The third and final part of a series on each Houston Astros pitcher and their best pitch. Check out Part 1 & Part 2
This is the final piece in a three part set of what pitch is the best for each Houston Astros‘ hurler. After a 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, the ball club couldn’t find runs in response to recent ailments, as Yordan Alvarez is day-to-day with a stomach bug.
Framber Valdez – Curve
Sometimes it’s an easy choice. The curveball has been Valdez’s thing since the beginning. These are opponents batting averages off Framber’s curve over the years:
2018 – .098
2019 – .118
2020 – .124
2021 – .116
Valdez throws the curve 30.7% of the time mostly to right-handed batters and in 121 at bats has only given up nine singles and five doubles (.157 slugging), while striking out 63. With a launch angle averaging -one degree, a Whiff% of 43.3 and PutAway% of 32.2 and an average exit velocity of 86.4 MPH no other pitch is even close to being as effective.
If any further evidence was needed, Valdez has more strikeouts (63) than batted balls (58) on the pitch in 2021. A run value of -10 and -2.4RV/100 just adds to the cause.
Yimi Garcia – Slider
Two pitches, a four-seam fastball and slider, account for almost 75% of the pitches Garcia throws and it is not difficult to discern which one is better.
Opponents are batting .230 of Garcia’s slider, but he’s only given up one long ball on it in 61 at bats and the xwOBA of .281 is 76 points lower than his fastball while maintaining an almost identical Whiff% (27.3 for the slider vs. 27.7 for fastball) and having a better PutAway% (21.9 to 19.3%).
The run value for Garcia’s slider is -4 and -1.9RV/100.
Blake Taylor – Four-Seam Fastball
Taylor is unusual on this team as he’s the only pitcher that throws just two pitches: a four-seam fastball (74.1%) and a slider (25.9%).
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Taylor’s been pitching in some bad luck as the xBA of .183 on his fastball is 61 points lower than the BA of .244 and the xSLG is 80 points lower than the actual slugging. This suggests some upside for the rest of the season.
While the Whiff% on Taylor’s four-seamer is a tick below that of his slider, the PutAway% (27.8) dwarfs the 11.9% of the slider, as does the -0.9RV/100 for the four seamer vs. -0.1 for the slider.
Ryan Pressly – Slider
Another easy one as I have previously written about Pressly’s devastating slider, which he throws 35.2% of the time. A .118 batting average, .132 slugging and only one extra base hit in 68 at bats (a double) begin to tell the story. A Whiff% of 42.7 and PutAway% of 28.1 add to it, as does an average launch angle of five degrees and a xwOBA of .195.
Pressly’s curve, which has a spin rate in the 100th percentile, is used mainly against lefties and is no joke with an xBA of .142, a Whiff% of 40.3 and PutAway% of 32.0.
In the end though, Pressly faces a majority right handed opposition, the slider is what he uses and the pitch stands at a -10 run value and -4RV/100.
Please note the numbers below include games through Monday, August 16, 2021.
The Astros are back in action on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. with Zack Greinke facing his former employer, who sends right-hander Brady Singer to the bump.