Mining the News and Stuff

• In my last Sunday night chat, someone asked about swinging strike benchmarks and all I had was an article from 2014.

Eno Sarris has updated the values and to no one’s surprise, the benchmarks have increased.

Swinging Strike Rate Change (2008 to present)
Pitch 2008 Now
Fourseam 7.3% 10.4%
Sinker 5.4% 7.2%
Cutter 9.6% 12.3%
Slider 14.6% 16.4%
Curveball 10.8% 12.2%
Change 14.6% 15.9%

• I’ve been thinking about starting pitcher sample size, specifically, how many starts does a pitcher need to own a new skill set. Using three sources, the number is three to four starts.

1. Eno Sarris makes another appearance with his Stuff+ stabilizing around 300-400 pitches (3-4 games).

2. Next, FreezeStats took our stabilization points and converted them to average innings thrown. Here are the values that are the most telling to me with the number of games assuming 6 IP per start.

  • Strikeout rate: 17 IP (3 starts)
  • Walk rate: 45 IP (7 starts)
  • Groundball rate: 24.5 IP (4 starts)
  • Launch angle: 16.4 IP (3 starts)

The walk rate is a little higher than I’d like but the other three values stabilize in three to four games.

3. Finally, here is some work I did years ago but is still applicable. Pitchers need about three starts for their fastball velocity to stabilize.

Every metric, but walks, point to pitcher stats stabilizing in three to four starts. No stat website has just the last four games available, it’s intervals like two weeks or month. Two weeks encompasses two to three starts while a month could be from four to six starts. The sweet spot would be 21 days.

Just looking through the linked list, some pitchers who stand out are:

Name: SIERA

American League

Mariners

Ken Giles’s fastball averaged under 95 mph in his last appearance. When he was dominant from 2015 to 2019, his fastball averaged 97 to 98 mph. When he last pitched in 2020, it was down at 94 mph and he had control issues (9.8 BB/9). He’s had the same control issues in his rehab starts (7.7 BB/9 in A+, 10.8 BB/9 in AAA). He didn’t walk anyone in the appearance, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Red Sox

Jackie Bradley Jr. had his eyesight corrected.

“Seeing is very vital to this game so I think there could be a correlation where I’m making more contact and not fouling off as many balls as I had been, and my strikeout rate has gone down,” he said. “I don’t know when it came about or how long I had it, though.”

On the season Bradley is hitting .233 with a .616 OPS, up from an abysmal .163 and .497 OPS in 134 games for Milwaukee last year. This year, he’s striking out 20.6 percent of the time, well below his 25.6 percent career average. At Fenway, he’s hitting .313 with an .832 OPS over 31 games with 11 doubles, a triple, a homer and 15 RBI. He can’t explain the home-road splits as he’s hitting just .151 with .393 OPS in 29 road games, but he’s working on it.

With 20/15 vision, Bradley wears the contact in his right eye only during games. It was hard to get used to at first during cold and windy April games. He’s still getting used to the feel of it and prefers to wear a pair of plastic sports eyeglasses during batting practice. But after those first few weeks, there was a clear improvement. His April OPS was .458, consistent with his awful 2021, but since the start of May he’s been at a .700 mark, exactly in line with his career average.

Twins

• Bryon Buxton will likely get half of as many at-bats going forward.

Byron Buxton was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game in Thursday’s series finale against the Guardians with a continued flare-up in the tendinitis in his right knee that makes it too painful for him to swing and run. Despite that, the Twins maintained that there are no plans for their center fielder to go on the injured list.

Buxton had also missed Wednesday’s 11-10 loss to Cleveland with the chronic knee pain and swelling, which the Twins had been managing day to day since the start of the season. The club will continue to do so, with the hope that Buxton’s knee will improve enough for him to play within one or two days.

“He’s done an admirable job and he’s going to continue to do an admirable job going forward dealing with this,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But, like I said, when you literally cannot swing or run, you can’t play the game. And there have been other days this year, earlier in the season, where he couldn’t do those things and he doesn’t play those days. And there are other days where we have to get him a day off his feet so it doesn’t get to the point where we’re talking like this.”

Why not place Buxton on the IL, then? Baldelli said there’s no guarantee that would even resolve the issue. What the Twins don’t want is for Buxton to have to miss a sizeable chunk of games and then be right back where they started within a matter of days upon his return.

This sucks. His managers will have no idea when he’ll start every week. And the pain has got to affect his performance when he is batting. He’s too good to drop but not playing enough to start.

White Sox

Lucas Giolito is working on fixing his fastball.

“We’re working on his fastball,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said in Houston. “Some of the stuff we saw on film and in its behavior was not his norm. It was kind of dipping below his vertical (movement), and the cutting was not the same straight pitch that he has had. We really wanted to dig into that and make sure the vertical was there.”

National League

Giants

• In Anthony DeSclafani’s first start off the IL, he averaged 93.4 mph with his fastball. That value is up from his first three starts (92.9 mph) but down from his 2021 value (94.1 mph). With pitching so thin, I think those managers with bench space must roster him but I can understand not starting him.

Marlins

Avisaíl García has been playing all banged up.

Like pretty much every ballplayer, García is banged up. He has dealt with hand inflammation and knee soreness. He was hit by a pitch over the weekend in New York.

He’s not universally rostered so if he starts to trend upward, it might be a sign that he’s healthy and worth buying back in.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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WARonEverything
3 months ago

Re: Giolito: was that before or after the Astros game? Sorry can’t read the linked article. His FB was down 2MPH in his most recent start (the one after the Astros game) and looks to be at it’s lowest speed since 2018. And the results were very 2018 for him.

Last edited 3 months ago by WARonEverything
Rutuger47member
3 months ago

Looks like The Athletic article was published on June 22nd, after the loss to the Blue Jays on the 22nd. That’s where this quote is from.