The new Big Papi
David Ortiz's day off on June 4 might have done the trick. Earlier this season, opposing pitchers had learned to exploit him inside, watching him chase pitches he couldn't catch up to time and time again. But not anymore. Of the 31 inside pitches off the plate since his day off, Ortiz has hacked at only four of them. In essence, he's not getting jammed anymore because he's no longer swinging at the pitches that would jam him. In particular, he's laying off pitches that are up-and-in.
Before June 4: Chase percentage inside, 34 percent (65/194); Chase percentage up-and-in, 41 percent (32/79).
Since June 4: Chase percentage inside, 13 percent (4/31); Chase percentage up-and-in, 0 percent (0/9).
Not only is he resisting the inside offerings, he's also handling the inside corner of the plate better. Since the day off, he's 3-for-8 with a home run against pitches on the inner third of the plate, compared with a .200 batting average and zero homers previously. His change in approach suggests this run is legit.
It has been about a month and a half since Armando Galarraga has allowed fewer than three earned runs in a start. The Tigers continue to trot him out there because they simply don't have any better options. The righty's fastball is just too hittable; of the 252 swings this season against his heater, only 21 have failed to make contact. In the end, hitters have a .362 batting average against his fastball, and that makes up about half of his repertoire. The Milwaukee Brewers, his next opponent, punish the fastball with a .287 batting average and .486 slugging percentage against the pitch. While the Tigers are desperately searching for worthy alternatives in-house, you should have a more appealing waiver-wire option to choose.