By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A piece of the Clement puzzle

Here’s a possible piece of the puzzle that is Matt Clement. We all know how well he pitched last year until he got hit in the head with a line drive. Well, it turns out that last year he pretty much stopped throwing his sinker. What about this year? From Dan Shaughnessy’s Boston Globe column of March 14:

The tall, veteran righty made his first appearance of the spring against big league hitters yesterday and threw four shutout innings against the Dodgers in City of Palms Park. He gave up two hits, no walks, and fanned three. He said he liked the way he threw his sinker, a pitch he largely ignored last year.

“That’s as good as I’ve thrown my sinker since my first couple of years with the Cubs,” said Clement. “It’s a pitch I pretty much forgot about, although it got me hit in the head once last year.”

So he was successful without his sinker last year — and when he threw one to Carl Crawford, it nearly got him killed. To my eye, it looks like he’s been throwing the sinker a lot this year. Why?

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  1. charlie

    The notion that Clement’s struggles began with his getting hit is easily dismissed by looking at his game by game stats last year. He was headed downhill over a month prior and actually had a decent start after.

  2. Another Face at Zanzibar

    Dan, They’re probably pushing him to throw the sinker because of the groundballs a sinker generates. I Googled Clement, and some of the articles I read indicated he had success with the sinker as he rose into the major leagues. But it ain’t working now and he’s pretty useless. If only we still had Bronson.

  3. Don

    I’ve been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since before Tom Selleck was born. I’m pleased as punch at the good start they’re having. (I realize it’s a non sequitur, but let me bask in the glow a little longer.)

  4. Anonymous

    Dan, I’m not sure I understand the question. Why wouldn’t Clement throw the sinker – that to me would be the question. He’s not a power pitcher. He gets his outs on ground balls (most effectively induced with the sinker) and his slider.The trouble is location. Leave a lazy thigh-high sinker out over the center of the plate and it’s coming right back at you. Fail to locate your 4-seamer and you drastically reduce the effectiveness of your sinker. Work the corners and those swings are ground ball outs.

  5. Yes, Charlie

    His sinker and slider are his two best pitches. He has to throw them to succeed. As for the hit in the head, I’m with Charlie — Clement lost me on July 1 in a 15-2 loss to Toronto. The days leading up to that game were filled with talk of Clement possibly starting the All-Star Game. Never mind that Halladay and Colon were having much better seasons. Anyway, for the first time all year, Clement had some pressure on him, and he ended up allowing eight runs and pitching himself right out of All-Star consideration, at least until injuries.

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