Thursday, September 1, 2011

Contemplating Scott Diamond

Scott Diamond's delivery.
Cliff Lee's delivery.

As I watched Scott Diamond pitch Wednesday afternoon, I was suddenly struck by the sense that his delivery is very much like that of Cliff Lee.

Both are left-handers who use a fairly high (by today's standards, at least) and deliberate leg kick, throw straight overhand, and have a pronounced lift of the left (trailing) leg after releasing the pitch.

Neither is noted for velocity, although I'm confident that Lee does throw harder than Diamond. But speed isn't what makes Lee one of the game's best pitchers. It's his uncanny location of both the fast ball and curve.

Diamond can't match that. Few can. It's entirely possible that Wednesday was about as well as Diamond can pitch: Six innings, three hits, three walks, five strikeouts. And such an outing from Lee would be a bit of a disappointment.

I'm not, clearly, claiming that Diamond is equivalent to Lee, or even suggesting that he has a chance to be that good. Pitching with a similar delivery hardly means similar results. I don't even know if Diamond has consciously modeled his motion on Lee's.

I will say, however, that Lee is a darn good role model for a left-hander with an OK fastball and good curve. Can you name a better one?

I was slightly surprised that Ron Gardenhire took Diamond out after the sixth inning. He had a four run lead, and had thrown just 87 pitches. On the other hand, Diamond had given him six good innings in his two previous major league starts only to flounder in the seventh.

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