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 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


Friday, 7:05 PM – Bud Norris

Norris has good life on his fastball, throwing it in the low 90′s and occasionally touching 95 MPH. His velocity was down a tick early in the season, but it has crept back up in his past few starts. He also throws a slider in the mid to upper 80′s and a changeup in the mid 80′s. The slider is his big swing-and-miss pitch, with a whiff rate of about 45% so far in 2012. The fastball has slowly become more hittable over the years, and has not missed many bats this season. Norris’ strikeout rate is comfortably above average this year at 20.1%, but is down a bit from his career high of 23.1% in 2010.

Saturday, 7:05 PM – J.A. Happ

Happ possesses a pretty diverse repertoire. His fastball generally sits around 90 MPH, and shows good arm-side movement when he goes to the two-seamer. He occasionally dials it up to the 93-94 range with the four-seamer. He also throws a changeup in the low 80′s, a slider/cutter in the mid 80′s and a slow curve in the mid 70′s. Happ misses a good number of bats with his fastball, but his secondary stuff is pretty hittable. He tends to work up in the zone, which leads to plenty of fly balls. He also struggles with his control, leading to below average walk numbers.

Sunday, 1:35 PM – Wandy Rodriguez

Rodriguez throws his fastball in the 88-90 range, maxing out around 91-92 MPH. He moves the four-seamer all around the zone, while mostly using the two-seamer on the outer half. He frequently goes to his spike curveball, which sits in the mid to upper 70′s and generally shows good downward break. Rodriguez also throws a low to mid 80′s circle change, which he uses to keep right-handed batters honest. He does not miss many bats with his secondary offerings, but his fastball has historically been difficult to put in play despite the underwhelming velocity. Rodriguez generally gets a good number of his ground balls on the curve, although that has not really been the case so far in 2012. His strikeout rate is down pretty significantly early in 2012, after consistently sitting well above average the past several years.

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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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