Breaking down JV’s Strikeouts

(Image from Fangraphs – only takes into account game 1 data)

I did not get to watch the game in real time, so I caught up on MLB.tv videos.  They had one of JV’s nine strikeouts, which I have now watched three times.  Let’s review his strikeouts by inning, count & pitch type.

- 1st/3-2/Fastball
- 2nd/2-2/Curve
- 4th/0-2/CU
- 4th/0-2/CU
- 4th/0-2/CU
- 6th/1-2/Change
- 7th/0-2/CH
- 7th/1-2/FA
- 7th/0-2/CH

I can’t remember JV throwing his change-up for strikeouts this much.  Historically, he throws it about 15% of the time overall.  The Ks on change-ups tonight are great news, because I believe JV relies too much on his fastball in high-pressure situations, and I’m hoping that games like tonight will grant him more confidence in his off speed stuff.  For example, against the Yankees, 6 of his Ks were on fastballs, and the 1 each on a curve and change-up.  In fact, of the 16 pitches he threw to Teixeira, 13 of them were fastballs, including the one Tex parked in RF.

JV went to a 3 ball count four times tonight, and threw his fastball on each occasion.  Two went for walks, and he got a K on one in the first.  In game 1 versus the Yankees, it looks like he went to a 3 ball count nine times (the MLB.com data is  not complete), and threw a fastball every time.

Thus, while his 3 ball pitch of choice is still the heater, at least he went to his off speed stuff for the strikeout pitches.  Against the O’s tonight, his strikeout pitches were pretty equally distributed: 2 FA, 4 CU and 3 CH.  Again, I know it’s early, but I’m hoping that this little snippet will allow him to throw his change more often on 3 ball counts.

What do you make of it?

4 Comments

  1. Mr. X

    April 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Something looked different about Verlander’s mechanics also. I think he reduced his leg kick slightly. He just looked real smooth and the ball was just popping out of his hand. Hitters had less reaction time. His fastball was harder to catch up too and his change-up was more devastating.

  2. Mr. X

    April 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    and great write-up Kevin. It’s good to see that he was mixing his pitches better when he got 2 strikes. And that he reduced his 3 ball counts. I believe that working the count is one of the most important and least recognized facets of the game.

    Another thing that interested me was that Verlander commented on TV after the game that he wasn’t quite happy with his performance because he walked 2 batters.

  3. Kevin in Dallas

    April 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    He actually threw his change-up 23% of the time last night, and 38% of the time over the last three innings. Considering the number of times we’ve seen him gas it up to the high 90′s in the late innings, I’m guessing he went to the change to throw off the guys who thought they might be comfortable with his fastball third time through the order.

    Whatever it was, I like it.

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