Jose Fernandez’s ‘horrible, horrible’ curveball led to 14 strikeouts


(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Marlins’ Jose Fernandez matched his career high with 14 strikeouts in eight innings in Tuesday night’s 1-0 over the Atlanta Braves. “A lucky game,” he called it.

Below are the pitches (from the catcher’s perspective) that resulted in strikeouts. As you can see, it takes more than luck to get hitters to chase the same pitch over and over.

Source: Baseball Savant
Source: Baseball Savant

“My breaking ball in the bullpen was horrible, horrible,” Fernandez said. “I thought, ‘When they say play ball, hopefully it gets better.’ ”

That horrible, horrible breaking ball did get better and was thrown 54 times. Forty four of them were strikes.

Pitch Type Velo (Max) Pitches thrown Strikes / % Swings / % Whiffs / %
Fastball 97.3 (100.5) 49 32 / 65.3% 26 / 53.1% 10 / 20.4%
Sinker 93.8 (94.8) 4 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0%
Chageup 90.3 (91.7) 2 1 / 50.0% 1 / 50.0% 0 / 0.0%
Curveball 83.5 (86.4) 54 44 / 81.5% 30 / 55.6% 16 / 29.6%
Source: Brooks Baseball

That horrible, horrible breaking ball would also combine with his fastball to produce 26 whiffs.

“He pitched amazing,” Atlanta’s Chris Johnson said. “We went up against a buzz-saw today.”

Fernandez is 3-1 this season and leads the league in strikeouts with 47, a robust 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Imagine what he will do warming up in the bullpen without a horrible, horrible breaking ball.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.

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Neil Greenberg · April 23, 2014

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