I will not pretend to have procured all of this data by myself, but to feed the opening day baseball fever frenzy I wanted to check out a few things on today's Pitch f/x data. Now that Josh Kalk's tool is offline because of his new employer, the best (and maybe only) Pitch f/x tool available is over at Brooks Baseball. A bunch of interesting pitchers got in the game today (one benefit of a Jeff Suppan start), and though I watched the game closely, I wanted to see some overall trends on velocities and pitch selection, and see if any of the pitchers that threw today have made any changes in their pitch selection in the offseason. Take everything with a disclaimer, it doesn't look like the algorithm picked up all of the pitches thrown, so just look at this as a general trend.
He was not good today. The variations of his fastball averaged about 87 miles per hour, that is in line with his averages in the past few seasons, so it does not look like he has experienced a dropoff this year. Something I just noticed now is that Suppan threw far fewer fastballs last year than any other year in his career-- only about 50% v. about 60% in most other years. I will be interested to see if that trend continues. Almost exactly half of the 47 pitches in the Brooks Baseball registry were fastballs, sticking with the trend from last year.
He was not throwing as hard as usual today, and he did not have any control. Again, the Pitch f/x did not get all of his pitches, but of the ones picked up, 28/37 pitches were fastballs. The fastball averaged 92 miles per hour, with a max of 94.6. Hopefully he is just getting warmed up for the season. He has never averaged below 93 in a season and averaged 96 in his stint with the Brewers in 2007. He threw the curve at about his usual rate of 18%. I think he should investigate throwing it a bit more. His release point did look pretty good, though, and you might remember Josh's story last summer about McClung's release point tightening up when he became a starter.
He is on the team because he is a hard thrower, and things were pretty good today for him. The algorithm got all of his pitches. He averaged 93.2 with a high of 95. The results were not great, but at least we do not have a washed up guy with no velocity clogging up the roster. He was around 93-94 in two major league stints last year, after averaging about 95 earlier in his career. He only mixed in 4 breaking balls in today's outing. I expect him to throw more off-speed pitches in the future, in those effective major league stints last year he only threw about 50% fastballs.
We have most of his pitches as well. The velocity was encouraging, he averaged close to 90 miles per hour and topped out at 90.2. That is better than he was in either of the past two years, though he might have had more in the tank in a short outing from the bullpen today. The curve was right at its usual break and velocity. He looks good to go in his first start this weekend.