Saturday, April 05, 2014

Thoughts on Porcello's First Start

Did Rick Porcello do anything different in his first start of the year today?
(Photo Credit: Associated Press)
 
Over analysis of Rick Porcello has been a favorite pastime of  internet fans and writers for five years now and year six will be be more of the same.  I'll start with some thoughts on his first start of 2014, one which saw him allow just one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings versus a good hitting Orioles club.  The 25-year-old right hander allowed one run in the first inning on a walk, a steal and a single, but  held the Orioles scoreless after that.

Porcello generally does well when he keeps the ball on the ground and today he recorded 11 outs on ground balls.  He had just three strikeouts, all on swinging strikes.   

Last year, Porcello improved, in part, because of less reliance on his sinker and adoption of the curve as his primary breaking pitch.  According to Brooks Baseball, Porcello used his sinker on 43( 44%) of his 94 pitchers which is similar to his 42% sinker rate of 2013.  However, he used he slider almost as much as his curve (12% versus 15%).  Interestingly he seemed to have more success with his slider today posting a whiff (swing and miss) rate of 46% (versus just 7% on curves).  It's just one game and might mean nothing, but it's something worth watching in his next start.   

Porcello has always had trouble with durability shown in dramatically reduced fastball speeds and results as the game progresses.  Table 1 below shows that today was no exception as far as losing zip on his pitches.  He threw as hard as 94 MPH in the first inning, was down to 90-91 on pitches 60-70, the interval where he traditionally starts to lose it and 88-89 by the end of the game.  He often gets hit hard once he loses his velocity, but today he was effective until the end.  Perhaps, we can credit manager Brad Ausmus with having the foresight to remove him before the hits started coming. 

Table 1: Pitch Speed by Pitch Number

Data source: BrooksBaseball.com

Another Porcello theme is his extreme lefty/righty split.  Last year, left-handed batters hit .300 against him whereas right-handed batters hit just.239.  Today, a lefty-heavy Orioles line-up hit just .182 against him. Again, it's way too early to make conclusions, but that's a good early sign.

Over thinking Rick Porcello's performance continues next weekend when he faces the Padres in San Diego. 

30 comments:

  1. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  2. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  3. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  4. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  5. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  6. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  7. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  8. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  9. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  10. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  11. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  12. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  13. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  14. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  15. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  16. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  17. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  18. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  19. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  20. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  21. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  22. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  23. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  24. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  25. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  26. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  27. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  28. For me, your article created an even more fantastic controversy, why the dramatic velocity decline?

    ReplyDelete
  29. You must really want to know the answer to that question to ask it 28 times! I don't have a definitive one. Some have suggested that he puts so much effort into every pitch that he gets tired more easily than some pitchers. Maybe, he's just not built for durability. It's interesting though that he has never missed a start due to injury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looks like he's just trying to stay comfortable and mitigate the risks that come from overloading or overheating or pushing one's capacity too far. It was also curious that he pulled Coke against LH hitter right after Rod Allen had mentioned that's what he's here for, to pitch to the lefties! What a fiasco that turned out to be, we are really lucky that Nelson Cruz swung at Ball 4. A win's a win though, and as long as we have a lot of cushion room then less issue of waiting until after the draft when it doesn't cost a draft pick to sign Stephen Drew if they are still considering that.

      Delete

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