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Very interesting topic. There are a lot of factors that are going to play into what pitch is called in this situation. If you've been running fastballs up there all afternoon/at bat to that hitter you are going to want to mix it up a bit, and vice versa. If you've been throwing in, you may want to throw out. Same with up and down.

Pitchers/catchers don't go through an at-bat one pitch at a time most times. They are trying to set up a hitter to maximize their strengths and the hitters weaknesses.

My opinion, since Ramirez is a reliever, is that if you are going to get beat/lose the battle, do it by throwing your best pitch...which was the change (hopefully low and away).

Also...love the 'trades you don't make' box that is up there now.

Very good insight, both by Leiter/Flahety and by you Brian. Awesome post.

That having been said... you never, ever want to lose as a reliever because your threw your second or third best pitch (ask Mark Wohlers against Jim Leyritz). You go with your best stuff in that situation. In Ramirez's case, like Cobra said, the change is his best pitch. Props to the rookie for shaking off Posada. He might not be "a real man", but he got the out.

Also, I wrote this comment yesterday about that graphic, but it didn't go through. Luckily I saved it to post it again today:

The most incredible thing about that graphic is 16 hits in 7 innings pitched. Wow. This guy used to be considered better than Mo just a few seasons back (and truthfully, at the time he was). If nothing else, it illustrates the longevity of Mo's brilliance.

And that Gagne really sucks.

Edwar definitely did the right thing, but it still never sits right with me. Sometimes the right thing can feel so wrong, I guess.

I think the best correlation I can draw is when a golfer lays up when you know he could hit the green. Obviously the right thing to do in some situations, but you still hate to see it. Jesus, did I just reference golf?

Anyway, I love the 3-2 showdown, just feel a little cheated when the pitcher refuses to partake.

I'm a little confused about this whole situation...I never played organized baseball, so I dont really know what goes into situations like this...

So, Edwar's best pitch is his change-up. So, then why would the "right" call from the catcher be to throw a fastball? I mean, I kinda understand your explanation, but something about it just doesn't sit right with me.

Secondly, I think Flaherty's "you have to challenge the hitter" explanation is actually pretty poor. First off, I generally hate rationalizations that begin with "You just have to..." because it's usually what people say to me when debating sports and they don't have a solid foundation to their argument. I always say to them "Yeah, but WHY do you HAVE to do that?" and they can never give me a clear-cut answer.

So anyway, speaking specifically about what Flaherty said, wouldn't "challenging" the hitter be to throw the best pitch, namely the change-up? Especially if the hitter knows how catchers think and is expecting the fastball? Wouldn't that make the change-up an even MORE effective pitch?

Which brings me to my next point: major league hitters are really really really good. When they're expecting fastballs, they can usually do some damage with them, especially when they are expecting them and the pitcher is not someone who throws 100 MPH. If you don't mix up the pitch selection when the count is full, wouldn't the hitters just be looking fastball and crush it when they see it?

And lastly, what if the pitcher on the mound is someone that can consistently get his breaking pitches over for strikes, like Pedro in his prime? Wouldn't an off-speed pitch be double "challenging" to the hitter, first because of the movement of the pitch (making it harder to get good contact on it), and secondly because the pitcher can throw it for a strike. You can even say it's triple-challenging, if you consider the fact that the hitter might be fooled by looking for the fastball.

I dont know, maybe I just don't "get it" since I never played organized baseball, but it seems to me like the best strategy would be to mix up the pitch selection (especially with an aggressive, free-swinger at bat), with more emphasis on the pitcher's best pitch.

Jack makes a great point about throwing your best pitch with a full count. I used to pitch and rarely threw curves on a full count. My curve sucked and was likely to come inside and plunk the batter if I was worked up. I had a great catcher that understood that and avoided calls for it on a full count. A good catcher knows their pitcher's strengths and avoids their weaknesses. My catcher was so good, he could even make me appear decent.

Tom,

You're on the money as far as strategy goes. If the pitcher can get his off speed stuff over, then he should shake his catcher off and throw it. I'm not disagreeing with that. I'm just saying I hate to see it.

The 3-2 count is the most pure you vs. me situation in sports. It's the definition of all-things-being equal, are you good enough to hit my fastball. The pitcher has to throw a strike, the hitter has to swing at it if it's in the zone. My philosophy has always been that if you wanted to dick around with a change or a curve, you should've done it before we got to a full count. The full count is where we separate the men from the boys.

As a player, coach, observer, fan whatever hat I've worn, there's nothing I've hated more than walks. I think if you call anything but a fastball, you're increasing the odds of a walk, and you're trying to sidestep that confrontation that I've been waiting for.

There's a certain type of pitcher who lives for this confrontation, and they've always been my favorite pitchers to catch/watch. Then, there are guys who use their brains instead of their emotions/sense of pride in those situations. The only thing I ever had to say to them is, "If you shake me off, you better not hang the curve."

As to what Flaherty said, "You have to challenge him there..." What I took away from it is you have to challenge him because you can't defend a walk. The fastball is the easiest pitch to control, so you have to make the number 8 hitter earn his way on base.

Not sure if this clears it up for you. All I can tell you is that this has always been my philosophy, and I think most catchers feel this way. Pitchers, not so much.

Cool..thanks for the explanation Brian. It pretty much makes sense now

I hate walks just as much as the next guy (especially to a non-power hitter), but it's important to throw the occasional off-speed pitch in obvious fastball counts, so that you put just enough doubt in the hitter's head. And if you're a guy like Edwar that has a sick change or Joba who has a devastating slider, mixing in that off-speed pitch will really get the hitter wondering.

So, if you walk a guy occasionally on 3-2, it will probably be worth it in the long-run, because of all the additional outs you'll record by not allowing the hitter to pounce a fastball he knows is coming. Of course, you dont want to walk too many guys....but the occasional walk on a 3-2 count, especially with two outs in the inning, won't kill the team


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