1) It's hard enough to produce content on a weekend, but a holiday weekend? Forget about it.
2) During the spring, I spent a little time talking up David Aardsma's splitter, because it struck me as being similar to JJ Putz's. Aardsma has responded to my cautious optimism by essentially avoiding the splitter altogether and throwing more fastballs than ever before in his career. And yet in many ways it's worked, as to date he owns one of the lowest reliever contact rates in the league. The key? High fastballs. Aardsma lives and dies by the classic power putaway pitch, and never has it been more evident than it was today, when almost everything he threw wound up at or above the belt. It'll get him a lot of missed bats and a lot of flyballs (lowest GB/FB in baseball at the moment), and as long as he's getting way more of the former than the latter, he'll succeed. He's going to give up a backbreaking homer one of these days, though. You can count on it. Almost did today. But the strikeouts? Breathtaking.
The difference between Aardsma and 2008 Grant Balfour is tantalizingly subtle.
3) Over Felix's first 2.5 years in the Majors, he posted an extreme combined groundball rate of 61%. Since then, over 41 starts, it's dropped to 52%. 52% is still quite good, but it's not league-leadingly good, and it's probably time that we face the fact that Felix isn't going to be a strikeout-happy Derek Lowe.
The good news is that, while Felix's groundballs haven't come back, he seems to have taken a step forward when it comes to missing bats. After missing a remarkable 21 today, his contact rate is right there with those of Randy Johnson, Tim Lincecum, and Zack Greinke. We can complain all we want about how Felix should be better than he is - and I believe that with all my heart - but today is one of those days where I have to sit back and remember that even this moderately disappointing version of Felix is amazing more often than he isn't.
He was on top of his game today, by the way. He threw three-quarters of his pitches for strikes, located his fastball, and (surprise!) got the Giants to go fishing an awful lot. The Giants swung at 22 of Felix's 47 pitches out of the zone, missing 12 times. His changeup was particularly nasty in that regard, getting five misses out of the zone. Felix did an excellent job of burying it low. I'm beginning to think that the proper approach to helping Felix isn't so much by criticizing his fastball as it is by praising his change. It's his most effective pitch, and it's not even close.