S2S Linkage: Dunk You Very Much


Seedlings to Stars with a writeup of Delabar.  We had said that their writeup on Campos was confusingly accurate; the article was as accurate, concise, and to-the-point as if a local had written it up.

Now, second time up, it's even more so.  This writeup is the 2nd-best available on Steve Delabar.  >:-]

They're either culling the local reports, or their writers are quickly going to be reco'nized as among the best in the bidness.  Either way, it makes their site a must-go.

Let's kibitz:


Many popular opinions of pitching prospects are formed from general scouting reports. While these reports are invaluable resources, they can’t always be trusted. Hundreds of minor league hurlers are credited with “mid-90′s velocity,” but very few MLB starters actually have that grade of heat, for example. It’s incredibly frustrating to hear about a pitcher with “a mid-90′s heater and plus curve,” only to have him come up to the big leagues and show a fastball that averages 90.5 mph and a slider.

When a pitcher come up to the majors, we can finally get a foolproof reading on what exactly his arsenal is comprised of, thanks to the great Pitch F/X system...

::blinks:: G-Money couldn't have said it better hisself.

A big, imposing righthanded pitcher, Delabar always had one big problem in the minors–walks. Splitting time between three minor league levels in 2011, he walked 40 batters in 56 innings, which immediately dampens the now-28-year-old’s comeback story. Still, though, he did manage to strike out 68 batters, and he didn’t allow a home run all season.

Which raises the question, "Why would Zduriencik call him up?," if he was walking 6-7 men a game in the minors?

The presumed answer is:  "Because he fixed something midseason."  Let's hope.  Tom Wilhelmsen ran like a 20:1 control ratio down to the wire, and he looked it.  With Wilhelmsen, there's small-but-solid reason to believe that in 2012, the strikes will come frequently.

M's fans need to acknowledge that with Delabar, this small-but-solid reason doesn't exist.  Delabar fanned 9 per game in the bigs, but also walked 5 per game.  He seemed reluctant to throw his awesome Gyroball, probably because of control.

Wilhelmsen enters 2012 as your 8th-inning man.  Steve Delabar enters 2012 as a guy you are desperately hoping to throw strikes.  That will be the story of March.


However, his fastball looks like it will play in the majors immediately–he worked consistently at 93-95 with decent life and a bit of deception, and 56 of his 81 (69.1%) of his fastballs in the big leagues went for strikes. That included a healthy seven (8.6%) swinging strikes.

Batters also struggled to square the pitch up, fouling it off twice as often as they put it into play.

Delabar's fastball does indeed have excellent life, but then again I sat there and watched the games.  Seedlings to Stars didn't.  (At least I hope they didn't!  ::shudder:: at the idea of three guys watching all ML games.)  So how did they know?

This concept of comparing "foul tips" to "balls in play" is an interesting one.  Dunk you very much.


Delabar relies very heavily on his fastball, as he threw it over three-quarters of the time in his brief MLB exposure. As you might expect from a power four-seam pitcher, he tends to try to blow it by batters up in the zone:

That probably means the low homer rate is unsustainable in the big leagues, but the high foul/in play rate speaks well to the deception and late life on the pitch.

Well, most high-K relievers are up in the zone.



It probably seems odd that a pitcher who throws a ton of fastballs, and gets a ton of strikes with his fastball, has a walk problem. However, that’s quite easily explained–Delabar is purely a two-pitch pitcher, and his other offering is a splitter, a pitch notorious for rarely being in the strike zone.

It's easily explained in theory, yes .... in practice, Delabar didn't throw the splitter that much, and when he did he got strikes with it.  Not real sure that the split was the reason for the 6.5 walks in the minors or the 5.0 walks in the bigs.

Personally would lean toward the idea that Delabar had been out of baseball for like eight years, had his arm snapped in half, and stuff like that.  


Pitch F/X had no idea what to classify the split as, as Delabar didn’t seem to have a feel for the pitch consistently, so it wound up getting classified as no fewer than five different pitches (ironically, none of which were actually a splitter; the splitter classification comes from Baseball Info Solutions’ data, and the movement on the pitch is uniquely splitter-like). He did manage to get strikes with 16 of the 24 he threw, mainly because six went for swinging strikes.

The pitch, which mostly comes in at 85-88 mph, has impressive late drop–sometimes as much as a foot compared to the fastball–and looks like a nice asset when Delabar is ahead in the count.

Magnificent analysis, especially from the cheap seats in Detroit or wherever.

Perhaps they hadn't read SSI ;- ) because the salient point here is that Delabar's "splitter" has screwball action away from lefties, plus the very hard drop -- he throws a Clayton Kershaw curve, but with his right hand.

The high school Gyroball.


To me, there’s little question that Delabar’s fastball/splitter combination is enough to do some serious damage–his minor league strikeout rates, major league swinging strike numbers, and just the simple attributes of the pitches attest to that. Therefore, it’s all going to come down to how many strikes he throws. If he walks 26 batters in 30 2/3 innings like he did in Double-A this season, he won’t last for long, but if he can keep his strike percentages near their major league levels, he should find some success.

The Mariners agree with them, that Delebar is a special pitcher.

And I agree with them, that Delabar's walk rate in March will be under huge scrutiny.  That's the key for him.


I wonder if Delabar could be a Derrick Turnbow-type arm who has a couple of huge years before being undone by control woes as soon as his stuff takes the slightest step backward; we’ll have to wait and see where the next year takes this interesting comeback story. 

Here they float the idea of the fine line -- that a pitcher can be excellent when at 100% and lousy when at 97%.  Sometimes that happens (see Josh Leuke and David Aardsma).  I could see it being the case with Delabar, dunno.

Turnbow is an interesting comp that may triangulate the Seedlings crew as being from  California.  :- )  Inside Pitch was big on Turnbow's potential, and Turnbow did wind up having some Armando Benitez years with 11k and 6bb.

Not sure if Delabar is that extreme in terms of K's and BB's, but the spirit is clear.  Lotsa potential here, very early in the career, and... the AL West better hope he doesn't figure out his release point.


Good stuff guys,

Dr D



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