Let’s take a look at Javy’s pitch types and results from his starts up to yesterday, and then compare yesterday’s outing:
Season up to yesterday (courtesy of texasleaguers.com)
[image title="Picture 5" size="full" id="17743" align="center" linkto="full" ]
[image title="Picture 4" size="full" id="17744" align="center" linkto="full" ]
Looking at each pitch, a few things jump off the page.
Going into yesterday, Javy had thrown four seam fastballs just 35.6% of the time, and was not throwing it past anybody. He had a startlingly low 7.2% whiff rate on the pitch, meaning that the fastball was quite easy to make contact with. By contrast, he threw more fastballs yesterday (46.9%) and got a significantly higher whiff rate (22.2%), contributing to his being able to notch far more fastballs for strikes. Considering that his velocity remained in the 88-91 range, his location on the pitch was likely the difference yesterday, as he threw it with confidence and hit his spots.
His change was not working particularly well yesterday, as the whiff rate on it was down and it was put into play an a startling 47% of the time. However, the curve seemed to be freezing hitters, as he threw it for strikes 75% of the time despite a low whiff rate. As you can see, hitters swung at the pitch at a rate of just 31.3%, suggesting that they were caught looking for something else a number of times. Finally, the slider looked better across the board as well, with the whiff percentage up significantly and few of them being put into play.
Yesterday’s performance does not erase Javy’s poor start, nor does it guarantee that he is going to continue to improve. But there were some good signs there, with his command and confidence in his fastball and the sharp nature of his breaking pitches being chief among them. He had 16 swinging strikes yesterday after compiling just 41 in his 5 previous starts (or 8.2 per start), which indicates that his stuff was much more difficult to hit than it had been previously. It will be interesting to track his ability to avoid contact going forward, as it will be a vital element to a potential recovery.
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