Author Archives: Clint Hulsey

Carter Capps Fails

carter capps

The Mariners demoted Carter Capps to AAA Tacoma after a horrific start to his 2013 season. While Capps’ strikeout rate was basically the same as it was in his excellent MLB debut in 2012 season, and his walk rate actually decreased, the hard throwing right-hander suddenly became home run prone. With an elite fastball, it wasn’t surprising to see him as a successful reliever in the minors, and then transition to the Majors like he did in 2012. It is surprising, however, that he has become so hittable. Comparing the dominant Capps of 2012 with the struggling one of 2013 may give us an insight at what went wrong with him this season, and hopefully identify how he can return to his old self.

Here are where the average locations of his major results were located in 2012 (entire graph is strike zone):

Carter Capps 2012

He threw extremely hard, over 95 MPH on his average pitch, regardless of classification. When he gave up contact, it was usually because he threw low in the zone and more glove side then average. When he got whiffs, it was on high fastballs. He was a dominant fastball pitcher with some of the best stuff in baseball. Fast forward to 2013, where the graph speaks for itself:

Carter Capps 2013

The problem seems pretty simple, he isn’t throwing as hard this year. He is throwing more breaking and off-speed pitches than last year (which you would expect he would have to do as the league sees him more, just to give hitters different looks so they couldn’t sit on his fastball), which brings down his average velocity some, but he also isn’t throwing his fastball as hard either. His top 25% of pitches this year is 96.9 MPH. In 2012 it was 99.4 MPH, meaning that he isn’t topping out at near the same velocity he was last season. In 2012, he threw 16 pitches 100 MPH or better. This year, he hasn’t thrown a single pitch 99 MPH or over according to Pitch F/X. The velocity drop is not only a somewhat helpful explanation for his struggles (if the pitches aren’t as fast, they are easier to hit), but velocity drop is often an indicator that something else is wrong as well.

His numbers against righties weren’t dominant, but he was doing pretty well when he had the platoon advantage this season. However, Capps has been really poor against lefties this season, and his release point has become further out so far this year. Let’s see how he is pitching lefties this year, first by pitch types (MLBAM tags)

Carter Capps Pitch Lefties

Everything is kept pretty arm side, except for the slider, which is still glove side on average. Here are what his average result locations look like against lefties, a graph that can be compared to the first two graphs:

Carter Capps Lefties

Most of his pitches are thrown a little more arm side against lefties than overall, that is, more away, usually a good approach. He is also throwing harder, meaning he is throwing more fastballs and less curves/sliders. The contact and whiff tendencies are basically the same. Aside from the release point, the other thing that is probably holding Capps back from being successful against lefties is a lack of a changeup that he has confidence to throw frequently.

Here are where Capps has thrown his changeup against lefties in 2013:

Carter Capps Changeups

There aren’t many, and of course, that is part of the problem. The other problem is that he threw some glove side, when it is supposed to be an arm side pitch. The only two he has gotten swings on are the ones that are located pretty well, on the far arm side part of the plate and relatively low. The higher one turned into a hit, while the lower one turned into a swinging strike. The rest were balls. It isn’t a pitch he is even getting called strikes with.

Even with the quick success of Nick Franklin and Brad Miller and the apparent emergence of Justin Smoak, the Seattle Mariners seemed to have had their share of hyped prospects failing quite spectacular. If Carter Capps doesn’t get his velocity back and doesn’t develop his changeup, the actual long term consequences for the franchise wouldn’t likely be that large. Capps is a reliever, and the Mariners have other relief prospects. However, it would be extremely frustrating. Capps has a great arm and it would be a shame if he didn’t live up to his potential, especially since it seems that Stephen Pryor has a knack for being on the DL.

The release point and velocity data suggests that he may not be healthy, though the Mariners apparently think he is, as he is pitching in AAA. We don’t know how he feels, so it is difficult and unwise to speculate about an injury. So perhaps the goal in AAA should be for him to raise his arm angle some, and work on his changeup, throwing it frequently (not caring about results, just working on the pitch).

Erasmo Ramirez is (Kind Of) Back


Erasmo Ramirez made his return to the big leagues on Thursday after an injury kept him out of the rotation at the start of the year and forced him to build his way back up and make 7 starts in Tacoma. However, the return was not triumphant. The Red Sox scored 7 runs off of him and his strike rate was way down from where it was last year (and really below a rate that is acceptable for a big league pitcher). In Spring Training, it was obvious that his velocity and release point was off, which turned out to be evidence that he was hurt. So, I think it is important to look at where he located the ball, along with his velocities and release point from Thursday, comparing it to his 2012 numbers, to see if Erasmo’s bad start was just a bad start, or whether there is something wrong with him, meaning he isn’t the pitcher he was last season.

First, here is his average release points from both 2012 and Thursday, along with the average locations of all pitches thrown

Erasmo Ramirez Release

Erasmo clearly has a lower release point, or at least did against the Red Sox. The difference is big enough that it is a Pitch F/X error or difference in measurement. Erasmo didn’t locate any differently when it came to height on average, though he did locate more glove side in his outing on Thursday. Breaking down his average locations by pitch type (just using the MLBAM tags) will be more helpful:

Erasmo Ramirez Against Red Sox

Change barely located in strike zone on average, and as his 2012 graph shows, his curve has moved from an arm side pitch to a glove side pitch:

Erasmo Ramirez 2012

Erasmo, even though he threw the slider harder against the Red Sox, got the pitch glove side less. On the other hand, the cutter (also thrown harder) was located lower and more glove side, and his 2-seam became a more traditional arm side pitch. The 4-seam fastball was thrown lower, more glove side, and the velocity was slightly down.

As far as pitch selection goes, Erasmo went to more curves instead of sliders, less changeups overall, and more cutters instead of 2-seam fastballs. This explains the difference in average locations on all pitches, as even though his changeup was more glove side, he threw less of them on Thursday. Relying on the cutter more makes him more of a glove side pitcher. The cutter was thrown rarely last year, but he didn’t give up a hit with it. The problem is, his changeup was his best pitch last year, so it is curious that he would just stop throwing it, or start throwing it less.

The Mariners sent Ramirez back to the minors so he can get another start during the All-Star Break, and while it isn’t set in stone, the reported plan is to bring him back up to the Majors the next time the spot in the rotation comes up. However, at least right now, it doesn’t appear that the Erasmo Ramirez of 2013 is the Erasmo Ramirez that emerged last season. Something still seems to be wrong.

Mariner Pitching and 1-1 Counts

felix hernandez

The 1-1 count is the most important count in baseball. So far in 2013, MLB hitters have a .684 OPS after a 1-1 count. If the next pitch is a strike, and it is a 1-2 count, hitters have an average OPS of .505 OPS. If the 1-1 pitch is a ball, giving the hitter a 2-1 count, MLB hitters have a .802 OPS on average. Teams have based much of their pitching and catching philosophy on getting from the 1-1 count to the 1-2 count. This is a Seattle site, so I was interested in how the Mariners’ starting rotation pitched with the 1-1 count, both from a point of whether or not they are being effective in those counts and to get an idea of which pitches they rely on more in important counts. So using pitch selection (MLBAM tags) and average locations, I took a look at what pitches they throw and where they locate them when in a 1-1 count.

I broke down the graphs by platoon of batter faced because obviously pitchers are going to pitch much different when it comes to platoon, and it may help us get a look at why some pitchers have platoon splits, while some don’t. I included Brandon Maurer instead of Jeremy Bonderman because Maurer has more pitches and is frankly more interesting when it comes to the future. I also have a feeling that Bonderman won’t be on the Mariners much longer. After each pitchers’ name, I put their 2013 (I am only looking at 2013 data in this post) OPS after 1-1 count (per Baseball Reference) so we can get an idea whether or not they are good in those situations (the OPS’ are not park adjusted, so we should proceed with some caution, along with typical small sample and DIPs concerns. Perhaps the best way to view the data is that Felix and Iwakuma are most likely doing something right in these situations if 1-1 counts are important since their overall numbers are good, while Maurer was most likely doing something wrong).

Hisashi Iwakuma: .540 OPS

Against left-handed batters:

Hisashi Iwakuma LHB

Everything is rightly kept away from lefties by Iwakuma, He throws a lot of sliders, but they barely catch the zone and are kept extremely arm side, quite odd for a slider. Down and away is the basic approach, with a lot of fastballs and splitters, against lefties in 1-1 counts.

Against right-handed batters:

Hisashi Iwakuma RHB

Iwakuma works both sides of the plate about equally against righties with 1-1 counts (which, as we will see, is unusual), going to the slider (that now gets glove side, though not as extreme as most pitchers’ sliders) a lot more, and the splitter a lot less (but is more likely to be thrown in the strike zone and is thrown glove side).

Felix Hernandez: .679 OPS

Against left-handed batters

Felix Hernandez LHB

Just like Iwakuma, Felix keeps the ball low and away from lefties, going to a lot of fastballs/sinkers, and curveballs.

Against right-handed batters:

Felix Hernandez RHB

The slider goes to a more traditional place, and he throws more sinkers than fastballs (if MLBAM tags are to be believed). He keeps throwing the changeup, and it stays arm side. It is tough to argue with anything King Felix does, but this is dangerous. The curveball also stays arm side.

Joe Saunders: .768 OPS

Against left-handed batters:

Joe Saunders LHB

Hard in, soft away for Saunders against fellow lefties.

Against right-handed batters:

Joe Saunders RHB

Saunders doesn’t really throw the 4-seamer in 1-1 counts to lefties, and he doesn’t really throw it for a strike to righties. Occasionally he throws a dangerous slider, but he is mostly changeup happy, staying low and away.

Aaron Harang .585 OPS

Against left-handed batters

Aaron Harang LHB

Harang will throw the 4-seamer in, and in previous posts, I have noted that it is much more effective than the 2-seamer away. He has really been unable to get the changeup down.

Against right-handed batters

Aaron Harang RHB

I think you have to admire Harang’s ability to keep the ball away, even if it hasn’t translated into a good home run rate this season. Harang totally ditches the changeup and locates the 2-seamer glove side like the 4-seamer (the FT is below the FF, which is why it appears to be missing). A lot of sliders and curveballs in 1-1 counts in good locations.

Brandon Maurer: .921 OPS

Against left-handed batters:

Brandon Maurer LHB

Maurer really struggled against lefties, and the slider usage seems to be the main culprit. He did work it arm side on average but it stayed too high, and it is after all, a slider, a pitch meant for when the pitcher has the platoon advantage. He did throw the changeup frequently, and it seemed to be located well, even though it wasn’t successful. He failed to get the curveball down and probably should have thrown more fastballs.

Against right-handed batters

Brandon Maurer RHB

Against righties, Maurer threw the ball away pretty well, though his fastballs did stay more arm side than you would want. He also couldn’t get the curveball down.

A Look at Hisashi Iwakuma’s Home Run Problem


Hisashi Iwakuma has been a very good pitcher with the Mariners, with one fatal flaw, the long ball. Despite pitching most of his games in a pitcher friendly ball park, he has given up 17 homers in both years in the Majors so far. So looking at data from both 2012 and 2013, I wanted to look at his home runs and see why Iwakuma is so home run prone and whether or not he can fix it.

Here are the locations of the pitches he has given up homers on, labelled with the MLBAM tags:

Hisashi Iwakuma Homers

There are a lot of arm side fastballs here, both high and low, along with some hanging sliders and sinkers. There are a few splitters, but perhaps even more alarming than all the fastballs hit out of the park are the sliders hit out of the park, especially the well located sliders (perhaps you could argue that they aren’t glove side enough, but there are several low ones).

But how do his home run locations compare to his other average locations. Here Iwakuma’s average locations, based on result, labelled with average velocity

Hisashi Iwakuma Average Locations

Not surprisingly, even though he keeps the ball low on average, it is the highest pitches that are being hit for home runs. His average contact is a little higher than all his pitches on average, and also more arm side (even though the home runs are a little more glove side). The contact plays are a little harder in velocity than the average pitch, so the higher and harder pitches (read fastballs and sinkers) are the ones that are hit. His whiffs come on glove side pitches that are a little slower (there really isn’t much deviation in velocity) and lower (read the splitter).

More of the homers have come against right-handed batters (4.4 % to 2.6 % against lefties), probably because of the splitter neutralizing lefties (his OPS against both is about equal). We see this come out in the spray chart of batted balls Iwakuma has given up (via, just 2013 at Safeco)

Hisashi Iwakuma Spray

Despite facing more left-handers than righthanders, Iwakuma is giving up a lot of balls to left field, suggesting righties pulling the ball. So I thought it might be helpful to see how he is pitching right-handed batters:

Hisashi Iwakuma RHB

So Iwakuma is able to keep the ball glove side, away from right-handed batters on average. He doesn’t throw a lot of curveballs, but he isn’t getting them down. When he gives up homers, not surprisingly, especially considering the spray chart, he is keeping the ball arm side and high in the zone. The sinker is getting somewhat down, and the fastball is getting glove side, but when he is getting in trouble, it is with these pitches against right-handers.

In a previous article this year, I noted that Hisashi Iwakuma was throwing pitches basically right down the middle without great velocity and getting away with it. Now, it doesn’t appear he is. He still has a solid strikeout rate, and he isn’t walking very many batters, but he has a home run problem that I think is directly related to his fastball velocity. Unless he is willing to throw more pitches out of the zone (he is 14th in zone % out of 93 qualified pitchers) and walk more batters, this is just going to be a problem for Iwakuma. Of course, this would have undesired side effects as well. Despite the good splitter, his stuff isn’t overpowering on the whole, and he is just going to be hittable at times (the low BABIP aside). If he keeps the walk rate low and keeps missing some bats, then you can live with the home runs, as there won’t be many runners on base when the home runs are hit.

Ty Kelly Scouting Report


The Mariners have acquired minor leaguer Ty Kelly from the Baltimore Orioles, trading away Eric Thames. Thames was designated for assignment when the team brought up Brad Miller earlier this week. Thames was hitting well in the PCL for Tacoma (about 25% better than league average), but injured his hand and was on the minor league DL. The Mariners originally traded for Thames last year in the ill-advised Steve Delabar trade at the deadline, and he was mediocre down the stretch for the team. His defensive and baserunning abilities were so deficient that the team brought up Carlos Peguero over him when they needed an extra outfielder in 2013, citing Peguero’s baserunning and defense (which are clearly poor). With the injury, and no real hope of being called up if he was healthy (as, there is no reason to believe that the Mariners wouldn’t just bring Peguero up again), there was no point in keeping him on the 40 man. Kelly will not be on the 40 man roster.

Kelly is a 24 year old switch hitter that was playing in Baltimore’s AA affiliate. His defense is considered “average” with a good arm (he has a negative FRAA this year, but he had positive FRAAs the last two seasons), and the Orioles had him playing mostly at 3rd base, with some 2nd base and a little corner outfield. He has rated as a below average runner each year according to speed score, with double digit steals in 2011, but just 4 in 2012 and 4 so far in 2013. Statistically, he is somewhat interesting offensively, as my odds system in the offseason had him at a 38 percent chance to be a good hitter in the Majors, the same as the Marlins Derek Dietrich. Kelly ranked 169 overall (once defense and fielding was added), just above former Mariner Daniel Carroll, and above Mike Olt (who was penalized by a probably wrong bad FRAA) and Zolio Almonte of the Yankees. He ranked below Denny Almonte to give a further comparison.

So far this year in 2013, he has walked more than he has struck out yet again. With an OBP over .380, Kelly clearly has on base skills, plate discipline, and at least so far, the ability to hit for average as well. However, he hits for really no power, which limits his value quite a bit, especially if he is a true corner player. There isn’t a lot of demand for corner players that aren’t plus fielders and don’t hit for power. If he has the high OBP like in the minors, there is room for him in the Majors, but basically his value banks on whether or not the plate discipline translates. So far it has in AA, but will it translate to AAA and the MLB? It is difficult to tell, but it is good that he is hitting for an a high average as well, meaning that he isn’t just taking pitches and taking advantage of wild minor league pitchers. He isn’t striking out, which also helps suggests this.

I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at his swing, and at least get an anecdotal look at how he is approaching pitches to see if that helps get a better grasp of Kelly’s chances of making the Majors. Watching a little bit of him on MiLB.TV, you can see one of the reasons he doesn’t hit for much power. He isn’t small, at least his listed height and weight isn’t, but he doesn’t look like a guy that has a lot of upper body strength (the weight he does have doesn’t appear to be good weight, basically, he doesn’t exactly look the part of professional athlete) He has a little bit of a hitch in his swing, and he also completely sacrifices his stance and body to go get pitches on the outside corner. This is another reason that he doesn’t hit for power, and makes his strikeout rate a little less impressive, since he seems so focused on making contact when not walking. Just in the small sample I saw, he did chase balls out of the zone and weakly hit balls

Maybe he can be Alex Liddi (who the Mariners also just DFA’d) without the contact problems, but without the power. The best plausible scenario would be for him to be a nice switch hitter off the bench that can play a few positions and get on base at a decent rate. I would say there is a pretty good chance of him playing for the Mariners at some time at the big league level, but there is a chance that the numbers don’t translate to AAA, he gets exposed a little bit for focusing on contact, and the club gets frustrated with his lack of power at power positions. Overall, I think it is a good player to get for someone that was injured and the Mariners clearly didn’t want anymore anyway. However, his “ceiling” (that is, what he can be if everything breaks right) is pretty low, and you are banking on basically one tool for him to be a contributor in the big leagues.

Mike Zunino So Far


Mike Zunino’s promotion to the Majors rightfully was welcomed with a lot of scorn, as it was pretty clear that Zunino had not proven that he was advanced enough to play in the big leagues in his stint in AAA. 8 games is clearly not a big enough sample size to say anything about his performance, even when looking at his peripherals, but he is probably doing what most expected when he was promoted, not walking very much, striking out a lot, and hitting for a little bit of power. He has seen just over 100 pitches, but I wanted to see if we could find any tendencies to what Zunino looks at the plate now. First, let’s look at his average locations map:

Zunino Average Locations

Pitchers are keeping the ball low against him at an extreme rate. So far, his swinging strikes are predictably coming on the furthest pitches away and low. His contact is coming on the pitches closest to him and up in the zone, though his home run was a little lower and away than his average contact play.

Predictably, he is swinging and missing a lot, so I thought it would be helpful to look at his whiffs. So far, his average whiff is coming on pitches 87.21 MPH, while his average contact is coming 87.06 MPH on average. So it doesn’t appear that there is a difference in velocity between his struggles and success. There is actually less average spin on pitches he has made contact with, suggesting he has been better against breaking balls than fastballs or changeups (though all 3 whiffs against lefties are on curveballs, as the below graph that shows the location in the strike zone of all his whiffs along with all the release points of the whiffs shows).

Zunino's whiffs

As the average graph shows, most of them are away and low. His plate coverage has really been tested, as he is missing on a lot of fastballs on the outside of the plate. The release points don’t provide any surprises as he has been missing a lot from the right-side of the plate, but hasn’t missed on a left-handed fastball. According to Brooks Baseball, here is what his spray chart looks like so far.

Zunino Spray

Not surprisingly, since he is being pitched so far outside on average, Zunino is going the other way with most of his contact. He is hitting a lot of line drives and fly-balls, and I think this approach is a good sign. He isn’t getting pull happy on pitches he has no chance of pulling, and is showing some power the other way. To really untap his power, Zunino will have to swing and miss at least pitches, and perhaps take a page from Nick Franklin and swing less in general. Ideally, he wouldn’t swing at outside pitches unless he is behind in the count. This would make pitchers come inside more, giving him more hope for contact and power. Whether or not he makes this adjustment will determine whether or not he is ready to have success in the big leagues or not. If he isn’t able to recognize pitches on the outside of the plate, this could be a really ugly stint in the big leagues for him. If he is, then Zunino can be a big league contributor already. Over the next few weeks, I think we will see just how advanced Zunino is.





A Look at Nick Franklin So Far

nick franklin

In 99 plate appearances (as of Sunday morning) since being promoted by the Mariners, Nick Franklin has been a very effective hitter. Franklin has been walking, not striking out very much, and hitting for power. He is swinging through pitches a lot less than average, making more contact than average, and not chasing pitches, in fact, he is not swinging at much of anything at all, showing a very discriminate approach.

Franklin is, of course, a switch hitter, so we have to evaluate him from both sides of the plate. Below are his average locations as a left-handed hitter:

Nick Franklin as a Lefty

This is obviously his most used side, since there are more right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers. Pitchers are trying to keep the ball low and away from him, almost at an extreme, which isn’t that unusual for a rookie. For the most part, he isn’t going to swing at the pitches that are that far away, evidenced by both his whiffs and contact (which are in pretty standard spots, the contact being higher and the whiffs being lower) being closer to him.

More: Mariners Prospect Report

Here are his average locations as a right-handed hitter, a smaller sample size:

Nick Franklin as a Righty

Clearly his weaker side (with some really bad splits) in the minors, his contact is coming almost exactly where his average pitch seen has been located, which is good news. The whiffs are on balls that are down and in on him, which is a little weird (because you would expect, since he has the platoon advantage, he should see arm side changeups more often than glove side breaking pitches). He only has 5 swinging strikes against left-handed pitching, a very good ratio, with one being a change, a sinker, a curve, and two sliders. Only one of the contact plays as a right-hander has been on a slider, which seems more like an oddity than something predictive (as we will see, he isn’t having problems with breaking balls).

Via Brooks Baseball, here is Franklin’s spray chart as a right-handed hitter

Franklin Spray as LH

He seems to have a little power to center and right-center, with pull power, but an overall balanced spray chart, meaning he will use all fields.

Here is his spray chart as a left-handed hitter:

Franklin Spray as RH

While there is some balance to left-field, he is mostly a pull to right-center hitter. A lot of ground-outs to 1st and 2nd, with not many of them going through. He is hitting fly-balls and line drives all over the field.

More: Russell Wilson a Top 5 NFL QB?

Overall, Franklin has seen 44 pitches over 94 MPH,  made contact with 7 of them, with 3 swinging strikes. So he seems to be handling velocity okay. As for breaking balls, he has seen 41 pitches below 80 MPH, 3 in play pitches, with just 1 swinging strike. Basically, pitchers have not exposed any glaring weaknesses in Franklin’s approach or abilities at the plate. That obviously doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but he is showing he can hit at the big league level and hit well. He will have to keep making adjustments as pitchers make more adjustments and start pitching him differently, but he doesn’t look like the guy I watched struggle making contact in Tacoma last season. Franklin’s defense is another question, and I don’t think Dustin Ackley provides much value as an outfielder, especially when he was plus defensively in the infield, but if Franklin is going to hit like this, then I think the Mariners don’t have to worry about offense from the 2nd base position.

Aaron Harang’s Success and Failure With the Fastball

Aaron Harang

Against the Angels last night, Harang had another bad start for the Mariners, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings (settling down and at least giving the Mariners a couple of innings when it looked like he might not get out of the 3rd). He wasn’t getting any help from his defense, and he didn’t walk anyone, but he was hittable again. His peripherals for the season are okay, and one would expect him to regress and get better as the season goes along (assuming he keeps getting chances, which as of right now, there isn’t many alternatives for the Mariners’ right now), but he has been hittable, with a pretty monstrous home run rate.

So far, Harang’s worse pitch has been the pitch he throws the most, the 2-seam moving fastball (labelled as FT by MLBAM Pitch F/X). According to the traditional automated pitching tags, this has been the pitch Harang has used the most (at least since 2010, when MLBAM separated the fastballs after calling 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs the same to begin the Pitch F/X era) and has been probably his worst pitch overall according to wRC + (the changeup was technically worse in 2012 and so far in 2013, but he throws it very rarely). Pitches labelled as a 4-seam fastball have been much more successful, about league average in 2012, and better than league average in 2013 (though I wonder if just using raw/non park adjusted park numbers would be better when looking at the Mariners this season, as the park dimensions have changed, and the numbers haven’t adjusted to that). By comparison, the moving fastball has been twice as bad (or half as good) as league average.

While I can’t vouch for each individual classification (Brooks Baseball, which uses manual classifications, has roughly the same breakdown, calling it a sinker instead of a moving fastball, or FT, which may be more accurate), they are different pitches. The 4-seam fastball is 89.77 MPH on average, and the moving fastball is 90.27 MPH on average, with more horizontal movement, but less vertical movement. Here is how he locates the two on average (with the average of all pitches thrown included for reference)

Aaron Harang Average Strike Zone

Harang is a little odd in that he is a glove side pitcher on average. He is right-handed, but he throws more pitches in the left-handed side of the batter’s box. Some of this could be because of a lack of a changeup that he throws often, but he clearly likes to work high and glove side with the 4-seamer. Remember, this is the pitch that is effective, so high, even with slightly below average velocity, is good for Harang. The moving fastball, his bad pitch, stays on the arm-side, again, the opposite as you would expect. It would seem, that since it has more horizontal movement, it would move to the glove side part of the plate, which is not the case. I think a lot of the problems have to do with usage, which i think helps explain the location difference. The 4-seam fastball is usually used against right-handers, when he has the platoon advantage, while the moving fastball is usually used against left-handers, which is when he does not have the platoon advantage. This leads to a bias in the numbers, as if two pitches are exactly the same, but one thrown with the platoon advantage, and one without, then one will look artificially better. This also helps explain the location difference. With the 4-seamer, Harang keeps the ball up, but also away. With the moving fastball, he keeps the ball lower (more in the middle of the plate) and away. Either way, he is going to throw the ball away.

The moving fastball takes place of Harang’s changeup, a pitch he doesn’t throw much, by being an arm-side pitch he throws without the platoon advantage. So perhaps it is only a bad pitch because he doesn’t like to throw his changeup (which, we can assume, is worse). Taking out BABIP and comparing the pitch against the 4-seam and only looking at right-handers may actually tell us if one pitch is better than the other.

Of the 89 moving fastballs that I count against right-handers, he has 8 swinging strikes and 23 contact plays. Of the 204 four seamers he has thrown to right-handers, he has given up 32 contact plays and gotten 16 swinging strikes. Against lefties with the 4-seam fastball (which he has thrown 71 times), Harang has 10 swinging strikes and 14 contact plays. This means the pitch is more effective against right-handers than the 2-seamer, but also more effective against left-handers. So it would seem to mean that Harang should just throw the 4-seamer more. The 4-seamer shouldn’t be harder on his arm than the 2-seamer (at least, I have no idea why it would be) and I don’t think he has a problem throwing either for strikes.

Of course, we aren’t including things like sequencing and counts, which could play a role in the difference, and pitching up as much as he does works, but if he did it more, maybe it wouldn’t work as well. It is possible that Harang’s stuff is not good enough for him to have really any one tendency, whether it is relying heavily on the 2-seamer against lefties or relying on the 4-seamer heavily against lefties. With that said, you would like to know if that is the case. It would be nice to see him at least try to use the 4-seamer more and use the moving fastball much less frequently. With that said, he is 35. To ask a pitcher to reinvent himself at 35, when he has been able to stay in the big leagues for so long, with some really successful seasons mixed in, might be a difficult task for the Mariners. Harang might instead ask them to fix the defense, especially after a game in which Triunfel, Franklin, Morse, and Saunders all made poor defensive plays (and Harang himself is not immune to the defensive blunder). But for now, Harang is operating with two fastballs, using the one that is worse the most.

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