I’ve spent the last few days watching Erik Bedard’s 2007 starts. They were pretty instructive as to how he works.
- Low-mid 90s fastball with some movement, spotted well.
- High 70s 11-5 curveball, sometimes has difficulty locating.
- Mid 80s straight change. Doesn’t do much.
He gets most of his called strikes with the fastball, working both corners, and he gets a fair amount of swinging strikes on it too. It’s easier to hit than the curve, but still an excellent pitch. He’s especially fond of the outside corner, and you don’t see him elevate the ball that often.
Virtually no called strikes with the curveball, and the catcher’s glove moves a lot trying to follow the pitch around. However, the thing is impossible to hit (I think Jeff Sullivan pointed out to me that there was 7x as many swinging strikes on Bedard’s curve than there were hits). He generally tries to go down and in to righties and low and away to lefties, but the curve has a habit of wandering all over.
The change seems like more of a show-me pitch than anything else. He doesn’t play around with it much when he’s on with the fastball and the curve.
The key to his transformation from pretty good pitcher to legit ace seems to come from a slight change in his curveball delivery. It was easier for batters to pick up before ’07, and therefore they could lay off it for a ball. Not so much this year. Watching batters go against it is amusing – they really don’t know what’s coming out of his hands, a fastball or a curve, and so they’ll swing at pitches in the dirt or, sitting curve, watch a fastball into the corner of the zone. His delivery on the curve has moved more in line with the fastball, which cuts down walks and boosts Ks (in essence because the bad guys are swinging at balls more often).
The best news about it? It’s sustainable. There’s really no reason I can see that Bedard can’t approximate this level of success over the next couple of years. The only worry I have is injury.
Bedard is awesome. Our rotation kicks ass. I may have issues with the trade from a longterm roster construction point of view, but there’s little doubt that we’re better off this year for it.
Incidentally, I have us at 88 wins right now. That won’t be enough, but hey. We were lucky last year, why not repeat it?