On Ryan-Rowland Smith Today


RRS looked good tonight. He threw 63% strikes, and mixed his pitches really well. Hit pitch breakdown was 56 fastballs, 9 sinkers, 18 changeups, 4 sliders, and 21 curveballs. He had 9 swinging strikes – that’s decent, and most of them came on either fastballs or changeups. He didn’t record a single swinging strike on a curveball, but he did throw it for strikes 71% of the time, and froze two guys on it. There’s no statistic for fooling a hitter into not swinging, but there has to be some skill involved in making a hitter look that silly.

His average fastball velocity on the night was at 89.3 MPH, which is right around where we would expect, and his curveball was 19 MPH slower at 70.5. Now the drastic drop in velocity between the two pitches may play a part in freezing hitters, but I think more of it is the extreme break. This graph from Brooks Baseball nicely illustrates the vertical movement on that pitch, as well as others. The dark red line represents his average curve.

In only four starts, his curve has already been 0.5 runs above average this year. In his 118 innings last season, it was 6 runs above average. It’s a good pitch, but his changeup is even better. He doesn’t use it quite as much as his curveball, which probably adds to it’s deceptiveness, and today it had an average velocity of 79 MPH.

He didn’t use the change much at all last year, but it’s become a very effective pitch for him, at 1.5 runs above average already this season. It’s amazing that it’s been such a good pitch for him, as he rarely throws it for strikes – only 39% of them were strikes today. I guess, for that one pitch at least, the ability to miss bats with it is more valuable than the ability to throw strikes with it.

Overally, really happy with what I saw from Ryan today.

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