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Entries in Colorado Rockies (29)

Monday
May232011

The struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez

At this point last season, Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies, was being compared to Bob Gibson. On May 23, 201, Ubaldo was 8-1 with 0.99 ERA. He finished the first half of the season 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA. His fastball was electric and his splitter could only be described as "nasty."

What a fifference a year makes. Following yesterday's loss to the Brewers, Jimenez is now 0-4 with a 5.44 ERA and we can graphically show you why. Control is clearly the issue for Ubaldo who had thrown 63.1 innings last season at this time and had walked 23 while this season he has 28 walks, but in just 44.2 innings. Equally as important is his absence of control in the strike zone.

Let's look at the fastball first.

Here is the fastball in the first half of 2010:

Look at his control and location. He clearly was nailing it, time and again.

Now let's look at the fastball from this season:

You can see the ball is drifting all over the place.

Now, look at Jimenez's splitter.

Look at the nastiness of the splitter in the first half of 2010:

That pitch, that looks like a fastball as it approaches the batter, drops off the table as it enters the zone resulting in swings and misses (34.3%).

Now look at the splitter this season:

Swings and misses are down to 21.7% because those higher pitches are much easier to hit and ptch is much easier to read.

The Rockies are now just a game over .500 and if they truly want to control in this division, Jimenez has got to get his control first.

Wednesday
May182011

The Evolution of Jorge de la Rosa's Change Up

Over the last three season, Jorge del la Rosa (COL) cut both his batting average allowed and his on-base percentage allowed by over 10 points per season.  His .262 BA allowed in 2008 is down to .221 in 2011.  His OBP dropped from .349 to .302 in the same time period.  The slugging percentage against him was sticky, however.  From 2008 through 2010, it stayed between .410 and .413.  Even though batters were collecting hits less frequently, the hits they were producing tended to be longer.  So far in 2011, however, de la Rosa's slugging percentage allowed is a mere .343.  The drop is tied to the perfection of his change up.

Jorge uses three main pitches, a fastball, slider and change up.  In 2008, the change wasn't used very much, and it was tough to distinguish it from the slider.

Jorge de la Rosa, pitch break by velocity, 2008.The red area denotes his fastball, the green the slider and change up.  This graph shows the maximum deflection from a straight line of the pitches.  The center of mass of the slider is closest to the center of the graph, while the change up tends to be underneath the fastball.

Jorge de la Rosa, pitch break by velocity, 2009.In 2009, the slider and the change up start to differentiate, but de la Rosa is throwing the slider more than twice as often as the change.

Jorge de la Rosa, pitch break by velocity, 2010.In 2010, he shifts away from the slider to the change up as his main off speed pitch, but he's still throwing his fast ball the majority of the time.

Jorge de la Rosa, pitch break by velocity, 2011.This season, the slider is an after thought, and the change is thrown almost on par with the fastball.  Here's why:

 

Pitch typeSLUG 2008SLUG 2009SLUG 2010SLUG 2011
Fastball 0.481 0.496 0.523 0.549
Change Up 0.463 0.228 0.294 0.153
Slider 0.264 0.337 0.409 0.308

 

Hitters smash Jorge's fastball.  In 2009, they started hitting the slider better, but as de la Rosa improved the change up, hitters rewarded him with less power.  His change up made the slider better as well, as he can pick and choose his spots to use the pitch.  Jorge presents a nice example of developing a pitch, then changing his patterns to use it as a new weapon.

Friday
May132011

Chacin in the Clutch

Opposing batters hit .212 against Jhoulys Chacin (COL) this season, but only .071 (2 for 28) with runners in scoring position.  Twenty eight at bats represents a very small sample size, but might Chacin pitch batters differently in these situations?  Is it just luck, or does Jhoulys bear down more with runs on the line?

The following are Chacin's overall numbers by pitch type:

 

Jhoulys Chacin 2011
Pitch typePercent thrownBA Allowed
Fastball 58.3% .308
Change Up 9.2% .067
Curveball 12.3% .182
Slider 19.9% .071

 

Batters hit his fastball pretty well, but Chacin makes up for it by fooling batters with his off-speed pitches.  When the opposition puts runners in scoring position, Jhoulys changes his pattern:

 

Jhoulys Chacin 2011, Runners in scoring position
Pitch typePercent thrownBA Allowed
Fastball 47.0% .143
Change Up 9.1% .000
Curveball 18.2% .000
Slider 25.0% .000

 

Chacin de-emphasizes his easiest to hit pitch, his fastball, and shows batters more curves and sliders.  He gets better results on those pitches, so it's not surprising his RISP average allowed would be lower.

The question this raises is, why doesn't he use that distribution of pitches all the time?  It might be that he wants to get batters comfortable with one approach, and then fool them with another when he really needs an out.  So far, it's working.

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