Brady Singer Could Stand To Be a Bit More Wild
Not all strikes are good strikes and Singer threw too many bad strikes last night.
There’s a decent chance that when we look back on the 2021 season in a few months, April 12th against the Angels will be the sloppiest game the Royals played all season. The first four runs scored by the Angels did not include an RBI. That takes some skill. It started with a double error that scored two runs, then a run scored on a double play (the only earned run in the first half of the game) and then another scored on a rare error by Nicky Lopez. It was ugly. It got uglier. But we don’t need to rehash that.
I want to talk about the fact that Brady Singer threw too many strikes. Okay, I really wanted to talk about Singer’s changeup, but he didn’t throw enough. I looked at each of the 10 he threw in his first start against the Rangers and found it interesting that Salvador Perez set up in the bottom outside corner of the zone on all 10 and he hit his target twice and pulled six of them glove side. But then he went and threw two changeups last night and ruined that idea.
Anyway, back to the issue of Singer spending too much time in the zone. That sounds weird and it’s probably not actually entirely accurate, but the general idea is there. Take a look at his pitch chart from last night’s game:
I was at the game last night, so I didn’t get the chance to see it on television to get the view from behind the pitcher like you do, but it sure felt like he was spending far too much down in the zone and toward the middle of it as opposed to working around the edges. The above chart doesn’t completely confirm that thought, but it does come close, especially considering he started working up in the zone more in his last inning of work.
On the bright side, both changeups were where Perez wanted them, but he obviously relied heavily (as is typical) on his sinker and slider. His sinker was strong, especially early, hitting 97.4 on his called strikeout of David Fletcher to start the game. In his excellent first, he really threw one pitch that caught too much of the zone, and it was against Mike Trout. He was lucky that Trout didn’t swing because it likely would have been another first inning deficit if he did. Ultimately, he got the strikeout of the game’s best player and then picked off Shohei Ohtani to end the inning.
The second is where the bad strikes began. His second pitch to Jared Walsh was in a happy zone:
The next batter was Justin Upton and there was another sinker that hung up in the zone and was hit at 102.2 to right field. And two pitches later, another sinker that needed to be three or four inches lower. It was a hard hit flyout to Michael A. Taylor who had a great angle to get Walsh out at third but the throw hit him, allowing him to score and then the time when Singer wanted to throw a perfect strike, well, he didn’t. I won’t make you watch it again, but if you want to, you can click here.
Singer finished that inning living on the edges of the zone and was able to get through 54-year old Albert Pujols and Jose Iglesias with ease to end the inning. And then when the third began, Singer was at it again, living in the bottom part of the zone, but not low enough to actually make a difference giving up a single to Max Stassi on a pitch that was just too hittable. He did make a good pitch to Fletcher that was hit anyway, but it set up the double play that scored a run. And he handled Trout again, this time with a pitch on the edge. Are you seeing a theme?
The fourth was a good inning for Singer and was the first time he really elevated. Look at this sequence against Walsh:
Much better than the previous at bat with him. He ultimately got away with a center cut sinker to Jose Rojas as the inning was winding down, but lived up and on the edges and had his second best inning. And finally, let’s move on to the fifth. He gave up a hit to Pujols. Where was the pitch? Too much in the zone is where it was. Against Jose Iglesias? It wasn’t too bad, but maybe three inches farther to the corner and it’s an out. He got a groundout from Stassi on another pitch that was hittable. Then he got a weak lineout from Fletcher on another pitch that was too hittable. I personally thought his best pitching was the at bat that should have been the third out but ended up an error.
That was a lot to go through to show what I’m talking about, but Singer looked good last night. The stuff was crisp. The slider looked generally good. But if he’s only going to throw two pitches, he really has to avoid the center of the plate more than he did. His defense let him down, but his catching too much of the zone put his defense in the position to let him down. His final line looked okay. He gave up just one earned run in five innings and struck out six with no walks. But ultimately, the Royals and the flailing offense early was left with another deficit. There’s a difference between strikes and quality strikes. When Singer learns that (and probably utilizes a third pitch a little more), I’ll be curious to see if he can take a real step forward.
Just Put Dozier on the Shelf
Yesterday I wrote about Jesse Hahn and he was placed on the IL within hours, so maybe I have a power here, but if Hunter Dozier is going to continue to have issues with his thumb, the Royals need to just put him on the injured list until it completely heals up. When he left on Opening Day, the thought was that he could come back in a couple days and he was able to, but he was clearly not right and they already missed a golden opportunity to give him some time off without missing too many games. So they missed that chance, but they really ought to not compound the mistake by doing it again. Put him on the IL and let him get healthy. It’s a long season.
There’s an added bonus to putting Dozier on the IL, and it’s that they can take the opportunity to give Kelvin Gutierrez a couple weeks to show if his winter league numbers were for real. He’s going to be out of options after the season and while he’s likely already on the outs, the Royals can at least get one more good look at him before the obvious option is Bobby Witt, Jr.
The Royals have averaged five runs per game so far this season, which is pretty darn good. Of course, they scored 25 in their first two games and have scored 15 in the six games since. That’s not good. When a team doesn’t score, they just look awful and right now, just about every run seems like it’s pulling teeth for the team to push across. I haven’t liked what I’ve seen from Andrew Benintendi and Jorge Soler took a brief break from all the striking out last night to bloop a single on a ball he should have destroyed. But I can’t help but think just a week ago, everyone was excited about the potential of this offense.
For one thing, it’s been six games that they’ve looked bad. And yes, they’ve looked really bad for much of them, but it’s also just six games. More importantly, tonight’s game is going to be the first time in 2021 that they’ve played more than two days in a row. I just have a tough time evaluating an offense in a game that relies on rhythm when they haven’t had any opportunity to get into any kind of rhythm. They’ll face some very good pitching on this homestand, but even so, I’m personally waiting to pass judgment until they have an opportunity to get into the rhythm they need. If they end the homestand with something like 25 runs in their final nine games, okay, let’s talk. Until then, I’m not going to work myself up over their struggles.