James Paxton's Other Two Pitches
He says his cutter and changeup are coming along

James Paxton says he's been working hard to develop his other two pitches, his changeup and cutter.  For Paxton, its pretty much been a fastball and curveball show. The Brooks table on what pitches Paxton favors:

Month 4 Seam FB Cutter Curve 


3/14 64.21% 9.47% 17.89% 0% 7.89%
4/14 59.49% 15.82% 16.46% 0% 8.23%
8/14 66.02% 2.8% 20.83% 0% 10.75%
9/14 67.2% 10.05% 15.87% 0% 5.82%

So, Paxton is a two pitch guy.  His fastball is his bread and butter, his curve ball is his two strike pitch, and he uses the cutter and change up as show me pitches.  Here's the movement.

Paxton's fastball has 10 inches of vertical movement, his and it comes in at 95 mph plus.  Hiss curveball is 23 miles per hour less than that creating the whipsaw that differentiates his five n' dive games from his death on a stick games.

The changeup and cutter are middling pitches that come in at average fastball speeds, have no horizontal movement and have 6 inches of vertical movement.  

Now, consider the batting average that these pitches produce:

Month Four Seam FB Change Curve Cutter  
3/14 .310 .500 .000 .111  
4/14 .182 .500 .000 .000  
8/14 .219 .364 .000 .231  
9/14 .233 0.00 .000 .250  

The big Brooks takeaway on James Paxton?  No one in MLB history has ever hit his curveball.  There aren't any hits recorded in 2013 either.  This is not a minor pitch, and when its working, he throws it about 33 percent of the time.  So, the whipsaw is the best fastball in MLB and an unhittable two strike pitch.  


Those other pitches?  Look about like his fastball, except slower and less nasty. The changeup also looks hittable despite spot use. 

Why would Paxton ever want to throw those?  The problem with the big overhand curve, is that its in dry dock half the time.  If Paxton's feel for his grip isn't just so, he spikes the curveball, and the catcher has to scramble for it.  This is dangerous with men on base, assuming there were some.  On those nights, we have Puzzling Pax who only has one pitch and who runs his pitch count up early.  

The great thing about a changeup and a cutter is that they are easier to throw than a curveball.  Just grip the fastball differently or off axis when you throw the fastball.  Paxton's not a dummy, and he's probably looking to have a little whipsaw going on those nights when the big one isn't happening.

Plus, if Paxton starts working on these other two pitches now, they might be useful when he reaches free agency in his early thirties and his velocity has tamed down a bit.  Who said baseball players weren't forward thinkers?



I think that's bettable. As in...let's start a pool on how long it will take for some feeb major league loser to get a base hit on that curve of Paxton's?


Put me down for the first game in July 2015. There will be a hit but it will almost be ruled a fielding error.


The "need" for the 3rd pitch: You were on the the nose Doc.
When he's throwing 57 ft of curve ball, a cutter now and again would be pretty terrific.  Or a change.
But even without:
2 weeks ago I said that Paxton was one of the 5 or 10 best starters in the game.  Nothing has changed.
Except the Over/Under might be at #7 right now, not #10.  
But .000 vs. Uncle Charlie?  C'mon!  Koufax didn't do that!
Is it possible that Kuma is a #3?
Think about that!
Have a Happy Felix Day, Orcs!
PS:  And in case you Orcs didn't catch the name of that Cherubic righty RP who thumped you on the head, it was Baby Face Nelson....er, Carson.


Great article Mojo.  ... that data can't be right from Brooks, can it? ... it's kind of like saying an NBA player hit 215 shots in a row from the field ... (But we do remember a good Yankee bud telling us that Hideki Irabu had given up only 2 hits in 2 years off his curve, or somesuch.)
But of course the material point is that batters are doing well to FOUL OFF his curve ball, much less to drive it anywhere.  The eye agrees with that...
Young guys like K-Pax, a lot of times that 3rd pitch is precisely there to scuffle with, when the hook isn't hooking.  Just so.  And that's why Paxton has the 1+ ERA -- he's much, MUCH better than other pitchers when behind 2-0 or 3-1.
:: cpoints ::


We very well remember in 1990-91, scouts talking about the Wild Randy Johnson like he had the upside to be the best ML pitcher in history.  To borrow a phrase.
That's exactly what Johnson became; the few pitchers with better career (and especially postseason, big game) stats than him pitched well before WWII, in a different sport.
It's hard to see how Paxton's 2 pitches are worse than Kershaw's, and the 3-4 pitches loom ominously...

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