Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kevin Gausman's First Start, A Pitch F/X Perspective

Kevin Gausman, the Orioles first round pick in 2012, made his much anticipated MLB debut against the Toronto Blue Jays. It went reasonably well and many national writers noted scouts raving about his stuff. Let's look at the 22 year old from a Pitch F/X perspective.

His closest release point comparison is Jair Jurrjens or Philip Humber, two sort of frustrating pitchers in the Majors that didn't age very well. Here is what his release point looks like in graph form:

I see three pitches, A fastball, a changeup, and a hard curve (the movement data suggests it is a curve, not a slider). Here is his spin and speed chart:

The first thing I noticed was that his velocity was much better than what I saw in Spring Training. I did mention the gun might have been slow on the TV that day (though Neimann and Bundy both proved to be velocity decliners and injured), or Gausman could have just been having a off day velocity wise (or didn't have the arm strength built up yet). It should be noted that I am using Brooks Baseball's scraped data (by just exporting the tabular data and then manipulating it to look like how I want), which because of the release point, adds some velocity as well (though I compare it to other Brooks' leaderboards). Also, remember that we saw that Toronto's Pitch F/X system has been very hot this year.  Assuming that hasn't been corrected, I'll post the regular Brooks Baseball average velocities of his pitches sorted by my tags, along with an adjusted MPH of 2 MPH less. The adjusted MPH will be the velocities I will make the comparisons with.

Fastball: 97.26 MPH, 95.26 Adjusted MPH. Michael Pineda is the closest comparison.

Horizontal Movement: -6.23. Koji Uehara is the closest comparison and it is more than Pineda's.

Vertical Movement: 8.88. Santana and Jimenez are the closest comparisons and it is more than Pineda's.

Curve: 83.56 MPH, 81.56 AMPH. Johnny Cueto.

Horizontal Movement: 2.29. Jeff Suppan. Less than Cueto

Vertical Movement: -2.04. Jon Garland. Less than Cueto.

Change: 84.32 MPH, 82.32 AMPH. David Pauley.

Horizontal Movement: -5.2. Tommy Hunter. Less than Pauley

Vertical Movement: .2. Brandon Webb. Less than Pauley

So just stuff wise, you see why he was such a high draft pick and a big prospect, because of the fastball. The change and curve don't bring as good of comparisons as his fastball. Let's see where he located these pitches on average:

He works more arm side than most right-handers, at least being more extreme. Perhaps he wasn't finishing his delivery, or maybe it is on purpose, it is hard to tell in one start (unless you are a mechanics expert). The change and curve were both located well low in the zone on average (the curve being glove side rather than straight down the middle). The fastball was only mid plate high, so he worked low in the zone overall. 

His last pitch was over 97 MPH (non adjusted), so it seems that he maintained his velocity well, and didn't just show off early and then dip off. I do wonder what the release point data means, and whether that means he won't be able to repeat his delivery long term (he repeated his arm slot well in the game, for what it is worth), but the fastball is very good, and he locates the other two pitchers (or at least he did in the game), so I don't think that the overly arm side pitching means a lot, and there are more reasons than not to believe that Gausman will be a good pitcher in the big leagues.

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