Last night Brandon McCarthy started the home opener for the Diamondbacks. He pitched six and two-thirds innings, giving up six hits and five earned runs. Not the result he hoped for, but there were interesting changes I want to note. One start is too small of a sample size to draw any statistical conclusions, but we can see a change in a pitcher’s mindset via pitch selection.
Last year, McCarthy primarily threw four pitches: sinker, cutter, curveball, and changeup. (He threw a handful of four-seam fastballs last night, but that was a new development and the sample size is too small to allow me to say anything about it. It’s something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.) McCarthy used to throw a changeup early in his career, but he changed his mechanics after the 2010 season and moved away from the pitch. He added the changeup again in 2013, knowing that he could use one. So McCarthy worked on the changeup in early spring training, and began throwing it in games almost five percent of the time. But it seems like it’s gone again. The quotes in that article don’t explicitly say that the changeup was scrapped, but last night it was not thrown at all. When our Ryan P. Morrison talked to McCarthy three weeks ago, he confirmed that the changeup has been scrapped completely. It’s possible the coaching staff had some involvement in this decision as well.
McCarthy also used his cutter significantly less often than usual last night. Again, bear in mind that it’s only one start, but the difference is astounding. In 2013, he threw his cutter 34.6% of the time. Last night? He threw only six. That comes out to just around six percent of the time.
Why did decide to get rid of these two pitches specifically? He might be more confident in his sinker and curveball compared to the cutter and changeup. I wanted to look at the results to see if they back up this idea.Here’s the line drive rate per balls in play for the pitches in the last few years.
The changeup and cutter had significantly higher line drive rates than the other two pitches last year. To put it in context, the average LD% is 21.2. Line drives are bad. They go for hits more often than other types of batted balls. Okay, now you might be thinking, how about the fly ball rate? Well, here it is:
Again, far and away the two worst pitches were the changeup and the cutter. The average FB% was 34.3. This must have been a point of emphasis for McCarthy 2013 featured his highest home run/fly ball ratio since 2006.
It seems like McCarthy wants to rely heavily on the sinker and curve, with the occasional cutter and four-seam fastball mixed in. Time will tell if the new mix leads to different results.
Offseason Report Card
• Zack Greinke signing
• Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier for Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair
• Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner for Chase Anderson, Aaron Hill, Isan Diaz and cash
• Jeremy Hellickson for Sam McWilliams
• Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka
• Tyler Clippard signing
- Double Plus: Friday Fun Facts (Or Not)
- What Happened to Silvino Bracho?
- Maybe Contact Management Pitching Doesn’t Work in Arizona
- Smoothing Out the Seams: Fastball Woes Weighing Down the Rotation
- Jean Segura Goes HAM (For Now?)
- What the Chase Anderson Repertoire Change, Early Success Means for Shelby Miller
- Has Nick Ahmed Improved at the Plate?
Powered by: Web Designers
- It's happening https://t.co/65jm9eHVuj, 16 hours ago
- One more Cards game. Per projected standings at Fangraphs, strength of schedule by month for the #Dbacks: https://t.co/TMSDIueqE7, 17 hours ago
- 2011-2015 David Robertson: 2.44 ERA, 321.1 IP, 6.46 REW Brad Ziegler: 2.44 ERA, 335.0 IP, 6.71 REW Robertson fWAR: 9.3 Ziegler fWAR: 2.9, 18 hours ago
- Seung-Hwan Oh came into this game with a whiff rate of over 47% of swings on his fourseam. Not hard to see why., Apr 28
- Pretty sure Wainwright and Molina shared some credit for this strikeout with a guy wearing blue... https://t.co/m8EjjXSRgr, Apr 28
Powered by: Web Designers
- RT @ShutdownInning: Long-standing cause from former #Rangers reliever @Ross_108 and wife @Britt_Ross108 - website launched today: https://t.co/Xjo7Q1tsHp, 5 mins ago
- RT @VICESports: The Blazers are weird in the most disciplined way, and they're winning. https://t.co/8NX8DDKctB https://t.co/k4gy59JhjW, 16 mins ago
- You tell 'em https://t.co/f26AWqydgj, 19 mins ago
- Felix pitches tonight and that means I am #happy, 27 mins ago
- Can we permanently ban the word "Doppelbanged" please? https://t.co/KPRcKi0mdi, 2 hours ago
FanGraphs Stats Glossary
Nick Piecoro Author Page
Cot's Baseball Contracts
BP Base Running Stats
Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).