Friday, May 25, 2012

SAVING A LITTLE FOR THE END

MILES PER HOUR AHEAD OF MOST PITCHERS.
I'm an endurance athlete (competitive cyclist), which makes me completely unqualified to analyze an All-Star major-league pitcher. But I do know a thing or two about the negative split.

When competing in a time-trial event, the aim is to maintain a pace that allows you to surpass your time on each subsequent lap or interval; hence, the negative split. It takes incredible fitness and discipline to do this, fighting the urge not to start too fast.

This brings me to the Tigers' Justin Verlander.

In his last few starts, I've been in jaw-dropped amazement that he's mastered the negative split concept on the mound. He consistently holds something back on his fastball early and dials it up in later innings when needed.

In a 2-1 loss to the Indians Thursday afternoon, he set game-high speeds of 100, 101 and 102 mph while striking out the side in the eighth inning. It wasn't a fluke. He's done it in other games.

You obviously have to have a God-given arm to throw that hard, but to be able to harness it early on and unleash hell when you really need it late, that's a learned skill and something I can appreciate.

Know the feeling of power in reserve. 

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