The new emphasis on pitch framing as a possible valuable skill for catchers has spurred debate among players at that position, as well as the pitchers who throw to them.
Among those who have entered into the conversation is Dodgers standout right-hander Zack Greinke, who is known as a sophisticated analysist, but is not convinced that pitch framing is a skill set that can make or break a catcher.
"I believe that some catchers are better at framing pitches," Greinke told the Orange County Register. "But I'm not a believer that it's as valuable as it's being made out to be. It's part of a catcher's skill set. It's not the most important part. Just because he frames good doesn't mean he's a good catcher."
Teammate and stud southpaw Clayton Kershaw takes a similar view.
"You just want strikes called strikes. ... I gues I'm in the middle," he offered. "I don't roll my eyes at it and I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it either."
"I was motivated by the realization that that aspect of catching was becoming highly valued by this new wave of analytical front-office types," said Ellis, who spent time in the offseason working on framing pitches. "And I know that deficiency in the long run could affect my future employment."
Ellis added that "every metric out there tells me that I'm very deficient in that area" and that the Dodgers front office personnel advised him of their awareness of it during spring training.
One must wonder what umpires think about the new pitch framing metric. After all, they believe they're calling a strike based on the zone rather than how a catcher frames the pitch.
Greinke struck out seven batters and walked none. He gave up only five hits and faced 27 batters. His day ended with a pitch count of 102. Grienke (1-0) picked up his first win of the season and has a 0.69 ERA.
"I tried to make good pitches and make the other team adjust," Greinke said, via the Associated Press. ''That was the plan, to kind of mix it up."
Manager Don Mattingly was happy Greinke was able to go so deep into the game, reports MLB.com.
"I thought that was what we really needed today, for him to go deep," Mattingly said. "Clayton wasn't quite Clayton last night. To have a second starter come out and give us that game, the more of that the better. That's what's going to be the difference for us."
Greinke allowed a run-scoring triple to Justin Upton in the opening frame for his only blemish of the night. He was charged with one run on two hits and no walks while striking out four over six innings of work.
"Zack was pretty good tonight," manager Don Mattingly said, per MLB.com. "His stuff was sharp."
The Padres scored the game-tying run in the seventh to knock him out of a decision. Of his 89 pitches, 60 were strikes. He opens the season with a 1.50 ERA.
"I had good command," Greinke said. "I located pretty well. I didn't throw many curves, but the other three pitches were pretty good and I mixed it up."
Greinke also spoke highly of catcher Yasmani Grandal, who made his first start Tuesday.
"He's been unbelievable back there," Greinke said. "As a catcher he's better than advertised. He's been as good as you could expect. His hands are great, he's blocked everything I've thrown. People stole on him last year, but he's had some really good throws in games I pitched this spring. His game-calling has been good. I couldn't draw up a better catcher at the moment."
Greinke will look for his first win of the season Sunday at Arizona. He went 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks in 2014.
"I tried something with a pitch and it came out perfect," Greinke said.
Greinke allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings while striking out nine and throwing 85 pitches Wednesday.
"Not many guys can make one pitch and completely turn their game around," catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "He was like, they're not going to hit me anymore. It was a mechanical thing, [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] said something with his face or the way he was looking."
Greinke's next start will come April 7 against the Padres in his regular-season debut.
Greinke threw 76 pitches in 3 2/3 innings Friday, leading manager Don Mattingly to push for Greinke to work on his command in the minors.
"He's not thrilled about it," Mattingly said. "He'll throw Wednesday, the same day as [Clayton] Kershaw [against the Royals]. We feel he's not quite built up. He didn't get to do the ups and downs last night. He'll have an extra day before he starts [April 7 against San Diego]."
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