Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kyle Drabek's Day at the Office

You would be hard-pressed to come up with a better season debut for Kyle Drabek. He held off a lineup featuring lefty powerhouses like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jim freaking Thome. He dominated the rest of the middling, often pathetic Twins lineup AL Central favorites using a variety of fastballs and a few other things thrown in for good measure.

Taking a look at the pitch f/x, I realize it is very difficult to categorize pitches when they're largely varieties of fastball thrown by an inexperienced pitcher. The algorithm "learns" to better categorize his offerings but for now the Gameday-issued classifications are largely a crapshoot. The good men of Mop Up Duty have a solid breakdown of Drabek's start here, below you'll find my own Pitch F/X take.

I tweaked the pitch classifications based on my years of experience and/or using a magic 8 ball. Even after "pouring" over the data, I'm still not 100% convinced I got it all right. The only hit Drabek allowed - a single to Denard Span - looked more like a two-seamer than the cutter it ended up classified as. It's an inexact science, but what you see below is a lot closer than the Gameday version.

A really nice mix, 9 whiffs on 101 pitches is really encouraging. As are the 11 groundballs (!) induced by the Jays young phenom. I'd attribute that largely to the cutter he threw with extreme prejudice. Another look at the pitch selection, as best as I can figure.

A little bit of bleed between two and four seam fastballs, but all-in-all a pretty clean look. The cutter is a trouble if you're a left-handed batter, me thinks. Expect to see it up under the hands of those lefties when he isn't dying that darting two seamer over the outside corner.

The change-up gives a decent change of pace from the straight two-seamer, I wonder if he won't incorporate it more his second time around the league?

In the end it was a great start from a very important player in 2011 and beyond. The strikeouts were a pleasure to see, his lack of minor league K's give me reason to pause but if his new/refined cutter change that, the sky is the limit. Woo! Baseball!

Pitch F/X data courtesy of Brooks Baseball, doin' work for another season. AP Photo courtesy of Daylife.


  1. He threw his cutter 90-92? Why even bother with any other pitches!

    Surprised at the lack of use of his curve. It's his best out-pitch. Saving his elbow?

  2. I'm expected to see more of his curve as well. Him being that dominant without having to go to it is a very good sign.

    The cutter was filth. Fun to watch.


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