Tigers righty Edwin Jackson is having a career year, and has drawn the opening start against the Cubs. Jackson will face Carlos Zambrano, who will likely insist on pinch hitting (at least!) in the last two games of the series.
The American League Champion Rays sent Jackson packing in a deal that sent Matt Joyce to Tampa Bay. Jackson showed signs of improvement in 2008, cutting down on his walks, and gave up one run in 4.1 innings of relief in the playoffs. Jackson is just 25-years old, and the Tigers appear to be beneficiaries of a live arm that seems to have found the strike zone.
PITCHf/x Exhibit A: Pitch Types
Before moving on, it's important to understand what Jackson throws. Albeit partially. I haven't split his two- and four-seam fastballs, which could end up being important. Or irrelevant.
Fastball 95 mph
A couple of notes on the pitch types and speeds:
- Jackson's fastball may have dropped a half a mph since 2007 and 2008, but that could simply be noise and/or some extra two-seamers; in any case he throws serious heat
- The change runs up to 90 mph far too often for my taste
- The slider can also hit 90, or run down to around 83—it's a good pitch
- The curve appeared a couple times in the limited 2007 data, but is getting more and more use; he'll run this pitch down into the 70s, also keeps it below slider speed
PITCHf/x Exhibit B: Pitch Selection
Pitch mix, by season and batter hand:
His change-up is being pushed away by better pitches—more the quality of these pitches below—something Detroit spotted that Tampa didn't?
PITCHf/x Exhibit C: Pitch Results
|Good news||Bad news|
|Fastball finds the zone a lot more (.552 to .610), SLGCON dropping (.639,.555,.424). "On pace" for a 30+ rvaa improvement over 2008||HR/FB is low, LD rate is lower, too, this could leave plenty of space for regression. BTW, his overall BABIP is .255 in 2009|
|No longer throws curve for strikes (.459 to .310) but hitters haven't figured that out yet (.450 chase, .586 swing rate); no one hits it hard (SLGCON .167) and it's mostly grounders (67%); rv100 an amazing -4.596, already saved 2.7 runs (-2.666 rvaa)||Lefties could start laying off the curve, which could bring about a change the the batter-pitcher balance|
|The change and slider balance out in terms of quality, and there have been no real changes in terms of results, but he is using the slider more often against lefties||The change is not a good pitch, it gets hit hard|
Gratuitous Flight Paths
- Edwin Jackson is throwing more strikes
- He's not getting hit hard, with some component of luck
- Lefties haven't adjusted to his now out-of-the-zone curveball
- He's a "different" pitcher with three quality pitches (FA,CU,SL) instead of two (FA,SL) and one crappy one (CH)
Other than small samples, I'm not looking at pitch movement (there are hints of a difference in the slider this year, maybe) and not breaking out the fastball beyond a generic classification.