Can we just forget this nonsense that Walker Buehler’s velo is down so that he can be more effective? If that is the strategy, it ain’t working. His 4-seam fastball has lost its magic this year. Not only has it lost its magic, but it is also now pretty much of a liability pitch.
With the help of MLB At Bat, I counted that he threw 29 four-seam fastballs in Monday’s game. He did not miss any bat with that pitch. Every swing against the four-seam fastball produced contact.
1st Inning – 4
- Groundouts – 2
- Foul – 1
- Ball – 1
2nd Inning – 13
- HR – 1
- Ball – 6
- Called Strike – 5
- Foul – 1
3rd Inning – 5
- HR – 1
- Single – 1
- Ball – 1
- Called Strike – 1
- Foul – 1
4th Inning – 3
- Groundouts – 1
- Ball – 2
5th Inning – 2
- Groundouts – 1
- Ball – 1
6th Inning – 2
- Called Strike – 2
7 four-seam pitches were put in play: HR (2), Single (1), ground outs (4).
Walker has now given up 5 HRs, and all 5 have come off four-seam fastballs.
Statcast (From Baseball Savant) provides a comparison of his 2022 four-seam fastball vs his 2021 four-seamer:
Walker Buehler’s Complete Baseball Savant Statcast Page
His spin rate is down and the significant reduction of vertical rise is evident. Eric Karros commented that there was no late life to the four-seam fastball.
Four-Seam Fastball Vertical Rise:
- 2022 – 0.9
- 2021 – 2.3
- 2020 – 3.5
- 2019 – 2.4
- 2018 – 2.6
- 2017 – 3.5
Four-Seam Fastball Run Value (Negative is good)
- 2022: +6 (1,472 best pitch out of 1,497 MLB Pitches)
- 2021: -19
- 2020: -11
- 2019: -19
- 2018: -9
For comparison, the best pitches in MLB ha a run value of -12: Chad Kuhl slider and Corbin Burnes cutter.
The best LAD pitches: Tyler Anderson change: run value of -8 (#12 best pitch) and Tony Gonsolin cutter: run value of -8 (#14 best pitch).
Walker throws 5 pitches other than the four-seam fastball:
I am not qualified to make any conclusions. But I am quite certain that Buehler’s velo and spin rate are not down because he looks to be more effective. Buehler said that the problem with his four-seamer is due to mechanics. I will take him at his word. This was his 10th start. He is nearly 1/3 into the season. If it is mechanical in nature, why can’t the pitching gurus in the LAD organization figure it out?
Even Eric Karros was emphatic that Buehler’s four-seamer is not working. He seemed to implore Buehler to throw his other five pitches, and to only show the four seamer. He stopped throwing it in the 4th, 5th, and 6th inning, and they were all scoreless.
But it isn’t just 2022 that seems to have gone awry for Buehler. Let’s review September 2021 and the post-season in 2021.
September – 6 GS, 31.2 IP, 4.83 ERA, batting against .262/.313/.467/.780
Post-Season – 4 GS, 18.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, batting against .297/.374/.460/.833
Let’s look at Buehler’s splits by month to see where the “problem” may have emanated from.
Again, I am not qualified to draw any conclusions, but it does not stop anyone from asking questions. The Dodgers need Walker Buehler to pitch like an Ace if they intend on getting to and winning the World Series. I hope that someone figures it out, and his next 23 starts emulate his 2021 season.
There also seems to be some concern with Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has 2 pitches, a four-seam fastball and a curve:
(Again negative run values are good)
- 2022 run value: 0
- 2021 run value: -6
- 2022 run value: 0
- 2021 run value: -13
Is there reason for concern with Kimbrel? It will not be answered. However, just like with Walker Buehler, it is a question that you just know is being asked by the LAD brain trust.
Last night’s game was a roller-coaster ride of early lows, late highs, but ending with a big, fat low.
Losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates so far this season is not a pretty picture.
Buehler’s fastball lacked movement.
Kimbrel really needs a shut down inning.
I am not as impressed with Smith’s catching as others.
I wish Roberts would quit pitch hitting for Lux. That is not how you build up a player’s confidence.
Mookie is a beast.
We’ve talked about Buehler for a while now, and even without the analytics I’ve seen something that I just knew wasn’t right. Many others, you know where, have disagreed but I believe it’s now clear something isn’t right. I doubt we get any clear explanation from the club but the organization knows.
Kershaw,Heaney, Kimbrel. Gulp.
This team will remain contenders all year. But I feel roster tweaks will be forthcoming.
Interestingly, after the loss, Doc did seem to imply that Walker has been fighting his fastball command all year. That seemed obvious to many of us already.
Who is saying is velo is down because he’s trying to pitch more effectively?
His overall velocity is not that different than it was last year, but his spin rates are down, especially for his four seamer, and the effectiveness is down for all of his pitches except for maybe his curve. He throws a cutter a lot more than he did last year.
If his velocity is not significantly down compared to last year, the decline in effectiveness can be explained to be due to either spin rate, a lack of command, or a combination of both. The lack of swing and misses suggests that it’s spin rate. It’s the spin rate that generates the late movement that generates swings and misses. Because of the lack of movement of his fastball, he’s opting for the cutter more.
Now that the problem with his fastball can be safely attributed to spin rate, the question now is whether the decline is due to the crackdown on Spidertack, or if it’s a mechanical issue like Roberts says.
His two best months last year were July and August, which are after the June 21 implementation of the crackdown on foreign substances, so, at least based on that, it would not appear that it’s simply because of he cant use Spidertack anyore (if he ever even used it).
Maybe it’s the grip. He’s had blister problems before. Perhaps he doesn’t have the callouses built up and he can’t grip the ball as tightly, creating the friction to create the spin rate at a given arm speed.
Who is saying is velo is down because he’s trying to pitch more effectively?
I read this a couple weeks ago, I just can’t remember where.
He (Tony Gonsolin) has turned it down a notch and is not that high-effort thrower. He is typically at 93 to 94 and is much more effective. Walker Buehler is doing the same thing.
Interestingly, Gonsolin’s four-seamer is not a value pitch this year either, and his velo is the lowest it has been in his MLB professional career.
2019 – 93.7 (run value -3)
2020 – 95.1 (run value -8)
2021- 93.8 (run value -2)
2022 – 93.4 (run value +4)
Note that when his velo was up (2020), the run value was at his best, and 2020 was a very good year for him. The difference is that Gonsolin is increasing his usage of his splitter and curve. The pitch value for his splitter, slider and curve are markedly better this year, so his reliance on his four seamer is down. His poor slider was an outlier last year which is why he had such a poor year. It apparently was due to his shoulder. He is healthy this year and his slider is fantastic, as is his splitter (and curve).
While Buehler’s other pitches have positive value, the value is down for all five other pitches when compared to last year. (Not contestable).
Buehler’s velo has dropped from 98.1 (2017) to 95 (2022). It was 96.9 in 2020. His 2022 FB velo is in the 51st percentile. In 2021, it was in the 71st percentile. Before that it was never lower than the 87th percentile. Those numbers are not contestable). I drew an assessment that a 20 point percentile drop seemed significant to me. For you it does not. This year he throws an average velo fastball with less spin. I do not think that is arguable.
Buehler is 27. When Kershaw broke into the league his FB averaged 94.4. At 27, it was at 94.1. He was still throwing 53.6% fastballs. It wasn’t until he was 29 before his velo really started to drop, and his reliance on the fastball had to change, and it has. Are we going to see another diminution of Buehler’s velo in 2 years?
Buehler has reduced his reliance, but it is his fastball location that is getting him into trouble. He could start it out at the same spot as last year (meaning he is commanding it the same), but with less velo and spin, it sits on a tee. Many kept saying that Kershaw was stubborn and refused to change. Well he has changed, and for the better. His back will just not let him pitch as much. Now Buehler needs to adjust. Listen to Orel Hershiser and Eric Karros. They see something wrong.
I am not saying Buehler is stubborn. I am not saying he is not trying to adjust. I am not saying that his issues are physical and not mechanical. I have no idea. But there is a huge difference in the 2022 Walker Buehler compared to 2021, and it is not because he “is much more effective”.
I said the numbers indicate that his velo and spin rate are down. You say it is spin his command. I am not certain that is true. His command with his fastball may be exactly as it was last year except with less velo and spin, it has very limited vertical movement. Knowing this, wouldn’t you adjust? I do not have the time or or inclination to compare 2021 film with 2022. That is Mark Prior’s job, and he can do that SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME.
Thus, your argument is that you disagree with me that his decrease in velo MAY have something to do with his significant drop in pitch value.
You do not know anymore than me, and I not anymore than you. But I can ask questions. And I would like to know What’s Up With Walker Buehler?
I just hope that he figures it out before October.
This response is just really confusing. I’m not sure what central point you’re trying to make. And I don’t know why you’re trying to argue points I’ve never actually made.
His four seam velocity is not statistically different this year than last year. 95.5 in 2021 vs. 95.3 in 22. His fastball Runs Above Average last year was excellent – the second best in his career. It is terrible this year. No one was complaining about his fastball velocity last year. You can’t compare him this year to his rookie year. If you want a comp, compare to last year, where the velocity was nearly identical.
He had a poor year last year? What?!!
He may be stubborn and won’t adjust …or maybe he will? He has significantly reduced his FB usage, increased the use of a cutter, and significantly increased the use of his curveball and changeup. How else is he supposed to adjust? I really don’t understand that point you were trying to make.
Your whole response seemed much more defensive than was necessary. I only included the first sentence because we both know you’re referring to Timmons, and you’re arguing with me as a proxy for arguing with him. Go argue with him.
Curious, when I respond I am being defensive. But not you? No double standard there, right?
You came here to argue with me, not the other way around. If Mark does not like what I say, he is a big boy and he can come here. He doesn’t need you as his surrogate. The last time you felt a need to stick up for Mark you said that his personality was like a bull in a china shop and that he is like that (in part) to drive conversation. Nobody denies that. But you would deny me the same opportunity. Double standard again?
FanGraphs has his 2022 velo at 95.0 compared to 95.4 in 2021. Baseball Savant has his 2022 velo at 95.0 and his 2021 velo at 95.3. You are looking at MPH, and I am looking at fastball velo percentile. He went from 71st percentile velo to 51st. He went from a near elite velo to an average velo. You do not see that as significant? We just disagree.
I assume that you have also concluded that a decrease of .4MPH does not make a difference in catching up to a fastball. Where do you base that on? How many 95.4 MPH fastballs have you faced to compare what they are like at 95.0. I asked my son who has faced those pitches (both as a hitter and catcher), and he said that .4 difference could absolutely make a difference in catching up to a fastball. He said that pitchers make up for the difference with location. But if that pitcher is a hair slower and the pitch is in the same location, it is going to get hit. FWIW, that is his take. You do not have to agree with him, I just take his view more serious as he has lived it.
You asked “How else is he supposed to adjust”? I have already acknowledged that he has changed his pitch mix and is using his other pitches (primarily cutter and curve) more. That is positive and he is getting excellent results from both his cutter and curve. Continue the trend. How about location with his four-seamer. The pitch to Marcano was on the inner third of the plate about thigh high, just exactly where LH batters like it. Certainly Marcano did not miss it. The pitch to Reynolds was center center. Did he just miss his location, or did he put the pitch in the same location as last year and expect the same result? I do not have that answer.
I also acknowledge that it is more difficult to adjust location than just saying so. I do not get paid to make those adjustments. That is what Mark Prior is supposed to do (and does very well).
BTW, I said Gonsolin had a poor year last year, not Buehler. Reading comprehension helps.
I came here to argue with you? All I did was offer possible explanations for why Buehler’s fastball isn’t as good this year as it was last year.
What a fun and upbeat place this is!
Can someone explain to me what the difference in movement, etc is between a 4-seam and a 2-seam.
Would there be any logic in Buehler’s trying to throw a 2-seam since the 4-seam has been a disaster?
4-seamer rises, a 2-seamer sinks (often called a fastball sinker). Buehler also throws a 2-seamer, but much less often.
A ball always moves in direction it’s spinning. A four seamer, fingers across the four seams, rotates backwards and rises. A two seamer, with fingers in line with two seams, can move down left or right depending on placement of thumb. Put thumb under the forefinger and it breaks down arm side. Place thumb under middle finger it breaks down glove side. Typically 4 seamers are thrown with a little more velocity.
Thanks for the explanation guys. How is Buehler’s 2-seamer doing this year vs. last? Is it just the 4-seamer that he’s having huge problems with?
He does not throw it very much. I think he threw it twice on Monday. One resulted in a single and one was a ball.
MIDLAND, Mich. – The Los Angeles Dodgers announced the promotion of their No. 1 prospect, Diego Cartaya, to High-A Great Lakes on Tuesday. It is the first time that the current No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers’ system has appeared on the Loons roster.
Cartaya, a 20-year-old catcher from Maracay, Venezuela, began the year at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he hit .260 with nine home runs in 33 games. This follows a shortened 2021 campaign in Rancho Cucamonga where Cartaya batted .298 with 10 longballs in 31 games. Prior to that, he spent his age 17 season splitting time between the Rookie-level Dodgers affiliates in the Dominican Republic and the Arizona League.
Cartaya (pronounced car-TIE-uh) is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Los Angeles system by multiple outlets, including Baseball America, The Athletic, and MLB.com. The Athletic’s Keith Law describes him as “a monster at the plate with patience and power.” MLB.com says his “combination of bat speed and strength give him legitimate power to all fields.” Baseball America calls him a “big, physical masher who is a force at the plate,” as well as “a natural-born leader who remains poised in adverse situations.”
Clayton Kershaw, Dee Strange-Gordon, Corey Seager and Walker Buehler are some of the previous No. 1 Dodger prospects to pass through Great Lakes, but were never ranked as the top prospect during their time with the Loons. Kershaw, for instance, was the top-ranked Dodgers’ prospect in 2008, after his 2007 season in Great Lakes.
05/31/22SS Leonel Valera assigned to Tulsa Drillers from Great Lakes Loons
05/31/222B Alex De Jesus assigned to Great Lakes Loons from Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
05/31/22RHP Peter Heubeck assigned to Rancho Cucamonga Quakes from ACL Dodgers
05/31/22SS Hector Martinez assigned to Rancho Cucamonga Quakes from Dodgers Organization.
Also, Nelson Quiroz (C) was assigned to Rancho from ACL. He is replacing Diego Cartaya.
I was wondering why Valera got the promotion and not Eddys Leonard. But then I looked at Tulsa’s roster and found that Kody Hoese was just placed on the 7-Day IL (today). As a 3B, Valera is moving up to take Hoese’s spot for now. Alex De Jesus is considered more of a 3B than a SS, so he is getting moved to play 3B in Valera’s spot. Alex is in the lineup tonight at 3B. Hector Martinez was assigned to Rancho to take the place of De Jesus.
From everything I have read, the Dodgers are going to give Leonard every opportunity to play SS. He is blocked at SS by Jacob Amaya, thus he stays in GL.
I would have guessed that mechanics affected velocity than it does spin.
I think that it does. Velocity is going to be affected by lower body drive, arm angle, arm slot, and body moving as a unit, trying for a repeatable delivery. As Badger stated, spin is more of finger placement. More can go wrong on the former than the latter.
With regard to Buehler, Patch could very well be right that his calluses are not built up and he cannot spin it like he did last year. That is certainly an arguable position.
As far as I know, no explanation has been given regarding Buehler’s sudden inability to get swing and misses with his fastball. His curve still works, cutter is ok I think, slider, not sure. His fastball is getting hit. If he can’t locate that pitch on the edges, he’s not going to be the Buehler ace we’ve known.
Jeff, thanks for this analysis. I thought I was losing my mind!
Marcia, thank you. I try to look into reasons why certain aspects take a negative turn. I don’t have the answers but it helps me when I look for them.
Those are some Big League stats you gave us. Excellent work. Thank you.
It would appear Buehler stopped using his fastball after the third inning. He knows it ain’t working.
Yes, hopefully he figures it out. Like you said, any good team needs it’s ace to win a Championship.
Thank you!! Unless he is hurt, he should get back to where he was. Walker says he is not hurt, so I am going with that.