If you’re going to have one great pitch, it’s probably good to have a great fastball. It’s thrown more than all the other pitches combined, at least. But in today’s baseball, the benders and breakers get the oohs and aahs — and the appreciation of your coaching staff. Tony Cingrani has heard all about it on his way up to the big leagues.
As he progressed through the Reds’ system, the former college closer always heard from the coaching staff that he needed to work on his slider. They told him he needed the pitch to “get to the next level,” Cingrani told me this spring, but he disagreed. “I’m not going to lose the game on that one pitch.” So he worked on it in bullpens and on the side. And he led the minor leagues in ERA in 2013.
He made it to the big leagues on the back of that fastball, so it’s hard to disagree with his approach. What a fastball it is: according to PITCHf/x, only one pitcher threw more than 750 four-seam fastballs and got a better whiff rate on the pitch last year — Madison Bumgarner. The Reds’ lefty even got more whiffs with his four-seamer than gasaholics Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer. And by percentages, only Bartolo Colon threw the pitch more often last year. Of course he’s throwing it a ton, it’s working.
How has Cingrani thrived when everyone knows what is coming?
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