A challenging home stand opens up Friday with the Cubs facing the Reds before the Cardinals and Giants come to town. Edinson Volquez will face a Cub line-up that may be coming to life, despite the recent cool-down of Starlin Castro.
Volquez is a former Texas Ranger who was part of a vaunted "DVD" trio of pitching prospects. One D is White Sox starter John Danks, who come over in a trade for Brandon McCarthy. The other D is Thomas Diamond, currently pitching for the Iowa Cubs.
The Chicago connections don't end there. Volquez became a Red when the Rangers traded him for Josh Hamilton. Hamilton was in Cincinnati thanks to a cash purchase arrangement with the Cubs, who had him for a few minutes as a Rule 5 pick.
Volquez is 27 years-old and is seeing action for the 7th season of Major League play. He's had just one full season, 2008, where he made more than 30 starts. His dozen in 2010 is 2nd best. His back-story involves a trip down the ladder, back up again, a blown elbow, and a PED "suspension" while on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Enough about all that.
As you click or squint at the following charts, you'll see a second breaking pitch (slider, unlabeled) appear in 2008, but fade from 2009 on. I'll talk about Volquez like he's a four-pitch guy, but he's most likely a fiver. And the change-up is like a splitter in movement, but it's a tumbling circle-change (see photo).
Fastball 94.3 mph Sinker 94.0 Change-up 82.7 Breaking 79.1
- Fastball for strikes (.58), otherwise can be zone-averse (.50 overall)
- Breaking ball gets a lot of takes (swing=.27, watch in zone=.61, B:CS=1.9)
- Ground ball pitcher (48%)
- Misses bats with everything (.28 whiff rate)
He can walk himself into trouble (especially since 2008), otherwise he's not much fun.
I'll end with flight paths. Check out the sinker location (which reflects his average location for that pitch).
Hello front-door two-seamer. One of my favorite pitches.
And this time, it's a hand buster. Nasty.