Last night Jeremy Guthrie had perhaps his best start of the year. The O’s beat the Twins 5-1, and Guthrie finished with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K. It was the kind of start we had gotten used to in previous years, but has been noticeably absent so far in 2009. Through the magic of pitch/fx (via Brooks Baseball), we can take a look at how he did it.
Location by pitch type (click for larger version)
Movement by pitch type (click for larger version)
One of the first things I noticed was Guthrie’s fastball. It only averaged 92.9 mph (down from 2008 and on par with the rest of this year), but it had good run in on right-handed batters (a little bit above average, which for Guthrie is actually quite good). He threw it a lot too, going with the heater over 70% of the time (compared to only about 60% of the time overall this year). His change-up was nothing special movement-wise (not out of the ordinary), but he was able to keep it down in the zone and even got a couple of swings and misses on it. He threw it 10.7% of the time; about the same as last year, opposed to the almost 16% of the time he’s used it in 2009. Perhaps the batter seeing it a little less frequently makes it a more effective pitch (there’s a happy medium) – especially considering it’s not exactly of Cole Hamels quality. The slider and curveball both had a touch more movement than usual as well, and Guthrie was able to keep them in the lower half of the zone for the most part. The curve got him a few called strikes and the slider a couple swinging ones, with the breaking pitches resulting in three of his five K’s. Another big plus was the 14 to 5, groundball to flyball ratio. And he threw a lot of strikes. Just a great start all around. More of these, please.