May 1, 2011

Jenks (and Wakefield) Spot Flaw in Jenks's Mechanics

Immediately after the Red Sox's 3-2 win on Sunday, Bobby Jenks was studying video of his 1B-BB-BB-BB-L7 outing. Much to his surprise, so was Tim Wakefield, who was in line to get his 180th Boston win before Jenks blew a 2-0 lead. And both pitchers each spotted something in Jenks's mechanics.

We were watching separate. ... [H]e picked it up right away, too. ... With this, hopefully it's a quick fix. Everything's there - I mean, we're talking a few inches here. That could make a big difference out on the field. I've always been a guy that was known for throwing strikes and my walks have always been low*. This is very uncharacteristic, and we found the reason why. ... When you pitch, you want to keep your shoulder squared to home plate and basically drive your forehead to the catcher. And right now, I'm taking my head towards our dugout.
* Jenks's BB/9 for the last four seasons: 1.8, 2.5, 2.7, 3.1. (Hmmm, I see a trend.) In his six seasons with the White Sox, he averaged 2.9. So far this year, it's 9.3 (nine walks in 8.2 IP).
Will a clean chin lead to a clean inning?

Evan Drellich,
Apparently, Jenks' mechanical discovery was made so soon after the game that pitching coach Curt Young didn't know about it. Talking to reporters shortly before Jenks did, Young said there wasn't a mechanical problem with Jenks, merely that he had lost his feel.
At SoSH, Sprowl posted a pitch f/x chart of Jenks's outing,
(Check out that little green mofo way down at the bottom of the chart, right before "(in feet)")
and wrote:
Jenks' problem is not stuff - he's got plenty of velocity and good movement on his offspeed pitches. For now, it's fastball command. The changeup is right where it is supposed to be: outside the strike zone, but close enough to tempt. The slider had good movement today, and he threw it for strikes. Salty probably should have called for more of them. Jenks overthrew his fastball, and it went as wild as DiceK on a bad day.
Many of Jenks's pitches today sailed high and outside - I count eight in the top left corner of that chart - and what he believes is an errant follow-through could certainly cause that. So while Jenks tinkers with his motion, Terry Francona should make damn sure it's done exclusively in low leverage situations.

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