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2018 MLB Postseason Discussion Thread

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Article: AFL Report - Week 2: Pitchers Outshine Hitters

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Escobar re-signs with Arizona

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Article: Offseason Handbook Updates: Cover and Guest Authors

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Sickels top Twins prospect list for 2019

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Top three aren't a surprise but #4 was.   https://www.minorlea...spects-for-2019   Sickels like the depth of the team a lot.
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Statcast Breakdown: Fernando Romero’s First Two Starts

The first two starts of Fernando Romero’s big-league career have been nothing short of spectacular. So far, through 11 2/3 innings pitched, Romero has already struck out 14 batters, and allowed just seven hits, while walking six. However, the most important number is the zero runs that he has given up.
Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Not only has Romero not given up any runs, but neither the Blue Jays nor the Cardinals have really come all that close. In the two starts, Romero has allowed just one baserunner to reach third base, and even that was with two outs in the inning.

We have been hearing a lot about Fernando Romero’s excellent stuff for the past couple of years, but now that we can see that it plays at the major league level, it gives us a whole new perspective.

Another benefit of Romero pitching in the majors is we get access to his Statcast data that isn’t publicly available for minor league players. So, let’s look at that data to see if we can get a better understanding of Romero’s pitches.

Two-Seam Fastball
Attached Image: Romero Two-Seam Fastball.PNG
Fernando Romero’s two-seam fastball has been electric. The combination of high velocity and extreme arm-side run that the pitch has is giving opposing hitters troubles.

Here is a two-seamer that he threw in the Toronto start. As you can see this pitch starts out over the heart of the plate but ends up six-inches off the plate inside.

One downside to Romero’s two-seamer having so much movement, is it makes the pitch hard for him to control. So far, Romero is throwing the pitch for a strike just over 58 percent of the time. He is getting away with that for now, but once MLB hitters start to adjust Romero will need to become more consistent with that pitch.

Romero has also shown that he favors his two-seamer when facing right-handed batters. Against righties, Romero has thrown his two-seamer 50 percent of the time, while that number drops off to just 24 percent of the time when facing left-handed hitters.

Four-Seam Fastball
Attached Image: Romero Four-Seam Fastball.PNG
In addition to a two-seam fastball, Fernando Romero also features a four-seam fastball. As you might expect, his four-seam doesn’t have as much run as the two-seamer. This makes it easier for him to control, as you can see by his strike percentage being 10 percent higher.

While Romero clearly prefers the two-seam fastball when he is facing right-handed hitters, it appears that he slightly favors the four-seamer against left-handed hitters as he throws it 33 percent of the time, as opposed to just 22 percent of the time against righties.

According to the expected stats generated by Statcast, Romero’s four-seam fastball has been his most effective pitch so far, as his expected batting average, expected slugging percentage and expected weighted on-base average against his four-seamer are all the lowest of any of his pitches. This is mostly due to the 74 MPH average exit velocity hitters are getting off it, easily the lowest mark of his four pitches.

Slider
Attached Image: Romero Slider.PNG
In addition to his high velocity fastball, Romero also features a nasty slider. Much like Romero’s two-seam fastball, it is his slider’s combination of both high velocity and movement that makes it so deadly.

The slider’s 87.1 MPH average velocity ranks in the 81st percentile among sliders in the majors, with a majority of those ranked above him coming from relievers. Additionally, Romero has an average spin rate of 2466 RPM on his slider, which ranks in the 67th percentile among sliders in the majors this season. That effective combination is what has led to opposing hitters making contact just 41 percent of the time when they swing at it.

Here is a look at just how nasty Romero’s slider is.

Changeup
Attached Image: Romero Changeup.PNG
The final pitch in Romero’s repertoire is his changeup. The pitch is already causing some debate among Twins fans centered around its high velocity. Usually you would like to see a seven MPH or greater difference between a pitcher’s fastball and changeup velocity. However, Romero’s average difference is just 5.3 MPH. Overall, his average changeup velocity ranks second among pitchers who have thrown at least 10 so far this season and is 0.6 MPH faster than Noah Syndergaard’s.

Increasing the gap between his fastball and changeup velocity is something Romero is going to need to work on in order to keep hitters off balance and have any sustained success with that pitch. In the mean time we can be in awe of a 92 MPH pitch that moves like this.

However, the thing that makes Romero’s changeup so nasty isn’t the velocity, but it’s the spin rate, or should I say lack thereof. When it comes to spin rate, it is usually only discussed regarding a pitcher having a high rate of spin on either a fastball or on a breaking pitch, but the truth is the spin rate on a changeup can be just as important.

Unlike high velocity fastballs and breaking pitches, however, for a changeup the goal is to have as little spin as possible. This gives the pitch the sharp downward movement as it approaches the plate because the ball doesn’t have as much backspin keeping it in the air.

The average spin rate on Romero’s changeup sits at just above 1600 RPM, which is roughly 200 RPM below the average major league changeup. Hopefully, this is sometime that will continue as time progresses, as it will be an important pitch for Romero to get left-handed hitters out.

It is safe to say that Fernando Romero’s stuff is filthy, and we didn’t need the Statcast information to tell us that. But that doesn’t take away from the fun of seeing a Twins pitcher who has the potential to top so many of the Statcast leaderboards for years to come.

All Data is Courtesy of Baseball Savant.

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26 Comments

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Tommygun921
May 09 2018 05:47 AM
Hopefully he can use this stuff to pitch into or through the 7th. If Berrios can get on track it would be a nice 1-2 combo!
    • Blake likes this

I'm cautiously optimistic.The league will adapt to him and analyze him and the big league hitters will start looking for certain pitches in certain situations.I like him a lot, but I'll temper my enthusiasm for now.

    • ashburyjohn, Blake, Oxtung and 3 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
May 09 2018 06:44 AM

Thanks for a very informative and entertaining article.

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Andrew Thares
May 09 2018 07:08 AM

 

Hopefully he can use this stuff to pitch into or through the 7th. If Berrios can get on track it would be a nice 1-2 combo!

Personally, I don't think they will have him pitch past the 6th much this year, unless his pitch count is very low. The most innings he has ever pitched in a season is 125 last year, so I wouldn't be surprised if he is on an innings limit this year. The most important thing for Romero this year is still his long term health and development.

    • Oxtung, SF Twins Fan and MN_ExPat like this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 09 2018 07:17 AM

I'd love to know his spin rates in MiLB.

 

Seeing a guy come up and make MLB hitters look this foolish makes me wonder if some guys see a MLB baseball and its different stitching and say "ugh..." (Berrios) while others look at the stitching and say "SPIN SPIN SPIN" (Romero).

 

It's pretty idiotic they use different balls between the minors and majors.

 

Romero always had pretty good scouting reports but what we've seen thus far is above and beyond anything I read about him. If he was pitching like this in Rochester, he literally should not have given up even one hit and should have had an 18.00 K/9 ratio.

    • Dantes929, TheLeviathan, Dman and 3 others like this
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TheLeviathan
May 09 2018 08:19 AM

I will never understand why we use different baseballs.It's like apprenticing a tech on Microsoft and then handing them an Ipad when they get promoted.

 

I just don't get it.

 

(Great article!Helps with my concerns about a two pitch mix from the other night)

    • Brock Beauchamp, diehardtwinsfan, Danchat and 5 others like this

Great article.

 

Do you (or anyone) have any information about how well he's actually throwing strikes in the zone and how much hitters are chasing pitches out of the zone?

I am really excited to see him in the rotation and now I am anxious for Gonsalves. 

With as much movement as he gets on the 2-seam fastball, it's going to be hard for a lot of guys to hold off on it and work counts, I think so even if he's not throwing it for strikes as often as the 4-seam he should still be effective on it. Goodness, some MLB pitchers don't get that kind of bend on their sliders! Filthy indeed.

 

Would love for him to be able to drop another couple of mph off the change; I think it'll be even nastier at 88mph than 91mph and will help his 4-seam fastball even more.

 

What amazes me about Romero is how smooth and comfortable his delivery is. He's chucking 97mph gas and almost looks like he's long-tossing in the OF. I also appreciate the speed at which he works a game. No way is he going to have to worry about a pitch clock!

    • gunnarthor, diehardtwinsfan, nokomismod and 5 others like this

 

 I also appreciate the speed at which he works a game. No way is he going to have to worry about a pitch clock!

Good point. He's not Buerhle but he has a great pace. Makes it easier for his defenders and viewers.

    • Dantes929 and SF Twins Fan like this

This is a great analysis and something that Twins Daily does really well. Great job.

 

He does remind me a bit of Scott Erickson and I think he is going to have to learn from Erickson's experience. When Erickson came up in 1990 he was virtually unhittable.If you look at the last half of 1990 and the first half of 1991, his first full year he had 20 wins and an ERA under 2.  

 

His 2-seam fast ball was completely destructive and it had the movement similar to Romero's. Hitters flailed away at it.

 

But, in the 2nd half of 1991 Erickson wasn't very effective.HE had a ERA of 5.20 and as his 2.06 K/W ratio fell to 0.97.  

 

Two things happened in the 2nd half of 1991 and in my opinion one of the biggest changes is that hitters stopped swinging at Erickson's 2-seam and sliders that were not strikes.Instead of getting ahead on counts from swing and misses, the batters themselves got ahead in the count and forced Erickson to come back with his less effective 4-seam fast ball. 

 

Over time this increased his pitch counts and Erickson threw an inordinate number of innings.IN 1990 between AA andMLB he threw 224 innings.From 1991 - 1993 he threw more than 200 innings a season for the Twins, just 144 in an injury shortened 1994 then 196 in 1995 when he was traded to Baltimore.His last couple seasons with the Twins he was a below average pitcher with ERA+ in the 80s.He had a couple decent seasons with Baltimore but was inconsistent with the exception of being an innings eater, pitching 220 or more innings or more for 4 straight seasons, including a 251 inning season in 1998.

 

This isn't meant to be a negative, just that a pitcher that throws like Romero and generates that much movement needs to be able to also pitch smart.You arent always going to fool the hitters.Santana and Liriano could do this because they had the change up they could throw for strikes.Romero needs to develop that into a more effective pitch because the next time through these teams it is less likely they will be swinging at so many pitches that are so far out of the zone.

 

    • nokomismod and ToddlerHarmon like this

 

This is a great analysis and something that Twins Daily does really well. Great job.

 

He does remind me a bit of Scott Erickson and I think he is going to have to learn from Erickson's experience. When Erickson came up in 1990 he was virtually unhittable.If you look at the last half of 1990 and the first half of 1991, his first full year he had 20 wins and an ERA under 2.  

 

His 2-seam fast ball was completely destructive and it had the movement similar to Romero's. Hitters flailed away at it.

 

But, in the 2nd half of 1991 Erickson wasn't very effective.HE had a ERA of 5.20 and as his 2.06 K/W ratio fell to 0.97.  

 

Two things happened in the 2nd half of 1991 and in my opinion one of the biggest changes is that hitters stopped swinging at Erickson's 2-seam and sliders that were not strikes.Instead of getting ahead on counts from swing and misses, the batters themselves got ahead in the count and forced Erickson to come back with his less effective 4-seam fast ball. 

 

Over time this increased his pitch counts and Erickson threw an inordinate number of innings.IN 1990 between AA andMLB he threw 224 innings.From 1991 - 1993 he threw more than 200 innings a season for the Twins, just 144 in an injury shortened 1994 then 196 in 1995 when he was traded to Baltimore.His last couple seasons with the Twins he was a below average pitcher with ERA+ in the 80s.He had a couple decent seasons with Baltimore but was inconsistent with the exception of being an innings eater, pitching 220 or more innings or more for 4 straight seasons, including a 251 inning season in 1998.

 

This isn't meant to be a negative, just that a pitcher that throws like Romero and generates that much movement needs to be able to also pitch smart.You arent always going to fool the hitters.Santana and Liriano could do this because they had the change up they could throw for strikes.Romero needs to develop that into a more effective pitch because the next time through these teams it is less likely they will be swinging at so many pitches that are so far out of the zone.

I have always believed that Erickson hurt his arm at Boston on May 7th that year (1991), throwing his third straight complete game.IMO he was never the same pitcher after that. Velocity down, control down, slider not quite the same.

 

 

    • nokomismod, Dantes929, Drew and 1 other like this
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Andrew Thares
May 09 2018 09:37 AM

 

Great article.

 

Do you (or anyone) have any information about how well he's actually throwing strikes in the zone and how much hitters are chasing pitches out of the zone?

Romero has thrown 40.2 percent of his pitches in the zone and opposing hitters have a 26.7 percent chase rate on his pitches out of the zone.

 

League average for these numbers are roughly 43.5 percent of pitches in the zone and roughly a 30 percent chase rate on pitches outside of the zone.

    • Thrylos likes this
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woolywoolhouse
May 09 2018 09:50 AM

 

Not only has Romero not given up any runs, but neither the Blue Jays nor the Cardinals have really come all that close.

 

To be fair, Romero had one hard-hit ball that was almost a run; Eddie Rosario ended up catching it and robbing a homerun. 

 

https://www.mlb.com/...83?tid=51231442

    • h2oface and ToddlerHarmon like this

 

I have always believed that Erickson hurt his arm at Boston on May 7th that year (1991), throwing his third straight complete game.IMO he was never the same pitcher after that. Velocity down, control down, slider not quite the same.

That's my memory also. Had nothing to do with batters figuring him out. 

    • USAFChief likes this

 

Personally, I don't think they will have him pitch past the 6th much this year, unless his pitch count is very low. The most innings he has ever pitched in a season is 125 last year, so I wouldn't be surprised if he is on an innings limit this year. The most important thing for Romero this year is still his long term health and development.

Beating dead horse time. I agree the most important thing is Romero's health and development. Still have seen no correlation to innings pitched. IMO, also not supported by any research, is the number of pitches in any one given inning and staying loose and stretched out when the Twins have prolonged half innings on offense has more to do with his health.

I'll repeat the same comment I made in the game recap of his last start here, as your data and video basically shows what I was saying:

 

"I'm actually not all concerned about his changeup coming in that fast because it's got a bunch more drop on it than his 2-seamer. From what I've seen, he controls that changeup down in the zone well, and his 2-seamer is almost a riser with the arm-side run he gets. If he starts leaving changeups up in the zone they'll get hammered at that speed, but I haven't seen that issue yet."

    • MN_ExPat likes this

"Increasing the gap between his fastball and changeup velocity is something Romero is going to need to work on in order to keep hitters off balance and have any sustained success with that pitch. In the mean time we can be in awe of a 92 MPH pitch that moves like this."

 

First off, great article and analysis.While it might be preferable to have a larger gap I have heard that a good change up is hard to hit even when the batter knows it is coming because of the movement. If there is a changeup that comes in above league average mph fastball with movement that has us in awe there is no reason to think success is unsustainable. I have always been a big believer in changing speeds, pitches and locations to keep a batter off balance but a fastball that moves crazy left to right, a slider that moves crazy right to left, a changeup that moves crazy downward and a fastball that moves 98 mph is probably enough to keep batters off balance.Command, which has been pretty good is still his biggest question mark.Minor leaguers did score runs against him which makes it very likely that major leaguers will also but it is easy to imagine Romero having a high quality start percentage even by Bert's standards with the possible exception of getting 7 or more innings pitched.

    • USAFChief and MN_ExPat like this
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Tom Froemming
May 09 2018 10:48 AM

I'd like to pass this along in regard to Romero's changeup. via Mike Barardino's YouTube account: 

 

"I was working a month ago with Fernando Rodney. So I was trying to get like the way he's throwing his pitch. The way he grips it."

 

So he overhauled his changeup grip a little over a month ago now and it's already a useful pitch against MLB hitters. Pretty awesome.

    • USAFChief, Sconnie and MN_ExPat like this

I've always wondered, when pitchers talk like that, what exactly are they changing? Thumb location? Lower in the fingers? Different seams altogether?

 

I've always wondered, when pitchers talk like that, what exactly are they changing? Thumb location? Lower in the fingers? Different seams altogether?

 

"No, no, no. The seam on the left side of the ball."

 

Seriously though, that's a good question. Though if there's anyone to learn a changeup from, Rodney seems like a good choice.

70charger- l would talk to Frankie "Sweet Music" Viola. He had a little bit of a reputation with the ol change up.

Good stuff, but there are some issues here:

 

There seems to be a misconception that control and throwing strikes is a good thing.However, command (the ability to put the pitch where you want to, including in the dirt or running inside) is really what is important.

 

There are 3 things that make Romero's sinker a plus plus pitch:

- The fact that he hides it really well in his delivery and hitters cannot see it until it is too late (this is true for all his pitches)

- It is a really "heavy" sinker.These day's "heavy" can be explained by spin rate - and in a sinker it is downwards.Multiply that spin rate with that velocity, and if one does not barrel it and hits it with a thinner part of the bat, that bat is a goner.

- That movement. And it is not a bad thing.It is a great thing.Mariano Rivera made a Hall of Fame career throwing a single pitch with a lot of movement that seemingly neither he nor the batters had an idea where it was going to go.But he could command his cutter like Romero can command his sinker.

 

About that slider:I suspect that some of those "two-seamers" in the statcast graph were actually sliders. In the St. Louis game I saw at least a couple at 91 mph and one at 92.If his average according to statcast is 87, it does not count those.So it might be a data issue.

 

Re: the 10+ mph diff between the fastball and change up:It is really not necessary for a RHP.And there is no need to go far, Odorizzi's change is closer to his fastball velocity than Romero's, for example. What is really cool about Romero's change is the movement.It looks like a screwball, and has the same effect. Tails in to right handers and out to lefties, opposite to a slider. Not sure about the grip of his change.If he was taught by Rodney as allegedly is the story, it should be a circle change.

 

Movement is the key for Romero's success.And no hitters can compensate for unexpected movement :)

 

If in the future he develops a slower pitch like a curve ball or a palm ball, it might help it might not.Odorizzi is using his curve as a change up, effectively...

    • Brock Beauchamp likes this

I will never understand why we use different baseballs. It's like apprenticing a tech on Microsoft and then handing them an Ipad when they get promoted.

I just don't get it.

(Great article! Helps with my concerns about a two pitch mix from the other night)

The baseballs are made to the same spec by the same company in two different plants. There isn’t enough capacity to make all balls for every league in one plant.

The difference between two balls made using the same spec and same process in two plants is materials. Those materials are also made to the same spec using the same process, but in different plants (possibly different suppliers, I don’t know).

So if there isn’t enough capacity to make enough balls for every league using one plant, why not have the change from AAA to MLB? If there is enough capacity, why not between AA and AAA?

 

Good stuff, but there are some issues here:

 

There seems to be a misconception that control and throwing strikes is a good thing.However, command (the ability to put the pitch where you want to, including in the dirt or running inside) is really what is important.

 

So, I think what you are saying about "command" vs. "control" is not exactly correct either - though I think you're getting at it. I was actually going to comment about how I get the distinction, but it doesn't totally make sense. Then I figured I should maybe look it up to see if I actually understand the concept and found this article really helpful. So I'm just understanding this better myself (learn something new every day I guess)

"Command" is not the 'ability to put the pitch where you want to' - that would still be "control" which is all about location. "Command" has to do with movement (which you actually were talking about in the rest of your post) - but it has to do with commanding how the pitch will move - but not necessarily it's location (that's the control piece). Curve ball curves, slider slides, sinker sinks, etc (and I would assume to some level with the type of velocity the pitcher is intending as well - which would be particularly relevant to the discussion of Romero's change up).

So a pitcher with good command but poor control can make his pitches move - but they may end up in poor locations (either balls that hitters won't swing at, or very hittable strikes). 

A pitcher with good control but not great command can hit his spots but his pitches won't move as much or as consistently as he may like.

Pitcher's with great command and control (aces) are able to consistently get their pitches to move the way they want them to and end up in the spots they want them to. 

 


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