Why I watched: Whirling Darvish asked and I couldn’t come up with a reason not to.
Game(s) Watched: 9/26/14 vs Baltimore
• He struck out the side in the first, but allowed one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out seven of the first nine batters.
• The 24-year-old righty worked in the vertical direction with all his pitches. His motion seems a little jerky and mechanical. He is slow to the plate with David Lough getting a stolen base in the first off him. In 2014, base stealers were 24 of 27 (88%) when he was pitching.
• He threw a 92-95 fastball with late life. The direction of the break would be a little different with each pitch. Considering the velocity, it was a nice pitch. On the 2014 season, it has a 14% swinging strike rate.
• The second pitch he threw was an 81-85 slider with nice late downward break. It is a nice swing-and-miss pitch.
• The final pitch was 86-87 mph change which was up and down. He didn’t seem to have confidence in it.
• The two breakers couldn’t be thrown for strikes (~33% Zone%). He is lucky his fastball is plus so he can come back with it to get some called strikes.
• I didn’t like the lack of speed difference in his pitches. He has a fastball averaging 92 mph and his slider (slowest pitch) averages 84 mph.
• Remember with Hutchinson is he missed 2013 with Tommy John surgery and most pitchers struggles their first season back especially with command. This can be seen with Hutchinson’s K-BB% going from 13% in the 2014’s first half to 20% in the second half. His second half improvement was masked by a near 5.00 ERA caused by a high home run rate.
Final thoughts: I like what I am seeing with him. I wish his pitches had a little more speed difference and all could be thrown for strikes regularly. He is going to be another season removed from Tommy John surgery, so his control with likely improve some more. He is definitely a pitcher worth taking a chance on in a deeper league.
Why I watched: His strikeout rate is seems low considering his high velocity.
Game(s) Watched: 9/23/14 vs Indians
• I may be a bit biased with Ventura since I am a Royals fan and want to see him succeed. I have put his report off for a while, but needed to finally get one done with the season starting.
• His pitches all worked in the vertical direction. Sometimes his pitches get some release side break.
• His fastball was between 94 and 99 mph. This pitch is a straight as can be. Even as his velocity drops, it stays straight. At the higher speeds, hitter obviously have problems making contact (11% Whiff%), but the ones he throws slower are worse (6.5% Whiff%).
• He threw a couple of pitches which are getting labeled as cutters, but could be split finger fastballs. The where 93-94 mph with good, late down break.
• He threw a curve which had a 12/6 sweeping break at 80-83 mph. He had problems throwing it for strikes and had no confidence in it when deep in the count.
• His change was at 86-88 mph with some possible release side break. He had no feel for this pitch and it wasn’t near the zone.
• The lack of breaking pitches could be an issue as he deals with time through the order. Here are his vs OPS each time through the order.
Time through order: vs OPS
• He throws vice pitches. He throws hard and hopes the pitch just kind of goes around the plate. This approach doesn’t work with his breaking pitches. He throws away too many pitches and ends up in some deep counts.
Final thoughts: Ventura is surprisingly disappointing. He just seems like everything should be better. Look for improvement in his breaking balls as they could lead to more strikeouts and less walks as hitters need to be weary of them and not just sit on his straight fastball.
Why I watched: Youngish pitchers who is a projected starter.
Game(s) Watched: 9/26/14
• What a waste of time. I didn’t notice before I started watching it that he would have an eight walk game. I just picked his last start of the season. He had no control of his fastball at all. The Nationals swung at less than 30% of the pitches he threw. This wasn’t the only time he struggled with command. Even after removing the last game, he had a BB/9 over 4.0 which is not good when his K/9 is 5.5.
• He throws a cutter and four-seamer. In the game, I think I figured each out. Both pitches are 93 to 95 mph. The cutter breaks down with some nice late sink. His four-seamer breaks late to the glove side. The problem with this game was that he pitches were all over the place. They were straight. They were in the dirt. They went straight into the dirt. Some barely broke down. Some really broke down.
• His 78-79 mph 12-6 curveball was good as a swing-and-miss pitch. He never got to set it up because of his lack of fastball command.
• His straight change was 80-82 mph and was good also. He only used it against lefties.
Final thoughts: No strikeout power and too many walks for my taste. He can’t live on just groundballs. I have him on a list to look at again in spring training to see if there is any improvement.
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.