This will be the last week where I will look back at 2014 starts unless something comes up which requires going back. Since I am not 100% sure I will have games to watch week, I will publish all of the Quick Take Final Thoughts before the upcoming season. I plan on giving some pitchers a second look if they need it.
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.
Why I watched: About no strikeouts with a 94 mph fastball.
Game(s) Watched: 9/28/14 vs. Nationals
• Everything the 25-year-old righty throws breaks down. This downward action has him at a 55% GB% for his career. Of those pitchers with 400 IP thrown over the last three seasons, his ground ball rate is the fifth highest.
• Pitchf/x does a horrible job of classifying his pitches. His per-pitch metrics are just about useless.
• His first pitch was a 92-96 mph fastball which was generally straight. Some times at lower velocities it would have some late break.
• His second pitch, which is his bread-and-butter, is his change/splitter/2-seamer/sinker. It comes in around 87-91 mph and just drops down at the last moment. It probably gets around 60% GB% looking at the pitch types which get classified as this pitched (CH and FT).
• His third pitch was a 84-86 mph slider which had the look of a hard curve with down break.
• Finally, I saw him throw his slow curve/eephus at 61 mph.
• He doesn’t really have a swing-and-miss pitch to get a strikeout. Everything he threw generated weak contact.
Final thoughts: Henderson Alvarez is what he is. Without a swing-and-miss pitch, he will likely continue on in the Doug Fister and Tim Hudson mold of a High GB/Low K pitcher. He doesn’t have much of a ceiling or floor right now.
Why I watched: 9/24/14
Game(s) Watched: Highly ranked prospect who started a few games.
• Wow, I can see how people are drooling all over his performance. He throws heat and nothing is straight.
• His fastball was at 93-96 mph with some release side break. Hitters had a tough time making contact with it. This weak contact can be seen with an above average rate of groundballs, pop ups and swinging strikes on the pitch. No pitcher can get away with one pitch, but this one may be worth trying it on.
• His next pitch was his 90-91 mph change with a late 12-6 drop. I think it is splitter. The amount of movement varies quite a bit.
• He also threw what is getting labeled as a 88-92 mph cutter. It is by far his straightest pitch. Sometimes it dropped just a small bit or had some glove side break. The amount of break is not close to his other pitches. While the pitch doesn’t seem special, it just eats up opposing hitters with around a 15% SwStr%.
• Finally, he threw a 74-77 mph curve which is little slider-like with more side-to-side break than up and down like a normal curve.
• All his breaking pitches work off the fastball. I think he should use the fastball more and just use the other pitches against lefties or for a final swinging strike.
Final thoughts: He is a stud. He has a full aresenal of above average pitches. It will be interesting to see what he can do over a healthy full season.
Why I watched: Has consistently been an average pitcher for the Orioles
Game(s) Watched: 9/27/14 vs Blue Jays
• The 29-year-old’s fastball was at 91-94 mph and he lived on the outside part of the plate with it.
• His slider was at a 10-4 motion at 82-83 mph. It is his one pitch which can get a good number of swinging strikes.
• His change was at 84 mph with some late drop.
• He tried to throw is curve a couple of times, but missed high and outside. He didn’t have it this day.
Final thoughts: Overall, he is kind of boring, but sometimes boring is good. Like Alvarez above, he should produce like he has for the past few seasons. He is a nice innings eater and acceptable play if the league is deep enough.
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.