I elected to look at four of the opening days performances: Verlander, Greinke, Lincecum, and Halladay. Honourable mentions go to Marcum and Jimenez who set aside six each. Also interesting was Seam Marshall who in 2.67 innings missed 5 Brave bats with 5 swoopy curveballs.
Verlander: Last year’s victor took the start versus the royally inept, baby blue clad, Kansas ball club and despite having his fastball at top speed, and both off-speed offerings working, he managed a mere 6 K’s in the process. As a silver lining he did make Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik look pretty hapless.
Greinke: Normally very diverse operator in the realm of punch-outs, yesterday Zach was only able to seal the deal with sliders, and only four times at that. An unrealistic conjecture of pop-sport psychology would posit that as a result of today’s bullpen melt down, Greinke will –to this site’s chagrin - ditch high Pitch-Count/Strikeout strategy for a more Contact-based/higher inning total approach. Dam you Robinson Tejada. Dam you Juan Cruz. Dam you Roman Colon.
Lincecum’s change is officially a “double plus good” pitch. More interesting was the absence of strikeouts with his fastball. In his first inning he worked up to 95 mph, but by the seventh it was a 90-92 mph pitch. Early season rust, I suppose. Also interesting was his frequent use of the 83 mph breaking pitch (over the 77 mph version) which last year he used only about 5% of the time.
The Doctor was in the national league. If one game is anything to go from (it’s not really) he’ll have no problem leading the majors in K’s following the offseason Junior-2-Senior circuit swap. If anything I think it just means we should watch the Nationals as a source for high strikeout games. In any event, Halladay pounded the zone to great success. Six of the K’s were on pitches in the strike zone, and seven were on four pitches or less. In short: Dominance.