Bastardo Debuts

With Jamie Moyer struggling and Chan Ho Park bombing out of the rotation early, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro made no secret of the fact that he was hunting for a pitcher on the trade market. When Brett Myers landed on the DL with what is likely to be season ending surgery on his hip, that need for help in the rotation only intensified. However, rising prospect Antonio Bastardo did his best to lay claim to one of the open spots last night, making his major league debut against San Diego.

The results were terrific – 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 strikeouts. The only run the Padres were able to muster was on an Adrian Gonzalez homer, and giving up a bomb to Gonzalez just puts Bastardo in the same company as everyone else in the National League this year.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve been advocating for years, it’s to judge by process, not results. How did Bastardo attack the Padres? Let’s take a look at the Pitch F/x data.


That’s the strike zone plot by pitch type, where the green squares are fastballs and the orange squares are sliders. I know, you have to look really hard to see the orange squares, because they’re covered by a sea of green. Of the 102 pitches Bastardo threw, 91 of them were fastballs – the other 11 were sliders. 41 of the 102 pitches were out of the strike zone, so even limiting his repertoire to two pitches, he still didn’t have great command.

Was he just overpowering hitters then? Here’s his velocity histogram.


The fastball was 89-95, but mostly clumped in the 91-93 range. That’s pretty decent velocity for a lefty, but those are four seam fastballs, and remember how many of them were up in the zone? Pounding the knees at 91-93 with a sinker is one thing, but Bastardo was going upstairs with a 91-93 MPH fastball, and that’s a recipe for a lot of fly balls. Not surprisingly, he gave up 10 fly balls to go along with three line drives and three ground balls. That’s what happens when you throw a lot of high strike zone four seamers.

The results? Terrific. The process? A little scary, honestly.

There are very few starting pitchers who can succeed consistently with just two pitches. The fastball-slider combination doesn’t give Bastardo an out pitch against right-handed batters, and not surprisingly, he’s posted significant splits in the minors. His 90% fastball philosophy won’t work, either – he’s either going to have to start mixing in some sliders or a change-up, or hitters are going to adjust very quickly. Toss in the fact that his approach last night would lead to an exceptional amount of fly balls, which is fine in Petco but less fine in Citizens Bank, and this is one of those classic starts where the results aren’t a great indicator of future events.

Despite a strong major league debut, Amaro should still be shopping for a starting pitcher if the Phillies want to try to repeat as champions.

We hoped you liked reading Bastardo Debuts by Dave Cameron!

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Is it just possible that Bastardo used this attack against the Padres because it was working? He had a big lead, and his mindset was likely to “let them try to hit me.”

If Bastardo and the Phils are in a close game, I doubt this is the mode of attack he takes (91 of 103 for FB).

Isn’t it a little early to judge a guy based on one game? Did Bastardo only throw fastballs in the minors too? Doubtful.