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April 13, 2013 1:42 pm
A look at some of the promising new offerings that pitchers have unveiled this month.
Every year, a few pitchers add a new pitch to their in-game arsenal after working on it over the winter or in spring training. Sometimes, the new pitch goes nowhere: it doesn’t produce results and is quickly abandoned, or it lingers but fails to make an appreciable impact. Other times, it helps a pitcher achieve some specific goal, like limiting opposite-handed hitters, but it doesn’t propel him to much greater heights. And every now and then, a new pitch transforms a pitcher into something far superior to what he was before, like Mike Scott’s splitter, Esteban Loaiza’s cutter, or, more recently, Jason Hammel’s sinker, which he added to great effect in 2012.
According to the custom, PITCHf/x-based pitch-type classifications provided by Harry Pavlidis of Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball, five pitchers have already unveiled new offerings in 2013. It’s too soon to say for sure whether they’ll all be successes, but a small sample can often reveal more about a single pitch than it can about a player’s overall performance. Here’s an early assessment of each one.
Paul Maholm assumes the mantle of the sub-60-mph strike.
Last season, there were 21 called strikes thrown slower than 60 miles per hour. Nineteen of them were eephus pitches by Vicente Padilla, and the other two were slow curves by Randy Wolf. Padilla is now pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, and Wolf will spend the whole season recovering from October Tommy John surgery. So we wondered—those of us who wonder about these things—who would take up the mantle of the under-60-mph strike thrower in 2013.
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