Stellar Scouting Report: Starting Pitchers

Second in a series. Thanks to Crawfish Boxes.

Roger Clemens P1 -- Greatest righthander since the deadball era was jawdroppingly, incredibly good until August 18, when he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings to the Brewers.  From there, to the end of the regular season, he had a 5.34 ERA.  The problem is a hamstring that keeps flaring up.  The pattern seems to be that for three or at most four innings, he has no problems with it, and then for two innings he tries to work around it with his intangibles.  Sometimes it works, but he is definitely vulnerable.   92 - 94 fastball, split finger, te ability to get realy really nasty with men on base.  The member of the Big Three most likely to get lit up.

Andy Pettitte P2 - the best pitcher in the NL during the second half, if you hadn't noticed.  Tow nd four seam fastball, and a curve, all of which he can throw for strikes.  Often starts hitters out of the zone, as he minds not at all if he's down 1 - 0 in the count.   For that reason, though he's got good control, he can get into high pitch counts.  Not at his most effective during the NLCS because of the batting practice baseball that he took in the knee prior to game one.  The team tried to spin that his knee was healed before game five, but such was not the case.  He did pitch better in game five, although I was of the opinion that he should have been removed after four at the time.

Roy Oswalt P3 -- 2005 NLCS MVP.  96 - 97 MPH heater when on.  Has more and more moved away from the 70 mph overhand curve this year because he was starting to get hurt with it.  He certainly could throw it a couple times during a game, though.  He has also worked in a slider throughout the year.  His fastball is electric, but if he continues to de-emphasize the slow curve, he's gonna need to have another pitch to show hitters, in my opinion.  Intense competitor who appears as he works to have a distaste for the job he has of dispatching with batsmen.  I have been impressed with Oswalt this postseason for how unflappable he has been in the face of opposition and poor umpiring.

Branon Backe P4 -- Excitable young pitcher may be something of a loose cannon.  Best curveball on the ballclub, and one of the better ones in the league.  Good fastball, and when he's got them both, he can do what he did in the 2004 NLCS Game Five, or to a lesser extent, in Game Four this year.  Problems are with  his control and with his emotions.  He frequently works behind in the count, and seemingly small things like a hit batsman can play on his mind in such a way that he falls apart quickly.    Gave up a grand slam against the Braves in the NLDS, as you may recall.  I've seen it said where Garcia has a huge advantage over Backe, and that may end up being true, but not necessarily.  When Backe is on, when he has the curveball dropping in, and the fastball tailing in, and he's in a comfort zone, he can look nearly unhittable.  Dosn't happen anywhere near  often enough

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