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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 changeup
    • WI3?: His wOBA by trip through the lineup: .284, .268, .385. Cutter has not been an effective third pitch & he needs something that moves away from righties
  • 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 (maybe not), 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. Here is some video of the pitch from winter ball
  • Eric Lauer (2/16) – Brewers re-working his changeup
    • WI3?: Changeup has been his least-used pitch, for good reason. This new design could give him some much needed whiffiness
  • Trevor Williams (2/16) – adding a curveball
    • WI3?: He threw 22 of them in 2019, 15 in September. The slider has negative pVals for his career, so two different breaking balls off the fastball could help him rediscover his 2018 success.
  • Ross Stripling (2/16) – tinkering with his changeup grip
    • WI3?: He threw 157 changeups in 2016 and the league hit .167 off the pitch. He’s thrown 213 of them each of the past two seasons and the league has hit .241 and .264 off the changeup. Movement measures have it losing four inches of vertical movement since 2017.
  • Chris Paddack (2/16) – retooling his curveball
    • WI3?: Was his clear third pitch last year by usage and effectiveness. A better curveball would give him three above-average pitches and opposing hitters nightmares.
  • Wade Miley (2/17) – working on a split-change
    • WI3?: His changeup was his best pitch by run values last season, so unclear if this will be a second off-speed pitch or him tweaking what worked very well for him in 2019.
  • Masahiro Tanaka (2/17) – working on his cutter
    • WI3?: He threw the pitch 45 times (1.6%) last season, and the pitch had a .502 wOBA. He had a terrible 2019 vs LHB (.349 wOBA), so a more effective cutter to them can help get him back on track vs LHB.
  • Paul Blackburn (2/17) – working on a Montas-influenced splitter & dropping his normal changeup
    • WI3?: His normal change has 5-6 mph separation from his sinker and has not really done much for him. Splitter would give him more separation and movement and allow him to use the same two fingers he uses for his sinker vs throwing off the middle two fingers
  • A.J. Puk (2/17) – bringing back his pre-TJ changeup
    • WI3?: Scouts grade it as a 55-60 pitch, but Puk was not comfortable using it as much last year as the pronation movement was not comfortable yet. It is now.
  • Ryan Helsley (2/17) – mimicking deGrom’s changeup grip
    • WI3?: 88% of his 2019 pitches were fastball or cutter. A better changeup should increase his whiffiness
  • Zach Daniels (2/20) – has a new cutter & re-tooled slider
    • WI3?: Comes to his first year of full-season baseball with a four-pitch repertoire when most guys are lucky to have two pitches.
  • Oliver Drake (2/21) – working on a slutter
    • WI3?: His fastball/splitter combo has been tough on lefties (.277 wOBA), but righties have done decidedly better (.343 wOBA), and he has allowed 15 home runs in 90.2 innings of work against righties. Another pitch which moves away from righties would help, especially with the three-batter rule in place.
  • Kenley Jansen (2/21) – working on a new slider grip with Hershisher and Honeycutt
    • WI3?: He threw double the sliders in 2019 than he did in 2018 in fewer innings of work. The pitch performed very well last year, but did lose some Whiff% year over year. New shape could mean more swing and miss.
  • Nick Pivetta (2/22) – re-working his delivery and working on a changeup
    • WI3?: Last year’s wide-awake sleeper was a statistical nightmare. The work on his mechanics and adding an offspeed pitch should help him get back on track.

2019 New Pitch Tracker

This marks the sixth 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.

Read the rest of this entry »


2018 New Pitch Tracker

This marks the fifth 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 has been rather quiet in 2018.

Read the rest of this entry »


2017 New Pitch Tracker

This marks the fourth 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. That same support model will be in place this year for the extended 2017 Spring Training.

Read the rest of this entry »


2016 New Pitch Tracker

My interest in tracking new pitches began in 2014 for a couple of reasons. One, I was bored with the “Best Shape Of His Life” (#BSOHL) stories.Secondly, I had a lot of free time on my hands because I was unemployed by day and needed a distraction from the process of obtaining new full-time employment. Thankfully, the latter is no longer true as I’m gainfully employed by day but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost any interest in new pitches that pitchers are bringing to camp each season.

In the second half of the 2014 season, I posted a follow-up piece to see if pitchers had any gains from adding the new pitch. The data 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. Last season, the amount of pitchers using new pitches more than doubled but the gains of using new pitches were not as definitive.

Now, it is time to look at 2016 and see who is going to bring out new pitches.

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Did It Work?

Back in early March, we took a look at why pitchers work on new pitches and the ones that were doing so during Spring Training this year. Both Jensen Lewis and Josh Zeid offered their thoughts as pitchers that have gone through the process of adding a new pitch at the major league level. Martin Perez, Sean Doolittle and Jake Odorizzi gave quotes to writers in camp explaining why each was adding a new pitch in 2014.

Adding a new pitch does not guarantee success nor will it instantly improve the prospects of one’s career. The previous article cited examples of how new pitches aided Wade Davis, Kevin Correia and Ross Detwiler while it had a negative effect on Clay Buchholz.

Now that the season is three-quarters complete, we have enough of a sample size to ask the simple question: did the new pitches help?

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RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and The Bust 06/01/2014

Episode 123

The latest episode of The Sleeper and the Bust is now live! Jason Collette and Nick Minnix discuss players on the mend, players breaking down, changes in starting rotation, 2-start pitchers, and of course, closer craziness.

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us any fantasy questions you have that we may answer on our next episode.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed.

Thanks to Ian Miller aka Teen Archer, for the new intro music. Approximately 81 minutes of joyous analysis.  


RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and The Bust 05/22/2014

Episode 120

The latest episode of The Sleeper and the Bust is now live! Jason Collette and Eno Sarris discuss Christian Yelich, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Michael Morse, Oscar Taveras, Eric Campbell, Phil Hughes, Mike Moustakas, Trevor Rosenthal, Chris Sale, Alex Cobb, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jason Motte.

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us any fantasy questions you have that we may answer on our next episode.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed.

Thanks to Ian Miller aka Teen Archer, for the new intro music. Approximately 59 minutes of joyous analysis.  


RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and The Bust 05/20/2014

Episode 119

The latest episode of The Sleeper and the Bust is now live! Jason Collette and Eno Sarris discuss the changing roster for both the Red Sox and the White Sox, Dallas Keuchel, batters improving their strikeout rates, Alexei Ramirez, and how they approach drafting prospects in their home keeper and dynasty leagues.

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us any fantasy questions you have that we may answer on our next episode.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed.

Thanks to Ian Miller aka Teen Archer, for the new intro music. Approximately 59 minutes of joyous analysis.  


RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and The Bust 05/13/2014

Episode 118

The latest episode of The Sleeper and the Bust is now live! Jason Collette and Eno Sarris discuss potential pitchers to target based on pitch whiff rates, power surgers who may be on the way down, and the recent fantasy news.

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us any fantasy questions you have that we may answer on our next episode.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed.

Thanks to Ian Miller aka Teen Archer, for the new intro music. Approximately 58 minutes of joyous analysis.