I had a chance last night to see this kid that the Rockies are using out of the bullpen, Brian Fuentes. He has the oddest delivery since Gene Garber. He rotates like a revolving door and throws some sort of nasty pitch (Is it a slider or is it just a fastball with an odd delivery?) that breaks way in on the righties-he's a lefty by trade. Fuentes seems to have a release point at around his waist-like he's shooting from the hip. He flings it up to the plate at around 92 MPH, but it looks even faster. His herky-jerky motion seems to add to the batters' bafflement. But if he had played with my friends when I was a kid, they would have said that he throws like a girl.
He had been up earlier in the year and got rocked (an ERA of 13.50 at one point) but changed his mechanics-or so they say-and now looks almost unhittable. Check at his stats before and after the demotion:
Obviously, his hits, runs, and walks allowed are all down but that doesn't tell the full story. He cut his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) by almost two-thirds. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has almost trebled even though his strikeouts-to-innings pitched went down ever so slightly. He also is dispensing with batters more quickly (slightly fewer pitches per batters faced).
Even odder are his lefty/righty splits:
Right/Left AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB HBP SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
vs. Right 53 10 8 1 0 0 6 7 0 25 0 0 .151 .242 .170 .412
vs. Left 37 0 13 1 0 2 7 5 3 13 0 0 .351 .467 .541 1.007
He's destroying righthanded batters (.170 slugging percentage!), but lefties are doing fairly well against him (OPS over one?). Remember that he is a lefty. I cannot determine if this is just a product of his Jeckle-and-Hyde season or if lefties may be able to hit him better. Maybe they can pick up his release point better because of the angle.
One last thing to consider: he has a 3.31 ERA in 18 games at Coors. He seems like a worthwhile candidate for the Rockie bullpen (no pun intended) in 2003. If he can harness that delivery for both lefties and righties, he may be the eventual replacement for current closer Jose Jimenez (didn't he used to be a Mel Blanc character). If not, he will have to be the Rockie short man against righties, perhaps a first for a lefty. Check him out at a Rockies game near you.