Hochevar Throwing Gas

Last night — while I had the pleasure of chatting with not one but two Royals fans — Luke Hochevar pitched seven and two thirds shutout innings. One game’s worth of data is, of course, of limited interest and Hochevar only struck out two Tigers, but one very encouraging sign was the speed on Hochevar’s fastballs. In the first inning he was throwing gas: his four-seamer worked around 96 mph and topped 97 mph three times. He was clearly excited to start the season as the speed dropped down after that, but his four-seamer still averaged over 95 mph and his two-seamer averaged over 94 mph. Even his last pitch — a 94 mph two-seam fastball — was up there.

Last year his four-seam fastball averaged 92.5 mph and his two-seam, 91.5mph. So it looks like he was about 2.5 mph faster, not an insignificant difference. Last year his fastest four-seam fastball was 95.8 (compared to 97.2 last night) and fastest two-seamer was 94.8 (compared to 96.2 last night). Here is how last night’s four-seam fastball speed compared with his past starts:

The difference could be because of the pitchf/x system running hot, but the system is very good now with very slight day-to-day and park-to-park differences. Looking at the other pitchers in the game: Max Scherzer‘s fastballs were right were they were last year; and most of the game’s relievers’ pitch speeds seemed in line with their past, the exceptions being Joakim Soria and Phil Coke who were just one mph faster. So it looks like Hochevar really was throwing that fast.

Although the relationship is not perfect, generally a faster fastball is a better fastball. Last night Hochevar didn’t have many strikeouts, but generally pitchers who throw faster fastballs strike out more batters and on a per-pitch basis faster fastballs are missed more often when they are swung at. If Hochevar works around 95 to 94 mph rather than 92.5 to 91.5 mph with his fastballs he might be in line for a breakout season.



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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


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oj
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

Speaking of fastball velocity, have you noticed which starter ranks lowest so far? Chris Young (Padres), which has to be a huge worry, no?

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
6 years 3 months ago

No, not really. He’s never had a hard fastball, and furthermore, if you look at pitch values his fastball is one of the most effective in the ML so far despite throwing it over 70% of the time. So the data actually indicates he may be “back.” /End analysis of an extremely small sample size

oj
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

Well, that:

http://www.kffl.com/hotw.php/mlb#637547

The Associated Press reports San Diego Padres SP Chris Young (shoulder) will miss his next start because of tightness in his right shoulder.

answers that question.

Matt C
Guest
Matt C
6 years 3 months ago

I gotta wonder if that gun is a little fast in KC this week because there were quite a few guys that threw harder than what I was accustom to. According to what they showed on TV I saw Coke touch 96, Verlander touched 98 on his very first pitch of the game(normally he’s in the low 90s early in games and increases as the game goes on), hell I just witnessed Dontrelle Willis touch 94. I can’t remember the last time he did that. Of course it could just be guys being amped up for their first starts so maybe it isn’t.

NYRoyal
Guest
NYRoyal
6 years 3 months ago

The radar gun may well be fast there, but I doubt the Pitch f/x system is.

Al Skorupa
Member
6 years 3 months ago

This was PitchFX, though, and it matched the TV stadium gun.

Personally, I think for most guys the hot weather has played a big part.

I think Hochevar is legit, though.

geo
Guest
geo
6 years 3 months ago

It wasn’t exactly “hot” in KC last night – windy, rainy, and cold.

Seems to me that the fact that Scherzer was right where he always is adds some legitimacy to Hochever’s numbers.

Al Skorupa
Member
6 years 3 months ago

geo – that’s what I’m saying. I think the readings are all legitimate. The other guys around baseball who were a mph faster than normal are probably just hot weather.

Dave – wasn’t aware of that. I know some stadiums/broadcasters still used their own guns last year. I’m unsure if this is still true and to what extent.

Bob
Guest
Bob
6 years 3 months ago

Zumaya also hit 102 on the gun. Definitely reading a bit fast.

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
6 years 3 months ago

If you look at Hoch’s offspeed PitchFX for that start, none of his offerings other than fastballs were uncharacteristically fast, all within range of last year’s normal readings. If the gun were at fault, I would expect all of these to rise 1-2 mph outside of his normal range as well, yes?

Eric Cioe
Guest
Eric Cioe
6 years 3 months ago

Why would his other offerings necessarily get harder, too? That makes no sense.

As far as the KC gun being hot, Verlander averaged almost 98 opening day. Zumaya’s average is over 100. Is that fast? Or do the Tigers pitchers just throw the ball really hard? We’ll have to wait a bit. I’m inclined to say if it was fast, it wasn’t by much.

B-Chad
Guest
B-Chad
6 years 3 months ago

Eric why wouldn’t his other offerings read faster? Does this radar gun magically recognize it’s his fastball and juice itself up?

Steven Ellingson
Member
Steven Ellingson
6 years 3 months ago

Eric, that’s the point. His other offerings didn’t get any faster. If the gun was off, then it would have read them as faster.

NYRoyal
Guest
NYRoyal
6 years 3 months ago

FWIW, his fastballs maintained their natural sinking motion as well, which led to 15 GB’s and only 5 FB’s.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
6 years 3 months ago

Delivery change?

“Not only was his stuff good,” Hillman said, “it was what he hoped for…(He had) a little bit more turn in his delivery, and it’s giving him a little more power. It played out very well.”

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/04/07/1864171_royals-rally-beat-tigers-in-11th.html?storylink=omni_popular#ixzz0kXr1tWRa

Ron
Guest
Ron
6 years 3 months ago

Tiger’s fan here and I watched the game with the royals feed via comcast mlb extra innings with royals feed. Either frank white or the play by play announcer said hochevar had tweaked his windup by getting back on his right push leg more. In a more upright position.
I remember some previous outings vs Detroit and figured he would be about the same. Good for him and the royals. plus the 15-16 groundball outs. most impressive, just needs consistency.

Paul
Guest
Paul
6 years 3 months ago

That’s where his velo supposedly was in college. Then he came out after the layoff and threw 88-89 and everybody decided the previous reports were urban legend. Since then he has gained a lot of weight in his legs and the now the delivery change, which by the way is something they did with Zack when he was in the bullpen most of 07 and the velo really jumped. Hoch is never going to live down being picked over Lincecum, but now that he’s tapping his natural ability he can be a legit number 2 behind Zack.

Al Skorupa
Member
6 years 3 months ago

Right. This was what Hochevar was originally advertised as.

bSpittle
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

I really enjoy when good things happen for KC

Tyler
Guest
Tyler
6 years 3 months ago

Hochevar’s reported velocity coming out of college was right in line with last years velocity, but this 96+ velocity is what got him drafted 1-1. He was throwing straight gas in the independent league after he spurned the Dodgers.

Shizane
Guest
Shizane
6 years 3 months ago

Not that it matters much, but why is the fangraphs average velocity for Hochevar (94.9) different from the pitch f/x average velocity (95.2)? Different data feeds?

Either way, I am going to be monitoring his progress for fantasy purposes. Thanks for the article.

divakar
Guest
divakar
6 years 3 months ago

Did Hochevar really throw 7 (!) different pitches yesterday? I’ve spent about 20 minutes looking at the data, and I am perplexed.

According to Pitch F/X, It looks like he threw at least 4 of each pitch type, if they are really different pitches. I don’t know enough to determine if these are distinct pitches… And I didn’t watch the game…

Observations:

it seems like there might be some splitters that were actually changeups (2).

Then there is a cluster of splitter/cutter/slider that that seem to overlap significantly. I’m not sure how to look at each pitch parameter individually.

And even if these are the same pitch, that would only take his splitter away. It would still leave 6 distinct pitches. Granted, there are only 2 real cutters left.

It would seem like his “slider” of previous years is now, potentially, 3 different pitches (Slider, Cutter, Splitter). Added to 2 and 4 seamers, Curve and Change – I mean, that’s incredible. I’m not even sure what to say about it.

Yesterday, he clearly used the 2 and 4 seam fastballs more evenly than in the past. AND he’s throwing GAS? Is this real? Who is this guy?

I repeat, *could* this be real?

divakar
Guest
divakar
6 years 3 months ago

By “who is this guy?” I mean “this isn’t the Hochevar I know and (don’t) love.”

divakar
Guest
divakar
6 years 3 months ago

97 mph gas coming back down to earth… but still looks to be 93-94 with consistency.

Also, second game still has 7 different pitches on Pitch F/X. I even if the slider isn’t a real pitch, there appear to be 6 remaining pitches.

Looks like Hochevar had problems with his release point in Detroit…

This is going to be worth following, I’d think.

joeIQ
Guest
joeIQ
6 years 3 months ago

as likely as the radar gun being fast in the first start it may have been slow in the second start. I think it was accurate both games though.

Scherzer seemed to top out at 94 in the first game, 95 in the second game. Hochevar just didn’t have the same gas.

I think it was legit and will come back though. Worst case by june, best case next start. Last year he added a lot of velocity mid season, but lost it towards the end.

Even if he doesn’t get 97 back 95-96 is good for a top end.

Now we need to focus on charlie morton. He’s on the leader boards for velocity.

Rahul
Guest
Rahul
6 years 3 months ago

He did alright yesterday in Detroit, ran into some trouble at the end. Fastball was down a bit from his first start, but still a respectable range. I took a flier on him in my league, maybe will be able to pick up some strikeouts

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