Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Braves’ Probable Starting Pitchers

Exploring the Arsenal will run prior to each series, providing you with a brief scouting report on the starting pitchers expected to oppose the Pirates. The charts below show the horizontal and vertical movement of every pitch thrown by that particular pitcher in 2011. These charts are from the catcher’s point of view. For a general guide to pitch types for a right-handed pitcher, please check out this image created by Sons of Sam Horn. Graphs are courtesy of Brooks Baseball and The Hardball Times .

Pitch Types  
FA: Four-Seam Fastball FT: Two-Seam Fastball FC: Cutter
CU: Curveball SL: Slider CH: Changeup
FS: Splitter SI: Sinker


Friday, 7:35 PM – Tommy Hanson

Hanson has an over-the-top delivery, and his arm sort of pauses as he reaches back prior to release. It almost appears like he is aiming the baseball. He makes heavy use of his low 90’s fastball and low 80’s slider, going to one of the two pitches on about 80% of his offerings. He mostly works on the outer half of the plate with the two pitches, and is especially good at painting the outside corner with backdoor sliders against left-handed batters. He also throws a big-breaking 12 to 6 curve in the low to mid 70’s. Hanson’s big swing-and-miss pitch is the curveball, with a whiff rate over 45% in 2011. His velocity has been trending downward the past few years. In 2010, his fastball sat at 92-94 and touched 97 MPH. Last year, he was mostly 90-93 MPH. This year, he has been in the 89-91 MPH range and is struggling to miss bats with the heater. Regardless, he is still striking out a very solid 23% of opposing hitters.

Saturday, 7:10 PM – Randall Delgado

The 22-year-old Delgado throws a four-seam fastball at 91-93 MPH, and can dial it up over 95 at times. He also throws a two-seamer that comes in just a tick slower. His main secondary pitch is a low 80’s changeup with good sinking action. He is very willing to throw the change against both righties and lefties, which is unusual for a right-handed pitcher. Opposing hitters have had trouble putting the changeup in play, as it has a whiff rate over 40% early on in his major league career. Delgado occasionally mixes in an upper 70’s curveball, but mostly sticks to the fastball/changeup combo.

Sunday, 1:35 PM – Tim Hudson

Hudson is a ground ball specialist, mainly due to his sinking 89-92 MPH two-seam fastball. He goes to the sinker on nearly half of his pitches, and uses a wide array of other pitches the remainder of the time. He generally works on the outer half of the plate, using his mid 80’s cutter to bust left-handers inside and sometimes working in on right-handers with the two-seamer. Hudson mostly sticks with the four-seam fastball, sinker and cutter. He also mixes in a mid 70’s curve and a low 80’s splitter. His cutter is his big strikeout pitch, as it is slider-like in both movement and swing-and-miss capabilities. His curve also misses plenty of bats. The rest of his offerings have a whiff rate near league average.

Monday, 7:10 PM – Mike Minor

Minor is a polished southpaw who really knows how to pitch for a younger player. He throws a four-seam fastball around 90-91 MPH and can touch 94. He commands the fastball well, using all four quadrants of the zone against right-handers and mostly working away from lefties. He throws a plus changeup in the low to mid 80’s with good, late arm-side movement. He uses the changeup mostly against right-handers, going to it about 25% of the time against righties. He does a good job of locating the change down and away. Minor’s arsenal is rounded out with a mid 80’s slider and a slurvy low 80’s curveball. He generally keeps his breaking pitches on the glove side of the plate, working them in on righties and away from lefties. He can miss bats with the majority of his offerings, with only the slider coming in with a below average whiff rate.