Exploring the Arsenal: A Preview of the Houston Astros’ Probable Starting Pitchers

Exploring the Arsenal will run prior to each series, providing you with a brief scouting report on the starting pitchers expected to oppose the Pirates. The charts below show the horizontal and vertical movement of every pitch thrown by that particular pitcher in 2011. These charts are from the catcher’s point of view. For a general guide to pitch types for a right-handed pitcher, please check out this image created by Sons of Sam Horn. Graphs are courtesy of FanGraphs.

Pitch Types  
FA: Four-Seam Fastball FT: Two-Seam Fastball FC: Cutter
CU: Curveball SL: Slider CH: Changeup
FS: Splitter


Tuesday, 8:05 PM – Bud Norris

(click to enlarge)

Norris has a compact delivery and an over-the-top release point. His fastball sits in the low 90’s and touches 95 MPH. He also throws a slider in the mid 80’s and a changeup in the low 80’s. Each of his pitches have lost a tick of velocity this season, but have remained effective. The slider is his big swing-and-miss pitch, driving a well above average overall whiff rate. Norris has cut down on his walks a bit this year, leading to improved numbers.


Wednesday, 8:05 PM – J.A. Happ

(click to enlarge)

Happ utilizes a diverse repertoire. His fastball sits around 90 MPH, and occasionally shows decent arm-side movement. He also throws a changeup and slider in the low 80’s and a slow curve in the mid 70’s. He does not miss many bats, but still manages to consistently produce an above average strikeout rate. After a few strong seasons, his high walk rate and fly ball tendencies appear to be catching up to him a bit this year.


Thursday, 2:05 PM – Jordan Lyles

(click to enlarge)

The 20-year-old Lyles throws his fastball right around 90 MPH, and commands it very well. His low 80’s changeup shows good arm-side movement. He also throws a sharp, upper 70’s curveball with good downward break. Both off-speed pitches are plus offerings and have missed plenty of bats in his limited major league experience. Lyles’ strikeout rate in his three career starts has been right around league average, but all 12 of his punchouts have come by way of a swing. Expect that number to improve as he begins to catch a few more hitters looking.

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Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.

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