Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Brewers’ 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, 5:05 PM – Chris Narveson

(click to enlarge)

Narveson is a soft-tossing southpaw, with a fastball that sits around 88 MPH and touches 90 on occasion. He has heavily increased the use of his changeup over the past couple years, throwing it 35% of the time in 2011. His change, which comes in around 80 MPH, generally shows similar movement to his fastball. He also throws a slow curve and mixes in a mid 80’s cutter. Despite the unimpressive velocity, Narveson misses a lot of bats, particularly with his changeup. He is striking out 19% of opposing hitters this season, and has probably pitched a little better than his 4.49 ERA would indicate.

 

Monday, TBD – Zack Greinke

(click to enlarge)

Greinke has been dominant after missing the first month of the season with a rib injury, much better than his 3.92 ERA would indicate. He has produced an impressive 151 strikeouts and 29 walks in 121.2 innings. He throws in the low 90’s, and can run his four-seamer up to 95 MPH at times. His fastball velocity is down a bit this year, as he frequently got up into the upper 90’s in the past. Looking at the data, it seems as if he has greatly reduced his use of the sinking two-seamer this season. That may just be a change in the classification algorithm, though. Greinke also throws a slider in the mid 80’s, a curve in the mid 70’s and a change in the mid 80’s. He probably throws several different variations of the curveball, as the pitch’s velocity ranges from about 60 to 80 MPH. The slider has long been his out pitch, with a whiff rate that sits well above average. That said, his other pitches miss plenty of bats as well.

 

Tuesday, 7:05 PM – Marco Estrada

(click to enlarge)

Estrada has mostly pitched out of the bullpen in his career, as his six starts this year are three times as many as he had entering the season. He has posted very strong strikeout numbers out of the pen, and has maintained that ability so far as a starter. His fastball generally sits in the 89-92 range, rarely getting any higher than that. He gets good velocity separation between his fastball and offspeed stuff. He throws a changeup and a curve, both in the upper 70’s. Estrada appears to telegraph his pitches with his release point, as you can see three distinct clusters in this graphic. However, it seems that variance has been more trouble than help for hitters so far.

 

Wednesday, 12:35 PM – Shaun Marcum

(click to enlarge)

Marcum is another guy who generates plenty of swings-and-misses despite underwhelming velocity. His fastball sits in the 86-89 range, and only occasionally touches 90 MPH. He does a good job of varying his offerings and staying away from the middle of the plate. He has gone to his low 80’s changeup about 30% of the time this year and, while the pitch remains very effective, it has generated fewer swings-and-misses than it did in 2010. Marcum throws a slow curve, which sits in the low 70’s but can dip all the way down to 65 MPH. He also mixes in a mid 80’s cutter and a low 80’s slider on occasion. His bread and butter remains the changeup, which he is perfectly willing to throw to both righties and lefties.

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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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