Quick Looks at Buchanan, Fiers, Martinez and deGrom

I am planning on publishing this piece on a weekly basis. I’ll be looking at a few interesting players. I try to work out for 30-45 minutes a day, so I will just watch a different player each time and give my thoughts on their game at the end of the week. This will not be a complete breakdown of the player, just what I saw. Also, I will probably be looking at average to below-average players to see if anything sticks out with them.

David Buchanan

Why I watched: I noticed him while looking for pitcher with big curveballs. Looking at little deeper and found this:


Basically, he has a decent K%-BB% and top 5%  GB rate.

Game Watched: 8/23 vs Cards

Game Thoughts:
• Seemed smaller than his listed 6’3”. The 190 lbs may also be high.
• His 90 mph FB is not intimidating.
• Nothing (control, velocity, break) seemed to stick out
• Tons of groundballs (62% for the game).

Final thoughts: The 25-year-old right hander is becoming a groundball machine with no walks and OK number of Ks. Reminds me of Doug Fister.


Mike Fiers

Why I watched: A 29-year-old failed starter with a 1.54 ERA on a contender.

Game Watched: 8/24 vs Pirates

Game Thoughts
• Only throws a 89 mph FB. He hides his pitches well which gives him quite a bit of deception. Because the fastball lacks speed, he lives on the edges. I wouldn’t call him a nibbler, because he doesn’t give away pitches. He knows he can’t over power hitters so he has to have control his pitches. Overall this season, his fastball has a 11.3% SwStr% which is elite (league average is 6.4%).
• He gets quite a few called strikes. This effect can be seen with his 30% K% and only a 9.5 SwStr%. Normally, K% = 2 * SwStr%, so right now his SwStr% would indicate a ~20% K%. He may be able to continue to get called strikes, but if not, his K% could drop by a third.
• He has a nice curve which is getting an above-average rate of ground balls (67%).
• He seemed to lack control of his change.

Final thoughts: I would like to see how he does when he faces a team twice. I wonder how well the deception and pin point control can be the backbone of his, or any pitcher’s, production.


Nick Martinez

Why I watched: K-BB% of -0.6 in 1H and 7.3% in 2H

Game Watched: 8/26 vs Mariners

Game Thoughts:
• Works fast.
• He has a straight fastball (91 mph) and therefore has to nibble. Unlike Fiers, he nibbles out of the zone and runs up his pitch counts. Looking at his pitch Pitchf/x data, it is probably a “rising fastball” (fastballs with a vertical movement of 8 or more are generally rising fastballs). The rising nature would explain his low 32% GB% on the pitch.
• His curveball breaks late. He sometimes hangs a few. The main issue with his curveball in the game was he seemed to tip it off somehow. Cano went down and teed one up for home run. Seager nailed a single off of it. Anytime he threw it, the Mariners were waiting on it.
• His slider is pretty “blah’.
• He works high in the strike zone (Martinez’s pitch placement and league wide placement).

Final thoughts: Looked overmatched, especially since the Rangers took away his curveball. He may have a future in the game, but it would be nice to see him spend some time in AA/AAA refining his game.


Jacob deGrom

Why I watched: He throws fast.

Game Watched 8/23 vs. Dodgers

Game Thoughts
• He throws gas. The 97 mph pitch ate up the Dodgers to begin with.
• I like his 4-seam fastball a lot more then his 2-seamer. It has a little release side cut when in the 94-95 mph range. He gets a 9.7 SwgStr% with the 4-seamer versus 6.5% with the 2-seamer.
• He seems to get a ton of foul balls on his heater. This is should not be a surprise since a faster fastball usually gets more foul balls than ones thrown at slower speeds.
• Works away.
• None of his non-fastballs seem elite by themselves. Not a ton of late sharp break. They are getting good results, but they are each working off the 95-mph fastball. The hitters are pretty much helpless if they are looking heater and he throws the curve.
• Additionlly, Eno recently broke down all of deGrom’s pitches and grips if you need more info on the pitcher.

Final thoughts: He established his fastball and then his other pitches just throw off the batter. If he can refine his breaking pitches, I actually could see him be an elite pitcher like Justin Verlander. The problem right now is if he can keep the high heat going. If he begins to lose velocity, I don’t think his other pitches are good enough (in their current state) for him to maintain his results.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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The 21.7% SwStr% on Buchanan’s change up is somewhat eye opening.