The Pierzynski Effect

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AJ Pierzynski has played a total of three games for the Texas Rangers. In those games, opponents have struck out a record to start the season 43 times and the opponents were the Houston Astros. Something is different this year. Something about the pitchers for the Rangers gives me a great feeling having watched them perform so far. That something is AJ. He’s a World Series winning receiver and has caught 2 no hitters including a perfect game for Phil Humber last year for the White Sox.

I really have no basis for my theory, the sample is too short and the other team was basically a AAA team in a MLB city. So holes can be blown into this argument several times over and I’m okay with that. I could be very wrong here and that wouldn’t be the first time either. But…..if I’m right, this is going to be a very enjoyable season for your Texas Rangers.

In the opener Matt Harrison struck out a career high tying 9 batters walked three and was the victim of a couple of bad breaks. Matt ran out of gas and the Astros barrelled a couple of balls up off of him. He was also the victim of Derek Lowe’s ineffectiveness, but overall Harrison was sharp early, and the 9 K’s were very impressive. As we all know, Matt is not a strikeout pitcher, he is a pitch to contact guy but had 18 swings and misses in that outing. 18 whiffs is not something we’ve been accustomed to from the tall lefty.
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Two days later, Pierzynski caught Yu Darvish in a near no hitter/perfect game, where Yu was completely dominant. We’ve seen Darvish dominate hitters before, but nothing like that. Only two pitches caught the barrel of Houston batters, Chris Carter in the warning track shot to David Murphy and the single up the middle by Marwin. Freaking Marwin! Anyway, as Jamey Newberg pointed out, the battery of Darish and Pierzynski threw the slider down and away in crucial counts. At no time was AJ afraid to call any pitch in any count. 14 K’s later and Yu almost made history. 27 whiffs on his 111 pitches and using all of his arsenal.

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Yesterday, Alexi Ogando took the hill for the Rangers and once again AJ was behind the dish. Once again the a Ranger starter was amazing with only one walk and 10 strikeouts in another shutout. There were 19 swings and misses on Ogando pitches yesterday, 12 coming off the slider alone. If you are keeping count, that is 64 whiffs from the Texas starters alone. I didn’t even factor in the bullpen, that included Joe Nathan striking out the side and Michael Kirkman who had two K’s himself. Ogando looked like a different pitcher yesterday with that changeup being a big part of his modus operandi.
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The common denominator, so far, has been AJ Pierzynski. The pitchers look comfortable, and there seem to be little to none shaking off of pitches. Now, AJ was also behind the plate for the Derek Lowe disaster on Opening Night, so there is that argument as well. As we move forward in the season, keep your eye on how well the pitchers perform with Pierzynski behind the plate. Also look for Derek Holland, who is notorious for shaking off cathers to pull a Nuke Laloosh and nod and fire. As the season progresses, lets see if there is anything to the Pierzynski Effect.

Patrick Despain is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShutDown Inning. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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