Bumped from FanPosts. --Chris
Bobby Parnell is a pitcher who relies a good deal on throwing gas. And this year, he's done that pretty successfully - his fastball is at the highest velocity it has ever been and he's breaking 100 quite regularly. In fact, as of 8/17, only Henry Rodriguez (37 times) and Aroldis Chapman (93 times!) have broken triple digits with a pitch more often than Bobby Parnell.
But Parnell had an issue with throwing his pitches (both this fastball and his slider) at their peak velocities: for the first batter or so, Parnell often seems unable to hit his normal high velocities, as if he was still warming up. You can see this on Figure 1 below, which shows the average velocity of Parnell's fastball through the first 15 pitches of his appearances:
As you can see on the graph above, Parnell starts off his appearances on average at 95.5 MPH and doesn't reach high velocities until pitch 5 - and even then his velocity still hasn't peaked until a few pitches later. Figure 2 below shows the effect of this on an at-bat basis:
As Figure 2 clearly shows, the first batter Bobby Parnell faces when he comes into the game gets the clear advantage of avoiding the super velocity that is Parnell's specialty. Parnell's slider shows the same pattern - the first batter to face Parnell when he comes in faces slower sliders as well as fastballs. The second batter may also get a slight advantage, but the advantage is nowhere near as big as it is with the first batter (In other words, it may sometimes take Parnell two batters to reach max velocity, but not always - but it always takes him one batter to get there).
This trend is NOT normal. To take another Met Pitcher for example: Jason Isringhausen's fastballs appear to start essentially at his average velocity.
Now the question is: Does Parnell's lower velocity hurt him against the first batters who face him in each appearance? It's impossible for me to say one way or the other conclusively, but his results this year suggest that the answer is yes, as you can see in Table 1:
|Batter # ||K%||BB%|| Expected Run Value Per At Bat*
Table 1: The Results of Bobby Parnell based upon what batter is facing Parnell in an apperance.
*NOTE: Negative Run Values are GOOD for Pitchers, Positive are BAD.
As Table 1 shows, the first batter Parnell faces in each appearances is having the best results against Bobby Parnell - they're striking out the least and doing the best overall offensively, as shown by the run values (admittedly, the lack of velocity isn't causing Parnell to walk a ton of batters). Note that these results are from a small sample size (and we can't clearly identify the results as caused by the lack of velocity), but the implication seems strong.
Now this seems fixable right? Shouldn't Parnell be able to figure out how to warm up so he comes out with his best stuff, or something close to it, rather than doing what he does now? I mean this isn't like someone who requires a short bit to gain control, this is figuring out how to throw your hardest - it's the very sort of thing that warming up is meant to do for pitchers. If Parnell CAN fix this, well, one would have to think he'd get even better, which would be excellent if he's to be our new closer.