Good News (Told in GIF): Tyler Cloyd's 2012 Home Run Problem May Be Fixable

Good News (Told in GIF): Tyler Cloyd's 2012 Home Run Problem May Be Fixable

Let's focus on the positives. Tyler Cloyd was, for a healthy part of last year, the most effective starter at the highest level of the minors, where he went 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA with the Iron Pigs. When he was tapped after September callups, Cloyd struck out 4.29 batters for every walk, which if it qualified would've ranked fifth in baseball -- right ahead of NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.

His problem: home runs. It was a big one; of the 18 runs Cloyd served en route to a 2-2 mark and 4.91 ERA last year, 14 were off the eight bombs rocketed during his six starts. But at least it seems isolated.

What's more, some of it may be fixable, maybe even for Cloyd's 2013 debut in place of Roy Halladay against the Diamondbacks in the thin desert air at Chase Field tonight at 9:40 p.m. Some, maybe not.

Even then, for a HR/9 over 2 and HR/FB over 17.0%, anything helps.

The first three home runs Cloyd served if anything should've been encouraging. Look where he put the ball. Either high, over the middle or both. Can't do that.

(Lucky for you, after glitch in BrooksBaseball's game logs led me to believe the site didn't have at-bat data for Cloyd, I pulled video for each home run from MLB.com for use in GIF. Then, Dan, wonderful Dan, who runs the site showed me where to look. Net of net: you get both Pitch F/X graphs and GIFs. Enjoy.)

First, against Lucas Duda on Aug. 29:

Can't do that. Not with an 86.7 m.p.h. fastball, which would've ranked fourth-softest in baseball last year.

Next, Jay Bruce on Sept. 3:

Same deal. Miami's Jose Fernandez gasses guys high. He also has 97 m.p.h. top-end heat.

Last (for now), Chris Nelson on Sept. 9:

You could literally draw a line, from right to left, connecting those pitches.

Cloyd's admitted that nerves played a factor in his struggles last year, and said that the butterflies didn't make the trip this time around. There's (hopefully) more to his evolution than that, but if you're fishing for reasons why he missed so often last year, start reeling.

Still, half of Cloyd's homers weren't on misses. In fact, those four were put exactly where you'd want a soft-hurler to: down and/or away.

First, righty Matt Dominguez on Sept. 13:

Where else is Cloyd supposed to drop that? That far outside on a righty, and Dominguez still turns on it?

Same deal with Mike Baxter, from Sept. 20:

Could still be lower. Still. Not as egregious a mistake as some of the others. Here, Cloyd just gets beat.

Next, his three home run game against the Nationals in his 2012 finale:

To Cloyd's credit, it actually looks like he came into this at-bat with a strategy, seeing how he put the ball in the exact same spot twice. Probably should've changed it up. But at least he can locate. Either way, where Harper fouled off the first pitch, he erupted on the second.

Now, Mike Morse:

Again: Cloyd missed, but not in a spot that should do so much damage.

This one, though, much of the same as before. Cloyd hangs down the middle, and Morse cashes in.

Now, for important context.

All but one of them -- Morse's second, because Cloyd had already served two prior -- came with the Phillies ahead or tied. Even then, six of the eight were when the team was within two runs or fewer. One of the others, Dominguez's three-run blast, shaved a 4-0 lead to one.

Two had leverage indicies over 1.85, where anything over 1.00 is "high pressure." These were nearly twice that. Nelson raked with two on and two out in the third inning of a 1-1 game. Then, Dominguez.

Cloyd's development of his cutter could help. Five of his 2012 home runs were on cutters, a pitch he threw just under one-third of the time.  Adding another pitch would've been ideal; he used curves and changes on only 20% of throws, combined. But making it harder on hitters would make Cloyd infinitely more effective.

There are still reasons to be skeptical. It's been written that Cloyd didn't have a handle on his cutter until his sixth start, when he doubled his season's run total in five innings off three jacks. Still, he could've simply just got beat that night, as happens to nearly every starter a few times every year.

Question is: how often can Cloyd beat hitters?

Temple DE Haason Reddick 'overwhelmed' after Cardinals take him 13th overall

Temple DE Haason Reddick 'overwhelmed' after Cardinals take him 13th overall

Haason Reddick started the next chapter in his success story Thursday night.

The Temple product was taken 13th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL draft. He becomes the second highest selection ever for a Temple player.

Reddick will call a new coast his home next season, but he has plenty in common with his new head coach Bruce Arians. Arians was Temple's head football coach from 1983-88.

"To play for a fellow Temple guy, that's special," Reddick said through a smile at the podium sporting a red tie to match his Cardinals fitted hat.

But that's not all of the ties Reddick has to Arians.

While Arians was at Temple, he coached running back Paul Palmer, a former Heisman Trophy runner-up who was selected 19th overall in the 1987 NFL draft. 

Palmer is an assistant coach at Haddon Heights High School in Camden, New Jersey where Reddick went to high school. Palmer witnessed the transformation Reddick went through from a cornerback at Haddon Heights to a dominant edge rusher for the Owls. 

"Coach (Palmer) coached me and now (Arians) is going to get a chance to coach me as well," Reddick said. "It's just like a generational thing. It's being passed down, passed down, passed down from Temple alums. That's special right there."

For Reddick, the process of walking across The Philadelphia Art Museum steps and hearing his named called in the city he played college football in was a long one. At one point, Reddick thought he was going to be a "regular college student."

Reddick walked-on to Temple and was told he wasn't being brought back by then-head coach Steve Addazio in 2013. 

But when Addazio left North Broad Street for the head coaching job at Boston College and Matt Rhule became the head coach, Francis Brown, the defensive backs coach, fought for Reddick to stay on the team.

Rhule trusted Brown and brought back Reddick, who helped Temple win its first conference championship since 1967. 

"I never thought what could come out of it until my junior year in college," Reddick said. "And I put in even more work the senior season and continued to grind, continued to work hard. And now that I’m here, I finally got my name called and it's still sinking in, man. It's still sinking in. I'm being overwhelmed by emotions but it's still sinking in."

Prior to getting a scholarship at Temple, his mother took out a loan for him to have a meal plan. His father was also always there to support Reddick when he was uncertain of his football career.

Reddick has often talked about getting his mother a house where the sun shines in the lead up to the draft. Somewhere in Arizona might be a good spot.

"It was beauftiful," Reddick said on getting the phone call from Cardinals general manager Steve Keim. "I'm glad I had the people I had around me. Most of the people there are people that stuck with me throughout this whole journey. And to be able to share that moment with them, I wouldn't want to spend that moment any other way."

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).