Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Rockies’ 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, 7:05 PM – Jamie Moyer

(2010 Pitches)

It is no secret that Moyer does not possess much velocity at this point. His fastball maxed out in the low 80’s in 2010 and, after missing the 2011 season following Tommy John surgery, he has failed to touch 80 MPH so far this year. His ability to survive begins with excellent command. He rarely ventures into the middle of the zone, preferring to nibble on the corners with a number of tempting off-speed pitches. Moyer also throws four different pitches that likely look the same to a hitter coming out of his hand, which is another key to his game. His fastball, cutter, sinker and changeup all sit within about six MPH of each other, but each pitch moves a little differently on the way to the plate. While opposing hitters have little trouble putting his offerings in play, it is much more difficult to actually square up on the ball because of that subtle movement.

Moyer’s sinker sits consistently at 78-79 MPH with good sinking arm-side movement. His cutter sits around 75-76 MPH, and he generally uses it in on the hands of right-handers. He also mixes in an occasional 76-77 MPH four-seam fastball to keep hitters honest, spotting it well on both corners to righties and mostly on the inner half against lefties. Moyer’s low 70’s changeup is his only offering with a decent whiff rate, and he often works with it down and away to right-handers. His final weapon, and only breaking pitch, is a curveball that averages about 67-68 MPH.

Wednesday, 12:35 PM (Game 1) – Juan Nicasio

Nicasio has a big arm, leaning heavily on a four-seam fastball that sits at 93-95 MPH and can get as high as 97. The heater has not necessarily been overpowering during his limited time in the big leagues, but it has generated a comfortably above average whiff rate. He also mixes in a two-seamer at a similar velocity, a pitch that has good late life and misses plenty of bats. Nicasio also throws a slider and a changeup, both of which typically sit in the mid 80’s. Both of those pitches have been pretty hittable early on in his career. Nicasio’s command can be spotty at times, which occasionally gets him into trouble.

Wednesday, TBD (Game 2) – Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin has typically been a big swing-and-miss guy, but his strikeout rate dropped closer to league average last season and his ground ball rate skyrocketed to 56.3%, ranking fifth among qualified pitchers. He throws both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs around 90-93 MPH, not missing many bats but getting a good number of ground balls with each pitch. The two-seamer mostly sinks straight down, with minimal horizontal tail, while the four-seamer flashes some sharp cutting movement. Chacin’s nasty low 80’s slider is his big strikeout pitch, with a whiff rate over 40% in his career. His power upper 70’s curveball is also an effective pitch, missing a good number of bats and generating plenty of ground balls when hitters are able to put it in play. He also throws a solid changeup in the low to mid 80’s. Chacin generally mixes in more changeups and curves against left-handed hitters, while leaning heavily on his slider against righties.

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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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