Quick Looks: Butler, Gibson and Lyles

Note: I usually try to pick the most recent game the player pitched. Sometimes the MLB video has issues and other games are picked. Also, if a say a pitch moves 11-5, it is from the pitcher’s perspective.


Jordan Lyles
Why I watched: Young projected starter

Game(s) Watched: 9/26/14 vs Dodgers

Game Thoughts

• All of his pitches were generally down leading to his 52% GB% which will keep his infield defense alert. In his final inning of work, he got groundball BABIP’ed to death. He could of had worse results, but the Dodgers made a couple of early outs on the bases.

• He threw two fastballs, one is labeled by Pitchf/x as a two-seamer and the other as a four-seamer. The two-seamer was at 90-91 mph with some sink and generates groundball 57% of the time. It is his bread and butter. The four-seamer was between 91-93 mph which is mainly straight with some release side break. It kind of had some cutter action. He uses the four-seamer mostly to get called strikes when behind in the count.

• He threw a 87-88 mph slider. This pitch broke from straight down to straight glove side. He threw this pitches in different directions to Justin Turner in back-to-back pitches. I didn’t like the pitch at all for him. It was inconsistent and just didn’t have a nice break. The pitch performed decently during the season with a 53% GB% and 13.7% SwStr%.

• His change was at 80 mph with a loopy 12-6 motion when he had control of it. He had no control of this pitch as seen by a 23% Zone% on the season.

• His curve was at 82-83 mph and he could throw it for strikes. It generates groundballs, but no swinging strikes (6%).

• He seems to be doing too much. Five pitches and each seem to break inconsistently.

• Another issue I see is his pitches only vary by about 12 mph at the extremes. There is just not enough differences between them in speed.

• With all his pitches breaking down, he gets a ton of called balls and has a 3.3 BB/9 which is way too high for a pitcher with a 6.4 K/9.

Final thoughts: He is young enough to still put everything together, but it will be tough to so in Colorado. I would like to see his Zone% go up and hopefully the walks will go down and strikeouts up.


Kyle Gibson

Why I watched: Young projected starter

Game(s) Watched: 9/28/14 vs Tigers

Game Thoughts

• His two-seamer was at 91-92 mph with some release side break to go along with some sink. This is his top pitch.

• He threw a 92-95 straight four-seam fastball. This pitch is horrible and is only used to get called strikes. It only has a 2.8 SwStr%.

• He threw a slider from 85-87 mph with the look of a hard 12-6 curve. This pitch was inconsistent and couple of them got crushed.

• His change was from 83-85 mph with some late sink

• Finally, he also threw a loopy 81-82 curve.

• He didn’t seem to be nibbling, his pitches just weren’t near the strike zone. I would like to see him drop the four-seamer, but he needs it right now for called strikes.

Final thoughts: He needs to find the strike zone more. He increased his Zone% a bit from 2013 t0 2014 (41.9% to 43.6%) and saw his K% increase (12.2% to 14.1%) and BB% drop (8.4% to 7.5%). He just needs to trust his stuff a little more.


Eddie Butler

Why I watched: Decent prospect makes it to the majors.

Game(s) Watched: 9/29/14

Game Thoughts

• I like to listen to Vince Scully so I picked this game. I did have to deal with bad camera angle though.

• Pitchf/x and Scully have a tough time identifying his pitches.

• Butler threw two fastballs. One is a nice sinker at 90-93 mph with just a touch of late break. It is a plus pitch and helps generate his 52% GB%. He throws a 4-seamer which is 1-2 mph faster with some release side run. I would love to give some metrics on these pitches, but are his pitches according to Pitchf/x grouped by vertical and horizontal break.

• That right there is a convoluted mess. All the pitches are mixed up, so the metrics would be worthless.

• He also threw at 86-88 mph slider with some nice glove side and downward break.

• Finally, he had a 86-88 mph change which had some nice late break. With the speed so close to his fastball speed, he wasn’t an effective pitch

• Most of his pitches broke down so he will likely be able to keep the high groundball rate.

• One item which really got to me is the lack of speed ranges from his pitches. He fastball averaged 93, slider at 87 and 86 for the change. Without a huge difference, he doesn’t get a bunch of misses. While moving from A+ to the Majors, his K% stayed under 7%.

Final thoughts: I am not sure what the all the fuss is about. He may have been dealing with injuries, but nothing was impressive except for the sinker. I think his change and sinker are decent looking on their own, but the lack of speed difference makes them less effective.

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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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Lack of speed difference I am not sure is all that much of a negative. It is something to consider, but King Felix can show that a little movement in pitches can really negate the effects of diminished differences in speeds.

Maybe Butler was hurt. He posted a K% of 25% in AA in 2013, 14% in 2014. That seems a little drastic to go from a dominant AA performance one year to doubling your FIP the following year.


Velocity difference is absolutely beneficial. Some guys can make things work, but a fast change is not a good thing.


Yeah, just ask Felix!