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« Phil Hughes Returns, Sort Of | Main | Baseball-All-Starlytics: Curtis Granderson: What a difference a year makes »

The Venters Difference

Most pitchers work off a fastball.  The fast ball sets up an off-speed pitch, a change up that looks like the fastball out of the hand of the pitcher, but comes in slower and at a different angle.  Jonny Venters of the Atlanta Braves works differently. He throws a fast pitch, but it is a split fingered fastball or power sinker.  He only uses the traditional top-spin fastball about 7% of the time he throws a hard pitch.

Jonny Venters, fastball movement, 2011.His fastball stays up and comes in pretty straight.  He shows batters this pitch mostly to keep them honest.

Jonny Venters, sinker movement, 2011.

Venters gets a nice two-dimensional difference between his fastball and his sinker/split finger pitch.

Instead of a change up, Venters throws a slider:

Jonny Venters, slider movement, 2011.This pitch offers another two-dimensional difference.  The sinker comes in at 94.5 MPH, the slider at 85.6 MPH.  While the sinker breaks down toward the catcher's right hand, the slider breaks to the backstop's left.

Overall, Venters throws 73% sinkers and 19% sliders.  With two strikes on a hitter, however, he throws 51% sinkers and 41% sliders.  Saving the slider for those situations makes it his out pitch, as 37 of his 56 K have come on the pitch.

Note, also, that when Venters comes into a game late, batters are almost always going to used to seeing a traditional fastball/change up combination from earlier in the game.  Venters forces batters to adjust to a fastball that sinks, and a slider off that with great movement.  That's why he's on the All-Star team.

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