Josh Kinney Throws Breaking Balls

Dave · August 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Josh Kinney throws a lot of sliders. In fact, Baseball Info Solutions has categorized 56% of the pitches that Josh Kinney has thrown this season as sliders – only three pitchers (min 10 IP) have a higher slider usage rate in baseball this year. So, any time you see Josh Kinney on the mound, you should think “hey, I bet he’s about to throw a slider.”

Well, today, Josh Kinney was asked to face the final nine batters of the game, rather than being used in his normal situational right-handed role. He threw 43 pitches to those nine batters, but the PITCHF/x system only captured 42 of them. Here’s what a PITCHF/x plot of those 42 pitches looks like.

That blob in the middle? Those are his sliders. I count 18 of them – ignore the gameday classifications, as they’re not always great, and are especially not great for Kinney today. Anyway, that’s actually not a ton of sliders, by Josh Kinney standards anyway. But, if you look to the left, you’ll see another sizable blob – those are curve balls, a slightly slower breaking ball that Kinney decided to introduce since he was asked to get some left-handers out. There are 15 of those. That means that 33 of the 42 pitches that PITCHF/x picked up on were breaking balls of some kind.

That’s 79% of his pitches. Josh Kinney threw nearly half as many pitches as a starter does on most days, and only 21% of them were fastballs. Josh Kinney basically just junked his way threw the Twins entire line-up.

This is both amazing and a reason why you shouldn’t get too excited about Josh Kinney’s strikeout rate. If you just focused on that number, you might surmise that he’s just a little command improvement away from being a good reliever. In reality, though, he’s a guy who just throws breaking ball after breaking ball until opposing batters either draw a walk or chase something out of the zone and strike themselves out. As you might imagine, this shtick works a lot better against righties than lefties (since breaking balls diving away from you are harder to hit than ones diving into your wheelhouse), and Kinney’s off-speed based approach actually makes him a pretty decent right-on-right specialist. He’s basically Lucas Luetge flipped around the other way.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but he probably shouldn’t be asked to face nine batters very often.


7 Responses to “Josh Kinney Throws Breaking Balls”

  1. Mariners35 on August 19th, 2012 10:04 pm

    So Kinney is a ROOGY?

  2. Klatz on August 19th, 2012 10:38 pm

    The return of Jeff Nelson

  3. Westside guy on August 19th, 2012 10:54 pm

    Hehe ROOGY.

  4. Adam B. on August 20th, 2012 2:23 am

    Point taken, but 4 run lead, Twins, etc… I have no complaint about a specialist being used in mop-up.

    However, if Wedge continues to rely on him as his “Veteran non-closer righty” in high-leverage situations as he has in the past, then I’m going to be very upset that someone far better like Shawn Kelley is sitting in Tacoma twiddling his thumbs.

    Kinney is this years Jeff Gray (todays win was fitting), he’s simply a fungible reliever who you pretend to be sympathetic towards if his arm falls off at the end of the season.

    I keep waiting for someone to yell “They killed Kinney! …You bastards!” when he gets hammered again.

  5. Breadbaker on August 20th, 2012 3:38 am

    I don’t understand using him two innings+, or even one inning+ (see 8/10 versus the Angels). It’s not like we don’t have 800 relievers between the bullpen itself and Tacoma. Or can’t magically make them appear if we need them, a la Oliver Perez and Kinney himself.

  6. drw on August 20th, 2012 9:02 am

    “junked his way threw” . . .

    That made me smile.

  7. marc w on August 20th, 2012 10:35 am

    The return of Sean Green, actually.

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