Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the 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

 

Monday, 8:05 PM – Wandy Rodriguez

(click to enlarge)

Rodriguez throws his fastball in the 89-90 range, and can touch as high as 92. He moves the pitch all over the strike zone, and effectively mixes his four-seamer, two-seamer and cutter. His best swing-and-miss pitch is his slurvy breaking ball, which sits in the mid 70′s. I believe this is a knuckle-curve, but I am not positive. Rodriguez also throws a low-80′s changeup, which he uses to keep right-handed batters honest. He will occasionally drop his release point into a low three-quarters arm slot to give hitters a different look.

 

Tuesday, 8:05 PM – Henry Sosa

(click to enlarge)

The 26-year-old Sosa made his major league debut with the Astros earlier this month, after spending much of the season pitching out of the bullpen for the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. He is a former top prospect, but has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies the past few years. Sosa throws hard, with a fastball that sits comfortably in the low 90’s and can get up into the 96-97 MPH range. He also throws a breaking ball that registers as a slider on FanGraphs, but is actually a hard curveball. Sosa has a mid 80’s changeup, but he only rarely goes to it. He has a very live arm, and can be tough to hit when he locates. Inconsistent command and the lack of a quality third pitch have certainly been issues.

 

Wednesday, 8:05 PM – J.A. Happ

(click to enlarge)

Happ possesses a pretty diverse repertoire. His fastball generally sits around 90 MPH, and occasionally shows decent arm-side movement. After seeing a dip in velocity early in the season, his fastball speed has steadily increased. In his past few starts, he has sat comfortably in the 91-92 MPH range. Happ also throws a changeup in the low 80′s, a slider in the mid 80’s and a slow curve in the mid 70′s. He does not miss many bats, but still manages to consistently produce solid strikeout rates. After a few strong seasons, his high walk rate and fly ball tendencies appear to be catching up to him this year.

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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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