Pitch F/X Audit: San Diego Padres

Moving right along on our look at the usage splits for major league pitchers in different situations, we find ourselves in San Diego, which, I believe means a whale’s va… well, if you saw the movie you know where I’m going.  If you have no idea, you have some homework!  As Pizza Cutter mentioned yesterday, we were lucky enough to get Paul DePodesta, member of the Padres front office, for a roundtable this season, and Geoff Young, the top Padres blogger, is a close blogging friend of ours as well.  Unfortunately, the team, for lack of a better word, stunk.  The recipe for Padre success in recent years involved extremely solid pitching with above average offense that does not make much headlines.  This season, the offense ventured southward, and the pitching was not as solid as the recent past.

As always, I took a look at the Padres pitchers splits versus different handed batters, with/without men on base, and for starting pitchers, how their pitch frequencies shifted throughout the course of the game.  The links are below:

Batter Handedness Splits – Padres
Baserunners Splits – Padres
Frequency by Innings – Padres

What stands out initially, in the batter handedness splits, is that Chris Young threw his heater 82% of the time to lefties, but 66% to righties.  His sliders shot up from 7% to 20% in the process.  Randy Wolf saw his fastball usage dropoff against righties, as well, throwing 24% curveballs to opposite handed righties as opposed to 14% against lefties.  Trevor Hoffman, primarily known for his changeup, also saw a drastic dropoff in fastball usage to righties. 

On the whole, Hoffman threw about 10-11% sliders this season, according to the data, but 22% were thrown to righties.  The other drastic shift involved Clay Hensley and his sliders.  He threw just 13% to lefties but 38% to righties, almost eliminating changeups from his right-handed repertoire.

Looking at the splits with/without runners on base, the only really interesting shift belongs to Randy Wolf.  The former Phillie, who has since bounced around the NL West, threw 65% fastballs with bases empty, but just 50% with runners on.  When ducks reached the pond, Wolf relied much more on his offspeed deliveries.  Everyone else noticed nominal differences in their shifts, occasionally relying more on the secondary pitches, but nothing necessarily drastic.

Jake Peavy experienced a fastball dropoff from 63% in the first three innings to 52% in the middle portion of his outings.  In the small sample of outings that lasted further, his frequencies tended to even out, but he followed the general norm of relying moreso on offspeed pitches as the game progresses.

Chris Young, however, broke from this mold by decreasing his fastball usage significantly as the game progressed.  In innings one through three, he delivered the heater close to 80% of the time, but did so on just 60% of his offerings in the latter stages of the game.  Randy Wolf served as the happy medium between Young and Peavy, decreasing his fastball usage in 4-6 from 1-3, but sustaining his 4-6 splits in the seventh and beyond.

The Padres will have to replace the league average performance from Greg Maddux, and will likely be trading Jake Peavy, meaning their rotation will consist of Chris Young, Baek, Josh Banks, and two pitchers to be named later.  The bullpen will continue to be solid, and PETCO will continue to help pitchers’ performance, but barring something unforeseen, this team will not be a solid competitor in 2009.

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