Velocity & Pitch Mix Changes (April 1 & 2)

Today finishes my examination of starting pitcher pitch mix and velocity from the first two days of the month. Some of the starters overlap from my first article and I used their combined numbers.

My goal in examining these starters is to find ones who have changed over the offseason. As owners, we may need to immediately adjust our projections. Also, to save space, when I mention a pitch changes a certain percentage, I mean percentage points (ex. up 10% = up 10% points or from 12% to 22%).

April 1st

April 1st Starters
Name Previous 2019 Diff Pitch Usage Notes
Drew Pomeranz 89.3 92.1 2.8 None
David Hess 91.9 94.0 2.1 None
Julio Urias 93.1 95.1 2.0 Fastball down 21%, curve up 12%, slider up also
Mike Clevinger 93.6 94.9 1.3 None
Chad Bettis 90.5 91.7 1.2 Fastball down 11%, change up 14%
Drew Smyly 90.2 91.4 1.2 Dropped change (prev 5% usage)
Aaron Brooks 91.5 92.6 1.1 Slider up 16%, change down
Felix Hernandez 89.3 90.1 0.8 None
Caleb Smith 92.8 93.0 0.2 None
Domingo German 94.7 94.5 -0.2 Fastball up 10%, change down
David Price 92.7 92.5 -0.2 Dropped cutter by 17%, change up 11%
Sean Newcomb 93.0 92.5 -0.5 Fastball up to 77%, from change and curve
Kyle Hendricks 86.9 86.2 -0.7 None
Steven Matz 93.4 92.5 -0.9 Change up 12% from sinker and almost dropped slider
Ryan Yarbrough 89.4 88.5 -0.9 Cutter down 16%, all to fastball
Sean Reid-Foley 93.8 92.8 -1.0 Curve up 12% from 3 other pitches
Tanner Roark 91.5 90.4 -1.1 Slider up 16%, curve and change down
Chris Stratton 91.1 90.0 -1.1 None
Adam Wainwright 89.3 88.0 -1.3 None
Tyson Ross 91.1 89.8 -1.3 Slider down 19%, fastball and cutter gained
Brad Peacock 92.7 91.3 -1.4 None
Zach Davies 89.9 88.0 -1.9 Curve down 12%, change up 19%
Ivan Nova 92.9 90.9 -2.0 Added slider (11%), took from curve.
Chris Archer 94.7 92.4 -2.3 None
Matt Strahm 93.5 90.9 -2.6 Slider up 15%, fastball, curve, & change down
Merrill Kelly 91.5 Fastball, curve, change, cutter

Notes:

  • Bettis has two decent breaking balls but his fastball is beyond horrible. He needs to find a fastball which does anything (ex. generate flyballs or miss some bats).
  • Yarbrough continues to throw a sinker which doesn’t sink and an ineffective curve. As long as he keeps his current mix, he’ll remain borderline rosterable.
  • Reid-Foley continues to throw the kitchen sink. I think some combination will eventually make him an effective starter, just not now.
  • Roark went heavy slider but only found the strike zone 33% of the time for a 6.2 BB/9.
  • Ross is getting labeled with a cutter and fastball but the pair blurs together.
  • Nova needs to throw his fastball 50% of the time max. It’s not good enough otherwise.
  • Strahm’s fastball velocity took pounding going from the bullpen to the rotation. Here are its results at differing speeds. pERA is an ERA estimator based just on the pitch’s swinging strike rate and groundball rate with a longer explanation here.
Results on Matt Strahm’s Fastball at Different Velocities
mph pERA GB% SwStr% Count
91 4.09 20% 8.7% 69
92 4.29 35% 8.9% 168
93 3.94 20% 9.3% 214
94 2.93 19% 13.6% 338
95 2.99 29% 14.2% 162
  • Chris Archer is another pitcher with a slower fastball and its results really fall off under 93 mph.
Results on Chris Archer’s Fastball at Different Velocities
mph pERA GB% SwStr% Count
92 5.56 40% 3.4% 88
93 5.50 29% 3.8% 235
94 5.08 36% 5.7% 615
95 4.88 40% 6.3% 672
96 4.54 31% 7.9% 783
97 3.23 48% 12.3% 333

April 2nd

April 2nd Starters
Name Previous 2019 Diff Pitch Usage Notes
Andrew Cashner 92.4 93.4 1.0 Fastball down 15% with slider and change
Max Scherzer 94.4 94.8 0.4 None
Marcus Stroman 92.4 92.8 0.4 Curve and slider now grouped together
Hyun-Jin Ryu 90.2 90.6 0.4 None
Madison Bumgarner 90.9 91.0 0.1 None
Kyle Freeland 91.6 91.6 0.0 None
Anthony DeSclafani 93.6 93.6 0.0 Curve up 14% from slider, dropped change
Brad Keller 93.9 93.6 -0.3 Slider up 10%, fastball and change down
Zack Greinke 89.6 89.2 -0.4 None
Jose Berrios 93.2 92.8 -0.4 Sinker down to curve & change
Jordan Zimmermann 91.2 90.8 -0.4 None
Masahiro Tanaka 91.7 91.3 -0.4 None
Blake Snell 95.8 95.3 -0.5 Fastball down 14%, curveball up
Mike Fiers 89.4 88.9 -0.5 None
Juoulys Chacin 90.1 89.6 -0.5 None
Justin Verlander 95.1 94.5 -0.6 Fastball down 12%, spread to slider, curve, & change
Trevor Cahill 91.8 91.0 -0.8 None
Eric Lauer 91.2 90.4 -0.8 None
Shelby Miller 94.5 93.6 -0.9 Fastball up 12%, curve down
Jose Urena 95.8 94.5 -1.3 Slider up to 13%, change down
Zach Eflin 94.3 92.6 -1.7 Slider up 14%, change and fastball down
Marco Gonzales 90.1 88.3 -1.8 None
Jason Vargas 86.4 84.0 -2.4 None
Chris Sale 94.7 90.9 -3.8 Fastball down14%, all to change

Notes:

  • I’m not buying Gonzales’s underlying skill set, especially with the velocity drop. I cut him in Tout Wars where I was dealing with a roster crunch.
  • I started Vargas in a few leagues at Miami. At 84 mph, that is likely the last game I use him.
  • Cashner’s adjustments may make him a mixed league option.
  • Previously, I’ve examined Sales fastball results at lower velos. It could be worse.

We hoped you liked reading Velocity & Pitch Mix Changes (April 1 & 2) by Jeff Zimmerman!

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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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Surprised by the blurb on Yarbrough. If your league uses wins as a category it is hard not to like him. Obviously you can’t expect last years performance, but how can you not like inherited wins?