Friday, September 05, 2008

Ross Ohlendorf's start

When I was digging through Craig Hansen's PitchFX last night, it dawned on me that maybe instead of doing that to be funny, I should use it to look at something that I find actually interesting. Accordingly, I thought I'd take a look at Ross Ohlendorf's start and see what some of the more objective data came up with. First we'll start with pitch types (you can find them in the table on the top of every Ohlendorf page).

  • His fastball average 93.66 and toped out at 95.5, which is pretty much exactly what was to be expected. He threw 62 fastballs for 38 strikes. There were a few lower velocity fastballs, around 90-91 that Charlie thought might have been sinkers, which Ohlendorf threw in the minors, but the break charts don't really bear that out and Rocco DeMaro's radio profile of him more or less indicated that he dropped the sinker once he came to Pittsburgh
  • He only threw seven changeups and they clocked in at 83.14. Of those seven, he threw four for strikes.
  • The PitchFX has him as throwing 16 sliders and five curveballs, but I don't really think he throws a curve. They group together pretty closely, so I wonder if he didn't just get too on top of a few sliders to give them some more downward break. On the whole, he threw 14 of these 21 pitches for strikes and they averaged between 80 and 81 mph (slower than his changeup).
The vertical break vs. speed graph is below and you can see what I mean about the curveball and his potential slider:

The horizontal break vs. speed graph is here, and it gives a little more reason to think the slider and curve are probably the same pitch. It also shows that his changeup doesn't offer much different break than his fastball and really, isn't a whole lot slower. It was reported to be his worst pitch, and it is.

Now, what I like about this graph is that it clearly shows us which pitch is which: fastball, change, and breaking pitch. So let's look at at-bat result with the same speed vs. horizontal movement plot:

Even more detail is here:

You can see that his breaking pitch got some swings and misses and both of his strikeouts, but two out of 21 of them went for hits, which isn't a terribly good ratio. His changeup wasn't good for much at all, and everything else went to his fastball (including the two monstrous homers he gave up). It's hard to draw conclusions from one start (read: I should keep doing this, I think), but it seems pretty obvious to me that he needs that changeup to start working if he's going to have more success as a starter than he did against the Reds. A good fastball and a good breaking pitch will dominate in AAA, but not the majors.