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Which Mets pitchers have the best put-away pitches?

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Having a good put-away pitch is an important trait for generating strikeouts. Here's how the Mets' pitchers rate in that regard.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A put-away pitch is a pitch that a pitcher can go to when he gets to a two-strike count that to end the at-bat quickly. Think Noah Syndergaard's slider or vintage Johan Santana's changeup—an electric, or deceptive, two-strike pitch that has a good chance to put an end to the at-bat via strikeout.

A put-away pitch is often a pitcher's best secondary pitch, the type of pitch that looks like a strike at first but breaks out of the zone late, or it looks like a ball at first before dropping into the zone and causing a called third strike.

By using the PITCHf/x database, we can measure how often and how efficiently a pitcher puts a batter away with a specific pitch type and where he stacks up against the rest of the league with that particular pitch. Put-away rate is the percentage of two-strike pitches that end in a strikeout. For example, Syndergaard has thrown his curve 35 times in two-strike counts in 2016 and has generated a strikeout with it 10 times, good for a 28.6% put-away rate.

Here are the 2016 MLB averages for put-away rate on pitch types.

Pitch type Put-away rate
Four-seam fastball 16.9%
Two-seam fastball 14.7%
Slider 23.1%
Change up 20.7%
Curveball 21.0%
Splitter 20.2%

And here are the 2016 put-away rates for notable Mets pitchers.

Noah Syndergaard

Pitch type Put-away rate
Four seam fastball 25.5%
Two seam fastball 8.7%
Slider 37.3%
Change up 33.3%
Curveball 28.6%

Syndergaard has significantly above-average put-away rates on all of his pitch types except for his two-seamer, which is more of a pitch to contact pitch that generates weak outs. His secondary pitches are set up by his ridiculous fastball velocity, which gives the batter less time to react to what is coming and plays a big role in why Syndergaard has an above-average put-away rate on most of his pitch types.

Syndergaard's best put-away pitch by percentage is his slider, which isn't surprising considering it's probably the hardest slider ever thrown by a starting pitcher in baseball history, reaching top speeds of 95 mph. Syndergaard's 37.3% put-away rate on his slider is far above the major league average of 23.1%, and it's ranked first among qualified starters. It is one of the best single pitches in all of baseball right now. Batters have a minuscule .346 OPS against his slider.

Syndergaard also has an elite put-away rate on his change up, which has become a much better pitch for him this year, with improvements in velocity, command, and late nasty movement.

Best put-away pitch: slider

Matt Harvey

Pitch type Put-away rate
Four seam fastball 15.0%
Two seam fastball 0%
Slider 19.4%
Change up 24.5%
Curveball 16.2%

Harvey has had trouble putting batters away on three of his four main pitches this year. He's thrown his four-seamer 187 times in two-strike counts and registered a strikeout on only 28 of them, a 15% rate, which is below the major league average of about 17% with the pitch. His put-away rate on his four-seamer is also way down from 2015, when it sat at 21.7%, well above average. What jumps out about his fastball is that the average velocity is down one mile per hour from last season, and he hasn't been able to command it very well for most of the year.

His breaking pitches have also been less effective with two strikes. Harvey's slider put-away rate is 19.4%, below the MLB average of 23.1%, and down from 29% in 2015. His curveball put-away rate of 16.2% is also well below the MLB average of about 21%, and is down from 21.6% in 2015. Harvey's changeup has taken over as his best put-away pitch by percentage this year at 24.5%, up from 17.4% last year and above the major league average of 20.7% on that pitch.

Here's a good sign for the future, though: Harvey has had notable improvements in putting batters away with his secondary pitches during his three-start surge, with put-away rates of 21.7% on his slider, 27.3% on his curve, and 30% on his change up.

Best put-away pitch: changeup

Jacob deGrom

Pitch type Put-away rate
Four seam fastball 17.6%
Two seam fastball 12.5%
Slider 26.0%
Change up 20.0%
Curveball 19.5%

Like Matt Harvey, deGrom's fastball hasn't been the same put-away pitch for most of this year. In 2015, deGrom put batters away at a 20.6% rate with two strikes using his four-seamer. This year, it's down to 17.6%. A lot of that can be attributed to a velocity loss of about two miles per hour for the season as a whole.

However, like Matt Harvey, deGrom has pitched better lately as he regains his arm strength, particularly with his fastball. His put-away rate on his four-seam fastball has climbed to an awesome 27.3% in his last three starts dating back to his start against the Dodgers at Citi Field.

His slider has also been a much better put-away pitch this year, rising to 26%, up from 17.3% last season. deGrom is getting more swings-and-misses and less contact on his slider this year despite a drop in slider velocity of about 1.5 mph, and he is also throwing more sliders in the strike zone.

Best put-away pitch: slider


Steven Matz

Pitch type Put-away rate
Two seam fastball 19.7%
Slider 17.5%
Change up 20.6%
Curveball 24.2%

Batters do not see the ball particularly well against Matz, and combined with his mid-90s sinker velocity, it's helped lead to a well-above-average put-away rate on his two-seam fastball. Matz has struck out the fourth-most batters in baseball on a two-seamer.

Matz's best put-away pitch by percentage is his curve. He leads the Mets pitching staff with strikeouts off a curveball at 15, and 13 of his 15 strikeouts on his curve have been from a swing and a miss.

Best put-away pitch: curveball


Zack Wheeler

Wheeler last pitched in 2014, so here are his numbers from that season.

Pitch type Put-away rate
Four seam fastball 16.3%
Two seam fastball 18.5%
Slider 22.0%
Change up 9.5%
Curveball 25.3%

Wheeler's best put-away pitch was his curveball, which showcased some wipe-out break across two planes. The centered camera angle of Marlins Park captured it nicely here:

The pitch starts on the inner third and ends up by the chalk in the opposite batter's box.

Jeurys Familia

Pitch type Put-away rate
Four seam fastball 12.0%
Two seam fastball (sinker) 25.0%
Slider 31.3%
Splitter 25.0%

Familia's strikeout rate (23%) is down from last year (28%). His slider has lost 3 mph in average velocity from 2015, and it's led to more contact, fewer swinging strikes, and fewer swings outside of the strike zone on the slider. Familia's electric splitter from late last year also hasn't been the same this year, and he isn't throwing it very often.

When Familia does get to a two-strike count, though, he's still been able to put batters away at a comparable rate with his sinker and slider. Last year, Familia's sinker and slider combo had a put-away rate of 27.9%. This year, that combo is 27.2%.

Best put-away pitch: slider