The Bud Norris Conundrum

Bud Norris in three starts against the Cardinals:

18 IP, 1.17 WHIP,  0.00 ERA

Bud Norris against everyone else:

45.1 IP, 1.78 WHIP, 6.15 ERA

What does this mean?  Probably nothing, we’re still in the realm of small sample size.  Nevertheless, when a guy who’s getting rocked by the rest of the league shuts down your team three times in a row you have to take notice.  You have to wonder what he’s doing.  So what is he doing?

He’s throwing fastballs and he’s throwing sliders.  He has a change-up but he rarely throws it and it sits around 87 MPH, which is harder than many pitchers throw any pitch (see Trever Miller, for an example).  His slider is also around 87 MPH.  With a 94 MPH fastball, this isn’t exactly what we’d call changing speeds.

To say that his command of the strike zone is inconsistent would be too generous.  Even in his 18 innings against the Cardinals, he’s walked 9 batters.  That’s actually in line with his other starts, where he averages a walk every two innings or so.  So he’s not pitching with better control against the Cardinal batters, they just aren’t hitting him.  Even with such a small sample size, that’s fairly concerning.

I could be wrong about Norris.  He actually has fairly good numbers in the minors–striking out over a batter an inning through his career–though even there is control was a concern.  However, he has two problems that make him stick out as a starting pitcher whose success in AAA won’t translate to the big leagues.  He doesn’t really have a third pitch and he has trouble throwing strikes.

Of course if he keep starting against the Cardinals, the sky is the limit and we should start engraving his Hall of Fame plaque.

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