There’s been a lot written about Jonathan Sanchez and what he’ll have to do this year for the Giants to have a shot in the NL West. In yesterday’s start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sanchez gave us another glimpse of what he’s capable of when he’s pitching well. Sanchez’s final line on the day was: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 11 SO. Sanchez’s slider/curve gave hitters fits. He bounced in the dirt, wrapped it around the zone, and threw it at least 30 times in-game.
Using PitchF/X, we can try and get an idea of what Sanchez was throwing in his 11 strikeout game.
/dusts off Excel 2003
What you’re seeing above is an attempt to classify pitches by speed and spin direction — or at what direction the pitcher spun the ball after releasing the pitch. Sanchez’s main 2 pitches are his fastball and a slurvy breaking pitch. His fastball topped out at 92.3 mph but he worked mostly in the 89-90 mph range. I call his breaking pitch a ‘slurve’ because it almost breaks like a tight curveball instead of your traditional slider that moves more horizontally that vertically. But, the spin direction on the pitch makes it look like a slider to me. Interesting stuff, and if anyone reading this can correct me on that pitch, and my attempt to classify it, I’d love to hear anything. Also of note is the changeup and fastball. They both are very similar in spin direction, but quite different in velocity. One of the reasons why a good changeup can be devastating to hitters.
It’s a great game from Sanchez, but like most early season performances, we should take a wait-and-see approach.