We’ll go pitch-by-pitch through his arsenal, and he’s thrown his four-seamer more than 40 percent of the time over the course of his career. His velocity actually increased in every season from 2016 to 2019, topping out at 94.7 mph last year. Yet in spite of that, the pitch’s effectiveness decreased.
Batters hit .211 and slugged .422 off the fastball in 2017, but those numbers jumped to .295 and .551 in 2018, respectively. It was worse in 2019, as batters teed off to the tune of a .306 average and .587 slugging off the four-seamer, and remember that’s in spite of increased velocity. Batters’ exit velocity off the pitch was also higher in 2018 and 2019.
But the increased velocity has coincided with decreased lateral movement. The horizontal movement on his four-seamer has gone down every year since 2017, so the pitch may have gained a little velocity, but it’s lost a little movement. Straighter and harder isn’t necessarily the way to go unless you’re throwing triple digits and can really blow it by people.
The changeup, which he uses between 30 and 40 percent of the time, is his best weapon. Batters hit only .145 off it in 2017 and .175 in 2018. They hit a career-high .208 off it in 2019, which still makes it an effective pitch, though not quite as dominant as in previous years. The average exit velocity and home runs allowed off the pitch weren’t abnormally high either.
From a movement standpoint, the horizontal movement hasn’t gone down, but the vertical movement took a slight dip in 2019. That seems to have corrected itself in the earlygoing in 2020, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Either way, I wouldn’t worry too much about the changeup.
Then there’s the slider, which he’s thrown around 20 percent of the time. It was most effective in 2016 when batters hit .079 off of it, but that number has gone up to .178, then to .250 in 2018 and .233 in 2019. The movement on the pitch has actually gotten better, though the velocity has gone down just a little. Since 2017, batters’ exit velocities have steadily gone down, so this doesn’t seem to be a problem pitch either.