Padres Pitching Trends: Situational Starting Pitcher Splits

The 2013 Padres surged in the second half through a huge uptick in pitching results. The 2014 Padres should be similarly reliant on strong pitching performances from the likes of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Josh Johnson.

Every pitcher utilizes his arsenal in a unique way, specifically when facing same-side or opposite-handed hitters. Here’s how the Padres pitching staff stacks up.

For this specific exercise we’re only looking at players with a significant data set, so Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland, Burch Smith, etc. were left out.

All data was pulled from the incredible Brooks Baseball.

Andrew Cashner

PAs

Avg

OBP

SLG

2013 Total

707

.233

.288

.351

Vs LHB

352

.249

.307

.391

Vs RHB

355

.218

.269

.312

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Cashner has a pretty standard usage of his repertoire, establishing his two fastballs and change-up early before switching to his slider once ahead. Cashner’s changeup isn’t a true swing-and-miss offering, likely explaining why he elects to deploy it much more when behind hitters in the count and looking for a quick ground ball out. Its purpose is true to its name; Cashner uses the changeup as a change-of-pace offering to set up his two fastballs or the devastating slider.

Tyson Ross

PAs

Avg

OBP

SLG

2013 Total

504

.225

.301

.326

Vs LHB

249

.252

.337

.372

Vs RHB

255

.198

.266

.282

tyson ross

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Ross’ slider became a truly lethal offering in 2013, amassing an incredible 26% whiff rate. It’s no surprise he elected to unleash it at such an increased rate when ahead of hitters from both sides of the plate. His changeup usage to lefties is interesting as he loves to use it early in the count primarily when it can be a swing-and-miss asset as well. Corey recently talked to Ross about his pitch usage, so it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if his predictable arsenal – early fastballs and changeups, late sliders – holds.

Josh Johnson

PAs

Avg

OBP

SLG

2013 Total

384

.305

.363

.488

Vs LHB

225

.275

.330

.397

Vs RHB

159

.350

.410

.621

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Johnson stays pretty static in his attack in most situations, though is arsenal does see significant changes when there is at least one runner in scoring position. Against both lefties and righties Johnson leans heavily on his fourseam fastball (65% and 48%, respectively) when he falls behind and significantly ups his slider and curveball usage when ahead. Johnson used his changeup in 2013 at less than half his career rate, but told Corey that this spring is the best his changeup has looked since before he was called up.

Ian Kennedy

PAs

Avg

OBP

SLG

2013 Total

794

.259

.337

.444

Vs LHB

376

.265

.328

.500

Vs RHB

418

.253

.345

.390

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Kennedy doesn’t vary his approach too wildly against lefties or righties based on the game situation. He tends to pound the zone with sinkers, while relying on his changeup as a featured secondary offering. Interestingly, Kennedy significantly ups his changeup usage with two strikes against right-handed batters while keeping his usage consistent against left-handed batters. This is backwards from traditional usage of the pitch, as changeups tend to move towards the barrel of the bat for righties. Still, Kennedy managed to induce a 24% whiff rate against same-sided hitters with the pitch.

Eric Stults

PAs

Avg

OBP

SLG

2013 Total

857

.274

.308

.421

Vs LHB

194

.185

.223

.332

Vs RHB

663

.301

.333

.447

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Well, if Cashner, Johnson and Kennedy are persistent in all situations Stults is a model of consistency for the ages. Unlike some of the strange pitch-type usage mentioned above, Stults follows the pitching archetypes that have been around for decades: sweep sliders away from same-sided hitters and bury changeups to opposite-handed hitters. At this point in his career Stults is able to keep his spot in the Padres’ rotation through extreme control (just 1.8 BB/9 in 2013). Part of Stults’ increased struggles against righties in 2013 was due to a 47% drop in whiffs coming from his slider. If Stults is to retain his spot with Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland, Robbie Erlin, et al. waiting in the wings expect to see significant improvements in his non-fastball results.

*****

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  • ballybunion

    Given Stults’ problems in Spring Training, I’m ready to entertain the idea that Erlin could replace him in the rotation, with Stults being the lefty in the ‘pen. That would end Sipps’ attempt, though he’s not on the 40 man anyway, and force the return of Schuster to Arizona, unless some other move gave him a spot on the 25 man roster. I kind of think you should have included Erlin, but based only on his last five starts last year, when he was really effective.

  • Oooh, those numbers for Josh Johnson against RHH – small sample but he needs to get that in check this year.

    Love that GIF of the Ross change up.

    It’ll be interesting to see how much JJ and IK vary their approach under Black and Balsley.