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Ernesto Frieri's Whiff-Tastic Fastball

Since being traded from the Padres to the Angels for infielder Alexi Amarista in early May, Ernesto Frieri has faced 41 helpless hitters. The right-hander with the sneaky, short-armed delivery has punched out 23 of those batters and hasn't allowed a single run to score on his watch. Frieiri's dominance is a result of many empty swings against his fastball. He might not have Alrodis Chapman-like velocity, but his results with the pitch are just as good -- if not better.

Frieri's fastball, which averages 92.6 mph and tops out at 95, has the highest opponent whiff rate in the majors among relief pitchers this season:

Pitcher Miss Pct.
Ernesto Frieri 47.2%
Aroldis Chapman 39.6%
Jason Grilli 36.6%
Joel Peralta 32.2%
Craig Kimbrel 30.0%
Steve Delabar 29.9%
Fernando Rodriguez 28.4%
Brad Brach 26.6%
Jose Arredondo 26.2%
Andrew Cashner 26.1%
MLB Avg. for RP 19.5%


Eat your heart out, Chapman. Frieri likes to throw his fastball above the belt, with three-quarters of his heaters located in the middle or upper third of the strike zone:

Frieri's fastball location, 2012Those middle-high fastballs, particularly ones thrown to his arm side, are producing next to no contact for batters. Check out Frieri's fastball contact rate by pitch location, and then the average for relievers:

Hitters' contact rate by location vs. Frieri's fastball, 2012 

Average fastball contact rate by location vs. relief pitchers, 2012L.A. toiled at the bottom of the AL West standings early in the season in part due to a lousy bullpen (the Angels' pen has the second-worst Win Probability Added among AL clubs). But with the Angels riding a seven-game win streak and Frieri firing one of the game's most dominant fastballs, the late innings should no longer be so vexing for Mike Scioscia and company.

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