Using Whiff Rates to Find Balanced Arsenals

Yesterday, we looked at the elite pitches when it came to whiff rates. Today, we’ll look at things a bit differently. The following pitchers rated highly by swinging strike rate across multiple offspeed pitches. You might notice a certain deficiency in the group. Not a lot of great fastballs! As always, here are the benchmarks for each pitch type.

The Balanced Arsenals, Three Pitches
Corey Kluber (Curve 19.1%, Change 21%, Slider 15.5%)
Tim Lincecum (Curve 11.1%, Change 22.7%, Slider 17.6%)
Wade Miley (Curve 15.2%, Change 10.9%, Slider 18.7%)
Jerome Williams (Curve 10.8%, Change 18.1%, Slider 17.2%)
Ricky Nolasco (Curve 8.6%, Change 18.9%, Slider 18.6%)
Tom Koehler (Curve 7.3%, Change 15%, Slider 20.3%)
Philip Humber (Curve 12.4%, Change 10.2%, Slider 17.4%)
Dillon Gee (Curve 9.7%, Change 17.9%, Slider 13.3%)
Brandon Maurer (Curve 11.1%, Change 4.7%, Slider 17.4%)
Rick Porcello (Curve 9.7%, Change 14%, Slider 14.1%)
Mike Leake (Curve 9.5%, Change 4.3%, Slider 17.8%)

The Corey Kluber society lives on! And, like Tim Lincecum, his fastball isn’t totally hopeless either. Maybe Kluber’s only asterisk is similar to Lincecum’s: if your command within the zone is erratic from time to time, you are more prone to higher batting averages on balls in play, and give up more homers. That’s a slight risk for Miley and his bad fastball in the desert, and it’s a huge risk for Jerome Williams and his bad fastball in Houston. At least Ricky Nolasco is pitching in a homer-suppressing park. We can’t forget he had bad years in Miami though, too. Philip Humber is the human warning sign for this approach. Yeah he has three representative offspeed pitches. No, he’s not very good. Dillon Gee shows what you can do when you take this sort of arsenal into a neutral park. Brandon Maurer is missing a change, but it’s not like he doesn’t have *something* going for him. Mike Leake is just meh across the board, another warning sign.

The Balanced Arsenals, Two Pitches
Taylor Jordan (Slider 21%, Change-up 21%)
Francisco Liriano (Slider 19%, Change-up 20%)
Edwin Jackson (Slider 19.2%, Change-up 9.3%)
Dan Straily (Slider 18.5%, Change-up 16.9%)
Jesse Chavez (Slider 16.7%, Change-up 9.9%)

Here we relaxed the requirements to look at pitchers with two good pitches. Taylor Jordan immediately looks like a great sleeper. He doesn’t get many whiffs with his fastball, but it’s not a bad pitch — he gets tons of grounders with his two-seamer. Now he’s ahead in the competition with Ross Detwiler and looks like he’s a great deep league pickup and bordering on a final mixed-league pitcher pickup. Francisco Liriano is way better than Edwin Jackson, but it’s kind of fun to put them both here. Jackson should stay healthy all year, while Liriano is pretty much guaranteed to max out around 160 innings. Go get Dan Straily. He pitches in a great home park and has two above-average breaking pitches that break in different directions. No, his two-seamer isn’t great (and he admitted as much to me this week in Arizona), but his four-seamer is fine. All the work on the change-up did him good. Jesse Chavez doesn’t have a great change, but his fastball still zips at 92, his breakers are good. If you’re looking for deep league innings, he looks like he might be the fifth starter in Oakland to begin the year.



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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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Ben Suissa
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Ben Suissa

i assume innings qualification reasons, but Salazar should be on this list no? 15% on the slider, 22% on the CH. (fastball is 13 but i know youre just looking at off-speeders)