What did Mark Buehrle throw?

During the season, Mark Buehrle used his change-up about 15-20% of the time. In yesterday’s perfect game, it was his go-to pitch, particularly against right-handed batters, who saw 40 change-ups out of 90 pitches. He notched 15 outs with the change, seven with the four-seam fastball, and five with the cut fastball.

In the last three innings, he went even more heavily to the change-up, throwing 24 changes compared to 18 pitches of all other types combined. This while he was ramping his fastball speed from the mid-eighties to the upper eighties, touching 90 mph with his final pitch.

After the jump is a chart showing the speed of all his pitches, with the pitch type and result of the at bat indicated.

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By the way, not that it matters too much, but the home plate umpire Eric Cooper is the second-best umpire in the majors this year at calling balls and strikes, after Tim McClelland.


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Sven Jenkins
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Sven Jenkins

Mike, you beat me to the post.

I just finished watching Buehrle’s perfect game.  My unofficial pitch count on the day was….

44 Fastballs (82-89 MPH)
44 Change-ups (76-82 MPH)
16 Curveballs (69-74 MPH)
12 Cutters (78-86 MPH)

Buehrle’s reliance on the change-up almost doomed him.  After going to it in almost every tough spot, hitters were sitting on it.  It was a change-up that Gabe Kapler crushed to centerfield, and it was a change-up that Pat Burrell ripped foul down the leftfield line.

Dave Studeman
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Dave Studeman

Hey Mike, that is a very, very cool graphic.  Is it a new one?

Mike Fast
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Mike Fast

Hi, Sven!  Good to see you here.  I wonder what it was about the change-up that led Buehrle to go to that well so often.  Whatever it was, it worked.

Dave, that’s high praise indeed, coming from you.  I guess it is a new graphic.  I was trying to think of something this morning that could encapsulate the idea that Buehrle got so many outs with his changeup yesterday, and I came up with this.  I’ve done something like it before, but without the notation for the result of the at bats.

russ
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russ

A.J. Pierzynski is usually Buehrle’s catcher. Castro caught the perfect game.  The different catcher called a different game.  The book the hitters had did not work.

The graph is great!  Easy to read.  At a glance you can spot the increase in Chg over the game.  You can also see the speed of all types of pitches move up through the game.

Nice job.

Red
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Red

With that game Buehrle’s IP for this season are just 25 below the level where David Gassko predicted when he said Buehrle’s signing could not be justified.  His ERA+ has also improved in each season Gassko said it would get worse.

Mike Fast
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Mike Fast

Thanks, Russ.  Interesting thought about Castro’s game calling being a difference maker.

Red, I can’t speak for David’s predictions, but I know I was laughed at for bidding $20 for Buehrle in my AL-only fantasy league.  Nobody’s laughing now.

Joe Smith
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Joe Smith
A spectacular example of why you don’t have to throw 95 MPH to be a great pitcher, and a prime example of how changing speeds — and the changeup in particular — may be be two of the game’s most underrated/underused things. A poster above said his changeup almost doomed him. The same could be said of a slew of fastballs or any pitch a pitcher throws that get hit hard but barely foul almost every game. You can’t argue with Buehrle’s long-term results. They speak for themselves and quash all naysayers in my opinion. A true magician and artist… Read more »
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