(Read this brief explanation if the paragraph above doesn't make sense to you.)
With a full season in the books, we can start to get a sense of what are toughest (and easiest) pitches to hit on the Nationals' staff. These data also allow us to start to identify pitches that perhaps should be thrown more or less often by certain pitchers.
Caution: there are definite sample-size issues here, and readers should put more stock in the numbers derived from pitchers who have thrown more innings and pitches that have been thrown more often. There aren't hard conclusions to be drawn here, but valuable tendencies worth discussion.
You can click here and noodle around with the data any way you want, but I filtered out only pitchers with 50 or more innings pitched (counting innings and results thrown for other teams) and only looked at pitches thrown 10% of the time or more.
First, the starters. These are the team's top five pitches measured by the number of runs allowed above average per 100 pitches thrown:
- John Lannan's change-up: 2.04
- Garrett Mock's change-up: 1.88
- Ross Detwiler's curve: 1.73
- Mock's curve: 0.99 (actually thrown 9.8% of the time, but I'm rounding)
- Jordan Zimmermann's slider: 0.61
The second thing I notice is that if the fifth best pitch in the rotation is only a 0.61 value pitch, that's not good at all.
It's no shock to see Lannan's groundball-inducing change at the top of the list (though probably there are some fastballs miscategorized as change-ups in there).
But it's surprising to see guys like Mock and Detwiler with pitches that rank so high. Some of that is probably a matter of the league getting a first look at some young pitchers. It's also a reminder that Mock really does have some good stuff (if he can stop grooving his fastball, which is a -1.94 pitch thrown 60% of the time). Detwiler's big bender is a plus pitch, despite recent talk that it's not.
Zimmermann's has a 1.34 pitch value change, but he only threw it 6.4% of the time, and his 1.34, suggesting he should throw it more.
Craig Stammen, Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen, J.D. Martin, and Martis didn't have any pitches that rated. No other starter had enough innings to qualify.
Next let's look at relievers:
- Joe Beimel's curveball: 2.67
- Jason Bergmann's curveball: 2.60
- Sean Burnett's fastball: 1.68
- Tyler Clippard's fastball: 1.51
- Mike MacDougal's fastball: 0.60
Again, overal it's crazy how few real plus pitches the team has. Breaking it down at this level, you can see how far this staff has to go to be competitive with contenders.