The above chart illustrates the importance of velocity. The red areas are showing high rates of SwStr%. Swing Strike percentages are pitches thrown in the strike zone that are swung at but missed. In this illustration, the more velocity a pitcher throws with, the more swing and miss he is going to have. Let’s look at a couple of concerns regarding velocity dropping off from pitchers in 2022. These pitchers should be a concern especially if they end up in the blue areas across the spin rate spectrum. The pitchers on this list are MIN Dylan Bundy, MIN Sonny Gray, CHC Drew Smyly, CLE Cal Quantrill, CLE Aaron Civale, and CLE Shane Bieber. The furthest left columns are the avg velocity in 2022 and the variation from 2021. All the highlighted pitchers are throwing at 90.2 mph or less and have dropped in velocity at least 1.5 mph from 2021.
MIN Dylan Bundy should be in trouble, however, he has discovered how to make the ball move vertically. His velocity is in the “danger zone” (<90 mph) but has good results in his two starts. In the chart below we will see the vertical movement for MIN pitchers. Notice Bundy leads the staff with 10.7. His rank in all of MLB is 8th! It means he has found a velocity that actually helps him get outs because the ball moves much more! Also, take notice of Sonny Gray (also on our list above). His movement is only 7.7 which ranks 119th. He is of major concern and we should be looking to wager against him!
A way to verify this would be to look at xFIP and SIERA metrics. They are predictive indicators for the pitcher’s upcoming results. In this chart, we see again, Gray with very high xFIP and SIERA values and Bundy with much lower ones. These metrics confirm there is not an issue with Bundy but there is with Gray.
By using the same xFIP and SIERA results for CLE pitchers (Bieber, Quantrill, and Civale) we should be able to forecast similar projections. Below is the CLE graph.
Here we see Bieber is in line with a normal to better than average performance regarding xFIP and SIERA. He is not a concern at this point. However, both Quantrill and Civale go on the wager against list. Civale has an xFIP of 5.02 and Quantrill is almost at 6.00 for both! I would also suggest that CHC Smyly should be viewed as the verdict is still out. His predictive measures are good, but he has poor verticle movement. He is excelling at horizontal movement.