Tyler Chatwood faced a daunting task when the Angels inserted him into the starting rotation this past April. The 21-year-old entered the year ranked as a top-100 prospect according to Baseball America, but he had all of 6.2 innings of Triple-A pitching under his belt and spent most of the 2010 season between High-A and Double-A. Chatwood's lack of upper-level experience showed in the Spring. But he has improved each month:
April: 0.67 K/BB ratio, 6.23 Fielding Independent Piching (FIP)
May: 1 K/BB, 4.01 FIP
June: 1.62 K/BB, 3.34 FIP
Chatwood's percentage of pitches thrown within the strike zone has increased from 44.7 in April to 47.9 percent in May and 48 percent in June. Consequently, his strike percentage has climbed: 55.4 percent in April, 59.2 percent in May and 60.6 percent in June.
The undersized right-hander relies heavily on a fastball that sits around 93 MPH and tops out at 97, throwing the pitch over three-quarters of the time while mixing in a few upper 70s curveballs and low-80s changeups. Chatwood is doing a better job of hitting his spots with his fastball, getting the pitch to cross the plate at the hitters' knees instead of missing to his armside:
Chatwood placed his fastball in the zone just 47.1 percent of the time during the season's opening month, but that figure bumped up to 47.8 percent in May and sits at 52 percent in June. For comparison, the league average is slightly under 52 percent.
His better-located fastball has been much more successful. Chatwood's heat had a .411 Weighted On-Base Average against in April. In May, that fell to .361. This month, Chatwood's fastball has a .290 wOBA against that bests the .338 league average.
With nascent breaking and off-speed stuff, Chatwood is certainly a work in progress. But at least his fastball has turned into a legitimate weapon with which he can combat big league hitters.