A pitcher making adjustments? The Rays’ Andrew Sonnanstine threw a complete game shutout against the White Sox on Saturday night, allowing only three hits against the American League’s top scoring offense. While his numbers have yet to reflect his peripherals something interesting to note is that Sonnanstine has adjusted his pitch selection from last season. Sonnanstine’s fastball tops out around 87 miles per hour but still threw it 51.4% of the time last year; thus far his usage is down to 26% of the time. His slider usage has also dropped (23.9% to 19.6%) but he’s using his cutter (6.3% to 31.1%) along with his curveball far more (8.5% to 14%). Interestingly his change-up remains around the same (9.8% to 9.4%), Sonnanstine’s groundball ratio has also flown up which correlates with the pitches he’s using in higher propensity than previously.
Speaking of low velocities Jamie Moyer is only reaching 79.2 on his fastball while Josh Beckett is hitting 95.7.Beckett was four when the Chicago Cubs drafted Moyer in the 6th round of the 1984 amateur draft. I realize it’s been joked about a bit, but Moyer’s velocity has been heading in this direction since 2005 when he dipped below 82 MPH, slowly but surely he’s finally dipped into uncharted territories.
Mike Butcher is apparently a fan of the pickoff move, the second year Angels pitching coach has the top two pickoff attempters in the league with Jered Weaver (1.8%) and Jon Garland (1.3%) joining John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar in 2007 who were in the top 25 under Butcher during his first season.
The balls Joey Gathright is putting into play are largely groundballs, 66% of them to be exact which tops the majors in GB% for hitters. Luis Castillo and David Eckstein both barely over 65%, and then comes Delmon Young at 64.9% and not too far away Joe Mauer at 64.3%. The latter two don’t fit the “scrappy” or “speedy” profiles yet both are Twins and have shown raises over the career norms – do note that Mauer’s career average is just shy of 52% and Delmon’s just shy of 50% - add in Brendan Harris also being over 50%. I questioned whether this is something stemming from hitting coach Joe Vavra’s instruction or if they were simply facing groundball heavy pitchers but looking at their schedule the latter doesn’t seem to be the case.
Speaking of the Twins and Gathright, the Twins speedster Carlos Gomez has the league lead in bunt hits with five, two more than Gathright.