4. Dallas Keuchel’s Two-seam fastball
LHP Dallas Keuchel is back to his old ways. After winning the Cy Young Award and finishing fifth in MVP voting back in 2015, the left-handed ace struggled to find his footing in 2016. His ground ball percentage was down to 56.7 percent. This was his lowest since 2013 and his fly ball percentage was at 24.4 percent, the highest it has been since his rookie season on 2012. With an ERA back up to 4.55 and a WHIP at 1.29, Keuchel, to the national baseball fans, may have looked like a one-and-done success story.
However, Keuchel seems to be back and better than ever in 2017. In six starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.21 ERA, striking out only 36 batters in 44.2 innings of work with a WHIP of 0.86. Even though his fly ball percentage has not changed drastically. Keuchel’s ground ball percentage is back up in the low-60 percent range.
Chicks dig the groundball!
That high ground ball rate is because if his increased use of his two-seam fastball. Much like Harris’ cutter, his two-seam fastball is a little bit slower than average, 3.59 mph less than average to be exact. But generates weaker contact, with the average exit velocity from opposing hitters at 85.36 mph.
So far in 2017, Keuchel has thrown this pitch 43 percent of the time, the highest in his career. Out of that, with the amount of movement on the pitch, he has generated less contact, with opposing hitters making contact only 75 percent of the time, a career low for the former Arkansas Razorback. However, when the ball is in the strike zone, hitters have hit his pitches 90 percent of the time.
Like Harris in the bullpen, Keuchel is not trying to fool anyone. He is just throwing his two-seam fastball low to hitters to generate more contact and get more ground ball outs. So far in 2017, it seems to be working very effectively.