2. Lance McCullers Jr.’s Knuckle Curveball
RHP Lance McCullers Jr. has some nasty stuff that he can throw. Relying on a four-seam fastball, a knuckle curveball, and a change-up, McCullers strikes out an average of 11.72 batters per nine innings, 30.9 percent of all hitters, while generating ground balls on 57.5 percent of all balls in play. However, after two starts on the road in Oakland and in Cleveland in which he gave up a combined ten earned runs in 9.1 innings pitched, his ERA is 4.08 after six starts.
Like Giles, McCullers uses his knuckle curveball a lot, throwing it 50.1 percent of the time. According to brooksbaseball.net, this breaking ball, “generates a high number of swings and misses” and “results in somewhat more groundballs” than other pitchers’ curveballs. The pitch’s average velocity normally sits at 85.6 mph with a spin rate of 2699 rpm, 332 rpm above average for the pitch.
Even though it has been known to generate ground balls, McCullers uses it as a strikeout pitch as well, with opposing batters whiffing at 19.53 percent of curveballs thrown in April. Hitters have found more success against the pitch this year, hitting .267 with it in 2017. However, as numbers have shown in the past, it will most likely lower as time goes on.
McCullers has relief pitcher-style pitches in his repertoire as a starting pitcher. That curveball is nasty. Even though it may not be working as well in his first six starts of the 2017 season, that pitch has the potential to carry him to become the ace of this pitching staff.