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State of the program

BasilLongfellow

HMax's Royal Member
5 Year Member
Basil, you've forgotten more about hitting than I'll ever know, so I thought I'd ask: It looks to me like Gomes is trying to pull everything. Teams have it figured out, and pitch him outside, and he flails miserably at it. Is their any merit to this amateur viewpoint?
Why are they struggling so much against left-handed pitching? @ShortSideOption has mentioned that he doesn't like how Erstad sometimes focuses too much on matchups. Is it that simple? What's going on there? I'm only a casual baseball fan, but it seemed clear that they were regularly baffled by strikeout pitches that were breaking late. Is that a valid observation? If so, is that a batting coach issue? Is that a young guys need to develop discipline thing?

I think you're right about Gomes. I didn't watch their swings that closely; I'd have to see them from the side to get a better idea on it. Gomes looks sooo close, but having that discipline to let the ball get deep and hit it off your back hip is really hard. I was talking with a guy the other day, hitting coaches say "You can hit to power to all fields;" That's true, but not a lot of guys can do that, the ones that can, sure as heck aren't playing the Big 10. Gomes reminds me of Eric Gordon, Alex's brother, in many parts of his games. Tall, has a cannon, and versatile. I'm excited about him and can see him having a Matt Hopper like career (hopefully better).

I'm not sure what's going on with the lefty thing. That is weird. I'll have to think about that. A lefty is generally effective in one of two ways: 1) Getting as close to first base as possible on the rubber and throwing sinkers away with soft stuff away, getting hitters on their front foot all day long; 2) if they have some velocity, working plate outside early/inside late and finishing righties off with four seamers under their hands or sliders at their feet.

In the games we were hitting during the tournament, the color guy made a passing comment about the other team's pitchers leaving the ball over the plate. He was right. We punished those pitches that were left over the plate. But I'm thinking back to guys like Dan Johnson, Jamal Strong, Adam Shabla, Cole, Stern, Cowan, Liese, Ledbetter before he was eaten by the guy wearing his jersey now, and others that hit pitches that were quality pitches, not fastballs that scream "hit me" as they come in at 85 mph.

Part of that is we have some young hitters. They a) aren't strong enough yet and b) aren't good enough yet to do that sort of thing. And let's not forget, hitting is really, really hard.
 
I think you're right about Gomes. I didn't watch their swings that closely; I'd have to see them from the side to get a better idea on it. Gomes looks sooo close, but having that discipline to let the ball get deep and hit it off your back hip is really hard. I was talking with a guy the other day, hitting coaches say "You can hit to power to all fields;" That's true, but not a lot of guys can do that, the ones that can, sure as heck aren't playing the Big 10. Gomes reminds me of Eric Gordon, Alex's brother, in many parts of his games. Tall, has a cannon, and versatile. I'm excited about him and can see him having a Matt Hopper like career (hopefully better).

I'm not sure what's going on with the lefty thing. That is weird. I'll have to think about that. A lefty is generally effective in one of two ways: 1) Getting as close to first base as possible on the rubber and throwing sinkers away with soft stuff away, getting hitters on their front foot all day long; 2) if they have some velocity, working plate outside early/inside late and finishing righties off with four seamers under their hands or sliders at their feet.

In the games we were hitting during the tournament, the color guy made a passing comment about the other team's pitchers leaving the ball over the plate. He was right. We punished those pitches that were left over the plate. But I'm thinking back to guys like Dan Johnson, Jamal Strong, Adam Shabla, Cole, Stern, Cowan, Liese, Ledbetter before he was eaten by the guy wearing his jersey now, and others that hit pitches that were quality pitches, not fastballs that scream "hit me" as they come in at 85 mph.

Part of that is we have some young hitters. They a) aren't strong enough yet and b) aren't good enough yet to do that sort of thing. And let's not forget, hitting is really, really hard.
I was hoping @ShortSideOption would weigh in to better say what I was paraphrasing about matchup issues, but do you think that some of the problem is either too much matching up hitters with pitchers, too little, some mix of both?
 

BasilLongfellow

HMax's Royal Member
5 Year Member
I was hoping @ShortSideOption would weigh in to better say what I was paraphrasing about matchup issues, but do you think that some of the problem is either too much matching up hitters with pitchers, too little, some mix of both?
Maybe?

Erstad is a big match up guy, as SSO said. I've never been a huge believer in the match up thing, with two exceptions: 1) Right handed pitchers that are side arm to sub, should never face a lefty hitter, and 2) Lefty specialist relievers against lefty stud hitters. Generally, however, I think it doesn't matter. Just hit the damn ball.

It's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy either way, imo.
 

Sandhills Husker

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
Maybe?

Erstad is a big match up guy, as SSO said. I've never been a huge believer in the match up thing, with two exceptions: 1) Right handed pitchers that are side arm to sub, should never face a lefty hitter, and 2) Lefty specialist relievers against lefty stud hitters. Generally, however, I think it doesn't matter. Just hit the damn ball.

It's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy either way, imo.
I would add that this season our 2 switch hitters, Altavilla and Chick, are both considerably better from the left side. 2 guys like that in the lineup could account for much of the issue facing lefties this season. Roskam has really looked over-matched against lefties; not sure what is going on there but it isn't pretty.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
I was hoping @ShortSideOption would weigh in to better say what I was paraphrasing about matchup issues, but do you think that some of the problem is either too much matching up hitters with pitchers, too little, some mix of both?
Early in the season, we were basically shuffling half of our lineup based on if it was a right or left handed pitcher. I think it’s really tough to get in a rhythm as a team offensively when 50% of your lineup changes every week. We started only doing it with 1-2 guys in the end and I think it paid dividends.

I also think Erstad moving Schwellenbach from leadoff so he could swing at more first pitch fastballs helped a ton, that was a great move.

Next year, we have Schwellenbach, Chick, Palensky, Acker, Hagge as everyday players. Will be interesting to see what happens with Gomes and if we transition him to a starter along with Palkert. With the guy who led all high schools nationally in homeruns, probably need to play him at 1B (tho he can play a little 3B). Gomes was extra base hit or an out for the most part. I’m not sold on him hitting yet but I love the Hopper comparison and if he’s half that, we should be alright. Hellstrom is back, and it’s great he’s an “afterthought” and Dolney our 2019 catching recruit swings a good bat for high school as well. Banjoff also hit .470 coming in for 2019 so we will see how that goes.

We really ironed some things out towards the end of the year. Henwood was hitting .250 entering the Arizona State series and climbed his average all the way up over .300. But again, he was one of those guys we’d take out against a lefty. Was just weird to me.

All said, we played for a conference title in the tournament and a conference title on the last day of the regular season. Pretty cool to be in it the last days. See if we can get 1 or 2 wins in this regional.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
@Sandhills Husker I'll add on Gomes, he might be adjusting to a new launch angle in his swing this season, too. That might explain the swings and misses when they pitch isn't in his wheelhouse.
His double in the conference tournament is where he should live. He's big enough all he has to do is go with the pitch and it's going a long ways. He basically one hopped the wall just sticking his bat out there.
 

Sandhills Husker

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
His double in the conference tournament is where he should live. He's big enough all he has to do is go with the pitch and it's going a long ways. He basically one hopped the wall just sticking his bat out there.
Yeah, he's really pulling off pitches; I'm surprised there hasn't been more progress on that. Sometimes it takes an off-season. Love him as a defensive first baseman and true freshman closer, but really needs some work hitting.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Yeah, he's really pulling off pitches; I'm surprised there hasn't been more progress on that. Sometimes it takes an off-season. Love him as a defensive first baseman and true freshman closer, but really needs some work hitting.
He was spread pretty thin between first base (which he did a really good job picking throws all year long), closing, and hitting. Offseason could really help him like you said.
 
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