Joe Kelly, with his 100 mph fastball, looks like he should be an absolutely dominant pitcher, but his actual results this year have been mediocre at best. At sonsofsamhorn.com, I looked at Kelly so far in 2015, focusing on his fastball. I think that
Kelly this year seems to be be trapped by his fastballs. If he throws them as hard as he is capable of, they are less likely to turn into hits, but more likely to become walks. If he slows his fastball down, improving his ability to throw strikes, the pitches become much more hittable.
Joe Kelly fastballs: Balls per 100 pitches, sorted by pitch speed
I took a look at the major-league debut of the Red Sox’ top-50 prospect, Henry Owens, on Aug 4/2015.
Henry Owens strikes out Jacoby Ellsbury on a slider well outside the strike zone
Most of the trends in these pitching charts are easy to understand:
ERA and WHIP since 1960
It’s easy to see the Year of the Pitcher in 1968, the recovery as baseball adjusted the pitching mound, the sudden increase during the Steroid Years, and the recent crash in offense partially associated with the increase in the size of the strike zone.
But there’s an a abrupt drop in WHIP and (to a lesser extent) ERA between 2000 and 2001, and I don’t know of any rule change, or other change in the game, that would drive that. Steroids were still winked at, offense remained at a very high level, the strike zone wasn’t officially changed — what happened?
As of his game today (June 28) he’s faster than his last few games for the major-league Sox, but barely back to where he started the year, and nowhere near where he was a couple years ago.
Justin Masterson pitch speed, 2015
He probably needs to pick up another couple mph at the least to have a chance at consistent effectiveness at the major-league level.
Rick Porcello hasn’t been pitching very well for the Red Sox so far. Although there’s a meme going around that Porcello needs to use his two-seam fastball more, in an article I wrote (Location is the Key for Rick Porcello) I suggested that his pitch mix is not the problem, while the location of his four-seam fastball might be.
Rick Porcello: Pitch characteristics (2015)
There have been suggestions from the Red Sox management that the gap between AAA and the major leagues is wider today than ever before. I looked at the claim (Are Rookies Having a Harder Time?) and didn’t find much evidence to support it.
Rookie wRC+ by year
I wrote about Eduardo Rodriguez’ poor fourth start against the Blue Jays, and how he righted the ship for his fifth start: How Eduardo Rodriguez Got His Groove Back
Rodriguez average fastball velocity by inning
My article on catcher framing at sonsofsamhorn.com.
Catcher framing: Brian McCann’s differences from the average strike zone since 2008