What did Mark Buehrle throw?

During the season, Mark Buehrle used his change-up about 15-20% of the time. In yesterday’s perfect game, it was his go-to pitch, particularly against right-handed batters, who saw 40 change-ups out of 90 pitches. He notched 15 outs with the change, seven with the four-seam fastball, and five with the cut fastball.

In the last three innings, he went even more heavily to the change-up, throwing 24 changes compared to 18 pitches of all other types combined. This while he was ramping his fastball speed from the mid-eighties to the upper eighties, touching 90 mph with his final pitch.

After the jump is a chart showing the speed of all his pitches, with the pitch type and result of the at bat indicated.


By the way, not that it matters too much, but the home plate umpire Eric Cooper is the second-best umpire in the majors this year at calling balls and strikes, after Tim McClelland.

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  1. Sven Jenkins said...

    Mike, you beat me to the post.

    I just finished watching Buehrle’s perfect game.  My unofficial pitch count on the day was….

    44 Fastballs (82-89 MPH)
    44 Change-ups (76-82 MPH)
    16 Curveballs (69-74 MPH)
    12 Cutters (78-86 MPH)

    Buehrle’s reliance on the change-up almost doomed him.  After going to it in almost every tough spot, hitters were sitting on it.  It was a change-up that Gabe Kapler crushed to centerfield, and it was a change-up that Pat Burrell ripped foul down the leftfield line.

  2. Mike Fast said...

    Hi, Sven!  Good to see you here.  I wonder what it was about the change-up that led Buehrle to go to that well so often.  Whatever it was, it worked.

    Dave, that’s high praise indeed, coming from you.  I guess it is a new graphic.  I was trying to think of something this morning that could encapsulate the idea that Buehrle got so many outs with his changeup yesterday, and I came up with this.  I’ve done something like it before, but without the notation for the result of the at bats.

  3. russ said...

    A.J. Pierzynski is usually Buehrle’s catcher. Castro caught the perfect game.  The different catcher called a different game.  The book the hitters had did not work.

    The graph is great!  Easy to read.  At a glance you can spot the increase in Chg over the game.  You can also see the speed of all types of pitches move up through the game.

    Nice job.

  4. Red said...

    With that game Buehrle’s IP for this season are just 25 below the level where David Gassko predicted when he said Buehrle’s signing could not be justified.  His ERA+ has also improved in each season Gassko said it would get worse.

  5. Mike Fast said...

    Thanks, Russ.  Interesting thought about Castro’s game calling being a difference maker.

    Red, I can’t speak for David’s predictions, but I know I was laughed at for bidding $20 for Buehrle in my AL-only fantasy league.  Nobody’s laughing now.

  6. Joe Smith said...

    A spectacular example of why you don’t have to throw 95 MPH to be a great pitcher, and a prime example of how changing speeds — and the changeup in particular — may be be two of the game’s most underrated/underused things. A poster above said his changeup almost doomed him. The same could be said of a slew of fastballs or any pitch a pitcher throws that get hit hard but barely foul almost every game. You can’t argue with Buehrle’s long-term results. They speak for themselves and quash all naysayers in my opinion. A true magician and artist on the mound that doesn’t get the call guys like Glavine and Avery did in the Braves’ hayday, yet he wins double-digit games every year. Take notes, kids.

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