The Twins have always found a way to get creative with their advertising campaigns. A couple of seasons ago the Twins ran the above advertisement that featured current Twins player Joe Nathan and former Twins player Johan Santana. In the video Nathan is getting sick from the way that Santana is driving. Santana is driving the way that he pitched in games for the Twins. He would constantly change speeds to keep the batters on their toes. Nathan was more in favor of always going fast with the speed of his car and the speed of his pitches.
Nathan is at an interesting point in his career where he could find himself taking the advice of Santana, the Twins former ace pitcher. Since Nathan returned from Tommy John surgery there has been a noticeable drop in the velocity of his fastball. Pre-surgery he could hit in the high to mid 90's and now he finds himself at the lower end of the 90 mph range. Below you will find a chart of all of the pitches that Nathan has thrown in his two outings this year.
|Nathan vs. Toronto 4-3-11|
Save vs. the Blue Jays (4-3-11)
Four-Seam (5): 91, 91, 92, 91, 91
Two-Seam (1): 91
Curveball (19): 81, 87, 88, 87, 86, 87, 87, 88, 82, 88, 87, 82, 82, 86, 86, 82, 83, 87, 81
Slider (5): 90, 90, 90, 91, 90
|Nathan vs. New York 4-5-11|
Save vs. the Yankees (4-5-11)
Four-Seam (7): 91, 91, 90, 91, 91, 91, 90
Two-Seam (3): 89, 91, 91
Curveball (1): 81
Slider (4): 85, 87, 85, 86
Changeup (2): 91, 89
Against Toronto Nathan stayed away from his fastball and relied heavily on his curveball. On his pitch-chart you can see how he continued to change speeds during his entire first outing. The difference between in MPH between his fastball and curveball was 3-10 MPH. Last night Nathan made quick work of the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth. After throwing 19 curveballs in his first appearance, he only threw one to a Yankee hitter. Nathan was able to use all of his pitches to clinch the win for the Twins.
Take a look at the pitch-charts from Nathan's last two saves of the 2009 season before he went through the Tommy John procedure.
|Nathan vs. Kansas City 10-2-09|
|Nathan vs. Kansas City 10-3-09|
The difference between Nathan's fastball and off-speed pitch was as much as 14 MPH before the surgery. There is also a much higher frequency of fastballs that were being used against the hitters.
To succeed in his post-surgery career, Nathan is going to have to evolve into a pitcher that can use his breaking pitches at any time in the count. Before the surgery, he was able to overpower batters with the strength of his fastball. The difference in speed between his fastball and other pitches has dropped significantly and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues or if Nathan is able to find more velocity in his right arm.
No matter how pretty or ugly the outing were the only numbers Twins fans care about right now is two for two. Nathan is two for two in save situations this year. A perfect start but still a long way to go as he evolves into a new pitcher...