Yesterday afternoon, Braves starter Brandon Beachy returned from a DL stint for an oblique injury in grand fashion. Beachy struck out a career-high 11 Blue Jays batters in six innings, surrendering four hits and one run. He clipped the Jays primarily with his fastball and slider, registering six Ks with his heat and four with the slider:
Location of Beachy's Ks with his fastball (left) and slider (right) against Toronto on June 22, 2011
Those two pitches have been deadly for the former non-drafted free agent from Indiana Wesleyan: opponents are hitting .216/.263/.341 against Beachy's heater, compared to the .271/.352/.423 major league average. Beachy's slider is holding hitters to a .139/.205/.278 triple-slash, while the big league average is .213/.254/.326.
Toronto couldn't lay off Beachy's high heat or the sliders that he buried in the dirt. Few hitters have been able to resist chasing those pitches. Check out hitters' swing rate on fastballs thrown by Beachy out of the strike zone, compared to the MLB average:
Opponents' swing rate on Beachy's outside fastballs (left), compared to the MLB average (right)
Hitters have chased 31.4 percent of Beachy's out-of-zone fastballs, well above the 25 percent MLB average.
Now, Beachy's slider:
Opponents' swing rate on Beachy's outside sliders (left), compared to the MLB average (right)
Opponents have lunged after 37 percent of Beachy's sliders located off the plate. The MLB average is 33 percent.
Beachy's deceptive delivery and ability to go high and low on hitters has allowed him to strike out more than a batter per inning in 2011. Fantasy baseball players should grab him now: the Rodney Dangerfield of young pitchers is still available in nearly 60 percent of ESPN leagues.