Washburn Throws Kitchen Sink For Strikes
Want to know why Jarrod Washburn was able to run up nine strikeouts last night?
If you look at a Pitch F/x chart for most pitchers, you’ll see three or four clusters that represent the different pitch types. The fastballs will all be grouped together in the not much movement/higher velocity area. The off speed pitches will be lumped together in lower velocity/higher movement areas. And there will be significant separation between the two.
Washburn, though, throws so many variations of all of his pitches that clusters are nowhere to be found. He threw a 91 MPH fastball with hardly any movement at all (upper right corner), he threw an 89 MPH fastball that rivaled Brandon Webb’s sinker for movement, and he threw everything in between. There’s so much variation in velocity and movement that the pitch description algorithm kind of threw it’s hands up in the air and went on strike.
Just on his fastball, we’ve got a lot of four seamers, a few sinkers, a couple of cutters, a pair of splitters, and a few that are just generically labeled fastball because they don’t fit into any of the aforementioned categories. That doesn’t even include the change-up, some of which are probably actually sinkers, and move like his fastball just with less velocity.
Oh, and he also threw two distinctly different breaking balls, just for good measure.
Washburn threw everything but the knuckleball last night. When we beg Felix to mix his pitches and avoid patterns, this is what we’re talking about. Washburn’s stuff is not that much better than what you’ll see when you go to a Triple-A game, but he really knows how to keep hitters off balance. There’s no guessing right when you’re facing Washburn, because he might not throw you the same pitch twice all game. With so many variations of his fastball, plus an improved change-up/sinker, and two breaking balls with significantly different movements, good luck figuring out what you’re going to get on any given pitch.
No, this isn’t “for real”, in the sense that he’s going to finish the year with an ERA below 2.00 or a FIP below 3.00. He’s going to get whacked around some this year, and it’s a good bet that he’ll finish the year with something close to his typical 2.5 BB/5 K/1.1 HR profile, but on nights where he carves up a pretty good line-up by giving a display on how to pitch, I’ll tip my cap to him. That was fun to watch.