FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. I think Verlander has some maturity issues still. He is ridiculously competitive, but has been burned quite a few times by not using his offspeed stuff and trying to blow guys away with 100mph when he gets amped up. The Tigers/Rays game last week, he was brought back out for the 9th inning after throwing an incredibly efficient 81 pitches. He allowed a lead off single and was noticeably agitated by it and proceeded to bounce a few 100mph heaters off home plate and both Leyland and Avila tried to come out and calm him down.

    Comment by j6takish — April 18, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  2. And even with these “maturity issues,” which show up all of twice a year in an inning here or there, he’s still the best pitcher in the AL.

    He’s also come quite a long way from relying on his fastball in tight spots since 2009. I recall one game in Texas in 2009 where he pumped 97+ for an inning and gave up 3 or 4 runs. Now he’s throwing his fastball less than 58% of the time in all innings but the first. He’s grown quite a bit, one inning so far this season notwithstanding.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — April 18, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  3. throwwww the heat

    Comment by ML610 — April 18, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  4. Or it could be the case that 7/10 of his offspeed pitches went for balls or hits. Also, he threw 13 fastballs in 23 pitches for a 56.5%, right in line with his averages from 2009-11.

    It wasn’t “maturity issues” so much as suddenly none of his pitches were working.

    Comment by RationalSportsFan — April 18, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  5. Could this sort of profile provide a clue to the likelihood of injuries? It seems possible that guys who can increase their velocity over a game are less liable to get injured, since they always have a few mph in the tank. The key is that they can all afford to do this, since their 90% FB is still going 92-95 mph.

    Any way to generalize about this with regards to pitchers who throw a lot of innings? Halladay, Lincecum, Lee, Weaver, Haren, Cain, etc.

    Comment by test — April 18, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  6. Also, does the league average FB include just the starters, or the relievers? Because there is your late inning uptick, if closers are involved…

    Comment by test — April 18, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  7. You mention sampling bias for the league average, but it might be present in the individual starters as well.

    If Verlander (or anyone esle) has lower velocity on a particular day, he would be less likely to pitch deep into games, which would affect the late inning data. This is just speculation, but it would be interesting to see if any statistics support this assumption.

    Comment by Anon — April 18, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  8. No one is talking about it but Haren’s velocity is way down this season. He averaged 90 last year and sat at 88 last night, touching 90 a few times.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — April 18, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  9. The piece says starters, although it probably would be more clear if the plot were labeled that way as well.

    Comment by Ryan — April 18, 2012 @ 11:40 am

  10. Just from watching or listening to most of his games since 2007, with the exception of the 2008 season his average velocity is pretty consistent game to game. When he has bad days, it’s less related to lack of velocity and more due to bad location and lack of a secondary pitch working for him.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — April 18, 2012 @ 11:41 am

  11. It’s a good point and one I forgot to mention.

    Re: Verlander, I compared his FF velocity by inning in games he reached the ninth versus all games from 2009-2011 and there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference at all. Compared to all games started, he was -.2 MPH slower in the first, roughly even in the second and third, up .2 in the fourth, fifth, and sixth, up .3 in the seventh, and down -.2 in the eighth in the 11 games where he reached the ninth.

    Comment by Bill Petti — April 18, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  12. Curious about this for James Shields’ year last year. I watched a number of the complete games, and it looked like he was gunning his fastball in the 9th. Can you look at that?

    Comment by Daniel — April 18, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  13. Because unlike other starters, Verlander ‘turns it up to 11′ because he needs that extra push over the cliff in the 9th.

    Comment by MG — April 18, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  14. It would be interesting to see these graphs ONLY including games where the pitcher pitched into the 9th inning. Part of the upwards trend could be because in games where a pitchers is going 8 or 9 innings are when they have their best stuff and were throwing that hard all game.
    A game when they don’t have their A-game and aren’t able to throw hard may be the games they have an early exit and thus their data is only included in the first few innings.

    Comment by Dave — April 18, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  15. Thanks for the info Bill. You’re right; that doesn’t seem like much of a difference.

    Comment by Anon — April 18, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

  16. Sure thing. Here’s Shields last year: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmiN6Mg98wY1dGxLcW15ZkNlVGRMRDZJQ2N2R1FGcXc

    He drops pretty steadily as the game wears on, but when he does reach the ninth he picks it back up a bit to where he was in, say, the 6th inning.

    Comment by Bill Petti — April 18, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  17. Verlander tends to lose himself a bit late in games when his mechanics get out of wack. He is definitely overthrowing late in games when he thinks he’s near the finish line. It’s the lack of command with the fastball in that part of the game that is the issue. Late in games he usually has better command of his breaking stuff, but it tends to be flatter with less hook than normal so it’s easier to hit.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — April 18, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  18. Have Verlander. Love Verlander. Agree with j6takish (btw, I saw the same thing in that game and laughed – loved it). I wish Verlander more patience in his approach.
    The only guy who takes the ball and I am disappointed if he doesn’t finish. No way am I complaining! He might be a robot.

    Comment by Nikita Zaharov — April 18, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  19. It’s almost as if teams face Verlander and then if he makes it to the 9th, they have an entirely different experience of facing a flame throwing closer, except it’s the same person.

    Comment by Madoff Withurmoni — April 18, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  20. “Why Verlander relies so heavily on his fastball in the ninth inning is unclear.”

    The guy is about as hyper competitive as anybody out there. He gets amped up and, like Nuke “Meat” Laloosh, he likes to announce his presence with authority.

    Comment by Colin — April 18, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  21. Like coach Lou Brown said to Rick Vaughn in Major League….”forget the curve ball ricky, give ‘em the heater”

    Comment by Dan — April 18, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  22. Thanks, interesting…

    Comment by Daniel — April 18, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

  23. Why? *the guy possesses arguably the best fastball in baseball right now, and is throwing said dagger harder than at any other point in the game.
    *Why the heck wouldn’t he is perhaps a better question…

    Geez, if I were in his shoes…toeing the rubber in the 9th…and had THAT? I’d keep going to it just for fun.

    Comment by Jimbo — April 19, 2012 @ 1:54 am

  24. Verlander’s thrown 2 no hitters, he holds opponents to a paltry .582OPS in the 9th, has a better K:BB ratio in the ninth and an equal ERA in the 9th than he does in other innings despite giving up runs in it this year yet people are questioning his maturity and ability to pitch in it. I don’t get it?

    Admittedly he hasn’t mixed his pitches very well this year in the 9th, but when you’re throwing 100mph it’s hard to fault him for not wanting to throw something else. Plus, he really hasn’t given up many hard hit balls this year in the 9th. In the first game he got a ground ball that could’ve been a game ending double play but was just out of the reach of Cabrera that scored some runs. And in the 2nd game he gave up another groundball single(he did give up another hard hit ball though). So even though he was a little wild if things went his way he very easily could’ve escaped without any damage and none of this would’ve been an issue.

    Comment by Matt — April 19, 2012 @ 7:06 am

  25. Why throw 100 in the the first inning when you got a hook like that. As awesome as his four seamer is, THAT CURVEBAL……..WHOOOOOO!

    Comment by uh — April 19, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

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