Posts Tagged ‘Changeup’
At first I was excited to learn that Romero is using pitch f/x information to diagnose his 2012 woes, but that passed quickly to outrage at the fact that it was provided in the form of printouts from Brooksbaseball by Brandon freaking Morrow. It continues to flabbergast me that teams show basically no interest in applying modern technology and analysis to get the most out of their multi-million-dollar investments on the field.
Romero is obviously open to and interesting in using this type of information, and the pitch f/x system takes an incredibly detailed picture of every pitch he throws. Yet, it takes a combination of internet hobbyists and a fellow pitcher taking the initiative for such stunningly useful and freely-available information to make its way to Romero, so he can be “amazed” by it. Le sigh. With apologies to Archimedes: give me a laptop and a place to stand in the dugout, and I will change your WAR!
Because yeah…in my not-so-humble opinion, Morrow botched the analysis (although obviously a standing ovation for him doing anything at all). When you look at more of Romero’s career than just the last two seasons, there is just no way to come to the conclusion that the key to Romero’s struggles is a lack of sinkers. He threw considerably more sinkers to RHB in 2012 (19.3%) than he did in 2010 (14%), and almost as many (16.1 compared to 17.5) to LHB. It was a mix that worked for him fine two (and three) years ago, not something that changed before the debacle that was Romero’s 2012 season.
***Note*** It’s up for debate/kind of arbitrary where your pitch-classifying algorithm draws the line between fastball and 2-seamer/sinker, as there is overlap in terms of movement as well as velocity. The way I split them, it’s a much more modest overall drop than Brooks’ numbers in terms of 2-seamers anyway, from 25% to 18% between 2012 and 2011. Here are a couple of graphs of pitch f/x ‘movement’ to give you an idea of the blurring between the two offerings, and because my contract stipulates I have to include at least one (x,y) chart per article:
The real reason for there appearing to be a sudden drop is that Romero’s sinker use soared in 2011, most likely to compensate for his AWOL changeup. As I argued at some statistical length a while back, everything else about Romero’s repetoire pales in comparison to the fact that his change now moves like a completely different pitch, with almost 6 (!!) inches more drop than average. But, with that transformation it has turned from being his primary offspeed pitch (and a great one at that) to hittable trash that he is quite rightly completely unwilling to throw to lefties.
Unless Ricky is trying to redefine himself as a true sinkerballer, the 26% of 2-seamers he threw in 2011 is very high, not some kind of career norm that he needs to return to in order to find his old levels of success. The one good thing about Romero’s sinker comments was that he seemed to be willing to throw it for strikes and let it be put in play. The percentage of Romero’s 2-seamers that were located in the zone fell to an ludicrous 34% last season, so concentrating on pounding the zone with it in spring training can’t hurt. Romero certainly should be getting more strikes and grounders by throwing it to contact instead of as a chase pitch — but he’ll never be the Ricky of old without his changeup.
If you watched every pitch of the game tonight, I both applaud and shake my head sadly at your dedication, as David Purcey looked absolutely horrible, alternating between not being able to find the plate with a map and giving up monster bombs to Jose Freaking Guillen and one of the worst offences in the league.
Captain obvious brings us the breaking news that Purcey didn’t have his fastball control, but it was more than that – he didn’t even try to throw his slider, tossing a mere 7 compared to the 43 he threw against (random example) the Indians. And his Big Curve is pretty much a show me pitch these days too – 21 of Purcey’s first 22 pitches were fastballs, and he threw 16 straight fastballs in the third. That’s not going to cut it in the bigs.
But wait — he did compensate somewhat by mixing in a changeup, a pitch that he’s only thrown twice to date in 2009. Except sadly, it’s more of a “slowball”, really, because it has zero drop or movement to it (there’s actually one more that should be labelled a change but that confuses pitch f/x). Of the 6 that he threw on the night, two of them were hit for the aformentioned monster bombs by Jose Guillen. It might be time to cut off Barajas’ ring finger so he can’t call for it any more…
Incidentally, if you’ve been following Purcey’s career, you know that both his hot-and-cold outings last year and brilliant spring followed by a 7+ ERA through five starts are par for the course. That’s what you get with good stuff and zero command, and what we’re signed up for a lot of with all the children in the rotation this year. Although Casey Janssen pitched in AA today, and went 4 scoreless, allowing 2 hits and walking 2. If they’re stretching him out to start, Purcey might not be around for too long with Litsch and Romero coming back in mid-May.