Charting Felix… again
I have a feeling this might become a trend. I tracked each of Felix’s pitches from his start yesterday. Here’s the results.
103 pitches – 65 fastballs, 21 curveballs, 16 changeups, 1 unidentified
% of each pitch: 64% fastballs, 20% curveballs, 16% changeups
First pitch selection: 22 fastballs, 4 curveballs, 3 changeups
The mix here is actually fine. 60/20/20 is a pretty good mix for Felix, I think. However, the key is the last line – he started almost every single batter with a fastball, then went to offspeed stuff late in the count. The pattern is the same as its always been – fast early, soft late. If you go up looking for a fastball early in the count, you’re almost certainly going to get one, and you can jump on it. Which, as you’ll see below, is what happened.
Results by pitch:
Fastball – 25 balls, 40 strikes (balls in play counted as a strike), 7 groundball outs, 3 line drive outs, 2 fly ball outs, 5 singles, 1 double, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Curveball – 10 balls, 11 strikes, 1 home run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Changeup – 1 ball, 15 strikes, 3 groundball outs, 1 strikeout
Of the 29 batters Felix faced, 21 of them ended their at-bats on a fastball. All but one of the hits came off the FB. Roberts’ homer came on a curve that had good movement but was up a bit – I’m not really concerned about that, though, because that pitch usually isn’t swung at. Roberts’ just hit a decent pitch.
The obvious thing that jumps out here is just how dominating his change-up was yesterday. I noted that in the game thread early, and was asking for more change-ups by the third inning. It was devastating. 1 ball, 15 strikes! It was put in play three times – two grounders back to the mound, and a ground ball to shortstop for an easy out. It was the only pitch he could locate yesterday, and Johjima should have made an adjustment and started calling more change-ups.
Other miscellaneous notes:
There were three instances where Felix just threw too many fastballs in a row; he started the game with 9 straight, then 6 consecutive fastballs in the third, and finally 8 fastballs without an offspeed pitch in the 6th inning. During these three stetches where he was all fastballs, all the time, the Padres went 4 for 5 with a walk.
Felix only got 0-1 on 10 of the 29 batters he faced. The other 19 either took the first pitch for a ball or put it in play.
If mlb.tv ever goes back to showing the broadcast camera, I’ll add in radar readings. It looked like he was throwing fine, velocity wise. Yesterday’s problems were all about command.
Basic summary: He still needs to vary his pitch selection, especially early in the count. The change-up needs to be used more, especially when he can’t command his fastball. Which, at this point, is every start. And until he starts throwing strikes early in the count, he’s going to be pitching from behind, and they’re going to sit on his fastball. Once he starts throwing strikes early in the count, either by commanding his fastball or mixing in more offspeed stuff, the results will come – it will be a cascade, where that simple fix remedies all his problems.