It’s early, but let’s jump into our year-to-date PITCHf/x numbers. April pitch speeds tend to be low, so don’t be concerned if someone’s fastball doesn’t seem as hot as normal. This is going to be a number-y post. Hopefully it’s handy as a reference (I’ll update this in future posts) but there are few interesting things that popped out as I perused them. I’m curious to see what you all pick out of here. The data presented below covers 2013 regular season games through April 11.
Soriano and Stammen haven’t shown a change-up this year, which isn’t a surprise. The Nats closer hasn’t thrown his since 2011, and only a handful a season at that. Stammen has barely shown his off-speed pitch in the last two seasons, with just one in 2012.
Zimmermann may throw a second fastball; some games there appears to be a two-seam sinker but it’s very hard to find with any regularity. So his fastball is reported as a single offering. Another fastball caveat goes to the closer, as Soriano cuts his four-seamer and may even “sink” the ball off his four-seam grip. I’ve already consolidated his cutters into his fastballs, and those sinkers may be next.
Strasburg is the hardest thrower in the staff, despite the disadvantage of starting. Figure in a 2 mph penalty for the relievers if you want to compare their velocity to the starters’. Duke worked long relief, so those numbers are probably fair (April coolness aside). He is the crafty lefty of the staff, let there be no doubt.
|Pitch Selection||# Pitches||Games||Fastball||Sinker||Cutter||Slider||Curve||Change/Split|
Clippard is throwing more change-ups than anyone else on the staff by a wide margin. That’s not unsual for Tyler, but he didn’t throw any cutters until his fourth outing and none in his fifth. It’s not like he didn’t face any righties (his normal target for the cutter), he simply didn’t throw the pitch for a while.
Mattheus checks more boxes than anyone else on the staff, only lacking a curveball. Still, after the fastball-dominant Soriano, Mattheus and his sinker are the most likely pitcher/pitch combo an opposing hitter will face. Soriano’s ability to tweak his fastball helps him out, while Mattheus goes after bigger changes in movement and speed with his large batch of secondary offerings.
Haren told James Wagner he threw as many as 50 percent splitters in his outing on Thursday. This seems unlikely, given the PITCHf/x data, which showed a fairly normal mix of splitters. Even though my pitch tags are manually reviewed and verified, this isn’t the first time this week this issue has come up.
The issue involves distinguishing one pitch from another. In this case, we’re talking about sinkers and splitters. It’s quite possible Haren’s remarks don’t reflect reality, but they might. Yu Darvish is another pitcher who can confuse me with his sinker and splitter. If Haren, and Darvish, can really throw their splitter two ways — one way as fast (or slow) as a change-up and another as fast as a two-seam sinker — I’ll adjust how I classify pitches. But it is really hard to throw a splitter as hard as a fastball. Despite the conventional label (split-fingered fastball), it really is a change-up.