This week’s Change is about a missing changeup. Mike Minor‘s changeup, to be specific. It’s half the pitch it used to be, and as a lefty facing many righties, that’s a big problem. Sure, the curve/cutter combo could be enough for Minor to continue being a major league starter, but as he’s in the midst of a bout of homeritis (that has plagued him on and off in his career), it’s worth asking about that changeup in the context of his current results.
Is it the change that changed how we feel about Mike Minor?
Take a look at just the results for his main pitch types, and it’s fairly stark. One of these pitches is not like the other, one of these pitches is not the same (as it was just last year).
|Pitch||2013 swSTR||2014 swSTR||2013 GB%||2014 GB%|
The curve is still good, the slider is still bad, but it’s the change that went from being above-average to being below-average in one year.
Maybe it’s good news that the pitch itself has changed shape. At least we can look for that change-up to regain its shape in the future. Maybe he won’t be so broken in the future. But right now, this year’s change is not the same as last year’s.
Minor’s curve is not a 12-6 roundhouse style curve — and roundhouse curves have reverse platoon splits — so losing that changeup could have disastrous results on his platoon splits. And, yup. Minor is still keeping lefties to a manageable 3.93 FIP this year (17.1% K, 8.6% BB, 0.84 HR/9) but against righties his work has suffered, at least when it comes to allowing homers (4.75 FIP, 21.1% K, 5.9% BB, 1.79 HR/9).
Then again, Minor has always been worse against right-handers. His FIP split (4.09 vs RHB, 3.29 vs LHB) is driven by a home run problem in general (1.25 HR/9 vs RHB, 0.91 HR/9 vs LHB). And though the home run rate on his change is up, the home run rate is up on all of his pitches according to BrooksBaseball:
|Pitch||2013 HR%||2014 HR%|
And then you scan the the movement for all of his pitches, and you see that all of his pitches have flattened out. They’ve *all* flattened out. Check out the vertical movement on all of his pitches from last year to this year.
|Pitch||2013 y-mov||2014 y-mov|
Something is wrong with Mike Minor and it’s not just his changeup. Given that his fastball velocity (and in fact all of his velocities) are mostly unchanged, it seems likely that this is not an age thing, and is in fact a mechanical problem.
That leaves us in a bit of a quandary. It’s good news that it’s something he can fix. But when will he fix it? He’s been adamant it’s not an injury, so once they spot the problem, they should be able to fix it quickly.
In the short term, all we know is that his pitches are flat and he’s giving up home runs. In mixed leagues, that makes him a spot-starter (in nice home parks) for the time being, at least in my book. But you can watch the z-movement numbers on his game charts to see if he starts finding it, just in case he’s on your waiver wire. At least his curve has found its old movement in recent days.
But the rest of the arsenal? It’s changed.
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