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Game Thread: Washington at Atlanta- 2008 Game 20 of 162. (ed. note - "Subtitled..Federalbaseball.com Has the Goods on Tim Hudson!")

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The last time the Washington Nationals' left-handed starter Matt Chico faced the Atlanta Braves, he also faced right-hander Tim Hudson, back on April 11th in Nationals Park, Washington, DC, but this time the two starters face off in Turner Field, Atlanta, GA, with the (0-3) Chico looking for his first win of the season, and Tim Hudson (2-1) looking to rebound from a rough outing in his previous start against Florida, in a game in which Hudson surrendered 4 runs on 6 hits and lasted just 3 innings in a 6-5 Atlanta loss.

If Hudson's looking to rebound, he has to be salivating when he sees the Nationals pull into town. Tim Hudson's well-documented dominance of the Nationals' hitters, (6-1) in 10 starts, 1.11 ERA in 72.2 IP, wouldn't seem to bode well for Washington, but Hudson's last appearance apparently raised as much concern in Atlanta as Chad Cordero's recent troubles have in DC...

AP Sports Writer Steven Wine, who covered Hudson's last start, reported, in his article entitled, "Hudson struggles as Marlins beat Braves", following the game, that:

"Tim Hudson threw as hard as he could, and for the Atlanta Braves, the result was doubly troublesome.

"Hudson’s fastball hit only 85 mph...

"With Hudson unable to generate his normal velocity, the Florida Marlins took advantage and beat the struggling Atlanta Braves 6-5 Wednesday night."

...and Tim Hudson told Mr. Wine:

“'I felt all right physically,' he said. 'I just couldn’t get anything behind the ball. It was a weird feeling. My heater’s usually a lot better than that.'”

So Hudson's shook? Maybe not...According to MLB.com's Mark Bowman's article, "Hudson faces a favorite opponent", at the Braves' official site, the Braves' 32-year old ace(?) told Mr. Bowman after throwing a bullpen session that renewed his confidence:

"'Everything felt good -- about as close to normal as you can get,' Hudson said. 'The ball was coming out of my hand just fine. I don't know what I was throwing. But I can tell you it was probably a lot harder than 84 [mph].'"

Well, if Hudson's healthy, which in spite of his DC-dominance, I sincerely hope he is, (ed. note - "No saracasm there, seriously."), then federalbaseball.com decided that it had to do it's part to help the Nationals overcome Hudson's sinking-splitting-fastballing a**...

Armed with an idea, an internet connection, and a little search engine called Google, federalbaseball.com was able to uncover documentary evidence, secretly compiled, (ed. note - "Not really a secret, sorry!") that will show the Nationals how they can beat Tim Hudson tomorrow night...

After first googling..."Tim Hudson's pitch selection" and checking an article about noticing pitcher's "tells" entitled, "Body of Evidence..." by Baseball Digest's Chris Jenkins, for information I could pass on about how Hudson tipped his pitches, and coming up with zilch...I noticed another Google result which referenced an article entitled, "A Close Look at Tim Hudson", and immediately googled that title, hoping and in fact quite sure that I'd hit the motherload of Hudson scouting material...(ed. note - "I was not disappointed...")

The article, "A Close Look at Tim Hudson", was written by John Beamer at www.hardballtimes.com, and promises to use MLB.com's, "super-detailed Pitch f/x system", to, "...look at Braves pitcher Tim Hudson and see what we can learn about him," by examing extensive data collected in categories like, "Pitch Movement" (measured Horizontal to Vertical), "Speed and Break", (measuring Release Speed against Movement in inches vs a pitch with no spin), "Release Point" (measured Height of release to Distance in feet from center of plate), "Pitch Location" (measured Distance from Ground to Distance from center of plate), "Pitch Outcomes" and "Go To Pitch".

If you're still with me, having not skipped throught that last paragraph, then the article by John Beamer is for you...I'll leave it up to the Nationals, (since they're professionals) to do their homework on Hudson, I'm just here to provide the links...The Cliffs Notes version...(ed. note - "Watch as I completely misinterpret the data...")

Hudson throws predominantly fastballs (at least 2 varieties) in the 85-95 mph range...next in line in volume are the change-ups, which Hudson doesn't seem to throw over the plate too often, and which clock in 10 mph slower at 75-85 mph...and after that 85-90 mph breaking balls, probably sliders/sinkers/splitters...When Hudson's looking to avoid the hitter's bat(swinging strikes), he'll most likely throw either a slider, splitter, or change...

Hudson will most likely go for a fastball for a strike, which should be obvious...but if the hitter wants to put the ball in play, statistically speaking, he'd be better off swinging at the change(29%) or sinker(25%), though again, "statistically speaking" most singles off Hudson come on sliders (48%)...If a hitter's looking for a home run...Forget it!!...If it's a full count, Hudson throws sinkers 79% of the time...get down 2 strikes and you'll most likely see a splitter...if Hudson starts with two balls, look for a sinker 60% of the time...

John Beamer then writes, in summing up all the data himself near the end of his article, "Let’s see what other tidbits we can discern from the data":

  • Fastball is the most likely pitch with which he’ll open the inning
  • When down in the count the odds of a splitter increase dramatically
  • On a 3-2 count expect a sinking fastball (two-seam)
  • Like the splitter, a slider is most likely when behind in the count
  • Change-ups are thrown mostly at random

There it is!!!...I've done all I can to help...the rest is up to the Nationals' hitters tonight in Turner Field...7:00 PM EST start...I hope all this helps the struggling Washington offense finally score some long-overdue runs against the Braves' sinker-ballin' Tim Hudson...

...Or Matt Chico could just toss a shutout.