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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Evaluating Two-Pitch Pitchers

. After my initial study into the viability of two-pitch starting pitchers centered around Jack Flaherty, I concluded that two-pitch pitchers were just as effective on a per pitch basis and that they suffer no additional TTO penalty. Therefore, I surmised, rostering these types of starting pitchers should have no detrimental effects on how you build your roster and are not a reason to be skeptical of a pitcher as a viable option to churn through an opposing lineup. The issue I found was that my definition of a two-pitch pitcher was flawed, based on an arbitrary cutoff to try to diagnose Flaherty’s lack of strikeouts in the early going.

When I eliminated the arbitrary cutoff and used a more continuous definition of how much a pitcher relies on his top two pitchers, I found that pitchers with more limited repertoires were a little more effective than the rest of their peers, but did not go as deep into games. Furthermore, they suffered a much harsher TTO penalty, which is most likely the explanation for those pitchers not facing as many opposing hitters.

The idea that pitchers with only two viable pitches are better suited for short starts, bulk work, or high leverage innings is not a groundbreaking finding, but I hope putting some empirical justification behind this idea is useful and this approach relatively new (at least on the public side). This confirmation of what many evaluators believed to be true should help us ask critical questions about how players should be deployed and developed, and what sorts of pitchers a roster requires. If the Rays invest in pitchers like Shane McClanahan and Luis Patiño, how should they be used and how does that affect Tampa’s roster? Well, it seems they are following what the research demonstrates: roster a deep bullpen and use these pitchers in three to five inning stints. The same concept holds true for the Astros and Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez or the Padres with Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers, and Dinelson Lamet.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 13, 2021 at 11:25 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6024095)
In one of Roger Angell's pieces about the 1976 playoffs, as he's watching Jim Lonborg pitch (initially well) for the Phillies against the Reds he quotes a scout to the effect that it's really hard for a starter to be just a two pitch pitcher. And, of course the big Red machine eventually gets to him.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: June 14, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6024164)
On the other hand, Clemens was pretty much a 2-pitch pitcher. At the other end of the spectrum, so was Maddux. If Ryan had a 3rd pitch I don't remember it. Rich Hill is an unhittable curve ball and not much else; same with Zito. (Not to mention the knucklers.) Two plus pitches and a third that's good enough to keep them honest can be enough.

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