FanPost

Potential Mets Fifth Starters - Freddy Garcia, Chris Young, and Jeff Francis: What Do They Throw?

So, the word is that the Mets are looking to sign one of three pitchers to be the #5 starter to start the season. None of these pitchers have had particularly great results recently, but one thing I haven't seen discussed is: what pitches do each of these guys throw, and how good/bad/okay do the pitches look in terms of movement or velocity? 

So, in this post, I'm going to take a quick look at these three pitchers' repertoires and show what they throw:

Chris Young: 
Youngpitchmovements_medium

Figure 1:  Graph of the movement of Chris Young's pitches this year.

To Read:

Vertical Movement: the amount of inches the ball drops/"rises" as compared to how we would expect gravity to make a pitch drop. So a fastball with Positive 10 Vertical Movement "RISES" 10 inches more than it should if gravity was the only force acting on it and a curveball with -10 Vertical Movement drops 10 inches more than a pitch thrown that is just acted on by gravity.

Horizontal Movement:  The graph is from the view of a catcher or umpire behind home plate. So a pitch that's on the left side of the graph (and has "negative horizontal movement") moves in on righties and away from lefties. A pitch that's on the right side of the graph moves in on lefties and away from righties. 

Legend for this Graph and All Subsequent Graphs:
Fastballs = Red Dots
Change Ups = Yellow Dots
Sliders = Blue Dots
Curve Balls = Purple Dots

Pitch Type Number Thrown
Average MPH Average Horizontal Movement Average Vertical Movement
Change-Up 2 76.85 -7.06 +6.48
Curveball 1 66.00 -1.46 -8.48
Fastball 238 84.63 -3.034 +11.30
Slider 68 74.89 +1.18 +1.

Table 1:  The Average Numbers on each of the pitches Chris Young threw in 2010

Chris Young in 2010 threw basically only the fastball and slider, though he did throw two changeups and a curveball for us to get a look at the pitches. The fastball, not even averaging 85MPH, doesn't have amazing movement either: it's vertical movement basically means the ball stays high (resulting in him being the extreme fly ball pitcher he is), while the horizontal movement basically seems to make it a straight-like pitch...it doesn't tail or cut.

His other main pitch, the slider, isn't great either. There's not great horizontal or vertical movement, and the pitch is slow for a slider (not even 75MPH on average). Once again, not so great.

Finally neither his rarely seen this year changeup or curveball are particularly great. The curveball has a decent 12-6 movement (9 inches more sink than what we'd expect from gravity), but is once again on the slow-end of things.  The changeup basically appears similar-in-movement to the fastball, so the pitch might be a serviceable weapon against opposite-handed batters, but not great. 

It's been said that Chris Young doesn't have anything left in the tank. This look at him seems to agree with that assessment. Throwing him out there every 5 days might be a disaster. 

Jeff Francis:

Francispitchmovements_medium
Figure 2:  Graph of the movement of Jeff Francis' pitches this year.

To Read:

Vertical Movement: the amount of inches the ball drops/"rises" as compared to how we would expect gravity to make a pitch drop. So a fastball with Positive 10 Vertical Movement "RISES" 10 inches more than it should if gravity was the only force acting on it and a curveball with -10 Vertical Movement drops 10 inches more than a pitch thrown that is just acted on by gravity.

Horizontal Movement:  The Graph is from the view of a catcher or umpire behind home plate. So a pitch that's on the left side of the graph (and has "negative horizontal movement") moves in on righties and away from lefties. A pitch that's on the right side of the graph moves in on lefites and away from righties. 

Legend for this Graph and All Subsequent Graphs:
Fastballs = Red Dots
Change Ups = Yellow Dots
Curve Balls = Purple Dots

Pitch Type Number Thrown
Average MPH Average Horizontal Movement Average Vertical Movement
Change-Up 407 79.08 +6.10 +2.25
Curveball 220 72.53 -5.17 -3.75
Fastball 1021 87.11 +8.33 +6.50
Table 2:  The Average Numbers on each of the pitches Jeff Francis threw in 2010.

Jeff Francis threw basically 3 pitches last year (he could have more than one fastball, but I didn't see one with a quick look, so it's not too worth noting). Francis's fastball averages 87MPH, which while not fast is at least somewhat acceptable for a primary pitch. The pitch is probably a two-seam fastball as it has decent tailing action and okay sink. Basically his pitch is a slower Mike Pelfrey fastball.

He also has a changeup and a curveball. The curveball has almost slider-like movement (it only sinks 3.75 inches more than the pitch would due to gravity), but still isn't fast enough to justify such poor movement. This is almost certainly Francis' worst pitch. The changeup is, like the fastball, at least a serviceable pitch. It has good sink compared to the fastball (it drops an additional 4.25 inches), while having an okay velocity of 79MPH. 

All in all, Francis has two okay pitches and one poor pitch. For a fifth starter, that's not a terrible balance.  It's certainly better than what we'd get with Chris Young.

Freddy Garcia:
Garciapitchmovements_medium

Figure 3:  Graph of the movement of Freddy Garcia's pitches this year.

To Read:

Vertical Movement: the amount of inches the ball drops/"rises" as compared to how we would expect gravity to make a pitch drop.  So a Fastball with Positive 10 Vertical Movement "RISES" 10 inches more than it should if gravity was the only force acting on it and a curveball with -10 Vertical Movement drops 10 inches more than a pitch thrown that is just acted on by gravity.

Horizontal Movement:  The Graph is from the view of a catcher or umpire behind home plate.  So a pitch that's on the left side of the graph (and has "negative horizontal movement") moves in on righties and away from lefties.  A pitch that's on the right side of the graph moves in on lefites and away from righties. 

Legend for this Graph and All Subsequent Graphs:
Four-Seam Fastballs = Red Dots
Two-Seam Fastballs = Orange Dots
Change Ups/Split-Finger-Fastballs = Yellow Dots
Sliders = Blue Dots
Curve Balls = Purple Dots

Pitch Type Number Thrown
Average MPH Average Horizontal Movement Average Vertical Movement
Change-Up/Split-Finger Fastball
837 80.50 -6.63 +6.38
Curveball 111 70.17 +5.13 -4.92
Four-Seam
322 87.50 -4.86 +10.70
Two-Seam 411 87.83 -7.48 +9.99
Slider 752 79.76 +1.33 +3.20

Table 3:  The Average Numbers on each of the pitches Freddy Garcia threw in 2010.

Wow that's a mess of a graph in Figure 3. FIVE Pitches! And believe it or not, that's actually wrong as Garcia really throws 6 pitches: a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a changeup, a splitter, a slider, and a curveball. On the graph and in the table, the changeup and the splitter are combined because I was doing this in a short amount of time, and it's difficult to separate the two. So ignore the numbers in the table for the change/splitter, and just read what I'm writing in the next few paragraphs. 

Garcia is a very odd pitcher in that while he has two fastballs, neither of them is his primary pitch and in fact, his two fastballs account for less than a third of Garcia's total pitches. So having a poor fastball won't necessarily harm Garcia as much as it would the other two guys talked about for the fifth starter spot. 

Well, does Garcia have a bad fastball? Well his four-seamer is not a good pitch: it basically is like a faster version of Chris Young's fastball in that it doesn't have good tailing or cutting action and has a vertical movement that keeps the ball up. Of course, the extra 3 miles per hour should help a decent amount. Garcia's two-seam fastball is basically the same as the four-seam fastball except that it has a decent amount of tailing action (it tails 7.48 inches in on right-handed batters). So the two-seam fastball is at least a serviceable pitch, but the four-seam fastball is substandard. Still, as I said above, this doesn't matter for Garcia anywhere near as much as it does with the other guys, because he uses the fastball so infrequently.

Garcia then throws a changeup and a splitter (also known as a split-finger fastball). The changeup seems to have similar movement to the two-seam fastball (maybe a little more sink) while coming in at 80MPH. The splitter appears to have similar horizontal movement to the four-seam fastball but a bit more sink. 

Garcia finally throws two breaking balls: a slider which he throws very frequently, almost 1/3 of the time, and a curveball (thrown extremely infrequently). The slider has decent velocity (79.76MPH on average), though it's movement isn't great. Still, in comparison to Chris Young's slider, Garcia's has greater movement relative to his fastball, and the pitch is probably at least serviceable. Garcia's curveball has more of slurve-like movement and probably isn't too effective, but he rarely uses the pitch (he uses it less than 5% of the time), so it's probably not a big deal.

-----------------------

CONCLUSION:

Just looking at the pitches of each pitcher, without looking at their results, what we see is a trio of not great-looking pitchers. However, Chris Young appears clearly worse than the rest. Unless the Mets have seen clear improvements in Young's pitch velocity and movement, they really shouldn't be considering signing him unless they have no other option. 

As for Francis vs. Garcia, I'd have to look at the results (which I haven't). Garcia intrigues me more simply because of his large repertoire and odd non-reliance upon the fastball. But really either will do an okay job at holding down the #5 spot for next year. Just don't expect too much from either of them.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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