Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Tigers’ 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 – Justin Verlander

Verlander has one of the best fastballs in the game. It sits comfortably at 94-96 MPH with great life, and regularly reaches triple digits. He commands it well to all four quadrants, but prefers to work up in the zone for the most part. He has an excellent circle change in the upper 80’s, a pitch that complements his powerful fastball well. He also throws a mid 80’s slider and a big upper 70’s curveball. Verlander misses plenty of bats with the majority of his pitches, particularly the changeup. He also generates a great deal of weak contact, currently leading the league by producing an infield pop-up on 25% of all balls in play allowed. His command is excellent, which is lethal for a guy with such great stuff.

Saturday, 4:05 PM – Drew Smyly

(2012 Pitches)

Smyly mixes his pitches well, which helps keep hitters off-balance. Each of his offerings tend to show similar horizontal break, with varying amounts of sinking action. He throws his fastball at 90-92 MPH with life, occasionally touching 95. He also has a mid 80’s cutter with good sink. He has used a low 80’s slider as his breaking pitch in the big leagues, but reportedly has also thrown a curveball in the minors. He also mixes in a mid 80’s changeup. Smyly’s slider has been essentially unhittable in his first seven starts, with a whiff rate approaching 50%. He has also missed plenty of bats with the fastball, while racking up ground balls when he goes to the cutter.

Sunday, 1:05 PM – Max Scherzer

Scherzer keeps things pretty simple on the mound, sticking to three main pitches. His fastball sits in the 92-95 range, and he can ramp it up to 97 MPH at times. He also throws a plus mid 80’s slider and a mid 80’s change. His fastball and slider are very tough to put in play. In 2012, the slider has a whiff rate over 40% while the heater is missing bats at nearly a 25% clip. Both of those numbers are well above average for the particular pitch type. Scherzer generally sticks to the fastball/slider combo against right-handed batters, and goes fastball/change against lefties.

Author: 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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