Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Dodgers’ 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 Brooks Baseball and The Hardball Times .

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


Tuesday, 4:10 PM – Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw throws with a deceptive, jerky delivery. His four-seam fastball sits in the low to mid 90’s, with some rising, cutting action. He generally works up in the zone with the pitch, producing an above average number of swings-and-misses. His slider is his big strikeout pitch, with a 2011 whiff rate that was slightly over 40%. The pitch generally sits around 82-85 MPH, with good late break. Kershaw’s 73-75 MPH curveball also misses a ton of bats, but he uses it much less frequently than the slider. He mixes in an occasional low 80’s changeup against right-handed batters to keep them honest. It does not appear that he has ever thrown a changeup against a left-handed hitter in his career. Kershaw battled the flu during his first start of the season, which dragged down his velocity and limited him to three innings. He was still mostly effective, but it could prevent him from pitching too deeply into Tuesday’s game as well.

Wednesday, 10:10 PM – Chad Billingsley

Billingsley throws with a high three-quarters delivery. His four-seam fastball sits in the low 90’s and touches 95 MPH. He also throws a two-seamer that is a tick slower and a cutter that ranges from about 85 to 93 MPH. The cutter shows quite a bit of movement, with well above average sink and horizontal break approaching that of a typical major league slider. Billingsley’s two-plane slider sits in the mid 80’s with above average break. His curve moves as much as any in baseball, with velocities ranging from the mid 60’s to the low 80’s. Billingsley’s whiff rate dropped below average last season for the first time in his career, which contributed to a corresponding drop in his strikeout rate. He struck out 11 in his first 2012 start against San Diego, so maybe his swing-and-miss stuff is on its way back.

Thursday, 10:10 PM – Chris Capuano

Capuano does not have flashy velocity, only throwing his fastball in the mid to upper 80’s. He releases from a three-quarters arm slot and hides the ball well, helping him to keep hitters off-balance. He goes to his upper 70’s changeup often, and has an above average whiff rate with the pitch. He also throws an occasional slider that sits around 80 MPH and a mid 80’s cutter. Despite the unimpressive velocity, Capuano has consistently posted above average strikeout rates in his career.

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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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