Makes me wonder – what does his pitching motion look like? Deceptive delivery or something? That explanation usually gets overplayed by broadcasters, but with that chart, is there any other way to explain his success? I’d think that if a hitter knows which pitch is coming, the velocity with which it will arrive, and the basic movement pattern, it should turn both handed hitters into Pujols.
Reading this, my first thought was to compare him to Paul Quantrill in the Blue Jays/Dodgers years where he seemed to throw nothing but his mid 80s fastball with almost screwball movement. Seems even that pitch was several ticks faster and less frequent than this though.
FWIW, his splits were more conventional in the minors (see link) – though I had the impression that Milwaukee considered him a future ROOGY (if anything) at the time (that is, prior to his big league success).
This is great to see as I’ve been following Mark’s career for a while (he’s my cousin, we share an uncle). My recollection is he threw harder and more pitches earlier in his career – I saw him pitch in college. He’s taken such a long road to get here, I’m just glad he’s seeing success.
Just watched him pitch the 10th against the Indians, and it looked like he was throwing everything to righties with pin point accuracy low and on the outside corner. It breaks down and away, of course, and it looks like it’s a pretty late break as well. Overall, that’s a very hard pitch for righties to hit, and almost an impossible pitch to hit with power.
He obviously doesn’t have a pitch for lefties – that break takes it right into most lefties favorite zone, down and in; even if he keeps it away, it’s coming back to them, making it a lot easier for them to drive it the opposite way. He actually faced two lefties in this inning, threw four out of five pitches to them away, and got two hard hit outs (a hard grounder to second and a sharp liner to first on the one down and in pitch).
Just realized my sample size for saying he threw everything to righties low and away was all of 3 pitches. That being said, I’d be pretty surprised if that general area wasn’t where he spotted about 80% of his pitches to righties.
I wrote too soon – he also faced two batters in the 11th, both righties. According to gamecast, first one he threw a ball and a strike inside before working him away for the last two pitches (groundout), second one he threw one low and down the middle, one belt high and away, and two down and away; all four easily could have been intended to be down and away. Ok, time to stop obsessing about Mike DiFelice, as interesting as he is.
I love this story, he finally made the majors last year after +10 years of pro ball and at age 31.
He pitch as a ton of late movement and he can locate it, in and then out. He walks almost nobody and allows few OF flyballs. I think I get it. It is almost never up……and the Brewers D this year is very good.
Brewers fan here who has seen Difelice pitch a lot. Basically he has superb command combined with good late movement. Against righties he just paints the outside corner and then he extends the corner. Its actually comical to watch him pitch sometimes because although he walks few batters it isn’t because he throws everything in the strike zone. The batters just think he throws everything in the strike zone, which means they swing at pitches that they can’t actually touch. Right handed pull happy hitters have no chance against him because there is no way they can pull any of his pitches.
The other pitcher to look at on the Brewers is Mitch Stetter, Difelice’s opposite (the LOOGY). Mitch Stetter is a lefty who throws one pitch a lot (though not as much as Mark). Stetter throws his slider two thirds of the time. His resulting numbers are .091/.216/.182 vs left and .219/.324/.375 vs right, so he is still good against righties even though he is a lefty side arm pitcher. However he does not have the control that Mark does with over 4 walks per 9 however he makes up for that with 10K’s per 9. So if you want to pay attention to another pitcher who uses one pitch mostly, look at him as well.
The Brewers organization started teaching the cutter to pitchers pretty recently. Most of their minor leaguers throw it, and some of the current ML starters have added it (Bush and Suppan both throw it, and Sheets added it to his repertoire at some point in the last 3 years). I think a lot of the influence in it was Mike Maddux as pitching coach.
yeah, yeah, that is all great and good and whatnot, but what i love is the gif. i watched it and after seeing the pitch, the next thing i realized is that the kids in the background are playing rock-paper-scissors ……. and that they suck at it.
It’s nothing remotely like Quantrill. When he was in Toronto anyway, Quantrill’s FB was around 92-93. It was a sinker, and he threw it low and away. Every single pitch. He gave up a lot of hits, but he never walked anyone and you couldn’t hit it over the fence.
Comment by Daniel McIlroy — June 18, 2009 @ 7:31 am
I’m a semi-pro pitcher who throws basically the same stuff as Mark, slow fastball and 90% cutters, and it is very effective when it’s on. It feels awesome making some great hitters look stupid on what is basically a slow fastball with movement. Unfortunately, when it’s off I get rocked and I imagine the same thing will happen to Mark. It’s something every pitcher should use. It’s easy to learn and easy to throw.
Greg is right, in that gif the catcher is set up outside the zone, the pitch tails away, and the batter goes after it anyway. Really extending the zone.
Is it also his changeup motion? Looks like his arm speed gets way ahead of the ball, the batter thinks maybe thinks it’s coming faster than it is… so it’s hard to time?
Ever wonder if that’s why you’re a semi pro pitcher and Difelice is in the majors? I’m betting he’s not gonna “lose” it. If anything people will catch up with or catch on to it and since he doesn’t really have another pitch he can utilize effectively, he’d be pretty boned if that happened.
Correct Daddymag, the gif makes it rather easy to see. Kendall is set up on the outside corner, Mark throws it seemingly right on target, and then as it gets close the plate it tails further outside as you can see Kendall having to reach to his right to catch the ball. Meanwhile the batter hopelessly swings at that pitch which is not in the strikezone and which he has no chance at touching.