Was Michael Wacha tipping his pitches? A follow up

Dilip Vishwanat

An attempt at showing that Wacha is, in fact, tipping his pitches.

About three months ago I penned an article on Michael Wacha tipping his pitches, or in other words, using different arm speeds on different pitches. At the time I made my case without having any proof, though I did have a pretty strong feeling it was happening. Wacha, then proceeded to make me look good by pitching poorly against the Red Sox during Game 6 of the World Series.

Interestingly enough, the Red Sox managed to not only swing and miss fewer times at Wacha's previously devastating changeup, but also hit it hard when they made contact. The four games he pitched prior to Game 6, Wacha's changeup had whiff rates of 24%, 27%, 17% and 18% , against the Red Sox it was a lowly 9%. The cold weather couldve played a large roll in Wacha's lack of success, as his fastball was 1.5 MPH slower than against the Dodgers. This could have also been an attempt by Wacha to try and release his pitches with similar arm speeds.

Wacha_medium

On the left, Wacha delivering a fastball to AJ Ellis. On the right, delivering a changeup to Adrian Gonzalez

In any event, while I wouldn't exactly call this evidence, it definitely is helpful information. Looking at stills, there happens to be a clear difference between the way Wacha's arm looks when delivering his fastball and when delivering his changeup. I then looked at a couple other pitchers with good fastballs and good changeups to see if a similar disparity existed, or if this was just Wacha.

Hamels_medium

On the left, Hamels delivering a FB to Giancarlo Stanton. On the right, delivering a CH to Greg Dobbs.

Strasburg_medium

On the left, Strasburg delivering a FB to Koyie Hill. On the right, delivering a CH to Donovan Solano.

Well isn't that something, Wacha's arm is clearly less blurry, a sign of moving slower, while releasing his changeup. Cole Hamels and Stephen Strasburg, show no such disparity. If anything, their arms look a smidgen blurrier during their changeup release.

Again, this definitely cannot be considered proof, but in the absence of high speed cameras and any other way of discerning this type of information, the analysis of stills can be useful to an extent. I am not advocating the use of stills in order to do anything definitive, but in cases so extreme as Wacha's, it can paint a slightly clearer picture than what we previously had.

. . .

All statistics courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

Ari Berkowitz is a writer at Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @wildpitches.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker