A Tale Of Two Rookies: Fernando Romero and Shohei Ohtani
Image courtesy of Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY SportsThrowing Gas
For Twins fans, it’s no secret that Romero’s fastball has a lot of life. Ohtani is more of a mystery as this will be only his sixth start at the big league level. When it comes to rookie pitchers, Romero and Ohtani are two of the hardest throwing pitchers in the league.
Success at the big league level comes from mixing up pitches and both pitchers have tried to find a way to keep batters off-balance. Romero actually throws his sinker (39.7%) more often than his fastball (26.3%). Ohtani throws his fastball more frequently (45.6%) but his split finger and slider add a lot of movement for the batter to track.
Ohtani has allowed a home run in four of his five starts. In his third start of the year, he was pulled from the game with a blister on his throwing hand. Since returning from the blister, he’s pitched into the sixth inning in both starts but he has allowed six earned runs on 12 hits. He also has a 13 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio during that stretch.
(Stat)casting a Wide Net
Romero and Ohtani have a limited amount of combined starts at the big league level but their Statcast data is starting to paint a picture. Romero has thrown 194 pitches with only 25 batted balls. Out of those balls, only one batter has barreled up a ball against him and he is averaging an 87.4 exit velocity with a 1.6 launch angle.
Ohtani has a little bit larger sample size as he has thrown 445 pitches. Out of that total, there have been 63 batted balls and three balls have been barreled up. Ohtani has allowed some harder hit balls with an exit velocity of 87.7 and a launch angle of 17.8.
Other Statcast numbers also show the similarities between these two pitchers. Romero’s expected batting average (.237 XBA) is only 14 points higher than Ohtani (.223). Also, Romero has only allowed two extra-base hits, both doubles, so his expect slugging percentage (.331 XSLG) is over 50 points lower than Ohtani (.384 XSLG).
If both players stay healthy and continue to pitch well, there could be quite the race for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. What are you looking forward to seeing on Sunday afternoon? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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