Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where for art thou changeup, Rubby?

Before Rubby De La Rosa made his debut, it was already known he had an electric fastball. But as is with every pitcher to ever pitch, more than an electric fastball is necessary for success.

That's not to say De La Rosa's fastball isn't great. In fact, he throws the fastest average fastball of anyone in baseball (95.9 MPH) -- even Justin Verlander. In last night's game, his 109th pitch was a 100 MPH fastball. That certainly doesn't suck.

(Click to enlarge)

But what about the secondary stuff? I tweeted last night it was nice to see him throwing the slider as much as he was because it wasn't a good pitch when he came up. It's inconsistent right now, but has plus-potential.

But what about the changeup? It's a pitch that doesn't get as much acclaim from scouts as the fastball, but it's his best secondary pitch. So why doesn't he throw it that much? Well, only he knows the answer to that, but the numbers dictate that he should throw it more.

He's thrown it 66 times, getting 42 strikes (63.6 percent) and 11 swinging strikes (16.7 percent). Now, 11-of-66 swinging strikes might not seem like a lot, but it's his best swing-and-miss pitch and the pitch he throws for strikes most consistently.

During last night's game, he only threw five, getting three strikes and no swinging strikes. It was evident that he didn't have a lot of confidence in the pitch last night and that could be said for his last three starts as well. He's thrown just five in each of his last three starts.

Pitch Breakdown (per start)

Game
PC FB FB% SLD SLD%
June 7 @ PHI 96 76 79.2% 10 10.4%
June 12 @ COL 82 62 75.6% 14 17.1%
June 18 vs. HOU 85 70 82.4% 8 9.4%
June 24 vs. ANA 100 74 74.0% 16 16.0%
June 29 @ MIN 99 80 80.8% 8 8.1%
July 4 vs. NYM 98 75 76.5% 11 11.2%
July 9 vs. SD 98 83 84.7% 6 6.1%
July 19 @ SF 88 72 81.8% 11 12.5%
July 25 vs. COL 113 89 78.8% 19 16.8%
Totals 859 681 79.3% 103 12.0%

Game PC CHG CHG%
June 7 @ PHI 96 10 10.4%
June 12 @ COL 82 5 6.1%
June 18 vs. HOU 85 7 8.2%
June 24 vs. ANA 100 10 10.0%
June 29 @ MIN 99 7 7.1%
July 4 vs. NYM 98 12 12.2%
July 9 vs. SD 98 5 5.1%
July 19 @ SF 88 5 5.7%
July 25 vs. COL 113 5 4.4%
Totals 859 66 7.7%

Fastball Breakdown (per start)

Game PC FB Strikes Strk % SStrk SStrk %
June 7 96 76 37 48.7% 5 6.6%
June 12 82 62 31 50.0% 1 1.6%
June 18 85 70 39 55.7% 6 8.6%
June 24 100 74 37 50.0% 5 6.8%
June 29 99 80 37 46.3% 5 6.3%
July 4 98 75 48 64.0% 5 6.7%
July 9 98 83 52 62.7% 11 13.3%
July 19 88 72 54 75.0% 6 8.3%
July 25 113 89 51 57.3% 9 10.1%
Totals 859 681 386 56.7% 53 7.8%

Slider Breakdown (per start)

Game PC SLD Strikes Strk % Sstrk SStrk %
June 7
96 10 3 30.0% 1 10.0%
June 12 82 14 9 64.3% 1 7.1%
June 18 85 8 4 50.0% 1 12.5%
June 24 100 16 8 50.0% 0 0.0%
June 29 99 8 5 62.5% 2 25.0%
July 4 98 11 5 45.5% 1 9.1%
July 9 98 6 1 16.7% 0 0.0%
July 19 88 11 7 63.6% 3 27.3%
July 25 113 19 12 63.2% 1 5.3%
Totals 859 103 54 52.4% 10 9.7%

Changeup Breakdown (per start)

Game PC CHG Strikes Strk % Sstrk SStrk %
June 7 96 10 6 60.0% 1 10.0%
June 12 82 5 4 80.0% 2 40.0%
June 18 85 7 4 57.1% 1 14.3%
June 24 100 10 8 80.0% 2 20.0%
June 29 99 7 7 100.0% 2 28.6%
July 4 98 12 7 58.3% 3 25.0%
July 9 98 5 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
July 19 88 5 3 60.0% 0 0.0%
July 25 113 5 3 60.0% 0 0.0%
Totals 859 66 42 63.6% 11 16.7%

I know he and all pitchers can't be dependent on secondary pitches, especially with a great fastball, but it could help the 22-year-old become a more well-rounded pitcher now and in the future.

Data courtesy of Brooks Baseball and Baseball-Reference. Also, thanks to Chad Moriyama for pointing out where to find this data.

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