What was the secret of Seattle pitching phenom Felix Hernandez’s awesome two-hit start against Oakland last week? Turns out it was the blogosphere—specifically USS Mariner, one of the oldest and most respected team-specific websites in any sport.
The website has been stating repeatedly for the past two months that Hernandez had to stop throwing so many fastballs in a row. [Seattle pitching coach Rafael] Chaves apparently had been telling Hernandez this as well, but when someone in the stands—he didn’t say where—handed him the “letter” he passed it on to Hernandez for reinforcement.
“Chaves gave me a report,” Hernandez said. “On the internet, they say when I throw a lot of fastballs in the first inning, they score a lot of runs. I tried to mix all my pitches in the first inning.”
Will Hernandez read the internet more often now?
“No,” he laughed.
...Chaves said he was handed the “letter” by a person who cares about baseball and the team. He said he didn’t know the fan beforehand.
“It was nothing but reinforcement of the talks we’ve had in the past,” Chaves said. “I just wanted to make Felix aware that ‘It’s not a top secret around baseball that you have a tendency to get into patterns. We all get scouted and…unless you make your own adjustments it’s going to be easy to predict what you’re going to be doing out there to begin with.”
It’s often difficult to get a young hard thrower to keep from feeding major-league hitters a diet of fastballs; most pitchers Felix’s age have spent a decade relying on heat, and they may not be confident that they can throw other pitches for strikes. The subtext here is that Chaves was getting so frustrated with Felix’s easy scoutability that when the Mariner letter reached his hands by chance, he saw an opportunity to show Felix that even a bunch of internet dudes watching on TV could tell what he was doing wrong. (þ: Primer)