If You Squint Hard Enough, Chris Hatcher Looks Better

I’m not sure there’s really enough here to devote a full post to; in fact, I’m certain there’s not. However, the only thing I’m more sure of than that is that no one wants to stare at a recap of the Dodgers being no-hit all day long. So, let’s not do that. Let’s do this instead: After two rough months to start his Dodger career and two more sidelined due to injury, Chris Hatcher has quietly retired all 10 of the hitters he’s faced over three appearances.

Like I said, it’s not a ton to go on. The Reds aren’t good, and the A’s haven’t been good, and no one noticed last night against the Astros in light of what Mike Fiers was doing, but it’s something.  And you know we’re not without bias here, because the prospect of getting Hatcher was probably what we were most excited about in the Dee Gordon trade, particularly after Brim did a great deep dive into what Hatcher brought. You know what happened from there; Hatcher was terribly unlucky in April, and then just plain bad in May. Dustin identified release point concerns; I thought that Hatcher was throwing too many fastballs:

The sinker is basically gone. The splitter is diminished. There’s just a whole lot of fastball now. It’s a good fastball, but a predictable one. How predictable?

Plate appearances with swings in the first two pitches:

April: 35.5%
May: 50%

Why wait? You know you’re going to get a fastball, so why not attack it?

By the time he’d gone on the DL, he’d thrown the four-seamer 61.4% of the time. In his three games back: 60%, 58%, and 50%. In May, he’d used his slider 11% of the time; in August, it’s around 25%. He’s mixed in a cutter we’d never seen before. So yeah, maybe this is straw-grasping, and maybe May Hatcher comes back, and as I said, this is more of a desire to bump the no-hitter post than anything. But last year, Hatcher was a very good reliever. This team desperately needs good news out of the relievers, especially since reinforcements didn’t arrive before July 31 and aren’t likely to before August 31. (If Neil Cotts can’t even clear waivers… ) We’re seeing some evidence of change in his approach. We’re seeing some very early, very small-sample signs of change in his results. It’s not much, but considering how badly Hatcher’s year had gone, it’s the best you could have hoped for.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.