Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Nationals’ 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


Tuesday, 7:05 PM – Edwin Jackson

Jackson is your typical power pitcher, with a fastball that sits comfortably in the mid 90′s and can touch 97 MPH. He also throws a hard slider in the upper 80′s that generates a good number of swings-and-misses. Occasionally, he will mix in a mid 90’s two-seamer and a mid 80′s changeup. He also throws a very rare curveball around 80 MPH. Despite the power repertoire, Jackson’s whiff rate is usually right around league average, as his fastball is surprisingly hittable. He has missed bats much more frequently in the early going in 2012, with most of the increased swing-and-miss success coming on the breaking stuff. It seems that opposing teams tend to stack the lineup with left-handed batters when facing Jackson, as he has faced more lefties than righties over the course of his career. That is unusual, especially considering the fact that he has never had much of a platoon split.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM – Ross Detwiler

Detwiler has plus velocity from the left side, sitting at 92-93 MPH with the four-seam fastball and ramping up to 95 at times. He leans heavily on a low 90’s two-seamer that shows plenty of horizontal movement. He throws a 12-to-6 curve that averages about 80 MPH and leads to a great deal of ground balls. His final pitch is a mid 80’s changeup, which he uses almost exclusively against right-handed batters. Detwiler has historically been very hittable, but he has been frequently missing bats with the fastball and curve so far this year. That improvement has led to an increased strikeout rate, which currently sits just above league average for a starting pitcher.

Thursday, 7:05 PM – Stephen Strasburg

(2012 Pitches)

Strasburg obviously has elite stuff, which he complements with excellent command. He has a true 80-grade four-seam fastball, a pitch that sits around 95-97 MPH. That pitch occasionally touched triple-digits when he first arrived in the big leagues, but he has topped out around 98-99 MPH since returning from Tommy John surgery. His two-seamer is usually in the 94-96 range with sharp arm-side movement. His plus-plus changeup averages an absurd 88-90 MPH with great sinking action, and his repertoire is rounded out with one of the better curveballs in baseball. Strasburg’s changeup is one of the most unhittable pitches in the game, with a whiff rate well over 50% over the course of his career. Each of his pitches misses bats at an above average rate, and each also leads to an above average number of ground balls.

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I was really afraid that the Bucs were going to take Detwiler with their first pick. At the time I didn’t even think I should have been worrying about Moskos (who I hope is not seriously injured and ends up pitching well enough to be a closer soon)

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