Spin-vestigation!

Before the gates coming crashing down upon my head, let’s make things crystal from jump street. I’m not a mathematician and I’m certainly not a statistician. I don’t even pretend to be one in my Twitter bio. Me? I’m just a fantasy hack with a penchant for Ockham.

Do you know who doesn’t have said penchant? Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred. If they did, they wouldn’t have detailed how enforcement will work in regards to pitchers using grip enhancers in a memo with a Florida-sized sea of gray areas. If they were being honest about their intentions and goals, the solution would be simple (and obvious).

  1. Come up with a standardized solution designed to help with grip but is difficult to weaponize in the name of advanced spinnery.
  2. Clearly detail how, when, and how much the said substance can be used.
  3. Harshly punish anyone using anything else.
  4. Rinse, repeat.

However, why would baseball do that when they can instead villainize the players before likely contentious CBA negotiations? Why speak the truth when they can just act like this is the fault of rogue pitchers who have decided to cheat without any team executives knowing anything about anything? Because it’s the MLB, that’s why. Seemingly forever determined to come up with complicated solutions to simple problems, tromping through a field of rakes in oversized shoes.

Why would they use science to come up with a solution that’s accepted by both pitchers and hitters, when they can instead send out increasingly threatening memos before finally dropping the hammer. And by hammer, I mean making a system where Joe West and Angel Hernandez are the judge, jury, and executioner of a league-approved snitch cartel.

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of what is and isn’t cheating in regards to pitchers using non-rosin, grip enhancers, the can of worms is now open and will have repercussions. And whether players heeded earlier warnings, waited until June 2 when four minor leaguers were suspended 10 games for violations, or won’t quit until the “official” day of enforcement on June 21, those repercussions are coming.

What? You don’t think they’re going to try and make an example out of a big-name player? How else will Theo Epstein continue on his path to a commissionership if he doesn’t land some large, public fish?

As we get more and more data, loads of smart people with loads more mathery will come along to explain just how big of an overall effect the new enforcement of rules will have on pitching and offense. I’m not them and this isn’t that. I don’t have their names, I don’t have their titles, I don’t have their lands. But if you give me a moment we can speak about command.

And more importantly, we can talk about what red flags on your fantasy rotation might need to be scrutinized. Because all I really am is someone who read fa-aar too much Sherlock Holmes and tends to find all information important when trying to solve a puzzle, no matter the sample size or seemingly insignificance. Even if the only usefulness lies with using said examination to eliminate it from the things that do actually matter.

Someone alert Will Smith – no, not him…or him – because it’s time to get sticky wit it. Nah-nah-nah, nah, nah-nah, nah.

 

Spin Doctoring

We’ll be looking at changes in raw spin, as well as Bauer Units (BU), in starting pitchers since June 3. If unaware, Bauer units are calculated by dividing spin (in RPM) by velocity. While we’ll look at both, I find evaluating BU to be superior to just spin, as it takes out the effect of pitches gaining or losing spin sheerly because the velocity changed.

While we’ll be grouping by changes in spin and (BU), not all pitchers are the same in terms of their differences, or what they could mean. Some might have significant changes in spin rates across their pitch mix, some may only have dropped on one or two pitches. Some have relatively small changes in their spin rates but significant ones in BU, and vice-versa. This isn’t about finding a singular smoking gun in such a small sample, it’s about taking in the whole picture to try and suss out which pitchers will be most looking to ruin our fantasy dreams.

This general picture attack is why you’ll see pitchers with a low number of pitches thrown since June 3, with 10 pitches (per individual pitch type) set as the minimum. Can we make hard conclusions about Spencer Howard dropping 394 rpm from his slider (12 pitches, 10% usage), 332 rpm from his curveball (11 pitches, 10% usage), and 44 rpm from his changeup (10 pitches, 9% usage)? Not really. But when you also consider that his four-seamer (82 pitches, 71% usage) has dropped 218 rpm, those other large changes start adding more color to the rest of the picture. Context!

Next, a word on significance, both technically speaking and narratively. According to Eno Sarris’s research($), one standard deviation for a single pitcher changing within a year is 115 rpm (1.15 rpm/mph), which by definition, means that changes below those levels aren’t necessarily significant. But as mentioned, I’m no mathematician. I’m just looking for clues.

This is why I’ve included non-significant deviations on the charts below. I want to give a sense of a pitcher’s whole arsenal and we’re not just looking for the extreme spider tackers. If pitchers feel they have to go full zero on everything, eschewing even the previously (mostly) acceptable sunscreen rosin mixes, there is going to be a period of adjustment (and hopefully not injury). And seeing these adjustment periods coming – whether they last, or not – is information I believe to be significant for fantasy players.

So, generally speaking, the numbers that jump out to me are the drops of greater than 100 rpm and 1.0 BU. But individual changes not meeting one (or both) of those levels doesn’t necessarily disqualify them from scrutiny in my eyes. Do any of the individual changes from Alex Cobb and Andrew Heaney seem significant? No, not really. However, drops over most of their pitch mix become more significant to me when also considering that they both play for the Angels. Because don’t forget that we’re dealing with humans, not Excel columns, and most humans have a bit of common sense. If you play for a team that has earned a fair bit of infamy for their special clubhouse goop, are you really going to keep using it?

Team context is the other simple “metric” I find significant, as you’ll see that some teams (Los Angeles (both), Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Houston, Spin-cinnati, etc.) are more represented than others. This doesn’t mean we’re (necessarily) looking at team-wide conspiracies to get as sticky as possible. It might also just mean that some teams have been more proactive in demanding that their players cut out everything, whether it’s the hard stuff or the substances that used to be considered more innocuous.

This is why I’m also listing pitches that aren’t necessarily going to be improved by artificially adding spin (like split-fingers and changeups). Do I think that Frankie Montas dropped 305 rpm and 3.4 BU on his split-finger because he stopped using Spider Tack? No, but such massive decreases can’t be ignored, even if he’s pitched well in his three starts since June 3. Maybe he’s just used to throwing with some sort of mild grip enhancer and is going to go through a period of adjustment after being forced to go completely dry. However, my dear Watsons, that possible adjustment period is what’s going to be on my mind when considering whether to start Montas in what looks to be a decent matchup against the Texas Rangers on Monday.

 

Trolls Hunting Coles

Before getting to the wider swath of pitchers, let’s take a look at our control subject, as we can virtually guarantee that Trevor Bauer has been rolling in that sticky-icky. You know, because he told everybody? Here’s how Bauer’s pitch mix has been spinning prior to, and following MLB’s warning shot on June 3.

Trevor Bauer Pre and Post
Pitch Pre n Post n Pre Use% Post Use% Pre Spin Post Spin Spin +/-
4-Seam 579 70 46 32 2840 2630 -210
Sinker 26 29 2 13 2731 2563 -168
Cutter 260 50 21 23 2920 2804 -116
Slider 229 36 18 17 3013 2932 -81
Curve 146 26 12 12 3024 3092 68

Golly, I wonder what happened here? Well, we all know exactly what happened. Bauer told everyone what was going on and then he told us what could be done when a pitcher weaponizes these super grip enhancers to turn baseballs into whiffle balls. And then he did exactly that and his spin-rates went, “Wheeeeeeee!”,  all the way to a 1.73 ERA and an NL Cy Young in 2020.

I mean…

Trevor Bauer 2018-2021 Spin Rates
Pitch 2018 Spin 2019 Spin 2020 Spin Pre Spin Post Spin
4-Seam 2322 2410 2776 2840 2630
Sinker 2316 2343 2795 2731 2563
Cutter 2611 2640 2908 2920 2804
Slider 2666 2737 2951 3013 2932
Curve 2601 2548 2926 3024 3092

The story is the same when looking at changes in the unit named after him:

Trevor Bauer 2018-2021 Bauer Units
Pitch 2018 BU 2019 BU 2020 BU 2021 BU Pre BU Post BU
4-Seam 24.6 25.5 29.7 30.0 30.3 27.9
Sinker 24.5 24.7 29.9 28.1 29.0 27.2
Cutter 30.1 31.2 34.2 34.0 34.2 32.9
Slider 32.5 34.4 36.6 37.1 37.3 36.4
Curve 32.9 32.2 36.7 38.1 38.0 38.7

There is no guessing here because Bauer told us what was coming. You’re free to form your own opinions on his motivations but I don’t see him as some paragon of pitching virtue who simply wanted to clean up the system. Condemning a mob for their actions becomes duplicitous once you join the same mob and enjoy its benefits while ceasing to speak on the issues you originally had with them.

Pausing for some reckless speculation, I’m more prone to think that the green monster driving Barry Bonds to the juice bar after seeing Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa steal his attention, also helped drive Bauer to weaponize the sticky in the name of fairness, and help blow this whole thing up. Particularly after seeing his arch-nemesis (and former UCLA teammate), Gerrit Cole, turn his career around in Houston, which in Bauer’s eyes, was driven by his artificially-enhanced spin.

Speaking of Cole, how’s he been spinning on the ones and twos since the third of June?

Gerrit Cole Pre and Post
Pitch Pre n Post n Pre BU Post BU BU +/- Pre Spin Post Spin Spin +/-
4-Seam 499 127 26.4 24.7 -1.6 2562 2425 -137
Slider 217 53 30.7 29.0 -1.7 2711 2585 -126
Curve 199 58 34.1 32.9 -1.2 2840 2770 -70
Change 163 46 19.7 19.1 -0.5 1751 1728 -23

Naughty, naughty, Mr. Cole. Is three starts worth of pitches a damning measure? No. However, given all the smoke around Cole, connecting these dots doesn’t make for much of a stretch.

But wasn’t Cole pretty good in his last two starts (after allowing 5 ER in 5 IP on June 3), posting a 2.57 ERA over 14 IP and fanning away all of that smoke and putting a wrench in your spinvestigation? Well, not exactly.

For one thing, Cole’s 2.57 ERA in those two starts was backed by a 5.23 FIP, as his four earned runs allowed came via four solo home runs, also giving up one versus Tampa Bay in his start on June 3. That’s five home runs in his last three starts, after allowing five home runs total in his previous 11 starts, allowing zero home runs in eight of those starts.

Of those five home runs, one was a 98 mph four-seamer away that Miguel Sano managed to take out the other way. That’ll happen. However, of the other four, three were dead-red meatballs in zone five (4-Seam, sinker, curve). And while the fourth was listed in zone seven, that’s giving too much credit for how much of the plate it caught.

Everyone occasionally hangs a curve or throws a heater down the pipe and even great pitchers can go through bad stretches. But everyone also remembers the pre-Houston version of Cole, right? The one that had a massive home run problem, allowing a 1.44 HR/9 and 1.25 HR/9 in his last two years at Pittsburgh before they went poof as an Astro, and now Yankee?

One more interesting thing about Cole’s last five games. In addition to the spin rate drops, he was faster. Across the board.

Gerrit Cole Velocity 2018-2021
Pitch 2018 mph 2019 mph 2020 mph Pre mph Post mph mph +/-
4-Seam 96.5 97.1 96.7 97.2 98.0 0.8
Changeup 87.7 88.6 88.3 89.1 90.4 1.3
Slider 88.7 89.2 88.7 88.3 89.0 0.7
Curve 82.5 82.6 83.4 83.2 84.1 0.9

I know, just more small-sample smoke. But in addition to worrying about what the new crackdown will do to performance, there has been plenty of concern that it will lead to more over-gripping, over-throwing, and injuries to pitchers who try going cold turkey. Just ask Tyler Glasnow.

Since we’ve covered the nuance and the control, as well as New York’s new face of villainy, let’s now going hunting for coals of fire, instead of coles of Gerrit. Or at least a little smolder, in regards to this first table. These pitchers mostly don’t have any massive drops but have shown decreases on multiple pitches. These embers might speak of an overall change or they may get stamped out after a few more appearances, but regardless, onto the radar, they go.

Please remember, this isn’t all about finding cheaters (however it is you define them) or users of Spider Tack/Pelican Grip Dip/etc. You can make your own decisions of who you consider damned. Whether it’s one of those substances being used or something previously found acceptable, this is about trying to identify players who are being affected by the new crackdown. Baseball players are creatures of habits and large, wholesale changes to their process will force adjustments. The more prepared you are for their adjustments, the more adjustments you can make for your own purposes.

* Players are listed in alphabetical orders, with pitches sorted according to their changes in BU. Parenthetical values for the number of pitches and usage are only from post-June 2.

RPM and BU Changes Since June 3
Name Pitch Pre n Post n Pre BU Post BU BU +/- Pre Spin Post Spin Spin +/-
Adbert Alzolay Slider 388 40 30.7 29.5 -1.3 2644 2546 -98
4-Seam 155 19 25.3 24.3 -1.1 2372 2276 -96
Alex Cobb Sinker 224 71 23.3 22.4 -0.9 2150 2075 -75
4-Seam 12 10 23.6 22.6 -0.9 2181 2120 -61
Split 244 49 19.7 19.0 -0.7 1722 1675 -47
Curve 101 23 32.3 31.7 -0.6 2660 2609 -51
Andrew Heaney Curve 204 32 32.9 32.0 -1.0 2624 2537 -87
4-Seam 531 138 27.0 26.4 -0.7 2489 2441 -48
Change 179 37 24.9 24.4 -0.5 2094 2046 -48
Blake Snell Curve 131 49 29.7 27.9 -1.7 2347 2240 -107
Change 172 22 19.8 19.4 -0.5 1761 1690 -71
Slider 205 34 28.4 27.9 -0.4 2471 2428 -43
4-Seam 414 142 25.4 25.2 -0.3 2424 2411 -13
Brandon Woodruff Slider 143 14 29.8 28.0 -1.8 2578 2396 -182
4-Seam 369 70 24.7 24.2 -0.5 2385 2340 -45
Cal Quantrill Slider 125 25 26.4 24.9 -1.6 2305 2212 -93
Curve 2 16 27.4 26.6 -0.8 2289 2224 -65
Change 80 21 16.4 15.8 -0.6 1410 1345 -65
4-Seam 43 22 23.2 22.7 -0.5 2203 2160 -43
Sinker 225 61 22.3 21.9 -0.4 2108 2083 -25
Clayton Kershaw Curve 165 32 34.7 33.3 -1.4 2588 2458 -130
4-Seam 372 125 28.1 27.4 -0.7 2545 2482 -63
Slider 479 140 30.7 30.4 -0.3 2685 2643 -42
Dean Kremer Change 46 11 19.9 18.4 -1.5 1652 1523 -129
Cutter 135 12 29.1 28.6 -0.5 2533 2488 -45
Drew Smyly Cutter 54 36 23.8 22.7 -1.1 2108 1989 -119
4-Seam 449 76 23.6 22.8 -0.8 2180 2100 -80
Curve 318 59 27.2 27.2 0.0 2147 2166 19
Dylan Cease Curve 110 40 36.2 34.8 -1.5 2848 2792 -56
4-Seam 500 75 27.3 26.4 -0.9 2617 2546 -71
Change 100 14 21.8 21.1 -0.7 1713 1620 -93
Slider 307 52 34.3 33.9 -0.4 2926 2894 -32
Freddy Peralta 4-Seam 524 141 25.8 25.1 -0.7 2406 2327 -79
Slider 303 63 28.5 27.9 -0.6 2292 2233 -59
Curve 50 43 29.6 29.0 -0.6 2272 2208 -64
Change 80 33 18.5 18.0 -0.5 1621 1570 -51
Jameson Taillon Curve 171 10 34.4 33.3 -1.1 2776 2671 -105
4-Seam 434 63 26.0 25.2 -0.8 2439 2372 -67
Slider 178 26 29.3 28.8 -0.6 2557 2486 -71
Kris Bubic 4-Seam 243 130 22.9 21.9 -1.0 2074 1968 -106
Curve 52 31 33.7 33.1 -0.6 2662 2581 -81
Change 156 113 20.1 19.5 -0.6 1607 1548 -59
Max Fried Curve 156 41 35.9 34.8 -1.1 2689 2582 -107
Walker Buehler Curve 161 28 38.0 37.0 -1.0 3054 2983 -71
Sinker 94 11 26.1 25.3 -0.8 2483 2412 -71
4-Seam 534 92 27.6 26.9 -0.7 2630 2571 -59
Zack Greinke Curve 227 33 33.7 32.7 -1.0 2391 2315 -76
4-Seam 446 118 25.5 24.7 -0.7 2258 2218 -40
Slider 98 37 29.5 28.8 -0.7 2441 2383 -58
Change 239 53 18.6 18.0 -0.6 1611 1568 -43
Sinker 82 14 24.0 23.6 -0.5 2150 2118 -32

 

  • We’ve opened up the Milwaukee division, with NotBurt favorites, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, making the list. These get filed under interesting but not damning (or concerning). Woodruff (until last night in Colorado) has been spectacular all season and Peralta has a 1.96 ERA in his three starts since June 3. Although, there is a whole mess of Brewers floating around.
  • In addition to the team and individual pitch trends, the amount of first- and second-year players making the charts also jumps out. Both of Adbert Alzolay’s main pitches (slider, four-seam) saw significant drops in their BU, with spin drops right under 100 rpm. Regardless of the substance, I’m generally more worried about young players adjusting if they’re forced to suddenly go dry. But at the same time, rookies often being inconsistent with their mechanics from start to start is going to happen. Add that to Alzolay going on the IL with a blister after his last start and you can color me not worried until we have more concerning evidence.
  • Max Fried has only seen a significant change in one pitch but the fact that it’s his money ball is concerning. And looking at how it’s been thrown since 2018, the drops in 2021 (both before and after June 3) stick out even more.
Max Fried Curveball 2018-2021
2018 2019 2020 2021 Pre- Post-
Spin (rpm) 2840 2844 2787 2666 2689 2582
MPH 74.3 74.5 74.3 74.7 74.9 74.1
Bauer Units 38.2 38.2 37.5 35.7 35.9 34.8

 

Fire Rising

Let’s start pumping the bellows a bit and see what red flags are burning a little brighter. Maybe it’s just one pitch that has seen a dramatic change but from a key offering (Trevor Rogers), or someone who has an extreme drop on one pitch but smaller drops across the rest (Frankie Montas). Or perhaps the changes aren’t extreme (yet) but the drops are consistent across their mix (Jake Arrieta).

RPM and BU Changes Since June 3
Name Pitch Pre n Post n Pre BU Post BU BU +/- Pre Spin Post Spin Spin +/-
Anthony DeSclafani Slider 317 89 25.5 24.2 -1.3 2219 2125 -94
Sinker 206 33 22.5 21.2 -1.3 2115 1997 -118
4-Seam 240 81 24.3 23.4 -0.9 2283 2208 -75
Chad Kuhl Change 19 10 19.7 17.4 -2.3 1743 1547 -196
Slider 167 85 27.7 26.7 -1.0 2439 2349 -90
Frankie Montas Split 173 46 21.6 18.2 -3.4 1886 1581 -305
Slider 187 55 28.7 27.8 -0.9 2550 2453 -97
4-Seam 321 78 25.5 24.8 -0.7 2456 2396 -60
Sinker 357 84 24.6 24.1 -0.5 2356 2321 -35
Jake Arrieta Change 49 12 20.8 18.8 -1.9 1787 1643 -144
Slider 182 66 26.9 25.3 -1.6 2354 2231 -123
Curve 145 31 34.0 32.5 -1.5 2722 2618 -104
Sinker 477 106 23.6 22.2 -1.3 2140 2030 -110
Jakob Junis Cutter 215 10 29.4 27.8 -1.6 2450 2311 -139
Jose Urena Slider 231 19 27.1 24.7 -2.3 2313 2085 -228
Sinker 416 74 23.1 22.5 -0.6 2173 2096 -77
JT Brubaker Change 51 11 22.1 20.8 -1.3 1925 1803 -122
Curve 65 10 35.4 34.3 -1.1 2817 2718 -99
Sinker 208 27 24.4 23.5 -0.8 2275 2188 -87
4-Seam 205 37 23.6 22.8 -0.8 2189 2117 -72
Justin Dunn Curve 254 19 31.3 29.8 -1.6 2514 2381 -133
Slider 112 13 29.9 29.0 -0.9 2511 2427 -84
4-Seam 396 38 25.3 24.5 -0.7 2366 2292 -74
Kolby Allard Curve 48 27 28.4 26.1 -2.3 2182 2005 -177
Cutter 122 52 27.1 26.4 -0.7 2349 2282 -67
4-Seam 216 72 24.2 23.7 -0.5 2226 2163 -63
Lance McCullers Jr. Change 161 28 20.9 20.0 -0.9 1790 1686 -104
Sinker 304 32 22.9 22.0 -0.8 2138 2024 -114
Matthew Boyd Change 235 19 23.5 21.3 -2.2 1881 1724 -157
Slider 207 43 29.7 28.5 -1.2 2376 2335 -41
Curve 73 11 35.0 33.9 -1.1 2579 2471 -108
Sinker 49 18 25.5 24.6 -0.9 2301 2266 -35
4-Seam 417 47 25.4 25.0 -0.4 2334 2313 -21
Rich Hill Curve 336 48 38.5 37.1 -1.4 2803 2654 -149
4-Seam 386 67 26.8 26.3 -0.5 2384 2309 -75
Ryan Yarbrough Cutter 395 94 26.4 24.6 -1.8 2179 2048 -131
Sinker 105 37 22.4 21.3 -1.1 1937 1841 -96
Change 237 97 26.7 25.8 -0.9 2104 2034 -70
Curve 157 60 32.6 31.9 -0.7 2318 2247 -71
Sonny Gray Curve 216 13 35.8 33.5 -2.3 2862 2667 -195
4-Seam 195 22 26.7 26.2 -0.5 2478 2414 -64
Trevor Rogers Change 236 90 16.9 15.7 -1.1 1449 1326 -123
Tyler Glasnow Curve 166 17 36.0 34.2 -1.9 3010 2852 -158
Slider 368 63 31.7 31.0 -0.7 2779 2699 -80
4-Seam 603 87 25.1 24.5 -0.6 2431 2377 -54
Tyler Mahle 4-Seam 510 154 26.2 24.7 -1.5 2468 2325 -143
Slider 364 112 30.1 28.9 -1.2 2622 2514 -108
Split 120 31 22.6 21.8 -0.8 1949 1884 -65
Wil Crowe 4-Seam 249 33 26.4 24.8 -1.5 2478 2353 -125
Slider 151 34 32.3 30.7 -1.5 2758 2664 -94
Change 104 10 20.4 19.3 -1.1 1741 1659 -82

 

  • RIP Tyler Glasnow’s Cy Young campaign. Putting fantasy performance aside, this is the situation I find most troubling. It’s like the MLB has been giving players increasingly bigger amounts of heroin, whether pushing them directly (if Zac Gallen is to be believed) or indirectly via non-punishment and the all-encompassing gray areas of acceptable rule-breaking. But now, the hammer of sobriety drops. I like to be optimistic but in a year that already has unprecedented injuries, this concerns me a great deal. But hey, quitting heroin cold turkey usually goes well, right?
  • Call me crazy but if the effectiveness of 41-year-old Rich Hill’s curveball drops, I expect him to do so as well. His hook (n=48, 37% usage) has dropped 149 rpm since June 3, and Hill has allowed a total of eight earned runs in his last two starts. It’s still just smoke but as previously mentioned, these drops carry more weight for me when they come from a team burning like the Rays.
  • I mentioned Trevor Rogers changeup (n=90, 33% usage) earlier but consider me not concerned. His four-seamer and slider have stayed virtually the same and I’m generally not worrying about changeup changes unless they come as part of an overall drop across a player’s mix.

 

Just Desserts

Alright, enough of the posers and the veggies of context. Let’s finish up with the pitchers whose changes in spin are screaming that something has changed, with multiple pitches seeing significant drops. It’s too soon to stamp a scarlet spider on these players but something – whether it’s the new absence of an industrial grip enhancer or something else – is up.

Like a guest wearing a white dress to a wedding, or me wearing my white short-shorts after Labor Day, it’s time to get a little tacky.

RPM and BU Changes Since June 3
Name Pitch Pre n Post n Pre BU Post BU BU +/- Pre Spin Post Spin Spin +/-
Alek Manoah Change 19 18 24.7 21.6 -3.1 2204 1887 -317
4-Seam 63 85 26.0 24.8 -1.1 2442 2340 -102
Sinker 37 32 24.1 23.0 -1.1 2260 2145 -115
Slider 43 48 28.7 27.8 -0.9 2352 2277 -75
Alex Wood Sinker 352 97 23.8 22.3 -1.6 2185 2041 -144
Change 170 71 20.1 18.8 -1.3 1721 1597 -124
Slider 262 29 25.6 24.3 -1.3 2163 2051 -112
Bailey Ober 4-Seam 47 108 25.9 22.9 -3.0 2374 2117 -257
Curve 10 12 32.3 30.0 -2.2 2381 2232 -149
Slider 13 29 28.7 26.6 -2.1 2285 2128 -157
Change 12 38 24.5 23.6 -0.9 2049 2011 -38
Braxton Garrett Curve 9 22 30.9 28.5 -2.5 2396 2177 -219
Slider 13 45 29.8 27.5 -2.3 2489 2280 -209
4-Seam 25 62 25.5 23.8 -1.7 2334 2157 -177
Change 4 10 20.8 19.8 -1.0 1752 1680 -72
Bruce Zimmermann Change 220 35 23.9 22.1 -1.8 2019 1853 -166
Curve 117 13 32.0 30.5 -1.5 2624 2482 -142
Casey Mize Curve 69 22 28.9 25.7 -3.2 2378 2076 -302
Split 147 32 14.4 12.5 -1.8 1253 1071 -182
Sinker 202 65 23.4 22.2 -1.2 2189 2069 -120
Chi Chi Gonzalez Cutter 61 33 30.6 28.7 -1.9 2680 2515 -165
Slider 169 58 30.5 28.8 -1.7 2616 2472 -144
4-Seam 315 111 26.3 24.9 -1.4 2415 2305 -110
Sinker 25 18 25.6 24.4 -1.2 2319 2220 -99
Change 81 22 19.2 19.6 0.4 1625 1651 26
Corbin Burnes Cutter 432 128 30.0 28.2 -1.7 2858 2695 -163
Change 73 17 20.9 19.5 -1.4 1896 1754 -142
Slider 89 13 33.0 31.8 -1.3 2888 2800 -88
Curve 98 33 36.1 35.1 -1.0 2948 2858 -90
Corbin Martin Change 23 13 24.5 22.4 -2.2 2136 1964 -172
4-Seam 118 36 25.6 24.2 -1.4 2407 2284 -123
Dylan Bundy Change 131 27 20.5 16.2 -4.3 1725 1328 -397
Sinker 101 12 26.6 24.6 -2.0 2431 2229 -202
Curve 125 22 34.0 32.2 -1.7 2537 2362 -175
Slider 182 19 33.5 32.0 -1.5 2711 2533 -178
4-Seam 299 51 27.9 26.5 -1.4 2550 2390 -160
J.A. Happ Change 89 26 22.9 19.8 -3.1 1987 1730 -257
Sinker 121 24 25.2 23.3 -1.9 2226 2078 -148
Slider 151 53 27.9 27.0 -0.8 2306 2244 -62
4-Seam 452 158 26.1 25.3 -0.8 2360 2321 -39
James Kaprielian 4-Seam 200 103 23.4 21.7 -1.7 2167 2012 -155
Curve 27 13 32.6 31.5 -1.2 2605 2443 -162
Slider 72 35 27.9 27.4 -0.4 2374 2309 -65
Change 56 34 14.8 14.8 -0.1 1261 1235 -26
Jesus Luzardo Curve 107 28 29.3 27.1 -2.3 2467 2288 -179
Sinker 157 13 25.1 23.4 -1.6 2379 2256 -123
Change 107 17 22.5 20.9 -1.5 1944 1831 -113
4-Seam 169 44 25.3 24.4 -0.9 2428 2347 -81
Jon Lester Change 110 35 22.7 21.0 -1.7 1859 1705 -154
Curve 39 15 34.6 33.2 -1.4 2525 2397 -128
4-Seam 161 44 25.0 23.9 -1.1 2223 2137 -86
Sinker 54 30 24.2 23.5 -0.8 2121 2060 -61
Cutter 204 53 26.6 25.9 -0.7 2320 2255 -65
Marcus Stroman Split 107 37 19.4 17.1 -2.3 1685 1457 -228
Sinker 388 74 25.7 24.3 -1.4 2376 2224 -152
Curve 13 13 31.8 30.6 -1.3 2557 2484 -73
Slider 247 29 31.6 30.5 -1.1 2715 2583 -132
Cutter 139 29 28.9 27.8 -1.0 2614 2506 -108
Merrill Kelly Change 157 30 23.8 22.1 -1.7 2052 1930 -122
Sinker 222 51 25.4 23.8 -1.6 2326 2192 -134
Cutter 80 25 26.6 25.0 -1.6 2396 2292 -104
Curve 203 49 32.2 30.9 -1.3 2605 2546 -59
4-Seam 330 103 26.4 25.4 -1.0 2411 2352 -59
Shane Bieber Curve 409 62 29.3 26.3 -2.9 2436 2183 -253
Slider 338 43 31.5 30.2 -1.3 2707 2586 -121
Change 56 13 20.3 19.0 -1.3 1779 1644 -135
4-Seam 431 83 25.3 25.0 -0.3 2353 2303 -50
Spencer Howard Curve 10 11 29.3 25.3 -4.0 2179 1847 -332
Slider 26 12 28.5 25.2 -3.3 2377 1983 -394
4-Seam 166 82 24.1 22.0 -2.1 2286 2068 -218
Change 29 10 17.4 16.8 -0.6 1376 1332 -44
Tarik Skubal Slider 215 54 25.1 23.0 -2.1 2155 2005 -150
Sinker 21 41 23.2 21.4 -1.8 2185 2016 -169
4-Seam 470 123 23.8 23.1 -0.7 2242 2188 -54
Tucker Davidson Slider 30 93 27.4 25.4 -2.1 2385 2199 -186
4-Seam 35 113 23.3 21.3 -1.9 2157 1986 -171
Curve 7 20 32.8 31.2 -1.6 2596 2441 -155
Tyler Anderson Cutter 253 78 31.0 28.6 -2.4 2615 2418 -197
Change 225 63 23.9 21.9 -2.0 1916 1776 -140
Sinker 85 30 26.6 24.7 -2.0 2369 2175 -194
4-Seam 337 92 26.8 25.0 -1.8 2417 2257 -160
Zach Eflin Change 101 22 20.2 18.4 -1.7 1717 1575 -142
Curve 97 22 29.4 28.3 -1.0 2275 2191 -84

 

  • Corbin Burnes, Tarik Skubal, James Kaprielian, AND my sweet Dylan? It’s almost like the above table was designed to hurt my feeling. Unfortunately, my feelings don’t have many recourses, as Bundy might as well be wearing a sign saying “I used the Angels goop”. Every one of his pitches has dropped significantly in both raw spin and BU; the smallest drops came in at -160 rpm and -1.4 BU. DM’s are open, Dylan if you want to talk.
  • Two Detroit rookies make the list, with both Skubal and Casey Mize seeing significant drops on multiple pitches, both in terms of raw spin and BU. The good news with Skubal is that his bread-and-butter four-seamer (n=123, 42% usage) hardly budged but it’s hardly inspiring seeing his slider drop from 26.6 BU in 2020 to 25.1 BU prior to June 3, to now 23.0 BU since. Mize, on the other hand, has significant decreases on his curveball, splitter, and sinker but these are also his three more secondary pitches. His four-seamer (-0.6 BU, 62 rpm) and slider (+0.2 BU, -62 rpm) have also dropped but by small amounts. Also of note, though, is that much like Cole before, his velocity has dropped across his pitch mix, with the curve (-1.4 mph), split (-1.7 mph), sinker (-0.3), four-seam (-0.3 mph), and slider (-1.6 mph) all seeing at least a small downtick. But again, as rookies can be inconsistent with these things, this might just be smoke.
  • If you didn’t avoid the last Happ-trap against Seattle (4 IP, 5 ER), perhaps his drop in spinnery will be enough for everyone to finally give up the ghost of J.A. Happ. Whether substance-related or not, the days of the Happ renaissance appear to be coming to an end.
  • The recent drop in spin doesn’t seem to be bothering James Kaprielian, who has allowed a total of two earned runs over 11 IP in his last two starts, striking out 13. Seven walks aren’t great but considering one of those starts was in Colorado (5 IP, 2 ER, 6 K), let’s call it a wash.
  • In respect of Marcus Stroman, national treasure, I’ll only mention what he’s done in his three starts since June 3. 20 innings, 23 strikeouts, and a 1.35 ERA.
  • Shane Bieber may have seen significant drops on three pitches but is also currently on the IL with a shoulder strain. Since we don’t know how long he’s been dealing with this issue, or how it might be affecting his mechanics, it’s difficult to just point and say, “Ah-ha!”. However, it is troubling that the biggest drop came on his best pitch, with his curveball (n=62, 30% usage), losing 253 rpm and 2.9 BU.
  • Getting back to wider changes, let me offer Tyler Anderson. It might not be a fire but he’s making a lot of smoke with drastic drops on four pitches, losing between 140 – 197 rpm and between 1.8 – 2.4 BU. Considering he has a 5.71 ERA in three starts since June 3, it might be wise to hold off on any sneaky streaming, for a minute or two.





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