The following are both screen caps of moments before home runs.
Instead of a closed and coiled into a crouch that may look uncomfortable simply because he is so very large, Tyler is open, with his front leg back and extended, his hands lower and farther out. There’s a temptation to delve into it more, but Flowers’ last new batting stance made it through barely two weeks of regular season play. Looks like Tyler is back to finishing with his hip dip, and the hard contact from last night (2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K) is sure to give him reason to stick to it, but it’s probably best to wait and see what the results of his tinkering are, especially given how different the setup is.
"“I just felt a little more smooth, I guess,” Flowers said about the stance. “Like I have a little more freedom, a little more, kind of, swagger, looseness feeling on all my swings today. I felt very good.”"
Robin Ventura noted the relative transience of Flowers’ stance as he scrambles to survive:
"“I think it’s more trying to find that comfort in being able to survive and do the things you need to do,” Ventura said.“As hitters, you are always making adjustments and doing things. What was good one week might not feel the same a week later. So you just keep making adjustments.”"
Consistency in the work and preparation Tyler makes everyday would obviously be preferable, but it’s not as though there’s an acceptable status quo for him to work from. More bumps in the road should be anticipated.
Jose Quintana throwing gas
Part of the absurdity of Jose Quintana finding success with little more than fastball command last year is that his fastball wasn’t anything special, often topping out at 90 with frequent marks of 89.
This year, it’s up a notch. Quintana was already averaging over a mile faster on the season before Wednesday night, which saw the Rogers Centre guns read his heat consistently at 92 mph and touch 94 mph on occasion (or 94.6, according to Brooks Baseball). This could easily be a hot (or accelerated) gun, especially early in the season before anomalies like this can be accounted and calibrated for.
It’s attractive to think that the 23 year-old Quintana could simply move from average velocity to Hector Santiago-territory with a few months of time. Especially since Jose was throwing his heater by people Wednesday, having his breaking stuff playing all the way up during a 7-0 romp over the Jays and has a swing-and-miss rate is up two percent (big for this stat) from last year.
For these purposes, we want to believe a physical change, because it adds a degree of permanence to the positives of the last two starts. A single extra mile on the fastball is more plausible–mostly because it’s early in the season, and Quintana was well over his career-highs in workload during a lot of his work last season.
The most important part is that Quintana’s curveball and slider flashed some ability to miss bats this week. Whether it was due to improved consistency with each or simply good sequencing in between Quintana’s heaters, the one dimensional pitcher that the Mariners thrashed one inning during the first week does not appear to have made the road trip.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan