Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Reds’ 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

 

Friday, 7:05 PM – Edinson Volquez

(click to enlarge)

Volquez returned to the majors two weeks ago, after spending a couple months in Triple-A. He throws from a three-quarters release point, with a mid 90’s fastball that touches 97 MPH. He also throws a mid 80’s circle change and a curveball that averages about 80 MPH. The changeup is elite, with good downward bite and a whiff rate approaching 50% this year. He misses bats with all of his pitches, resulting in a strikeout rate that has consistently been over 20%. Unfortunately for Volquez, huge walk rates have held him back for his entire career. He seems to consistently use a slightly lower release point when throwing his changeup, although that clearly has not affected the effectiveness of the pitch.

 

Saturday, 7:05 PM – Travis Wood

(click to enlarge)

Wood survives by mixing up the various pieces of his diverse repertoire and keeping hitters off balance. He does not have great stuff, and does not miss many bats. He throws a four-seam fastball that sits around 90 MPH and occasionally gets up around 94 MPH. He also throws a two-seamer and cutter, both of which come in a few ticks slower. His best pitch is probably his upper 70’s changeup, which has generally shown off a slightly above average whiff rate. The southpaw throws it exclusively against right-handers, with only one change registering against a lefty this year. Wood also throws a mid 70’s knuckle-curve and very rarely mixes in a low 80’s slider.

 

Sunday, 1:35 PM – Dontrelle Willis

(click to enlarge)

The issue with Willis has always been his erratic control. He seemed to have made some progress in that area this year, as he cut his walk rate dramatically at Triple-A Louisville and started well with the Reds. However, the walks have begun to pile up again over his last several starts. He does not miss many bats, and has historically posted below average strikeout rates at the major league level. Willis throws with a three-quarters delivery, and has cut down on his trademark high leg kick a bit. His fastball sits in the high 80′s with solid movement, occasionally getting into the low 90′s . He also throws a slider around 80 MPH and a low 80′s changeup. The classification system used by FanGraphs also has him throwing a cutter, but I think those may just be misclassified sliders.

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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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