Some Quick Notes About Josh Lueke | The Process Report

Some Quick Notes About Josh Lueke

With John Jaso back in town, this seems like a good spot for a Josh Lueke post.

In my offseason notes, I wrote that Lueke had troubles locating glove-side. He could pitch low-and-away to left-handers just fine, not righties. His fastball maintained good velocity, and flashed great—if you trust the television guns. Lueke seemed to get sequencing, at least as much as an one-inning reliever needs to. He’d start at-bats off with a fastball for a strike, throw his breaking ball in there for another, then set-up his knockout splitter. I liked what I saw. I thought he was close to being ready for a late-innings gig.

Then Lueke imploded against New York and Boston early in the season, in part because he couldn’t throw his fastball for strikes. It’s not a pitch that will miss a ton of bats, so that’s a big problem. Even now, his Durham ERA exceeds 5.30.

But I noticed something that I hadn’t previously in reviewing his most recent big-league outing: a change in positioning on the mound. The four images below show Lueke twice at Tropicana Field and twice at Fenway Park; twice as a Mariner, twice as a Ray. Check his foot positioning in each one. In May, Lueke is on the first base side of the rubber. In the other images, he appears to be on the third base side.

It’s the same move the Rays had Fernando Rodney make, and a sensible one for Lueke. You can help a player who can’t locate glove-side by changing the angles in his favor. I didn’t notice any other obvious changes to Lueke’s mechanics, though if they’d tweaked something or another since it wouldn’t surprise me. What does surprise is me is his walk rate. He’s walking 6.3 percent of batters faced—a personal best since pitching in A-ball back in 2010. His most recent walk issued came on June 21, or 16 innings ago. Factor in an increase in groundball rate and you wonder what Lueke’s doing differently now.

Not everything is great, however. He’s still allowing an oddly high number of hits. Maybe it’s the infield, maybe it’s just cheapie after cheapie. I don’t know. I’m not going to scream DIPS about a Triple-A pitcher who, in theory, should blow away those hitters. Ultimately, Lueke’s Triple-A numbers don’t matter match. You’d like to see good performance, but so long as the stuff stays good and whatever adjustments they make take, then you should still see Lueke eventually claim a gig of relevance in the big-league bullpen.

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