After spending only 6.2 innings in triple A, RHP Tyler Chatwood is off to an unimpressive rookie season in which he’s walked more batters (4.75 BB/9) than he’s struck out (4.06 K/9), and he’s only generated an average number of ground balls. Don’t be fooled by the 3.64 ERA — he’s been a bit lucky in terms of his BABIP, his home runs, and his strand rate. He can get his fastball up to 95 mph, but the movement isn’t great. He throws a sinker, according to his minor league scouting reports, but I (or Fangraphs) can’t see it in the pitch f/x data. He goes to a curve 18% percent of the time and a changeup 8% of the time, almost entirely against left-handed batters.
Dan Haren is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he’s having arguably his best season yet. Haren throws a lot of different pitch types, but his success this season has been due in part to an increased reliance on a cut fastball, which he now throws 42% of the time. The pitch averages 85 mph, and has enough movement that without any information other than single year pitch f/x data, I might be inclined to call it a slider (Haren stopped throwing a, different, slower slider in 2008). Regardless, against Haren’s new toy, right-handed batters have swung and missed 29% of the time, with left-handed batters swinging and missing 20% of the time — and neither making especially solid contact when they do get a bat to the ball. While it may be frustrating to watch Sonnanstine, Price, and Shields go through stretches where their cutters are being knocked around, success stories like Haren’s are the reason good pitchers try to work in new pitches (very often the cutter) at the major league level.
Weaver is yet another very good pitcher having a career year. He throws a fastball in the low 90s, a slider, a curve, and a changeup. Unlike Haren, though, there is no obvious change in his pitch usage to help explain his success this year. His best pitch has been his changeup, which matches the movement of his two-seam fastball very well, and has generated a whiff 28% of the time. Overall, Weaver has struck out 8.26 batters per nine innings, while only walking 2.33. On the bright side, Haren is a flyball pitcher, with almost 50% of the balls put in play being flies, and while he has limited home runs well this year, his HR/FB percentage has been well beneath his career norms. Without strong evidence of a change in approach or true talent, I’m confident in predicting that his low ratio won’t hold up, and perhaps the Rays can get the regression ball rolling this series.
Pitcher Name THR LHOPS RHOPS Fernando Rodney RH 726 745 Hisanori Takahashi* LH 544 768 Kevin Jepsen RH 759 588 Jason Bulger RH 523 721 Rich Thompson RH 766 822 Michael Kohn* RH 763 454 Jordan Walden* RH 527 803 (Three-year samples used when possible) *Career numbers because of small sample size in recent years Small sample size ahoy, so be weary of trusting a few of these numbers too much.
(Favors means the split is +/- .020 points)
Matchup favors LHB: Jepsen, Kohn
Matchup favors RHB: Takahashi, Bulger, Thompson, Walden
Matchup is a push: Rodney
(Credit to Chris St. John for the data)