The Tampa Bay Rays have some really interesting pitchers on their big league staff; so much so that I’ve developed something of an obsession with the team. They create some of the best and asthetically-pleasing pitch movement The Rays’ pitching development, headed by pitching coach Kyle Snyder, seems to have a firm grasp on effective pitching strategy in regards to their arsenal and pitch ecosystems.
For this assessment, the Tampa arms have to had thrown at least 20 innings along with a 20%+ usage rate for each pitch type in 2019. FanGraphs’ linear pitch weights (normalized to 100 pitches) hold the higher priority in this evaluation while also considering Pitch Info’s plate discipline (Z-Contact%, O-Swing% and SwStr%) and wOBA.
-82% Zone contact
-21% Chase rate
-10% SwStr rate
I’m expecting big things from Glasnow if he can stay healthy in 2020. His fastball is a plus-plus pitch, thrown with almost pure backspin (~12:00 spin direction) possessing an element of cut (about 87% Magnus/Spin efficiency) that creates a very straight pitch shape with a lot of rise and 97 MPH+ velocity.
Below is an image of how Glasnow designed his four-seamer:
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Emilio Pagan, Colin Poche, Blake Snell
-90% Zone contact
-23% Chase rate
-6% SwStr rate
Probably more a two-seamer than a sinker, Chirinos gets a ton of movement on this fastball variety. Like Glasnow, Chirinos throws the pitch with nearly perfect Magnus efficiency under a 2:00 spin direction. Chirinos generates above-average velocity (95 MPH) and spin rate (2287 RPM) on his fastball.
HONORABLE MENTION: ANDREW KITTREDGE
-90% Zone contact
-26% Chase rate
-6% SwStr rate
Yarbrough wins this essentially by default as few of his teammates actually throw a cutter. More of a back spinner cutter (more rise than run) than a traditional cutter (less rise; little sweep/run), Yarbrough throws the pitch with 54% gyro spin (46% Magnus efficiency) under an 11:20 spin direction.
HONORABLE MENTION: none
-77% Zone contact
-36% Chase rate
-19% SwStr rate
Is it actually a splitter? A split-change? A screwball? Regardless, most of you remember this pitch from 2019 that blew up on the internet last summer and created (in some cases) heated debates:
Whatever it is, it’s a great pitch; about 70% of the 12:10 spin direction is affected by Magnus force. Its long-form movement averages around 31″ of drop with close to 2″ of run.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chirinos
-81% Zone contact
-48% Chase rate
-18% SwStr rate
A nearly 50% chase rate on any pitch is enough to be considered/contested as elite. The second appearance for Yarbrough is for his heavy fade changeup that has about 90% Magnus efficiency at a 2:30 spin direction.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jalen Beeks, Snell
-73% Zone contact
-38% Chase rate
-25% SwStr rate
By far the highest-rated (best?) pitch of this group, the 30-year-old Anderson had a breakout year in 2019 using something of a hybrid type of slider (very little sweep and rise) and four-seam fastball.
Anderson made adjustments to the pitch several times last year, averaging a 10:40 spin direction with just over 70% gryo spin (30-ish% spin efficiency). Its a pretty straight pitch when looking at the slider’s short-form movement chart, relying almost purely on gravity for its drop.
HONORABLE MENTION: Diego Castillo, Chaz Roe
-83% Zone contact
-42% Chase rate
-17% SwStr rate
Morton, like Anderson, had a major breakout in 2019; his 6.1 WAR nearly eclipsed his combined WAR from the previous three seasons (6.4). His curve falls somewhere between the classic (equal parts sweep and depth) and slurve variety (more sweep than depth). With nearly perfect Magnus efficiency, Morton throws his curve around 8:00 and creates, at times, pretty stunning movement.
HONORABLE MENTION: Glasnow, Snell