In this post, I will take a bit of a deeper look into Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell, the two pitchers acquired by the Mariners from the Yankees when the team traded Ichiro Suzuki. Because of the nature of the trade, it is really hard to say the Mariners won the trade, as we have seen that the Mariners clearly did not get equal talent back from even a regressed Ichiro. That doesn’t necessarily mean they lost the trade, because their was obviously symbolism, and it allowed them to “move on” from Ichiro, as he didn’t really fit into their plans anymore (though he had a better WAA in 2012, despite some curious defensive data in New York, than either Michael Morse or Raul Ibanez).
It struck me that I have not really written about Mitchell or Farquhar from a Pitch F/X perspective. They both have cup of coffees in the Majors, and they have also thrown some outings in spring training that gives us more data. So in this post I’ll look at the two’s data, and their spring training so far.
Pitch F/X says he has much better fastball velocity than I thought and saw in the minors. His 4-seamer has averaged 93.1 MPH on a whole, and 93.41 MPH this spring. This is still slightly below average for a right-handed reliever, closest to Jim Miller, but certainly an acceptable fastball for an emergency reliever stashed in AAA. It has well above average horizontal movement, and is just above average in vertical movement. Overall, it seems like a pretty good fastball, or at least that is what the data suggests.
The 4-seamer isn’t his most frequent fastball even, as he has a sinker and a cutter he throws more. In the Pitch F/X outings we have seen him in, his sinker is the most frequent pitch. It has nearly 2 MPH difference in velocity, which gives him well below average velocity in sinkers for right-handed relievers. However, it gets very good horizontal movement, and good vertical movement as well.
His cutter has dipped below 90 MPH. It has very little horizontal movement, but good vertical tilt. Since he isn’t listed as having a slider anymore (or at least hasn’t shown one yet this spring) by Brooks, it very well could just be a hard slider. However, in 2010-2011, a slider was a healthy part of his repertoire, and it averaged just under 83 MPH. He has not thrown this pitch in either of his spring training outings this year (we have no 2012 data on him).
Obviously the big thing about Farquhar is his high sidearm release point
This is a pretty unique release point, and I somewhat struggled to find comps. When looking at career comparisons, Carter Capps is similar in height, but his is way more out. Al Reyes released the ball a little higher, but as far as horizontal release point it is about the same. Sergio Romo is actually a decent comparison. Obviously he has a weird pitch selection that doesn’t go compare with Farquhar’s, but he doesn’t throw near as hard. Enerio Del Rosario is sort of close, releasing the ball lower and more out. Back when he had his moment in the Majors in 2011, he was releasing the ball a little lower, and a lot more closer to his body, which seems counter-intuitive. Now, he is releasing the ball further out, but is also nearly half a foot higher. This makes finding comparisons even harder. This may be, despite showing a good fastball, why he has been moved around a lot and hasn’t got much of a chance in the Majors. It is really hard to find comps for him, but he is probably going to have large platoon splits.
I think, even though he doesn’t stand a chance of making the team, and cracking the team at anytime this year may be a little difficult thanks to a deep bullpen, the fastball should be emphasized. He has hit nearly 95 MPH in camp:
Overall, he shows 5 to 6 different pitches out of the pen with okay velocity and a funky release point.
Mitchell was part of the 40 man roster when he was traded to the Mariners, but the Mariners removed him from the 40 man during the off-season and no one claimed him. We have four Pitch F/X outings from Mitchell from his time with the Yankees, and 3 outings from this spring training with the Mariners. The first thing you notice is the difference in fastball velocity. His fastball with the Yankees was 90.14 MPH, while his fastball in spring training has been 86.92 MPH. He threw a sinker with the Yankees, and it was 89.93 MPH. His curveball has seen a similar drop in velocity, and his changeup has actually seen a worse drop in velocity, a 6 MPH drop. This is alarming. Mitchell is just 25, and we are talking about that kind of drop velocity over less than a calendar year. There could be errors in the Pitch F/X system, but we are talking about three different outing. He could just be having a slow start in spring training, but you almost never see that big of a velocity drop without an arm injury. What about his delivery? Do we see a change in his release point? Here is a 2012 outing with a 2013 outing next to it:
The change is not extremely drastic, but it is evident. Frankly, the 2013 release point looks better. It is above 6 feet and a little more consistent. It seems less sidearm, however, it is different. Even if it looks a little better, difference is not always a good thing, especially if it comes, which it seems that it does, with a velocity loss.
Usually I wouldn’t put much stock in location for small sample spring training outings, but considering the other concerns, and the fact that he is usually a strike thrower, the fact that I could just 11 of his 35 pitches in the strike zone so far is really concerning. In one of his outings, his fastball averaged 85.9 MPH. Much was made of Joe Saunders’ low velocity, and the Mariners are definitely relying on him more and paying him more, but Mitchell’s loss is way more drastic.
Of course, teams have Pitch F/X data for minor league games, it just isn’t publicly available (and since it is not, I am not sure what it looks like). While I remember hearing 87-88 MPH while Mitchell was in Tacoma, I wonder what the Mariners’ data showed, and if they were able to see what looks like a new release point. This could be a reason they took him off the 40 man roster, though he didn’t have great stuff or potential to begin with, so it is possible that they took him off without even knowing that he had regressed.
And again, it should be emphasized, this is not just a normal regression. This is a pitcher that has suddenly lost all his velocity (he didn’t have great velocity to begin with), at age 25. This looks like a pretty serious injury. Obviously we aren’t in Mariner team meetings, but I would have to assume that the Front Office sees this data. I wonder how they are interpreting it, and I wonder what Mitchell is saying to the team. To me, I would be shutting him down and getting him an MRI or something. I don’t think this is Mitchell just being a slow starter (mainly because of the release point inconsistencies), though because Mitchell was with the Yankees last spring training, we don’t have the Pitch F/X data from then to really test this.
I liked Farquhar more than Mitchell at the time of the trade, and I think the difference in value between them is even more pronounced after looking at the data. Farquhar is clearly trending in the right direction, while Mitchell is trending in the wrong direction, and seems to be injured. The actual value the Mariners will get from either of these players is nearly certain to be 0 or insignificant, but Farquhar is sort of interesting in a low leverage situational role.