2022 Resolution: Diversify pitches more
David Peterson was a pleasant surprise when he first emerged on the scene during the truncated 2020 season. He admirably filled in for the Mets when their rotation was decimated, and his performance earned him a job in the back end of the Mets rotation in 2021.
However, the honeymoon period concluded quickly, and Peterson had a forgettable 2021 season that he would prefer to put in the rearview mirror. Before landing on the IL for the season, Peterson had 15 ineffective starts, compiling a 5.54 ERA and resembling more of a minor league pitcher who needs more seasoning.
A close examination of Peterson’s 2021 performance starts with a look at how he is mixing pitches up during at-bats. Peterson profiles as a starter who throws four types of pitches: fastballs; curveballs; sliders; and changeups. In 2020 when he made his debut, Peterson threw more fastballs than his three off-speed pitches combined. 53.2% of Peterson’s pitches were fastballs, 25.6% were sliders, 2.5% were curveballs, and 18.7% were changeups.
David Peterson is becoming increasingly reliant on his fastball, which may not be a good thing for him.
However, in 2021, Peterson doubled down on his fastball at the expense of his three off-speed pitches. He increased the usage of his fastball by over 5%, and over the course of the season, that pitch became much less effective.
This decision to throw more fastballs is perplexing to me. Peterson is not a hard-throwing pitcher, and he never is going to be. Unlike deGrom, who can routinely get his fastball to 99 and 100 miles an hour, Peterson hurls a fastball that is significantly slower (averages 92 mph), which means he won’t be able to blow by hitters as much.
Therefore, doubling down on the fastball does not appear to make much sense for a pitcher like Peterson. If he wants to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, Peterson needs to focus more on how to pitch and become more well-rounded. To become the pitcher the Mets expect him to be, Peterson should practice and improve on his off-speed pitches and use them more in games. Diversifying his pitch offerings will make it harder for hitters to predict what he is going to throw, and it might result in him pitching better in 2022.