The Astros lost a game to the White Sox. Oh, the White Sox are the worst team in the AL?
There was a baseball game between the Astros and White Sox in Chicago last night. The final score was 8-to-5 in favor of the White Sox. It was clearly not the Astros’ night when it was all said and done.
The score is old news that I rather not rehash. Instead, I want to concentrate on the worst, and most intriguing, aspect of Tuesday’s games.
The obvious reason behind the Astros’ loss is simple: Pitching. Specifically the starting pitcher. In this case, it was Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel, the team’s ace, has been lackluster in his first three starts since his return from the DL. Last night, he surrendered eight runs on ten hits in four innings.
The pitching line looks even worse than it did last night. I won’t post it, but you can see it at your own risk throughout the internet.
So, where did it go wrong for Keuchel?
The average exit velocity on the first four hits allowed by Keuchel was a whopping 102.4 MPH. Here were the results.
It didn’t get any better after as Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Kevan Smith torched Keuchel with some hard hits in the third inning. Whenever a pitcher starts surrendering hard contact, well, it’s not fun to watch.
It simply wasn’t Keuchel’s night.
The book on Keuchel is he prefers to throw his sinker quite a bit. As a notorious ground ball pitcher, this isn’t surprising in the slightest.
However, his sinker did not generate the results he needed. For example, he had 47.22% of his total sinkers thrown classified as a ball. Not good. Batters only swing at his sinker 36.11% of the time last night.
White Sox batters, unsurprisingly, put up a .429 batting average along with two walks. In conjunction with his four-seam fastball, Keuchel was pitching in-and-out of trouble throughout his start.
Another well-known “secret” on Keuchel is he doesn’t throw hard. In fact, it’s encouraging when he hits the low-nineties on the radar gun.
Back when Keuchel was dominant earlier in the season, he was averaging a velocity of roughly 89.29 MPH on his sinker. I know that seems like a lifetime ago today.
Of course, his neck started giving him issues throughout May and part of June. In his start last night – third start since return from the DL – Keuchel’s sinker averaged about 88.55 MPH. For a pitcher that doesn’t have much velocity to spare, a drop of roughly 0.74 MPH is a red flag.
He is also getting less horizontal movement, yet more vertical movement on his sinker since his return. Could the neck still be bothering him? Maybe his release point has changed? More research courtesy of Brooks Baseball is required for that hypothesis, but it is something to watch.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball**