Throwing strikes matters -- a lot 

October, 5, 2010

Today's winner in Stats & Analytics:

Doug Fister, Hiroki Kuroda, Jimmie Johnson

Today's losers:

Yovani Gallardo, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Sanchez

On the final Sunday of the regular season, Oliver Perez, the living, breathing symbol of the New York Mets' sunk-cost fallacy, took the mound in the 14th inning of a game against the Washington Nationals. Pitching for the first time in 27 days, Perez quickly hit a batter and walked two more. Like the 47 or so other Mets diehards watching this truly appropriate end to an awful year, I started screaming at my TV: "Throw a f@#$!% strike!" Ollie didn't, of course, and walked in the winning run.

Fans yell that a lot, and pitching coaches probably say the same thing when they visit the mound: "Throw a f@#$!% strike!" But we actually wouldn't want our favorite pitchers to throw strikes all the time, would we? If you throw too few strikes, you'll fall behind in the count. But throw too many strikes, and you become predictable, allowing opposing batters to tee off.

Like many things in baseball, it's all about balance. And if Yovani Gallardo and Cole Hamels ever want to make the leap into Felix Hernandez territory, they had better go out and find it.