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Entries in Seattle Mariners (36)


Changing Vargas

Pro Ball NW notes that Jason Vargas of the Seattle Mariners doesn't feel like he's pitching badly.  That's quite possible.  Sometimes batters simply hit good pitches.  With Jason, however, that's not the case.

Through July 20th, Jason sported a 3.94 ERA, with 125 hits allowed in 130 1/3 innings.  He was also keeping his change up down.

Jason Vargas, change up, 2011 season through July 20th.In that time, batters hit .270/.332/.456 against the fastball but .212/.268/.297 against the change.  The pitch is designed to fool batters, and it was working fine.

Starting on July 25th, Vargas holds a 6.46 ERA in seven starts, allowing 53 hits in 39 innings.  Note the difference in his change up:

Jason Vargas, change up, 2011 season since July 25th.Vargas puts more of his changes up in the strike zone, and more in the lower corner to the left-hand of the catcher, getting away from the area of his success.  In this period, batters are hitting .333/.406/.533 against the fastball and .292/.354/.431 against the change.  With his change up no longer fooling batters, his fastball becomes less effective as well.  He is pitching badly.


Friendly Pitches to Casper Wells

Casper Wells of the Seattle Mariners hit his sixth home run in his 15th game since joining the team on July 31st.  Casper likes to hit pitches down and away for home runs:

Casper Wells home runs, career through Aug. 20, 2011.Since he joined the Mariners, guess where pitchers are concentrating their strikes?

Casper Wells, pitch frequency, with the Seattle Mariners, 2011.Fast balls up seem to be the way to limit Casper's power:

Casper Wells, in play slugging, career vs. fastballs.At some point pitchers will figure out that working Wells away leads to bad results.  We'll see what happens when they start busting him up and in.


Ackley Hitting Backwards

Some hurlers pitch backwards; they throw off-speed pitches in fastball counts and vice versa.  Rookie Dustin Ackely of the Seattle Mariners hits backwards.

Most pitchers use a change up as an out pitch.  They train a batter's pattern recognition software to learn a fastball motion.  Once the hitter sees the fastball enough, the pitcher unleashes the change up.  The best throw the pitch with the same motion and arm speed, but drop the speed of the ball with their grip.  The batter swings early and misses, or hits the ball weakly.  In the majors this season, batters own a .339 weighted OBA (wOBA) on the fastball, .290 on the changeup.

So far, Ackely hits the change much better:


Fastball 0.277 0.358 0.349 0.323 0.189 0.000
Change Up 0.409 0.458 0.909 0.556 0.000 0.136


You can really see the reversal in the strikeout and home run numbers.  Fast pitches help batters hit home runs.  Dustin has yet to take a fast ball deep.  Change ups are supposed to fool batters into striking out, but Ackely doesn't get fooled by the pitch.

These numbers, of course, are based on small sample sizes.  If they hold up, however, it won't be good news for Dustin.  If pitchers discover they can just pump fastballs by him, they'll be happy to blow him away with heat.


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