It was an interesting question posed to Orioles pitching coach Chris Holt during a recent Zoom interview with reporters. As pitchers continue to get better, throw with more and with more velocity, and use technology to improve spin rates and breaking pitches, are scouting reports less important?
Are pitchers improving so much and so confident in their strengths that they pitch to that more often than working with a scouting report to find hitters' weaknesses?
"I guess it depends on the pitcher and it depends on who you are facing," Holt said. "I think that the big distinction here is when you look at relievers that have high-octane weapons, they come in and they throw those weapons through the zone. And really good relievers do that. I think that the best pitchers in the game that I see, including many of our own guys, are doing a combination of both.
"They are using their strengths against hitters' weaknesses or behaviors. And to leverage both makes really good sense to me. That said, pitchers will tell you, day in and out, that, 'I'm going to go with my strengths because I know what I can execute.' At the end of the day, it is really about what they can be aggressive with and be on attack with."
As right-hander Matt Harvey returns to face his former New York Mets teammates today and gets a lot of attention on his return to the city, we are reminded that Holt is one reason Harvey signed with the Orioles.
The right-hander went to a performance center in southern New Jersey before reporting to spring training, and looked forward to going to work with Holt to continue to make progress.
They did, and late in spring, Harvey commented on how much progress he was making when not in games. When throwing bullpens and side sessions.
"Really knowing we had put the work in between starts and being able to go out there and really not try to think about it and just attack and pitch and ultimately get guys out (was big). Like I said, a lot of times in the last couple years, I wasn't really that satisfied or happy with how things went between outings, bullpen-wise, but we did good work in between (this spring)," he said. "That's when we really focused on nailing down the mechanics, what pitch shapes we wanted in certain counts and how to attack guys. And then my job was to go out and trust that that work was there and that it was good. Then just go out and pitch."
Harvey is 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles. They are 3-1 in his last four starts and his ERA is 1.72 in his last three games against the Yankees, Athletics and Red Sox.
"I think the whole thing speaks to Matt wanting to be the best he can be," Holt said. "Seeking out whatever help and/or whatever training advice that he can and again. Just like anybody in this game who performs well over a course of time, he's taken some pieces of information and put it to work. And is really working with some bullets points and has taken it and run with it. And is having success on his own with his stuff.
"So whether it's a combination of offseason plus the work that we've put in with him and myself and Darren Holmes since the beginning spring training, I think it's all just a combination that is leading him in the right direction. But 100 percent, he is dedicated and motivated on his own."
Harvey was with the Mets between the 2012 and 2018 seasons, going 34-37 with an ERA of 3.66 in 104 starts. He was fourth in the 2013 NL Cy Young voting.
O's manager Brandon Hyde said it's pretty clear that Harvey has enjoyed being an Oriole.
"I think he's appreciative of the opportunity and he's running with it," said Hyde. "I think he really likes the coaching staff, I think he really likes the clubhouse. I've talked to him, he loves being here and he's having a lot of fun. Obviously, having success helps that and him pitching well and being healthy helps that.
"But he's really enjoying his time right now. And that's been the most impressive thing - just the way he is on a day-to-day basis. He was really upset after his last start because he didn't feel like he gave the team a better chance to win. He's a team-first guy. And I felt like he did. So we disagreed about that. But he's been really fun to have and he's been a pro in every way and a help to the younger players. And the coaching staff loves having him around. It's been all positive so far."
DL was dealing again: O's lefty pitching prospect DL Hall was lighting up radar guns and throwing fastballs by Double-A hitters against last night as Bowie beat Reading 6-1. Hall threw five scoreless innings on two hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. He fanned seven of the first nine batters he faced as the Baysox won their home opener.
In two Double-A starts, Hall has thrown 9 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits with two walks and 19 strikeouts. He's recorded 28 outs for Bowie with 19 coming via strikeout. His fastball touched 100 mph last night as Bowie improved to 4-2.
High Single-A Aberdeen pitched its second shutout in a 4-0 win at Hudson Valley. Right-hander Garrett Stallings threw five hitless innings as Aberdeen improved to 6-1 and lowered its team ERA to 1.74.
Gunnar Henderson hit his third homer, a three-run shot, as low Single-A Delmarva beat Fredericksburg 7-5.
Stevie Wilkerson had two hits and is batting .360, but Triple-A Norfolk lost 6-4 at Charlotte.