Pittsburgh Pirates Bounceback Hopeful #11: Reliever Evan Meek


Evan Meek made

seven appearances last September.  He wasn’t the dominant Meek we remembered.  He threw 6.1 innings,  allowed seven walks and struck out five.  He gave up just one run despite the walks and the five hits allowed.

That part doesn’t really bother us at all.  But what’s pissed us off  (and always has)  is why Meek was allowed to throw 80 innings in an utterly forgettable 2010 Pirates season?  It was a lethal 33 inning increase over his 2009 output, and when spring training started– well, it was easy to see the impact it had on the 6’1″ Meek.

But we digress – we bitched enough about that two years ago.

It’s now time to deal with it.

When Meek returned this past September, it was essentially a second spring training after being shut down by Dr. Andrews.

The trouble for us when we watched Meek was that his speed was off.  His zip had been zapped a bit.  Not a lot, mind you, but enough.   Most of us didn’t want to talk about it.  We knew Meek wasn’t throwing as hard as he normally did.  We bet you saw it too.

But everyone had enough bad news to get through, and by the time  September rolled around we were still in disbelief from the meteor-strike fallout of our Buccos…  so we looked past it.

But when Meek avoided arbitration yesterday, we went over to BrooksBaseball and did some work.  Just how much was Meek’s velocity off in September?

The first thing we did was we looked at a couple of September 2010 outings for Meek.  We wanted to attempt to compare just how fast he was throwing back then.  We grabbed a snapshot from two random September outings from his innings-busting 2010 season under John Russell.

The first was September 28, 2010, when Meek threw 27 four seamers.  The maximum speed on his four seamer was clocked at 97.1 and the average speed was 94.71.

The other was September, 28, 2010 when he struck out three Cardinals.  The maximum speed on his four seamer was clocked at 96.3 and the average speed was 94.79.

Now,  let’s look at Meek’s velocity when he returned this past September, 2011.

On September 9, the maximum speed was 92 on his four seamer.  He reached 92.8 on his cutter and he threw 12 of them while tossing just two four seamers.

On September 11, the speed on the one four seamer he threw was 89.3 mph.  Meek threw ten cutters maxing out at 92.

On September 15, Meek threw 15 cutters with a max speed of 92.9 and an average of 91.3.

On September 18, Meek gave up his only run of the month.  He threw 30 pitches maxing at 93.9 on 18 four seamers.

On September 21,  Meek threw 11 pitches with a maximum speed of 93.7 and an average of 91.67.

On September 25, the maximum Meek threw was 92.4 while averaging 91.5.

On September 27, Meek maxed at 94 on his four seamer.  It would be the fastest pitch he threw the entire month.

As we count down the days to Bradenton, we are saying a prayer for a healthy Evan Meek.  You might want to, as well.  It was great to see Meek pop at 94 on his final outing.  It was also nice to see him getting at least half of his outs from groundballs.  With an improved defensive bunch behind him in the eighth inning, Meek is a major sleeper for 2012.

Everybody loves Kennywood french fries.  It’s been said relievers are just like french fries – only good when they’re hot, and they don’t stay hot very long.  We don’t expect him to ever to be able to match his age 27 season from 2010, but with increased velocity and the Bucs improved defense, Meek should at least get hot again in 2012.

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