Raw Aardsma 

I listened to last night's ballgame on the radio, so I couldn't see the specifics of David Aardsma's pitch selection or location when he gave up two insurance runs in the ninth inning. But having seen him pitch a couple times live, plus once or twice on TV, it seems obvious that he's not ready for the bigs.

Yes, he's got a great fastball. But he hangs his off-speed pitches up in the zone, or can't get them over, which tells me that he's having a hard time controlling the adrenaline. He's out there with nothing but his fastball and shaky control, which is why he's getting lit up (6 IP, 10 H, 7 BB, only 3 Ks).

When a pitcher is really pumped up, his arm speed increases. This might affect location on the fastball -- or, in the case of a sinkerballer like Rueter, it'll speed up the pitch so that it no longer sinks -- but more dramatically it'll cause the pitcher to lose "feel" for the breaking or off-speed pitch. If you listen to Mike Krukow enough, you'll hear him talk about pitchers "throwing through the breaking pitch," i.e., throwing it too hard and losing the break.

If my diagnosis is correct, Aardsma needs more minor-league seasoning to experience tense game situations and practice keeping calm and focused. It's hard to say if he needs to work on his curve and change; I haven't seen him throw either for a quality strike. That may be due to mechanics or to nerves. Either way, he's not cutting it at the major league level.


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