Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall are both left-handed Reds relievers dominating in 2012, ranking in the top ten among 'pen arms in Wins Above Replacement and punching out more than six batters for every free pass issued. Aside from that, however, the two don't have much in common.
Chapman has record-setting heat that he uses more than 80% of the time. Marshall barely gets above 90 MPH with his fastball, using it less than a third while breaking off lots of curveballs and sliders. Chapman lets his sublime stuff ride high in the strike zone, while the Marshall Plan stops the spread of base runners by pounding hitters at the knees.
Take a look at Chapman's pitch location this season:
Chapman's pitch location, 2012
Chapman lives in the upper third, throwing the highest percentage of pitches up in the zone (42%) of any qualified relief pitcher. And, as Chapman's opponent slugging percentage by pitch location shows, hitters aren't touching those high pitches:
Hitters are slugging .085 against Chapman's high pitches this season, compared to the .347 average for relievers. That's fourth-best among relievers, behind Craig Kimbrel (who hasn't given up a single hit on a high pitch yet), Steve Cishek and Jim Miller. Congratulations, Josh Willingham: your June 24 homer on a 97 MPH fastball is the only extra-base hit on a high pitch against Chapman this season.
While Chapman is all about the high heat, Marshall goes low:
Marshall's pitch location, 2012
Marshall has thrown 43% of his pitches down in the zone, above the 41-42% average for relievers. When Marshall keeps the ball low, hitters head back to the dugout:
Marshall's opponent slugging percentage by location, 2012
Opponents are slugging .231 against Marshall's low stuff, more than 70 points below the MLB average for relievers.
High heat, low breaking stuff -- Chapman and Marshall couldn't be more different in terms of approach. The results are the same, though -- quick outs and Reds wins.