Thursday, March 10, 2011
Neftali’s new pitchPosted by Harry Pavlidis
Neftali Feliz debuted his cutter during Cactus League play on Wednesday. While Jeff Passan is convinced Feliz is best suited for starting, it may be a bit premature to declare the Texas closer a full-blown four-pitch pitcher. This is a new pitch, and scouts generally don't laud his secondary stuff.
Still, this moves Feliz into the same territory as Bobby Jenks, Joakim Soria and Aaron Heilman—relievers with a starter's arsenal. These are cherry-picked examples, but it does illustrate the range of pitchers who work out of a bullpen despite having four or more pitches at their disposal. One could argue the "extra" pitches just give a reliever better odds of having a single effective secondary pitch on any given day.
For further illustration of the new offering, the PITCHf/x spin deflection plot for Feliz shows the new pitch right along the vertical axis, snugly between his cluster of slurves and fastballs. Note the velocity of the change-ups (hanging below the cluster of fastballs) and the cutter. This new pitch may be best called a slutter. As shown, Feliz is throwing it close to slider/change-up speed. Finally, his breaking pitch is usually referred to as a slider, but you'll also hear it called a slurve, which is a better description.
Harry Pavlidis admits he has a baseball problem. He is the founder of Pitch Info LLC, His pitch classifications power the player cards at Brooksbaseball.net. Feedback, questions and comments are appreciated - Email email@example.com and Twitter @harrypav