The life of a two-pitch starting pitcher is a difficult one. If either of your go-to offerings isn’t working on a given night, you’re in deep trouble, trying to pitch around a fundamental weakness and an ephemeral one at the same time. Two-pitch starters (and please note that I’m using that term liberally, as nearly all starting pitchers have at least three pitches they throw on occasion) also tend to be more vulnerable than their more balanced brethren on even their best days, be it to home runs, command problems or platooning.
Edwin Jackson is a two-pitch starter, with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and a slider with tremendous depth and bite. He had a miserable 2013 season, largely because too often, he was unable to bring both pitches to bear in his outings.
Jackson’s troubles are usually mechanical. He often struggles to consistently drive over his front leg and finish his arm stroke, which leads to both dampened stuff and an inability to locate.
Location is crucial for him, too. What Jackson does do very well, mechanically, is disguise his slider by using the same arm speed and slot he uses for the fastball. For that to matter, though, Jackson has to establish his fastball in the area of the zone to which his sliders seem to go when they leave his hand: low and away to right-handed batters.
Jackson was in rare and excellent form on Tuesday night. He was hitting that corner with his fastball, making both that pitch and the slider nearly impossible to handle. You can see the deception he gets from the delivery. You can see how batters end up on top of the ball, if they make contact at all.
There are too few nights like that one. For Jackson, though, the sky is the limit when he has his release point.Next post: MLB Power Rankings, May 8: A Word Per Game Played
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