Hey, a team that's struggling more than the Cubs! Let's go get 'em!
The excitement kicks-off today with reinstated started Tom Gorzelanny against Ian Kennedy. Kennedy was a Yankees prospect who came to Arizona in the big three-way trade with Detroit. The Cubs faced Kennedy in April and got beat. He's working on eight-days rest after after a nine walk outing against the Rays on June 26.
Right around the time the Cubs saw Kennedy in April, he was in a bit of a ground ball streak. That's over now and he's back to being a fly ball pitcher. He's trying to get ground balls. His two best pitches for that purpose (change-up and curveball) are both well represented in his pitch mix this year.
The middle match-up will feature rookie Barry Enright making his second big league start for the Diamondbacks. Enright, a pitching prospect who is a product of Pepperdine, can swing the bat. He has a .949 OPS in 68 career minor league plate appearances, 21 hits, 8 doubles, 1 home run, 4 sacrifice bunts, 4 walks and 12 strike outs. Carlos Silva, his opponent on Tuesday night, should keep that in mind.
As a pitcher, Enright shares Kennedy's fly ball tendency. While Enright looks to have better control, he doesn't miss as many bats. For a few more missed bats, walks, ground balls and velocity we move on to the third man up for the home club.
Edwin Jackson's no-hitter was one for the ages. The ages he put on his arm, that is. I think he threw 12,403 pitches while walking 1,224 Rays during that game. With a mid-90s fastball and an excellent slider, Jackson has strike out stuff. His struggles with the strike zone are well documented (beyond the walkathon no-no), but he's learning to pitch to contact. He's gone from a fly ball pitcher to a ground ball pitcher, thanks to an increased reliance on a two-seam fastball. Which reminds me, he'll be facing Ryan Dempster.
I've noticed his sinker before, but didn't split it from his four-seamer while wondering if it would matter much. It matters. Instead of throwing sinkers between 2% and 5% of his pitches, Jackson is up to 10% this year. Instead of being a 90 on a scale where 100 is league average for ground balls, he's up to 108 so far in 2010.
Here's a quick summary of their stuff and some charts illustrating the spin deflection (relative to a ball under the influence of gravity alone) of each pitch the three have thrown. Enright snuck into exhibition games at Chase Field on April 3 of 2009 and 2010, so we have a little bit of extra data to gawk at.
For each pitch I'm showing the average speed, the whiff rate (misses per swing) ground ball rate (per all fair balls) and in wide strike zone rate (24 inch "plate"). These numbers go back to 2007, when available. Enright's sample (225 pitches) is laughably small. Kennedy has 2,996 and Jackson 9,654.
Kennedy MPH Whiff GB IWZ
Change-up CH 81 .39 .47 .37
Curveball CU 77 .17 .49 .41
Sinker F2 90 .16 .24 .49
Fastball F4 90 .14 .29 .58
Slider SL 84 .25 .41 .46
.20 .36 .51
Enright MPH Whiff GB IWZ
Change-up CH 82 .00 .50 .33
Curveball CU 77 .29 .20 .39
Sinker F2 90 .08 .40 .44
Fastball F4 90 .17 .26 .58
Slider SL 82 .30 .44 .61
.20 .32 .53
Jackson MPH Whiff GB IWZ
Change-up CH 87 .21 .52 .40
Curveball CU 81 .30 .43 .38
Sinker F2 94 .09 .51 .44
Fastball F4 95 .15 .37 .55
Slider SL 87 .38 .52 .46
.21 .43 .51
Here are the spin deflection plots. Star with every pitch (click each panel to enlarge).
And the average movement (good luck reading these, sorry).