This afternoon, the Yankees will face off against the Angel’s newest starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson. The left hander has a career 3.57 ERA and finished 6th in the Cy Young ballot last year with a 2.94 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and an 8.3 K/9. While much of his career was spent relieving, he’s built a strong pitching repertoire while being highly successful in his 68 career starts. Though Wilson is definitely a groundball pitcher, playing half his games at Angel’s ballpark should help him in his first year in Los Angeles. Of course, he also has to face his old club, who is one of the toughest offenses in baseball. Regardless, the southpaw will face the Yankees in the Bronx today, so we’ll have to evaluate how his pitching will play in this hitter’s ballpark.
Since his move from the bullpen to the rotation in 2010, Wilson has expanded from a fastball-slider pitcher, to an arsenal of 6 different pitches. In order of most used to least in 2011, he sports a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. His outlook for 2012 appears to be the same except for one pitch. Every pitcher this spring seemed to be working on the changeup, and that doesn’t exclude C.J. Wilson. Although he only used it 6.8% of the time in 2011, its something we should keep an eye on going forward.
The graphic above charts the pitcher’s release point through 2011. Unlike Ervin Santana’s release point that we analyzed yesterday, C.J. Wilsons left-handed release point obviously comes on the other side of the mound. It is however, closer to the middle, and that’s because Wilson throws at a ¾ arm angle while leaning his body to the right. Based on the catcher’s perspective, his release point falls a little less than a foot to the right of the mound. While he doesn’t have any multiple release points, he does tend to release the two-seamer more erratically, the cutter lower, and the curveball at the highest point.
In the first graphic we have a bird’s eye visualization of each pitch moving from the release point on the right to home plate on the left. The largest horizontal break comes from the two-seam fastball in orange, which breaks into lefty batters. Next to the two-seamer is the changeup, which also sits very close to the four-seam and cutter. A horizontal movement that matches the fastball is a good way to prevent hitters from recognizing the off-speed pitch based on break. Despite what it looks like, the curveball in blue actually moves more than slider in green. When we take a look at the catcher’s perspective later on, we’ll see that the slider has very little horizontal break, but when used with his fastballs, becomes more effective.
In the second graphic we see a visualization of each pitch thrown based on a view from the 3rd or 1st base side. As mentioned above, the release point for the curveball is the highest and the cutter the lowest. The least vertical break is predictably from the four-seam fastball. The three fastballs actually follow very similar paths, with the four-seam, followed by the cutter, and then the two-seamer. This is a good demonstration of the sink of each fastball. While it appears to be a matter of inches, it could be the difference between rolling over a groundball on the sinker and getting under a flyball on the four-seam. Following the fastballs is the changeup which drops off around a foot more than the fastballs it’s mimicking. The slider again appears to have the least irregular break, but we’ll get to that later. The last pitch is the curveball, and if you follow the blue line you’ll see its incredible downward break through the zone.
The graph above is a catcher’s perspective of the break of C.J. Wilson’s pitches in 2011. With the pitches unlabeled, it would be very hard to tell the difference between the fastballs and changeups, but it does demonstrate the difference between the curveball, slider, and fastballs. The curveball in blue is certainly the first thing that differentiates itself. On average, the curveball breaks around 4.3 inches more than a no-spin ball, and 3.5 inches in to a right handed batter. While it might seem significant, the average vertical drop of a curveball is actually around 6.0 inches, which means Wilson’s drop 1.7 inches less than your average pitcher. The southpaw’s slider collects itself almost exactly on the area of the no-spin ball, more precisely at 0.3 inches away from a right handed batter and 0.6 inches further down. While it might not appear that the slider is very effective due to its similarities of the no-spin pitch, the average slider actually breaks at 1.4 inches above the axis, an increased in movement of over 2 inches compared to the average slider.
You can also better see the horizontal and vertical movement of the fastballs above. The movement of the cutter was a slight 1.6 inch break away from right handed batters and very typical 5.7 inch positive break. Likewise, his two-seamer broke vertically at around the same level, but actually broke substantially more towards left handed hitters at a dramatic 10.9 inch difference. His four-seam fastball falls right between the two other fastballs horizontally, and matches up perfectly with the changeup. At a 7.83 inch vertical break, I don’t think you can say that his fastball has any “rising” or “jumping” effect when compared to the average 9 inch break.
Our last image in understanding the movement of his pitches measures the spin angle and velocity. This can better demonstrate the difference between fastball spins. Unfortunately for us, Wilson has a very broad spin for all his fastball pitches. For educations sake, a four-seam fastball is released from a righty throwing around the same arm angle at about 200-220 degrees, while a 2-seam is at 220-245, and a cutter at much less. For Wilson, the angles should be opposite since he’s throwing from the left side. Indeed, the average angle on his four-seam fastball is 140 (equivalent to 220 from the rightside), two-seam is 116 (equivalent to 244 from the right side), and the cutter is at 166 (equivalent to 194 from the rightside). Based on spin angle, you can also see how similar the changeup spin is to the fastball, the sharp angle of the curveball, and the wide variety he uses on the slider. The velocity is also well charted above, showing his fastballs in the mid 90’s, his changeup and slider in the low 80’s, and his curveball in the high 70’s.
Where He Throws It
For the sake of your eyes, I’ve limited the amount of pitches to the last 3 months of the 2011 season. (Don’t worry the locations didn’t change very much) This graph above shows Wilson’s pitch type and location to right handed hitters based on the catcher’s perspective. The first thing I noticed was that he wasn’t afraid to throw into the righties in an attempt to jam them, especially with his cutter. The majority of his fastballs are actually thrown in, which is the opposite of what we saw from Ervin Santana yesterday. He also does a decent job of keeping the ball in the zone and down. His breaking pitches are almost all in a line from inside and in the dirt to down and away in the strikezone. I see very few sliders above the strikezone, and for the few changeups and curveballs, I’ll assume the majority were misthrows or hanging breaking balls. So if you’re a right handed hitter, expect a fastball inside or breaking ball down and away for a strike or down and in for a ball. His pitch selection in order of variation to righties is 25.4% cutter, 19.5% four-seam fastball, 18.7% slider, 17.2% two-seam fastball, 14.9% curveball, and 4.3% changeup.
There is much less of a mess in this graphic against less handed batters. This time there are very few balls thrown in to left handed hitters, the only ones being two-seamers which we discovered have huge horizontal movement into lefties. The four-seam fastball appears to be up in the zone in this graphic, which is probably an indication of trying to get that “rise” effect for a swing and a miss or trying to get a flyball. While his cutters are usually away to lefties, all of his breaking pitches are thrown down and away. Instead of the cutter, he uses the four-seam fastball most at 30.2%, 25.9% for the two-seam fastball, 21.0% for the slider, 11.8% for the curveball, 9.8% for cutter, and only 1.3% for the changeup.
When He Throws It
|Count||Four-Seam (R)||Two-Seam (R)||Cutter (R)||Slider (R)||Curveball (R)||Changeup (R)|
The chart above gives you Wilson’s pitch selection by count to right handed batters throughout all of 2011. He usually started hitters out with four-seam and two-seam fastballs, but on 0-0 he surprisingly threw his curveball the most at 26.6%. Since his curveball isn’t a huge swing and miss pitch (12.2% whiff rate v. righties), he is probably looking to fool hitters immediately by pitching backwards. When the southpaw began to fall behind to righties he would often attack with one of his fastballs, and as the hitter gains favor, the more likely it is for them to see a four-seam or cutter. When he gets ahead in the count, Wilson breaks out his strong slider for whiffs on 2 strike counts. (20.6% whiff rate v. righties)
|Count||Four-Seam (L)||Two-Seam (L)||Cutter (L)||Slider (L)||Curveball (L)||Changeup (L)|
Against lefties he would start a batter with a four-seam fastball 41.6%. Behind in the count, the four-seam fastball is his go to pitch as well, although the two-seam fastball should be lingering in the mind of the hitter. As soon as Wilson gets a strike on a lefty hitter, the two-seam fastball immediately becomes more likely. It’s hard to argue with the pitch selection in this instance since the two-seam has so much movement in and can force a batter to hit into an early groundout. When Wilson is ahead in the count with two strikes, he relies on the two-seamer and the slider. With a 26.6% whiff rate to lefties on the slider, theres a pretty good chance that they’ll swing and miss at such a pitch.
Behind the six pitches that he’s added throughout his career, he’s still a fastball-slider guy at heart. What sets him apart is his two-seam fastball that hitters can’t stop turning into groundballs. In 2011 he drew a 49.3% groundball rate, a 31.9% flyball rate, and an 18.9% linedrive rate. Couple that with his ability to strikeout hitters with a 8.30 K/9 in 2011, and keep them off bases with walks 2.98 BB/9 in 2011. Over his career he has virtually no home or away splits, although I think he’ll develop a very good home split now in Anaheim, yet his major weakness is righties. While left handed hitters hit only .198/.284/.273 against the southpaw, righties hit him at .248/.333/.378. While not great numbers, it’s certainly something the Yankees should keep in mind.
Against The Yankees
He’s had a fairly successful career against the team in 47.1 innings thus far, posting a 3.80 ERA, a 1.394 WHIP, an 8.9 K/9, but also a 4.8 BB/9. He doesn’t have much of a difference pitching in or out of Yankee Stadium, nor should you expect it considering he is a groundball pitcher with a lefty advantage. In 2011 he faced the Yankees once and was stellar, going 8.0 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, and 10 strikeouts.
|Probable Yankee Lineup||At Bats||Triple Slash|
|Derek Jeter SS||14||.357/.471/.571|
|Nick Swisher RF||23||.304/.429/.565|
|Robinson Cano 2B||17||.353/.476/.412|
|Alex Rodriguez 3B||13||.077/.368/.154|
|Mark Teixeira 1B||9||.000/.182/.000|
|Curtis Granderson CF||9||.222/.300/.222|
|Andruw Jones DH||6||.000/.250/.000|
|Russell Martin C||3||.333/.500/.333|
|Brett Gardner LF||5||.000/.000/.000|
Considering Wilson’s previous success against the Yankees, his success against left handed hitters, and his groundball style pitching, this afternoon should be a tough game for the offense. Fortunately, Jeter, Swisher, and Cano will bat at the top of the order, and had a lot of success against the left handed pitcher in the past. Although Arod has less career success, I wouldn’t count him out. Wilson’s struggles against righties, his approach throwing fastballs in, and Rodriguez recent inclination to mash the ball into oblivion might make him an important piece of this lineup. If the first 4 hitters can’t come through, today is gonna be a very tough day to watch hitters strikeout on sliders and ground into double plays. The game starts at 1:05 pm EST on YES with Phil Hughes taking the mound for the Yankees. It looks like Phil is gonna have to toss a beauty to get the Yankees where they want to be.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- many dresses are especially for wedding or for other events2 on Chuck Johnson on Chase Whitley
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees