Friday, June 19, 2009

Can Contreras Keep It Up?

I think the answer to that question is actually yes. From what I've seen in his two outings back since his DL/Being Bad stint there don't seem to be any signs of it stopping.

The key for me with Jose is whether or not he is throwing strikes. When he is able to get ahead of hitters he can utilize his split finger and get guys out on pitches that are out of the zone. If he falls behind people, or worse walks people, he starts forcing pitches trying to get the ball anywhere in the zone as opposed to locating inside of it.

In his two starts since coming back he is making sure he throws a strike in at least one of the first two pitches. People make such a big deal out of first pitch strikes, but I think first strikes in the first two pitches is where the key lies in guys who have perpetual walk issues. With Jose if he is able to get just one strike on you before falling too far behind, he becomes incredibly dangerous.

In the game against the Brewers he attacked the Brewers hitters early in the count and got quick outs on many of the guys he faced. Same thing against the Tigers. I expect a lot of the same tonight in Cincinnati. All three of these teams are similar in the way they attack pitchers. All three teams are not necessarily concerned in drawing walks. The Reds are a team that especially like to attack pitchers early in counts (ask Cub fans about Dusty's strategies).

So I expect to see Contreras be at his best again tonight. As far as onward goes, I don't think we can look too far ahead basing it on just two starts, but I think this can continue based on what we've seen from Jose in the past. And if Jose is back to his 2005 form, the Sox chances at winning the division multiply ten-fold.

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