Jesse Litsch – What Went Right?
As I mentioned last week, Jesse Litsch has been all over the place as he learns on the mound this year. Fortunately, the good people at pitch f/x managed to capture his latest gem against the Yankees in all it’s glory, so we can dissect it to see what he’s figured out to get over his late-season slump.
Here is a graph of the movement on his pitches that befuddled the Yankees. As could be expected, it looks a lot more like his gem against the Mariners than when he was getting shelled. His changeup is back, and although it’s not dropping as much consistently, he’s throwing it more often than he ever has.
Also of note is that there isn’t much difference, if any, between his two big breaking pitches any more. This is good since his cutter/sinker/whatever has progressively started cutting further down and in this season. It has as much movement as his slider which almost makes that pitch redundant. Instead, Litsch is concentrating on a breaking ball that is halfway between his slow looping curve and faster slider, and throwing it as often as he was those two combined.
He was also getting his curve over for strikes low in the zone, and trying to back-door the Yankee’s left-handed hitters with it. Surprisingly, a lot of hit cutters ended relatively high in the zone, which is why he did get hit hard but for a lot of ground balls. He did manage to keep his tailing fastball low and away.
All in all, a nice way to end the year for the 22 year old – not just because he shut down the best offensive team in the majors, but because he did it with a return to consistency and a slightly streamlined approach that could help him continue that going into next season, wherever he ends up.