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Slow and Steady Josh Collmenter

One of the aspects of the game of baseball that I love is that there are myriad ways of succeeding in the sport.  Josh Collmenter (ARI) reminds us that throwing hard is not a prerequisite to pitching success.  He is in fact fooling batters with the slow, straight stuff.

Collmenter attacks batters with two main pitches, a fastball and a change up.  The following charts examine the movement of the pitches across the plate, the color showing the velocity:

Josh Collmenter, movement across the plate by velocity, fastball and change up.The light green at the top of of the blob is his fastball, which tends to come in at around 86-87 MPH.  Here's a look at the pure fastball:

Josh Collmenter, movement across the plate by velocity, fastball.That is not a fast fastball, and if you take the center of blob as the most likely movement for the pitch, there is very little movement at all.  The same is true of the change up:

Josh Collmenter, movement across the plate by velocity, change up.The change dips more than the fastball, but it basically comes in straight.  So he doesn't throw hard, he doesn't throw with movement, how does he get batters out?

The straight movement of his pitches implies a ball thrown with a lot of backspin, and if you watch video of Collmenter, you can see where that comes from.  He is an extreme over the top pitcher, one who needs to get his head out of the way of his arm to deliver a pitch.  Hitters seldom see this arm angle.  His two pitches, the fastball and change may actually be three pitches, as he likely throws a four and two seam fastball.  In first heat map, I believe the two-seam fastball is overlapping with the change up.  He's forcing a batter to look for two speeds and three levels, all looking like the same pitch out of his hand.

Finally, Josh does a great job of locating his pitches:

Josh Collmenter, pitch frequency, fastball and change up.If you break this up by batter hand, you will also see that he works both types of hitters outside.  By changing speeds, changing levels and locating pitches away from batters, Josh is off to a great start. It will be worth revisiting him in a couple of months to see how batters adjusted.

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