dog ate my modem?

While Jose Berrios/Lucas Giolito hasn't reached the same heights as Bird/Magic or DiMaggio/Williams, the struggling pitchers have frequently been paired when asking, "What is wrong with...?"

Last week, I promised to watch Giolito's Monday start, and since I don't have a dog, here are some observations.

Before the game, I was curious about some of Giolito's under-the-hood metrics. If you recall, his transformation from the league's worst starter in 2018 to a near fantasy ace since resulted from altered mechanics which in part generated more spin. Perhaps Giolito is being victimized.

Four-Seam Fastball

SeasonVelocity (mph)Spin (rpm)

2018

92.5

2098.4

2019

94.2

2332.2

2020

94.0

2348.4

2021

93.8

2344.4

2022

93.1

2158.1

Last season should be parsed into before and after umpires were directed to check for sticky stuff, focusing on just the four-seamer:

 Velocity (mph)Spin (rpm)
Before June 2293.72429
After June 2294.02271

This may not be the sole cause and effect. Perhaps Giolito loses spin as the season wears on. Unfortunately, with the abbreviated 2020 campaign, we only have 2019 to review:

 Velocity (mph)Spin (rpm)
Before June 22, 201994.12304
After June 22, 201994.42367

So much for that. Based upon a huge sample of one season, three years ago, last season's dip was very likely adjusting to policing the grip enhancement rules,

The Dog Ate My Homework

I wonder what excuse kids use now that most homework is done online. My dog ate my modem?

While Jose Berrios/Lucas Giolito hasn't reached the same heights as Bird/Magic or DiMaggio/Williams, the struggling pitchers have frequently been paired when asking, "What is wrong with...?"

Last week, I promised to watch Giolito's Monday start, and since I don't have a dog, here are some observations.

Before the game, I was curious about some of Giolito's under-the-hood metrics. If you recall, his transformation from the league's worst starter in 2018 to a near fantasy ace since resulted from altered mechanics which in part generated more spin. Perhaps Giolito is being victimized.

Four-Seam Fastball

SeasonVelocity (mph)Spin (rpm)

2018

92.5

2098.4

2019

94.2

2332.2

2020

94.0

2348.4

2021

93.8

2344.4

2022

93.1

2158.1

Last season should be parsed into before and after umpires were directed to check for sticky stuff, focusing on just the four-seamer:

 Velocity (mph)Spin (rpm)
Before June 2293.72429
After June 2294.02271

This may not be the sole cause and effect. Perhaps Giolito loses spin as the season wears on. Unfortunately, with the abbreviated 2020 campaign, we only have 2019 to review:

 Velocity (mph)Spin (rpm)
Before June 22, 201994.12304
After June 22, 201994.42367

So much for that. Based upon a huge sample of one season, three years ago, last season's dip was very likely adjusting to policing the grip enhancement rules, as is this season's drop.

That said, likely helped by a better riding fastball, it's been Giolito's changeup fueling his emergence as a top flight starter and this season, not only is he throwing it less often, he's also throwing it less effectively.

SeasonUsageSwStrk%wOBA
201816.20%17.40%0.279
201926.20%22.80%0.267
202033.70%24.20%0.254
202131.80%20.20%0.281
202223.60%20.40%0.384

Putting everything together, I wanted to focus on Giolito's changeup usage and effectiveness, while monitoring four-seam spin rates. That said, I didn't want to be distracted and/or biased by the numbers, so I didn't look up any of the spin data until after the outing.

A more general observation, and admittedly this may be merely my brain playing tricks on me because it helps advance a narrative, but Giolito seemed to pick up confidence as the game progressed. Keep in mind he was coming off two poor efforts where he yielded 15 runs in 10 frames. He also seemed shaken when his defense let him down early.

I wasn't tracking pitch by pitch, but it appeared that Giolito's changeup was great. He tripled up on Shohei Ohtani, punching him out swinging. However, he also got burned on an 0-2 count when Jared Walsh wasn't fooled and tripled off a change that Giolito didn't bury enough. 

Giolito really seemed to trust the pitch in the fifth and sixth, his final two frames. He threw another one to Walsh, showing confidence in the pitch despite Walsh lacing one earlier. He doubled up on Mike Trout in the fifth, fanning him with two swinging strikes after a 1-1 count.

Maybe this is low-hanging fruit, but I'm confident Giolito will finish the season close to what is expected. I can't say the same about Berrios. Granted, I'd like to see Giolito mow down a better lineup than the Angels, but I'm not benching him against anyone.

We started with some numbers, so for fun let's check out the pitch data for this start.

 UsageSwStrk%wOBA
Four-Seam45.6%2.4%0.264
Slider30.0%11.1%0.293
Changeup24.4%45.5%0.282

Sure enough, the changeup was quite effective. Maybe it's due to the opposition, but nonetheless, Giolito induced a swinging strike on nearly half of the changeups he threw.

In Case I Throw a Strike

Back in the day, I wasn't a bad softball player. I'd often get asked, "Why do you swing so hard?" Well duh, in case I hit the ball.

I haven't caught too many Giants games so I haven't seen Camilo Doval pitch very much. Talk about a max effort delivery...wow.

Doval recorded a four-out save on Tuesday night, throwing nine of his 16 pitches for strikes. That said, at least two were gifts from the Tigers, who swung at pitches well out of the zone. Yeah, I know this is often the intent, but I'm pretty sure Doval throws so hard in case he throws a strike.

For the season, his 65 percent strike mark is league average while his 9.4 percent walk rate is a tad high. Maybe I just caught an outing where Doval's control was a bit off, but he certainly appears to be an uncomfortable watch for Giants fans. And that's coming from a Red Sox fan. Speaking of which...

Missed Opportunity

Before proceeding, let's recognize why Tanner Houck wasn't available and leave it at that. My commentary is strictly about Alex Cora's managerial decisions, not why he was put in the position (Houck being unable to cross the border).

After dropping Game 1 of the series to the Blue Jays, Boston battled back from a three run deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the eighth. With the contest tied at four in the bottom of the seventh, Cora called upon John Schreiber, even though he reportedly named him as the closer for the series. Considering Boston tied things up in the top half, and Vladimir Guerrero, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel were due up for Toronto, I was fine with Schreiber. The righty needed a double play, but he faced the minimum, throwing just 11 pitches.

After the Red Sox took the lead in the eighth, Cora summoned Tyler Danish for the bottom half. OK, sure, Matt Strahm must be the plan for the ninth.

Danish did his job, then was on the mound to begin the ninth. Huh?

He allowed the first two to reach before being lifted for Hansel Robles, who gave up two hits, allowing both inherited runners to score. Ballgame over.

I hardly ever question manager decisions, but if someone was going to work multiple innings, why not Schreiber? Was he being saved for the series finale?

I found the decision to double down with Danish to be curious, not to mention leaving Strahm in the bullpen, who hadn't pitched since June 25.

With the delayed posting of the piece, I can point out Schreiber was indeed used in the seventh on Wednesday, so perhaps Cora was saving him. Ryan Brasier worked the eighth, then Matt Strahm blew the save in the ninth and almost the game in the tenth, but he held on for a vulture win.

This calls into question Cora's philosophy. He comes from the Terry Francona managing tree, and Francona has always talked about how he will in essence sacrifice one game for the greater good. When he gives a player the day off, he gets the whole day off and isn't used as a pinch-hitter. This was on display last week in a game against the Twins where Francona left a couple of batters on the bench in scenarios where they could have pinch hit. The notion is the off day is as much mental as it is physical, and if the player has to be on his toes in case he's asked to bat, it's really not an off day.

Of course, most fans are in the moment and only care about winning that game. The scenario wasn't the same for Cora and Schreiber, but there are similarities. Personally, I wish Schreiber pitched another frame on Tuesday. I know, it's not even July, but it was a big game. Boston was coming off a nice stretch but had their momentum halted by Kevin Gausman. Winning Tuesday (especially with Alek Manoah slated for Wednesday) was a big deal.

Admittedly, my reasoning may be jaded. I know this is hard to believe, but softball wasn't my only athletic jam. We played dormitory league, seven-on-seven intramural football in my undergraduate days. My team was undefeated (and unscored upon). One of the best players was on the varsity hoops team (this is a Division 3 school), and practice had just started, so he was going to miss the semis and finals. The guy got his coach to let him miss just one of the two practices and asked the team to choose. Cocky as we were, we told him to go to practice during the semifinals, as we wanted him with us to celebrate the championship.

Narrator: They lost the semifinal game.

Box Score Blitz (Tuesday, June 28)

  • CLE 3, MIN 2 (Game 1): Devin Smeltzer and Zach Plesac both pitched well, but neither was involved in the decision. Smeltzer has quietly recorded five quality starts in his nine outings. We can debate the utility of a quality start, but I see five times Smeltzer hurled at least six innings, which is rare in today's landscape. Not to mention, there's a practical application since innings are integral to points leagues and DFS scoring.
  • ATL 5, PHI 3: It looked like a rough outing for Zack Wheeler after he surrendered two solo shots in the first inning, but he battled and left with a... quality start. A.J. Minter secured the first Braves save following the news Kenley Jansen will be sidelined with an irregular heartbeat, though Will Smith captured the save on Wednesday. Smith will likely garner the bulk of the chances. 
  • NYY 2, OAK 1: It looks like one of those years for the Yankees. They called up JP Sears, ostensibly to give the rest of the rotation an extra day, matching him up against Frankie Montas. Of course the Bronx Bombers prevailed. Clay Holmes collected the save. After suggesting Aroldis Chapman would reclaim the closer job when he returns, Aaron Boone has backtracked a bit, so Holmes could retain the gig a bit longer.
  • WSH 3, PIT 1: No, Patrick Corbin isn't good again; the Pirates are just bad. Well, they can be, though Pittsburgh is beginning to show hints of a plan. 
  • TOR 6, BOS 5: It's a start. After Tuesday's game, Matt Chapman was slashing .266/.333/.544 in June with five homers.  
  • HOU 9, NYM 1: Remember when Kyle Tucker was a disappointment? He's up to 19th best player on our Earned Auction Values. Yordan Alvarez is fifth. Let's hope he and Jeremy Pena are OK after Wednesday's scary collision.
  • MIL 5, TB 3: Brandon Woodruff is not only back, he registered season highs on the velocity and spin on both his two- and four-seam fastballs.
  • MIN 6, CLE 0 (Game 2): Josh Winder only fanned one, but he hurled a solid six innings. Even so, Winder was the Twins 27th man for the twin bill and will return to Triple-A. Bailey Ober should be back in the mix soon, but Winder will likely have another shot to contribute, perhaps regularly, down the road.
  • STL 5, MIA 3: Jon Berti did not steal a base. Dump him, he's washed. OK, maybe not, but Joey Wendle is due back soon, and Brian Anderson is back. However, Jazz Chisholm was placed on the IL on Wednesday. Speaking of steals, Tommy Edman bagged his 19th for the Redbirds.
  • CIN 5, CHC 3: Luis Castillo halted a mini skid with his best effort of the season. He'll soon be on hug watch alert, if he isn't already. On the other side, Keegan Thompson recorded his third straight six-inning outing, fanning 24 with just three free passes over those 18 stanzas. Thompson has entered the realm of streamability. I don't care what spellcheck says, it is a word.
  • TEX 8, KC 3:  Jon Gray may have nailed down June Pitcher of the Month honors with another solid effort, ending the month with a 2.39 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, whiffing 44 while issuing only 12 bases on balls in 37.2 innings.
  • COL 7, LAD 4: Granted, Clayton Kershaw has had some success in Coors Field, but by and large it's been his Kryptonite and was again here as the Rockies tagged him for six runs in four frames. Kyle Freeland limited the Dodgers to three tallies over six stanzas. 
  • CHW 11, LAA 4: Tim Anderson's 3-for-6 effort raised his average to .344. Those contending he can't maintain a high level with his approach will be right... eventually. Since May 22, Jose Abreu is slashing 344/.442/.550.
  • ARI 7, SD 6: The Diamondbacks were down 6-0 before plating seven runs over the final three frames. The Padres asked Taylor Rogers to get six outs, but he came up one short, blowing his fourth save. Jorge Alfaro was 2-for-5 with three RBI, bringing his line to .283/.316/.483. Alfaro has quietly been one of the better fantasy backstops.
  • SF 4, DET 3: Carlos Rodon wasn't dominant, but he still posted a quality start. On the other side, Tarik Skubal had trouble locating, which is an issue against the third most patient team in the league.
  • SEA 2, BAL 0: Robbie Ray registered his third seven-inning effort in his last four starts, but he was nearly matched pitch-for-pitch by Dean Kremer. This was Kremer's third straight scoreless effort, though he only fanned 14 in those 18.2 frames. Even so, Kremer has earned streamer status. OK, maybe streamability isn't a word.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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