Tonight, Homer did an amazing job – keeping the Reds in a game that most of the offense didn’t so much feel like joining. Thankfully, he threw 8 innings of 1-run baseball, including 10 strikeouts and no walks. The Brewers, who have a decent offense, managed only 6 hits, and 1 XBH in the game. That performance, and solo home runs by Cozart, Bruce, and Rolen were enough to earn us the win.
If you had told me this off-season that Homer Bailey would be the one helping Johnny Cueto nail down the starting pitching rotation the week after the All-Star break, I would have smirked and maybe sighed wistfully before making a non-committal remark like “Well, I certainly hope so.”
It’s not that I’ve ever really disliked Homer, but even objectively knowing that he’s still only 26 (just a few months older than me), when many pitchers don’t peak until a few years after that, it does wear on you when you see a top prospect like Homer struggle for many years in a row. Unfortunately, things sometimes just don’t turn out the way you think they ought to, and we certainly were getting more from Bailey than we got from Jeremy Sowers or Homer Bailey.
Afterall, we’ve had hopeful little bouts of excellence from Homer now and then. He was pretty good in the last part of last year, and the last part of the year after that, and a revelatory performance in the beginning of 2009 down in Louisville inspired this article on Homer’s new miracle split-finger fastball, learned from Bats teammate Justin Lehr. Although they’re classified as the same, you can tell from 2008 to 2009 where he switched from a shaky and inconsistent changeup to the split finger fastball, which he seems to command better.
This year, though, the human classification system that Brooks Baseball uses say that Bailey’s added a two-seamer or sinker to his recipe – a fast pitch that comes in a little on lefties, which, like, the splitter, he mostly uses on lefties. Pitch f/x says that he threw a two-seam fastball last year, too, but there may seem to be a little different going on between this year and last.
If Bailey has been able to add something to help him deal with left handed batters, that might help explain his recent success. So far, his 2012 splits have right handers OPSing .837 against him, and lefties .663. But that’s probably just small sample size.
Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s maturity. But for now, at least, I’m just happy to see it.