This is Jose Fernandez’ Third Pitch

There’s a lot of Jose Fernandez talk going around. And he looks to be a legit young starting pitcher — his gas sat above 95 mph, his slurve/slider thing got plenty of whiffs, and he lived in the zone. But curves and sliders have platoon splits — to different extents — and it’s always good for a pitcher to have at third pitch when he’s encountering the lineup for a third time.

This is Jose Fernandez‘ third pitch.


That looks legit to me.

By all scouting reports, the changeup is his worst pitch. And, to be fair, our sample here is small and the reports all say that it lacks consistency. But if this is the upside for his third pitch, it’s well within reach. He only threw five changeups, but three went for strikes and one was a whiff. So far so good.

The other two pitches were plus-plus. The fastball averaged 95.6 mph and got seven whiffs in 51 tries per Brooks Baseball. That’s well above the league average for fastballs, which only get about 7% whiffs league-wide. The fact that it’s over 94 is alone a noteworthy benchmark. He kept it in the strike zone (2/3 strikes) and with 5.7 inches of horizontal movement, his fastball would have placed in the top twenty in that category. Yum.

Brooks Baseball says that Fernandez threw five sliders and 18 curveballs. That’s certainly possible, but all that’s separating them is a couple inches of vertical break and a tick or two on the gun. Most likely, that was one pitch, the one that has been described as a slurve and also has quite the nickname:

If you lump the ‘sliders’ in with the ‘curveballs,’ you only get two whiffs on 23 pitches, which isn’t actually great for a breaking ball. Back to those pitch type benchmarks, sliders and curves get between 11 and 15% whiffs. And slurves, if it truly is a slurve — it has more vertical break than the slurves in Max Marchi’s pitch type platoon splits — have some of the worst platoon splits in the game. But it is a one-game sample, and the pitch was legit, obviously.

By all accounts, Fernandez had a great first game. He kept his velocity late into the game — he hit 97 on his second-to-last pitch — he kept his release point, used his lower half well, and got swinging strikes on more than one in ten pitches. He could get strike one more often — his 52.6% yesterday was worse than the league average, and that’s an important peripheral for walk rates — but his minor league history didn’t one show even a league-average walk rate.

Jose Fernandez
never pitched in Double-A. Using him now has financial repercussions for the organization, and it might not be the right move. The team did demote him to minor league camp just last month, and they do have Jacob Turner waiting in the wings with plenty of high-minors experience and an arb clock that’s already ticking.

All that said, Jose Fernandez looks ready. After all, just look at how good his third pitch can be.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

10 Responses to “This is Jose Fernandez’ Third Pitch”

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  1. Big Jgke says:

    He’s a witch!

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  2. LuckyStrikes says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    As a Fernandez owner in Ottoneu, I was thrilled to see him pitch as well has he did vs. the Mets. Considering his size and command, it would not surprise me at all if Fernandez ends up having the best MLB career of all the recent top SP prospects, including Cole, Miller, T. Walker, Wheeler, and yes, even Bundy. In fact, going to back to the BA scouting reports, there’s not all that much difference in grades here:

    Fastball: 70 Curve: 65 Changeup: 60 Control: 65 Command: 60

    Fastball: 75 Curve: 65 Changeup: 55 Control: 65 Command: 60

    Fernandez will no doubt have some bumps this season, but I’m a big believer. As unprecedented as his debut was, it’s also hard to imagine he wasn’t even in the discussion as a top 100 prospect in 2012. He should be a good one for a long, long time.

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  3. Z..... says:

    Even though I absolutely dont agree with Jose Fernandez being in the big leagues right now, I have to say that I am really excited to see how he continues after today’s great outing. The kid is completely filthy at 20 years old. Free and easy delivery with an easy 97, a filthy breaking ball, and what looked like a really improved changeup that had run on it away from the lefties. The kid was absolutely dirty today, with great command, and is clearly above the maturity level for his age after all that he has been through.

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  4. jfree says:

    It’s been a few hours since the last post about him. What about his fourth pitch? Is he going to win the Cy Young this year or will he have to settle for 1st ballot HoF?

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  5. jwise224 says:

    Finally something useful from Logan Morrison. Sigh…

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  6. Tom the Bod says:

    I watched the game and Fernandez looked great. The only trouble he seemed to have was pitching out of the stretch, as the announcers kept pointing out.

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  7. Nick says:


    On a completely unrelated note, have you had the chocolate milk stout from odell brewery? I tried it last night and it was both very interesting and disconcerting.


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  8. Jay29 says:

    Two whiffs in 23 breaking balls, but how many were of the remaining 21 were called strikes? It seemed to me that the Mets hitters were getting fooled and watched quite a few of them go by.

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  9. Pdiddy31 says:

    O’Dell…very disappointing brews. No backbone to them at all.

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