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Your Obligatory Felix Day Summary

114 pitches
65 strikes (57%)
17 swinging strikes
9 groundballs
3 fly balls
2 line drives

If you were to enter Felix's career into an Excel spreadsheet, sort in ascending order by "Command", grab the first third, and then sort those in descending order by "Success", you'd get today's game. Felix wasn't really sure of where the ball was going to go tonight, as he was routinely missing both his spots and the zone altogether, but given that necessary precondition, I'm inclined to say that, all things considered, he had pretty much the best start possible.

Just look at the results he generated. Not only did he keep the ball on the ground against a pretty good lineup, but he also racked up an obscene amount of swinging strikes. His rate today was positively Hardenesque, and perhaps more impressively, eight of those 17 came against lefties. For a right-handed pitcher, being able to miss left-handed bats is a key component of being a legitimate #1, so it's nice to see that, even when his location is failing him, Felix is still able to keep that on lock.

The pitch that makes this all possible is the changeup. A good changeup is almost mandatory if a guy's going to have success against opposite-handed hitters, and Felix's change may just be the best weapon in his arsenal. There was a time not too long ago when it was popular to say that Felix throws four A-grade pitches. I don't think this is true. His fastball isn't very good despite a crapload of oomph, and his curve seems to have taken a marked step back ever since his injury last April. But his slider's still good, and his changeup, I believe, is great. The changeup is the pitch he can throw to find the zone, miss bats, and keep the ball on the ground. It's the one pitch of his that does all three of the things that make a pitcher successful.

All that's left is for him to start throwing it more. Hitters will always respect Felix's fastball. He's tied with Ubaldo Jimenez for the fastest average fastball in the league, and hitters know it. They're always going to go up there looking fastball first, whether he throws it 40% of the time or 80% of the time. So with that in mind, he really ought to try mixing things up. Bumping his change percentage up from 15% to 20-25% isn't likely to jeopardize the integrity or success of the pitch, because the purpose of a changeup is to get the hitter off-balance when he's looking fastball, and hitters are always going to be looking fastball when you have a guy throwing 96. So in theory more changeups should really be able to help him get better results.

Many a time I have pleaded for Felix to throw more stuff that bends. Tonight I plead for him to throw more stuff straight and soft. You've been blessed with an excellent changeup, Felix. Take advantage of it.