Grant Balfour’s Big Let Down

By Rich Herrera - @RBIRich

Last night many folks went to bed after they felt comfortable that the Tampa Bay Rays had the game in hand. A lead in the bottom of the 9th and the closer ready to finish off the game. A funny thing happened on the way to the high-five line. The Rays saw the entire thing blow up in the 9th as Balfour walked two and gave up a base hit before Joe Maddon gave him the hook. He went to the pen and brought in Boxburger and he gave up the game winner in a jack to Mike Trout.

So what happened last night. Well there will be games like that no matter how good a bad a team is. But last night lets take a look a little deeper on what happened and why the game blew up for the Rays.
Maddon made the right move bringing Balfour, and after that things went south for the Rays.

Balfour is a three pitch pitcher. Fastball, slider, and a curveball he picked up in Oakland. When he was with the Rays back in 2008 the year the Rays went to the World Series he threw his fastball over 90% of the time. When he went to Oakland he developed a curve to go along with the slider he would throw when he did not go with the heater. Last year in Oakland he threw fastball 65% of the time, slider 27.5% curveball 3.3% change up 3% of the time. This season he is tossing fastball nearly 51% of the time with the slider 42.3% of the time mixing in the curve and the change almost 3% of the time.

Now if you saw the two at walks he gave up did you notice he didn’t get the Angels hitters to chase any close pitchers with two strikes. In 2013 he had hitters chasing pitches 28.9% of the time, this year it’s down to 15.4% of the time. He threw a first pitch strike 55.6% of the time, this year 46.4% of the time. Hitters are not swinging and missing as much this season at well 2013 10.7% of the time, this year 6.7% of the time.

Bottom line with Balfour, more sliders that normal, not enough fastballs, and hitters are not chasing pitches.

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