Quick Looks at Buchanan, Fiers, Martinez and deGrom by Jeff Zimmerman August 29, 2014 I am planning on publishing this piece on a weekly basis. I’ll be looking at a few interesting players. I try to work out for 30-45 minutes a day, so I will just watch a different player each time and give my thoughts on their game at the end of the week. This will not be a complete breakdown of the player, just what I saw. Also, I will probably be looking at average to below-average players to see if anything sticks out with them. David Buchanan Why I watched: I noticed him while looking for pitcher with big curveballs. Looking at little deeper and found this: Month:K%-BB%,GB% May:4%,42% Jun:9%,49% Jul:12%,46% Aug:10%,55% Basically, he has a decent K%-BB% and top 5% GB rate. Game Watched: 8/23 vs Cards Game Thoughts: • Seemed smaller than his listed 6’3”. The 190 lbs may also be high. • His 90 mph FB is not intimidating. • Nothing (control, velocity, break) seemed to stick out • Tons of groundballs (62% for the game). Final thoughts: The 25-year-old right hander is becoming a groundball machine with no walks and OK number of Ks. Reminds me of Doug Fister. Mike Fiers Why I watched: A 29-year-old failed starter with a 1.54 ERA on a contender. Game Watched: 8/24 vs Pirates Game Thoughts • Only throws a 89 mph FB. He hides his pitches well which gives him quite a bit of deception. Because the fastball lacks speed, he lives on the edges. I wouldn’t call him a nibbler, because he doesn’t give away pitches. He knows he can’t over power hitters so he has to have control his pitches. Overall this season, his fastball has a 11.3% SwStr% which is elite (league average is 6.4%). • He gets quite a few called strikes. This effect can be seen with his 30% K% and only a 9.5 SwStr%. Normally, K% = 2 * SwStr%, so right now his SwStr% would indicate a ~20% K%. He may be able to continue to get called strikes, but if not, his K% could drop by a third. • He has a nice curve which is getting an above-average rate of ground balls (67%). • He seemed to lack control of his change. Final thoughts: I would like to see how he does when he faces a team twice. I wonder how well the deception and pin point control can be the backbone of his, or any pitcher’s, production. Nick Martinez Why I watched: K-BB% of -0.6 in 1H and 7.3% in 2H Game Watched: 8/26 vs Mariners Game Thoughts: • Works fast. • He has a straight fastball (91 mph) and therefore has to nibble. Unlike Fiers, he nibbles out of the zone and runs up his pitch counts. Looking at his pitch Pitchf/x data, it is probably a “rising fastball” (fastballs with a vertical movement of 8 or more are generally rising fastballs). The rising nature would explain his low 32% GB% on the pitch. • His curveball breaks late. He sometimes hangs a few. The main issue with his curveball in the game was he seemed to tip it off somehow. Cano went down and teed one up for home run. Seager nailed a single off of it. Anytime he threw it, the Mariners were waiting on it. • His slider is pretty “blah’. • He works high in the strike zone (Martinez’s pitch placement and league wide placement). Final thoughts: Looked overmatched, especially since the Rangers took away his curveball. He may have a future in the game, but it would be nice to see him spend some time in AA/AAA refining his game. Jacob deGrom Why I watched: He throws fast. Game Watched 8/23 vs. Dodgers Game Thoughts • He throws gas. The 97 mph pitch ate up the Dodgers to begin with. • I like his 4-seam fastball a lot more then his 2-seamer. It has a little release side cut when in the 94-95 mph range. He gets a 9.7 SwgStr% with the 4-seamer versus 6.5% with the 2-seamer. • He seems to get a ton of foul balls on his heater. This is should not be a surprise since a faster fastball usually gets more foul balls than ones thrown at slower speeds. • Works away. • None of his non-fastballs seem elite by themselves. Not a ton of late sharp break. They are getting good results, but they are each working off the 95-mph fastball. The hitters are pretty much helpless if they are looking heater and he throws the curve. • Additionlly, Eno recently broke down all of deGrom’s pitches and grips if you need more info on the pitcher. Final thoughts: He established his fastball and then his other pitches just throw off the batter. If he can refine his breaking pitches, I actually could see him be an elite pitcher like Justin Verlander. The problem right now is if he can keep the high heat going. If he begins to lose velocity, I don’t think his other pitches are good enough (in their current state) for him to maintain his results.