Astros: Let’s talk about Buddy Boshers and his pitch arsenal

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: Buddy Boshers
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: Buddy Boshers /

You know the off-season is slow when you spend an entire post devoted to a recent waiver claim by the Astros. What is this, the 2012 off-season?

The Astros claimed a left-handed reliever from the Minnesota Twins by the name of Buddy Boshers. FYI: the last name is pronounced Boo-Sheers. Our own Eric Huysman broke down the addition of the left-hander.

On the surface, Boshers could fit the role of a LOOGY, otherwise known as a “Left-Handed One Out Guy”. For his career, Boshers has held 159 left-handed hitters to a .270 wOBA and a solid 2.53 FIP. However, hitters from the opposite side of the plate have not been so kind to Boshers. The 29-year old has surrendered a .333 wOBA and a 4.90 FIP to the 209 right-handed batters he has faced in his major league career.

Honestly, there isn’t anything quite noteworthy about this acquisition besides the implications on the left-handed reliever role in 2018 as Eric noted in his post.

Yet, there could be something interesting with Boshers. And that something interesting could be the volatility of his pitch usage.

Boshers currently sports three pitches in his arsenal: a four-seam fastball, a slider and a change up. Those classifications are from Brooks Baseball. StatCast numbers from Baseball Savant appears to have listed his four-seam fastball as more of a sinker and his slider as more of a curveball. Fangraphs lists the same three pitch classifications as Brooks Baseball. If I am not mistaken, Fangraphs derives its pitch classifications via Pitch Info like Brooks Baseball. But that is besides the point.

Regardless of the classification, Boshers essentially throws three pitches.

Of the three pitches, he tends to use his four-seam fastball the most if you roll with Fangraphs’ numbers. For example, he used his four-seam fastball in nearly half of all his pitches thrown. It is the change up usage, though, which has caught my attention. In 2017, Bosher’s change up usage increased from 9.1% in 2016 to 15.7%. This same change up also produced the lowest batting average against out of all three of his pitches last year at .211.

Of course, Bosher only threw 89 change ups last season so you have to take that into consideration. And he hardly throws it against left-handed hitters. If you are a left-handed hitter, you will most likely see a four-seam fastball and a slider. To put a number with it, Boshers only used his change up in only 1% of all counts to left-handed hitters. Right-handed hitters saw the pitch in 26% of all counts. At the same time, Boshers’ change up also generated a whiff rate of 22.47% in 2017.

Boshers’ slider was a somewhat effective pitch in 2017. Opposing hitters only generated a .220 batting average against the pitch. Out of the 202 times he threw his slider, Boshers only surrendered five extra-base hits, which includes home runs. His four-seam fastball, though, was not quite as effective as opposing hitters generated a .308 batting average against the pitch. By the way, he threw 276 four-seam fastballs in 2017.

Next: Astros claim left-hander Buddy Boshers from the Twins

Looking ahead, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros have Boshers throw more of his change up and slider this season if he sticks around. By Fangraphs’ weighted pitch values, his change up finished at 2.5, easily the best of his three offerings. The slider was valued lower, but it could become a more effective offering. The way how Boshers and the Astros utilize his pitches could be something to watch in Spring Training.

**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball and Fangraphs**