Anatomy of a Yordano Ventura Strikeout
I fall in love quickly. I always have. I met my wife and we were engaged under 6 months later. While it’s very different with pitchers, the pattern remains. I lock onto a guy and fall in love. Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks has been touting Ventura for years. While I have great respect for The Professor’s ability to evaluate talent, I also know he has a soft spot for Dominican teenagers (although usually shortstops). I had to see for myself. I watched every pitch of his Spring Training game against the Rangers where he absolutely froze Shin Soo Choo with a 12-6 curveball to open the game.
Pitter patter, pitter patter.
Flash forward to May. Ventura has made eight starts and has a 2.40 ERA. His FIP is 3.31 which is still very respectable (40th among qualified starting pitchers). He’s only given up more than 3 earned runs in one start against the Twins. His 26.5% strikeout rank puts him 2nd behind Masahiro Tanaka (29.5%) among rookies and 12th in all of baseball.
A huge part of the buzz around Ventura is that he throws the ball really hard. He’s 5’11″ and 180 lbs and averages 98.45 mph on his fourseam fastball. He topped out at 102 earlier this season against Tampa Bay. While his heater is super sexy, his curveball has been the star of the show in terms of striking guys out. 37.7% of his strikeouts this season have come on his curve.
Twenty five of his strikeout victims have been righties and 28 have been lefties. Let’s look to see how Ventura’s attacking batters from each side.
He’s relying on some form of fastball 42.8% of the time to lefties and 44% of the times against righties. The biggest difference is whether he uses his breaking ball or offspeed pitch. Lefties can expect a steady diet of curveballs, while righties have a much more even pitch split (44% fastball, 32% curveball, and 24% changeup). Now that we have an idea what he’s throwing, let’s look at where he’s throwing it.
As we see from the charts above, lefties are getting killed down and in and righties are getting busted up and in. Righties are seeing a fairly balanced approach from Ventura, while he’s been living low and inside to get left handed hitters.
Pitch breakdowns via BaseballSavant.com.