Hellickson’s pitches against the Angels

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:

mph # RHB LHB Ball Called Swinging Strike Foul GB FB LD PU
FF 89.5 39 22 17 14 14 2 3 2 1 3 0
CH 78.5 30 18 12 11 2 8 4 1 3 1 0
CU 72.5 16 10 6 2 5 6 2 0 0 0 1
SL 77.1 11 9 2 5 0 4 1 0 0 0 1
FC 87.2 3 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
99 60 39 35 21 20 10 3 4 4 2

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.

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  1. NoPepperGames said...

    Does “intriguing” mean “he’s in for a rough year” or “hold onto yer butts, AL, this kid’s got it”?

  2. Harry Pavlidis said...

    For comparison, here’s my breakdown of pitch types for JH’s start:

    FF 35
    CH 30
    CU 16
    SL 11
    FC 7

    I have one 77 mph curve and a 75 mph slider, so we overlap 25 out of 27 breaking balls and I was able to ‘find’ four more cutters.

  3. Lucas Apostoleris said...

    Yeah, I pretty much split up slider/curve and fastball/cutter by velocity.  I’m particularly skeptical of the cutter – I’ll definitely need some more data.

  4. Chicago Cubs Tickets said...

    Hellickson’s pitches against the Angels is really a good chance for them to show case their skills

  5. Sven Jenkins said...

    I hadn’t watched Hellickson before, so I just sat down and charted Wednesday’s start.

    This is what I saw….
    fastball (87-92) 38
    changeup (77-80) 30
    curve (70-78) 27
    cutter (87-89) 4

    I didn’t see a difference between his breaking balls.  He varied his curve some but there was no evidence, like catcher signs or consistent velocity differences, of two separate breaking balls.

    And I’m pretty sure he tried to throw a few cutters.  I caught a 3 from Jaso on one of them.

  6. Lucas Apostoleris said...

    Yeah, Sven; awesome.  I’ll pay attention to that curve in the future and see if it more clearly becomes two pitches.

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