Keegan Thompson Made Sweeping Changes


Keegan Thompson
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Pitches are tough to categorize, as well as the communications in between them are much more laden. Blend a cutter and also a slider, and also you’ll make the accumulations look all– wait, I began as well certain. Allow’s back up. Baseball is a video game played in between 2 groups, each of whom take turns attempting to strike a sphere tossed by the various other group utilizing a bat. The item of the video game is to progress securely– wait, currently this is as well basic. Allow’s see if we can strike a middle ground.

Keegan Thompson tosses a great deal of pitches. Depending upon exactly how you count them– and also young boy, will certainly we enter just how you count them in this write-up, do not fret– he tosses as several as 6 various pitches, all with unique residential or commercial properties in some way. Required a ground ball? Keegan has a pitch for that. Strikeout? Safe bet. Wish to defeat a lefty, or generate a turn up, or control neighborhood nuclear power plant? Thompson can do the very first 2 of those, if he selects the ideal pitch for the best scenario.

This year, it appears like that previous paragraph is just partially hype. In his 2021 big league launching, Thompson mostly functioned out of the bullpen as well as had actually blended success. He set out an ordinary variety of batters however additionally ran a stroll price of almost 13%. He entered into 2022 without a clear function on the group– we forecasted him for a couple of beginnings and also a lot of bullpen job– however with a pushing demand for enhancement on the command front.

In the bullpen, Thompson mainly relied upon his four-seam heater, cutter, as well as curveball. He blended in an incredibly periodic changeup– 12 of the 620 pitches he included alleviation– however, for one of the most component, he stuck to his support. That makes good sense. They can not all be his finest pitch, and also if you’re just tossing one inning per video game, you may too stick to the support– in his instance, the high cheese.

Tinkerers desire to play, as well as in his brand-new beginning duty, Thompson checked out the workshop room. Initially, he did it in beginnings as well as fits. He stayed with his fastball/cutter/curveball staminas, blending in a handful of changeups as well as weights in every begin. In his last 3 beginnings, he began tossing a slider as soon as in a while. The slider does not quality out specifically well by Pitch Info, as well as he does not toss most of them, however luckily, his cutter as well as four-seamer obtained far better, and also easily, Thompson was an exceptional starter.

Or, well, that’s exactly how it goes if you consider different pitch category websites. The truth isn’t rather so basic. The truth that he’s tossing a brand-new slider is definitely real; MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian composed an outstanding tale on the pitch today. Thompson and also the Cubs desired a brand-new pitch to end up at-bats, and also it’s difficult to miss out on the effect that sweeping sliders have actually carried the video game. He found out the pitch throughout bullpens– side note, wow is that excellent– as well as began tossing it 3 begins earlier, on June 17.

Much, so excellent! We’ve covered all that currently. Bastian’s post additionally outlines a few of the outcomes: undecided area, yet outstanding bat-missing capability. Thompson pointed out the demand to regulate the pitch much better– per Pitch Info, it has an area price of 12.5%, so he’s not incorrect– yet commended its motion as well as appeared delighted regarding utilizing it in the future.

Currently allow’s reach the complex component. In those exact same 3 video games, Thompson’s cutter boosted significantly. It began missing out on extra bats. Get in touch with versus it worsened. The exact same point occurred to his four-seamer, a minimum of rather; the call information is combined, however it’s absolutely missing out on even more bats.

We can leave the four-seamer apart in the meantime. As best as I can inform, that boils down to much better place. Have a look right now gap of four-seam place prior to his current great stretch and also throughout it:

Okay after that! Greater four-seamers, earnings. That’s very easy sufficient to comprehend. And also he’s situating his cutter closer to the sides also– possibly not nearly enough to describe the degree of its enhancement, yet still a tailwind. Still, Thompson included a brand-new pitch, as well as his old ones instantly improved

. Exists something to it? Allow’s attempt one more concept. Is Pitch Info (which drives those area graphes I simply utilized) mis-classifying his brand-new sweeping sliders as cutters a few of the moment, resulting in a mis-match in what we’re determining? As it ends up, generally no. Among the under-appreciated and also cool devices on FanGraphs is the pitch charts tab, where you can burst out motion, launch, and also speed factor by pitch kind. With possibly 1 or 2 exemptions, the slider and also cutter seem distinctive and also properly categorized pitches:

keegan thompson made sweeping changes

And, well, if that’s the instance, after that the cutter is basically the exact same prior to and also after Thompson included a sweeper: Change in Cutter Shape? Not Really

MetricPre-6/ 16Post-6/ 16
Velo (miles per hour)90.590.37
HMov (in)2.942.76
VMov (in) – – Grav 4.444.23
VMov (in) – – Total-21.17-21.57

If you remove out the 2 possibly mis-classified cutters, there’s been no modification in speed as well as a minimal adjustment in upright activity. The only distinction is somewhat much less straight motion, which does not seem like a terrific means to describe exactly how the pitch obtained much better.

I have an assumption, however I wish to be clear that it’s simply an assumption. Essentially, I assume that including a slider has actually maximized Thompson’s various other pitches to be utilized in circumstances where they beam. Think about: prior to he included his slider, he tossed either a cutter or curveball 50% of the moment in 0– 2, 1– 2, and also 2– 2 matters, or, to put it simply, counts where he was searching a strikeout as well as might pay for to squander a round. In his last 3 beginnings, that number has actually plunged to 29% per Statcast, and also it’s even more like 23% when you make up category problems.

That’s not a massive distinction in the accumulation. Thompson has actually tossed 16 (or a lot more, Statcast’s category isn’t as tidy as Pitch Info’s right here) such two-strike sliders in these newest beginnings; we’re not speaking about a frustrating variety of pitches below in all. I do not discover those matters helpful to cutters, at the very least not the kind of cutters Thompson tosses. As aide throwing instructor Daniel Moskos informed Bastian, “if you’re searching for swing-and-miss… … to righties, you require something that relocates a little bit much more flat.”

Certain, that’s in reaction to a concern concerning the brand-new sweeper, so straight break was certainly on his mind currently, however if you’re particularly wanting to miss out on bats, even more activity is much better. As an included advantage, having the slider as an alternative most likely aids the cutter accentuate. Both pitches include a lots of gyroscopic spin, which assists to camouflage them out of his hand, and also they’re just 5 or two miles per hr apart. In spite of that, the slider goes down virtually a foot extra on its course house– many thanks, gravity– and also relocates 4 approximately much more inches flat. When you’re seeing cutter after cutter throughout the day, a similarly-spun pitch that dives down and also away can not be very easy to adjust to, and also recognizing the following pitch might be a sweeper does you no supports in striking a cutter either.

Thompson hasn’t tossed sufficient sweepers for me to really feel comfy gauging this impact. I’m truthfully unsure I can select it up also if he would certainly tossed 10 times as lots of; understanding the communication in between pitches is among the hardest logical difficulties in the video game. I absolutely do not assume it injures. As well as also if that isn’t the instance, utilizing his cutter in better-suited matters can clarify a great deal of the enhancement by itself.

You’re passing up a possibility to strike a person out if you offer up call in a two-strike matter. Regardless of just how excellent you go to reducing get in touch with, allowing a two-strike matter go by without a strikeout is a negative bargain. Like the problem that sinker-heavy bottles deal with, Thompson was enduring a strikeout scarcity. He could not maintain his four-seamer high, and also he really did not miss out on adequate bats with his cutter to offset it.

That lack has actually developed into an excess in his last 3 begins; he’s started out specifically one-third of the batters he’s dealt with. I do not anticipate that price to proceed– his peripherals do not sustain it, with a swinging strike price of just 13.6%– yet I do anticipate him to upload above-average strikeout numbers the remainder of the year.

Possibly most amazing? Thompson has actually completed every one of this without his sweeper being especially excellent. He hasn’t improved its control in all; he’s tossed 24 of them, as well as 14 have actually remained in the “waste” area. Several of those have actually functioned, yet you can not constantly encounter the Reds:

If he begins to sharpen his command of the pitch, much better days could be in advance. Not much better than his last 3 begins– I do not assume he’s a true-talent 2.45 ERA bottle– however much better than his blended 2021, as well as far better than the lengthy reducer duty he began the period with. As an included bonus offer, including the slider makes the chart of Thompson’s pitch motion rather rather:

keegan thompson made sweeping changes 1

For Thompson and also the Cubs, 2022 is a period of exploration. There will not be championship game at the end of the year. There could be vacant seats in September, as well as there will certainly likely be professions with an eye towards the future at the end of July. Discovering something brand-new is a completely great factor to play baseball, and also with his brand-new sweeping slider and also all of a sudden boosted command, Thompson looks to be on the ideal track.

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