Garret Mock was sent down to AAA Syracuse today to make room for Livan Hernandez. At first, this move sent me into a momentary despondency. I thought he would get five or six starts, and the final decision of whether he has a future on the Nationals' big-league staff could be made. One start is not enough. Mock was being handled very poorly, in spite of his pitching shortcomings. This is the Big Moan I have about the Nationals, that they seem to handle personnel decisions very poorly.
The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense in terms of roster strategy. The Phillies just showed us last week we need plenty of relievers. Furthermore, there are good reasons not to give up hope on Garrett Mock. However, pictures speak a thousand words so I'm going to show you a picture:
Then I'm going to show you another picture:
And finally a third picture:
(Images courtesy of the wonderful Brooks Baseball.)
Everybody says Mock has got good stuff. These three pictures highlight what that means in practical terms.
The top one shows the location of Livo!'s pitches in his start yesterday. The middle Stammen's Thursday start. The bottom is Mock's last start for the Nationals.
First I draw your attention to the blue rectangles. These represent the case for Mock. Stammen can't beat bats in that zone. Livo! avoids it altogether. Mock can pitch in that zone, and beat bats. If you study these three diagrams you'll see that batters do best at getting hits in that zone. Mock can challenge hitters; Stammen needs the batters to make weak contact so his fielders can get him the outs. It's much safer to beat hitters, if you can.
Next, I point you to the red circles. What on Earth are all those pitches from Mock doing there? They have no apparent relationship to the strike zone. Note how both Livo! and Stammen managed to keep almost all their pitches closer to the strike zone.
Mock has his objective very clear down in AAA. Stay out of the red circle.