Friday, November 7, 2008

The Maine Reason

2008 was supposed to be the year John Maine really evolved into the topflight pitcher he showed glimpses of  at the beginnings of the 2006 and 2007 seasons.  But that didn't happen. Instead John Maine was good for 5 innings, not more and the icing on the cake in 2008 was his injury.  I believe the reason for Maine's injury was because he was trying to throw harder than he normally can.  His fastball the whole year was around 92 MPH and in August it was around 94 MPH. Why would Maine want this?  Two reasons: a) last year the whole season he was pitching 93-95 MPH and this year he was at 90-93, therefore he felt something was missing.  b) he was getting pulled after five innings because of his high pitch counts so he wanted to try and overpower hitters.  

From these two points a couple of questions could be asked. a)why was John Maine's velocity down? and b) why were his pitch counts so high?  The answer to the former question is simple. After John Maine had pitched a career high in innings pitched in 2006 with 151 2/3(minors and majors) he topped that number with 191 innings in 2007.  The unwritten rule is that you're not supposed to top your previous season's IP total by more than 30 innings from season to season and he topped his by 39 1/3. This, moreover made Maine more easily succumb to injury and ineffectiveness while also slowing down his arm.  This explains the drop in his velocity.  

John Maine consistently had 100 pitch pitch counts by the 5th inning in 2008, this is because of his ridiculously insane number of foul balls hit against him, but why did that happen?  I believe the reason for the increase in foul balls was because he pitched 4.1% more fastballs than he did last year.  He also pitched 11.3% less sliders, increased his change-ups thrown by 6.2% and reinstituted his curve, throwing it 1% of the time after not throwing it at all in 2007(my guess is that Peterson nixed the pitch and after he left he started mixing it in a bit).  All this means less strikeouts and more foul balls.  Maine's K/9 rate slipped from a great rate of 8.48 in 2007 to a good rate of 7.84 in 2008.  In 2009 Maine will be feeling much better after his surgery and will hopefully be pitching at a higher velocity and throw more breaking balls and less fastballs resulting in lower pitch counts and higher K rates.