The Mockingbird

Litsch Mark II

with 14 comments

Let’s just forget about Jason Frasor doing what Jason Frasor does and go straight to Jesse Litsch, who looked like a man restored on the mound this afternoon. A little background straight from the coaches mouth: Litsch spent his time in the minors working on a new 4-seam fastball and improving his sinker, which Brad Arnsberg referred to as “total transformation“.

Litsch’s 4-seamer didn’t quite touch the 95 it did on the minor league gun today – it sat around 92-93 in the first few innings and then tailed off throughout the game. But the real transformation was how many sinkers, changeups and 4-seamers Jesse threw, and how consistent the movement on them was. Compare the graph above to a start from earlier this season (which was actually a pretty good outing against the Royals).

This has pretty much been Litsch all season (except with even more cut fastballs). Great cutter, but as soon as he goes to throw something that tails the other way, who the heck knows what it’s going to do once it leaves his hand. Then he gives up on it and just starts pumping one cutter after the other. However, Litsch’s start today looked a lot more like one of the gems he threw last season when he was feeling his sinker and change, but with his new 4-seamer as well.

I’m going to toot my own horn here for saying in that post (and ad nauseum this preseason) that despite his mound presence, Litsch really wasn’t polished enough to be ready. Until today, he’s just never looked like other other pitchers, but managed to get through a season’s worth of starts because no starter in the league throws what is essentially a slider over and over.

Ok, during his early season run of success I may have fallen for the hypothesis that the “cutterballer” was a new breed of pitcher, but Arnsberg and whatever manager he’s used as a mouthpiece have insisted he has to develop a consistent fastball (or sinker) to stay effective – and now it looks like he finally has.

Written by halejon

August 14, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Seriousness

14 Responses

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  1. That looks real nice. Is it just me, or does that make him look even more like Marcum? How fast was his four-seamer coming in?

    gerard

    August 14, 2008 at 4:53 pm

  2. A beautiful rainbow of pink round efficiency.

    Torgen

    August 14, 2008 at 6:19 pm

  3. He looked good. Again, very good at hitting his spots, had a few rough patches, but worked his way out. I really think that Litsch’s strength is always going to be pounding the zone and relying on changing speed and location to get outs. All of his terrible starts this year had the same issue; he’d get hit and start trying to finesse the strike zone, which with throwing so many cutters, he left enough up and easy to see for hitters. And man, they hit him.

    I really think Litsch is going to be one of those guys that you can rely on for an ERA around 4, eats plenty of innings and avoids injury, picks up 12 a year and only totally implodes a couple of times per season. Out of the 4-5 slot, I’m happy as hell with that.

    Bryant Telfer

    August 14, 2008 at 8:57 pm

  4. I wonder if he’s throwing two different changeups there, could we see if the two groups are also seperated by speed or batter handedness?

    Alex

    August 15, 2008 at 9:46 am

  5. Fantastic work as usual! Getting to see it like this is equals such a better understanding.

    brent

    August 15, 2008 at 10:37 am

  6. They were all thrown to lefties (typical). The one at the top was probably a 2-seamer, because it was 86 mph. Otherwise they were:

    79.7
    79.5
    79.9

    and

    80.5
    80.9
    82.1
    80.8
    79.7
    80.2

    One thing that’s different between both groups is his release point (click here). Could be a different pitch, or it could be that it dives and cuts a little more (and has another ~.5 mph) when he gets on top of it.

    halejon

    August 15, 2008 at 10:59 am

  7. Thanks, Brent! Now if only I wasn’t too lazy to do his location…

    halejon

    August 15, 2008 at 11:02 am

  8. Jon,

    On wednesday’s with JP, JP said that what people are calling Brandon League’s ‘slider’ is in fact a splitter. I know he used to throw a splitter, but is there any way for you to check with pitch/fx magic?

    HandKnit

    August 16, 2008 at 1:06 am

  9. Wow, that’s totally bizarre for him to say that. Maybe he holds it like a splitter, but it sure doesn’t move like one (and isn’t that the final call?). Splitters typically move like fastballs but are 5ish mph slower and with a little dip on them at the end- League has thrown two other pitches besides his fastball this year: one that goes sideways like a lame slider/Litsch cutter, and one that drops more and is slower- I would call it a change (with some cut) because it’s 10 mph slower than his fastball.

    http://baseball.bornbybits.com/2008/Brandon_League.html

    It’s kind of a hard call because his fastball drops so ridiculously much (more than most splitters) anyway, but a splitter should be somewhere just straight below his fastball movement, like in Papelbon’s chart (although this site calls both groups a change for some reason).

    http://baseball.bornbybits.com/2008/Jonathan_Papelbon.html

    It’s all a grey area when you’re dealing with a pitcher who throws pitches with pretty much unique movement, and the difference between changeups and splitters is not huge anyway, but I’m not sure which pitch he could be referring to as a splitter. (And I secretly think this is just because that’s what the RC scoreboard calls it…)

    halejon

    August 16, 2008 at 4:50 am

  10. Lots of news surrounding Litsch lately with an excellent analysis here as well.

    Tim

    August 16, 2008 at 12:11 pm

  11. I’d like to think our GM knows what pitches his pitchers throw, especially superscout JP. You should call him this week and get to the bottom of this!

    Ari

    August 16, 2008 at 3:35 pm

  12. Yeah, I’m sure he’d be REAL excited to hear from me.🙂 ‘

    You know, in the light of day (was that comment really timestamped 4:50 am?! Too much fake prom…) I think I know what it is. League comes across at almost a sidearm angle so that if a pitch drops straight “down” from the plane of his arm then it would go sideways like most people’s sliders. It’s still really slow for a splitter, though. But they’re such similar pitches (and a vulcan change uses the same grip, even) that this is splitting hairs.

    halejon

    August 16, 2008 at 4:41 pm

  13. […] they really were, and there’s a lot to like if he continues to do this consistently. Like his first start back, Jesse […]

  14. […] worked for a while – but then at the end of last year he was forced to reinvent himself with a 4-seam fastball and a new changeup. He’s a total wildcard – is that well rounded […]


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