2020 New Pitch Tracker

This marks the seventh consecutive spring for tracking new pitches at Fangraphs. In 2014, the series was launched with a piece featuring both a retired and current pitcher and their insight into adding new pitches during the offseason and/or in camp. The 2015 tracking was done at RotoJunkieFix where I serve as the CIO which is just a fancy title for the guy that keeps a 20+ year old fantasy community up and running in his spare time. By popular demand, the 2016 New Pitch Tracker gained front page real estate here and I updated it throughout the spring with help from Jeff Zimmerman and others scraping the stories from the web and the crew at BrooksBaseball helping validate the pitches. There was quite a bit of activity on the 2017 New Pitch Tracker, but it there was not as much news in 2018.

The follow-up work in 2014 showed that 17 of the 23 pitchers that faced at least 100 batters in 2014 improved their strikeout rate, 16 of 17 generated more swinging strikes while 15 of them reduced their contact rates. In 2015, even more pitchers tinkered with new pitches, but the gains were not as definitive. I did not do a follow-up piece to the 2016 new pitches to see whether gains were realized but that list included as many breakouts as it did busts. The follow-up to the 2017 new pitches showed that a few pitchers beneffited from the offseason work. Trevor BauerNathan EovaldiWade MileyJhoulys Chacin, and Marco Gonzales are some of the best examples from 2018. 2019 helped identify the new from breakouts such as Frankie Montas, Chris Paddack, Emilio Pagan, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Kirby Yates.

Below is the list of pitchers that have discussed a new pitch, a new arm angle, or tweaking things with an existing pitch in 2019. To steal from the TSA slogan: If you see something (in the news), say something (to me on Twitter). Click on the pitches below for details; WI3 = why is this important? Provides some background as to why the pitcher is working on the pitch. If you use twitter, I’ll be tagging updates with #newpitch2020:

  • Brandon Bailey (1/7) – working on new slider & cutter
    • WI3?: The Rule 5 pitcher needs to show he can pitch at the big league level. 
  • Joey Lucchesi (1/11) – working on a new mystery pitch
    • WI3?: His wOBA by trip through the lineup: .284, .268, .385. Cutter has not been an effective third pitch
  • Rookie Davis (1/18) – turning his slurve into two distinct breaking balls
    • WI3?: He has struggled at the upper levels in his career. This is all about survival.
  • Adbert Alzolay (1/20) – adjusting his changeup
  • Brady Singer (2/7) – reworking changeup
    • WI3?: Getting more separation from his fastball with the new grip on the pitch.
  • Logan Webb (2/8) – adding a cutter & going from a curve to a slurve & lowering arm angle
    • WI3?: He’s altering what was his best pitch by pVAL last year. In limited time, his RH vs RH numbers were not good, so different arm angle could help
  • Tyler Glasnow (2/8) – dropping changeup, adding splitter
    • WI3?: Glasnow threw 30 changeups in 2019 and has never found a grip that works for his large hands. He could benefit from a pitch with some fade and run from lefties
  • Dakota Mekkes (2/10) – adding a cutter
    • WI3?: He held righties to a .180 average, but lefties hit nearly double that against him in 2019
  • Ethan Small (2/12) – adding a slider
    • WI3?: Scouting report grades his current breaking ball as his worst pitch
  • Jalen Beeks (2/12) – droping cutter, adding slider
    • WI3?: Cutter was his best pitch by pitch value last year, but he rarely threw it (6%). Two different breaking balls and his changeup can help mask the bad fastball
  • Grayson Rodriguez (2/12) – working on his changeup
    • WI3?: He had no offspeed offering coming out of school
  • Johan Oviedo (2/12) – working on a changeup
    • WI3?: The inconsistent changeup & inconsistent overall command will move him to the bullpen if both do not improve in 2020
  • Alex Wilson (2/13) – working on a new armslot
    • WI3?: Righty has had issues against same-handed batters & threw more innins in Triple-A than the majors last year. Trying to earn spot in Tiger bullpen
  • Franklin Perez (2/13) – working on a sinker
    • WI3?: He just needs reps as the former top 100 prospect has thrown fewer than 20 innings in each of the past two seasons
  • Freddy Peralta (2/15) – bringing back his slider
    • WI3?: Peralta has no real third pitch, so two breaking balls will help give him a different look and not be so reliant on his fastball. Righties punished him last year (.354 wOBA) and hit 12 of the 15 homers he allowed.

 

We hoped you liked reading 2020 New Pitch Tracker by Jason Collette!

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Joser

I was confused by WI3 being the abbreviation for “Why Is This Important” when the obvious acronym, WITI, would be clear enough. Then I finally realized it was WI^3 and was supposed to stand for (I’m guessing) “Why Is It Important”?