On Wednesday afternoon, Jeremy Hellickson made his season debut against the Angels. His outing was far from flawless, as he wound up allowing three runs (one let in by reliever Adam Russell) on six hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. However, he did strike out ten hitters.
Of his 99 pitches, 20 of them were swinging strikes. (For context, a typical 99-pitch outing in the American League would garner about nine swinging strikes.) He went to work with (probably) five different pitches. Results for each type:
I’m reluctant to rely too much on pitch movement data from this one game—horizontal spin deflection values at Tropicana Field have been shifted positive for a while, and it still looks a little bit off this year. For this reason, I won’t look at exact pfx_x and pfx_z values here.
His fastball was in the 89-90 range for the most part. It was watched for a strike a lot (14 called), but also got hit pretty hard (three line drives and a homer).
His changeup is a straight change, getting less arm-side “run” than his fastball (Clay Buchholz and Rich Harden are two guys with similar changeups). He was comfortable throwing it to righties as well as to lefties, and picked up eight whiffs with it.
The curve and the slider get pretty much the same movement (a lot of “sweep,” not much drop), but the curve is in the low 70s and the slider is a few mph harder. They both missed bats on Wednesday, and the curve was dropped in for a called strike a handful of times, as well.
Hellickson also has a cutter in his arsenal, and I believe he threw three today. It’s hard to tell from the data, so take the four-seam/cutter distinction with a grain of salt.
It’s not wise to look too much into one start, especially against a lineup that features some hitters who are extremely prone to the swing-and-miss (Jeff Mathis, Brandon Wood, etc.). Nonetheless, it was definitely an intriguing season debut for Hellickson, and I’ll be interested to see how he does his next few times out.