Mike Pelfrey's Curveball


A lot has been made about Mike Pelfrey‘s use of his curveball in last night’s complete game victory over the Angels.  Pelfrey and his curve have an interesting relationship.  Supposedly at the behest of former Pitching Coach Rick Peterson, Pelfrey was told to abandon his curve, and thus rarely threw it in 2008 (0.8% of the time, according to FanGraphs).  However, following Peterson’s dismissal, Pelfrey began throwing the breaking pitch again, utilizing it 3.9% of the time in ’09 and 5.5% in ’10.  The curve was particularly effective last season, worth 3.10 runs per 100 pitches in 2010, but hasn’t been nearly as sharp this season, worth -6.77 runs per 100 pitches before last night.  Here are some quick facts about Pelfrey’s curve from last night’s game:

  • Pelfrey threw his curve 13 times last night out of 123 pitches, a 10.6% rate.  Coming into last night’s game, he’d thrown the Uncle Charlie only 4.2% of the time.
  • Out of the 13 curveballs, six were balls, three were swung on and missed, one went for a hit (a double), one was fouled off and two were hit but went for outs.
  • 10 of the curves were thrown to lefties, and three to righties

Pelfrey’s curve has the ability to be an effective weapon because it is the only pitch in his arsenal that isn’t thrown hard.  His heater has averaged 91.1 mph this season, with his slider at 83.2 mph and his splitter at 84.1 mph.  Although both of those pitches are thrown at a slower speed than his fastball, they both have sharp breaks.  The curve, which has averaged 75.5 mph, is thrown in more of a 12-6 style and just looks different than his other pitches.  Hopefully Pelfrey will continue to throw his curve with effectiveness as the season progresses.

 

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