Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Cubs’ 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 – Ryan Dempster

Dempster’s fastball has historically been a pitch that sits 90-92 MPH and and occasionally gets into the 94-95 range. However, his velocity is down a bit this season, mostly sitting 88-90 and touching 92 MPH. He throws a live four-seamer with rising action and a two-seamer with good tailing arm-side movement. His primary breaking ball is a mid 80’s slider, and he uses a low 80’s splitter as his off-speed pitch. He also appears to have added an upper 80’s cutter this year. Dempster does not really have a big strikeout pitch, but he misses bats at an above average rate with all of his offerings. His overall whiff rate is again one of the better rates in baseball after dipping down around league average in 2012.

Saturday, 7:15 PM – Paul Maholm

Maholm’s bread and butter is his upper 80’s sinker, which he goes to on about a third of his offerings. The pitch has plenty of horizontal tail to go along with the sinking movement, and has led to a ground ball nearly 70% of the time that it has been put in play in 2012. His four-seam fastball also sits in the upper 80’s, very rarely touching 90 MPH these days. Maholm has a deep repertoire, and he mixes his pitches well. He throws a low 70’s curveball, a low 80’s slider, a low 80’s changeup and appears to have added a mid 80’s cutter over the past couple seasons. None of his offerings miss many bats, although the slider has been a solid swing-and-miss pitch at times over the years. However, the majority of his pitches generate well above average ground ball rates, allowing him to effectively limit damage on batted balls.

Sunday, 1:35 PM – Matt Garza

In the past, Garza has leaned heavily on his fastball, throwing it about 70% of the time. When he moved to the National League in 2011, he began going to his secondary stuff much more often, throwing the heater on more like 55% of his pitches. His fastball averages about 93-95 MPH, but he can reach back and touch 96-97 at times. He throws a live four-seamer, while his two-seamer shows good arm-side movement. Garza has gone to his excellent mid 80’s slider much more frequently since joining the Cubs, generating an impressive whiff rate near 45% with the pitch in 2012. He also throws a changeup in the mid 80′s and a curve in the mid 70′s. Garza has not missed many bats with any of his offerings other than the slider this year, but he has maintained his well above average strikeout rate that spiked when he left the AL East.

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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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