Nationals Baseball: Stop giving up so many homers!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Stop giving up so many homers!

 I make fun of Josiah Gray because he gives up too many homers.  It's why I call him Jo Jo See-Ya. But I do think he could be a good starter. He walks a bit too many but the Ks are very good* and getting better and he's hard to hit. But you got to do two of three things to be successful - K a lot, limit walks, limit homers. He only does one.  I suggest GIVING UP FEWER HOME RUNS. 

Guys have bad seasons but in general you don't give up this many homers as standard practice. In fact if you look at everyone who has pitched more than 100 innings in their career Josiah Gray's 2.4 HR/9 stands as the second biggest number in the history of the game. 

Now OK that's a little unfair. It's always going to be skewed toward young active pitchers because of the vagaries of small sample size.  Nine of the Top 25 are pitching now or pitched last year. And it is definitely skewed toward these recent years when batters are going all out for homers and pitchers are mainly told not to worry about it. Only six of the Top 25 stopped pitching before 2016. 

But still, still. Second worst homer rate ever. 

If we cut to an end date of 2020 and look at the bottom 200 pitchers in HR rate the success rate is very poor. Only 20 pitchers break 400 IP for their career, only 12 break 540 which is sort of like 3 full seasons nowadays.  There isn't a great pitcher in the bunch. The best probably being Brian Anderson the most famous Jose Lima.  Recent pitchers on the list include Josh Tomlin, (now out of baseball), Dylan Bundy and Nick Pivetta. That's probably the high end for Josiah Gray but even to get to Nick Pivetta there he needs to improve. 

To have a chance to be good, he probably needs to drop it down to somewhere under 1.5 HR/9. Masahiro Tanaka is there. Mike Fiers. That's where he needs to be to get to a solid 3/4.  To be very good, to have seasons of looking like more of a 2/3, he needs to get down around 1.2.  This is just what history tells us, even accounting for the recent year skew. 

The Nats have time to figure this out with Gray but it needs to happen. It's the difference between a quality pitcher for years and out of baseball. It's that simple. 


*Did you know Josiah Gray is 9th in baseball in K rater for starters? Ninth! That's great! Good for him! But even there you see why homers matter. The H/9 ahead of him range from 8.3 to 6.2, the BB/9 from 3.4 to 1.6, but the only guys with ERAs above 3.5 are the two with the highest HR rates (1.5 and 1.3)

9 comments:

SM said...

I wonder what his HR/9 rate would be if he started 30 games AGAINST this Nats team.

Harper said...

Someone run those MLB video game simulations!

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Seems like Gray's issue is that his pitching philosophy is fastball up, breaking ball down. 9 of the 12 homers he's allowed were off fastballs, and the other 3 were hanging sliders. Feel like throwing some fastballs down in the zone more frequently would have an immediate impact for him, maybe develop a sinker/cutter for those situations.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about Hickey except he came over from the Cubs, has 17 years as an MLB pitching coach, and looks very grim. But I wonder about the instruction Gray's getting. I seem to remember that a couple of times recently Davey has spotted things Hickey hasn't. Can't remember who, but in one Davey presser he mentioned one pitcher who had an immediate improvement when Davey (he didn't say Hickey) spotted a mechanical problem. Hmm...

Ryan said...

has Fedde actually figured something out? he's all of a sudden their best starting pitcher, which is honestly shocking

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

I think the big difference from Fedde is he's mixing up his pitches more. Sinker (fastball), Curveball, and Cutter are all sitting right around 33% according to pitch f/x whereas last year he was throwing that sinker almost 45% of the time. The other major difference, I think, is that he's getting lucky with the new ball. His GB% is down and hitters are getting under the ball at a pretty decent clip, but they're not hitting it out of the park. Part of that, though, may be due to a drop in Barrel% which, again, could be due to simply fooling hitters by making those pitches unpredictable.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Oh and I hope Fedde has figured it out, because it looks like Ross may be headed back for TJ...which will likely all but end his career I have to think.

Anagramsci said...

Time to sign Keuchel! He'd be fun to lose with!

Nattydread said...

Win one more and were in striking distance from the playoffs.