In the rubber game of this series, right handed pitcher Scott Feldman will take the mound on Wednesday night. After being selected in the 30th round of the 2003 draft, Feldman made his first major league appearance as a reliever in 2005. He continued his career in the bullpen until 2008, when new pitching mechanics encouraged the team to move him to the rotation. He went on to make 25 starts in his 151.1 innings, posting a 5.29 ERA, 5.35 FIP, and 4.40 K/9. After the rough year, Feldman was moved back to the bullpen before an injury pushed him back to the rotation. It was his most successful season in the majors, posting a 4.08 ERA, 4.31 FIP, and a 5.36 K/9, 3.08 BB/9. In 2010, Feldman received a two-year $11.5 million extension and was announced as the opening day starter for the Rangers, but posted a horrific 5.48 ERA, 4.73 FIP, and 4.78 K/9. While he was mostly injured last year, he pitched out of the bullpen with 32.0 innings in total, despite the Rangers attempting to option him down. He again started this year as a reliever, but thanks to the double header on Saturday, he has yet again moved to the rotation temporarily.
Like what we saw from Yu Darvish yesterday, Scott Feldman has a 6 pitch repertoire, and thats about where the likeness ends. He primarily throws a 92 mph sinker and 90 mph cutter, both with average movement. He also has a very straight 91 mph four-seam fastball. Of his offspeed pitches, he uses an 80 mph slider that has some good movement on it, as well as a 78 mph curveball, and 84 mph changeup.
The graph above plots Feldman’s release points in the 2011 season. The zone of pitches covers around 1 to 2 feet to the left of the mound and around 5.5 to 6.5 feet above it. The 6’6″ pitcher currently throws from a 3/4 arm slot, but before he moved to the rotation in 2008, he threw sidearm. You can see an image of his current 3/4 arm slot on the right, and just for fun, here he is throwing side arm.
The two images above plot the trajectory of each pitch type from the release point on the right to homeplate on the left. In the top image you can see the break of all 6 pitches from a bird’s eye view. The changeup and sinker have the closest break moving into right handed hitters, a mimicking combination. The cutter, slider, and curveball all have movement into left handed hitters, each with more than the last one. The four-seam fastball is thrown with little horizontal break. The bottom image shows a view of the pitch trajectory from the 1st or 3rd base side. While the cutter and four-seam have more vertical rise, the two-seam doesn’t have as much additional vertical drop when compared. The changeup and slider have similar drops, followed by a curveball with the most downward break.
Here we have the movement of each pitch from a catcher’s perspective with the origin as a no-spin pitch conforming to gravity. The sinker and changeup have the most movement in towards right handed hitters, which at times hits 10 inches of break in. The four-seam fastball is a straight pitch with very little horizontal or vertical rise. The cutter has some slight horizontal movement away from right handed hitters, around 2.30 inches on average, but with the same vertical movement as the sinker and four-seam. The slider has about 5 inches more drop than the fastballs, and with around 5.83 inch horizontal movement into left handed hitters. The curveball has similar movement into left handed hitters, but sits closer to 10 inches in. The curveball gets very little downward movement though, averaging 4 inches below the x axis, while the average curveball in 2011 fell around 8 inches.
Here we have the spin angles of the pitch versus velocity. The wide area of spin degrees for the sinker indicates why we saw so many different breaks for the pitch in the chart above. As the spin degree increases for a sinker we should see more movement into right handed hitters. The changeup has similar spin angles to this pitch, which is why the pitch moves so similarly horizontally. The four-seam fastball averages at 190 degrees, very low for a four-seamer, which is why the pitch is so straight. Although the 157 degree spin angle Feldman has on the cutter is considered low, it doesn’t have huge horizontal movement into lefties. Looking at the slider, the spin angle is pretty typical, but you can see how the curveball is very close. With a lower angle on the curveball, Feldman would be achieving more downward movement, so the high angle is why the pitch has little drop to it.
Where He Threw It
This graph plots the pitch locations by type to right handed hitters. You can see that he attacked hitters with sinkers in, jamming the hitter. For his offspeed pitches, the curveball and changeup, he tends to locate them around the strikezone. The cutter, slider, and four-seam are thrown mostly down and away to the weak point of right handed hitters. His selection against same side hitters was 39.1% sinker, 24.2% cutter, 14.4% curveball, 11.4% four-seam, 6.8% slider, and 4.1% changeup.
The cutter and four-seam fastball are located mostly up and in to left handed hitters. Remember that the cutter had a few inches of break in to lefties, again indicating that he’s trying to jam the hitter. The sinker is thrown in the strikezone often, but there are also plenty of sinkers away in an attempt to get the hitter chasing. Likewise, the changeup is thrown away with the same chasing intention. He wasn’t afraid to throw the slider and curveball around the strikezone and low, but he did avoid throwing them up and in/down and in. His selection against lefties is 27.4% sinker, 26.1% cutter, 16.2% slider, 13.2% changeup, 10.9% four-seam, and 6.3% curveball.
When He Threw It
|Count||Sinker (R)||Cutter (R)||Four-seam (R)||Slider (R)||Curveball (R)||Changeup (R)|
Facing righties, Feldman started most of his counts off with his fastballs, particularly his sinker and cutter, while occasionally mixing in a curveball. As he fell behind in the count he continued with the same plan, this is until he went 3-0. Surprisingly, Feldman continued with the same strategy ahead in the count, and threw the breaking pitches most at only 35% of the time on the 0-2 count. The right handed pitcher has some strikeout tools against righties, with a 13.2% whiff rate on his curveball and 16.0% whiff rate on the slider. He’s appears adamant about pitching to contact here, but it’s perplexing that he doesn’t throw his swing and miss pitches more often with 2 strikes.
|Count||Sinker (L)||Cutter (L)||Four-seam (L)||Slider (L)||Curveball (L)||Changeup (L)|
Facing opposite side hitters, Feldman mixes in his breaking pitches to start the count a bit more. As he falls behind in the count he starts to revert back to the fastball dominant approach. Ahead in the count, he relies more on his changeup and slider, but still throws his fastballs more often than you’d usually see. Feldman had even better whiff rates against left handed hitters last year, earning a 16.3% rate on the slider, 12.5% on the changeup, and 15.8% on the curveball. Again, it astounds me why he doesn’t increase the offspeed pitches with 2 strikes.
Although Feldman has always been successful with his control, a 3.27 career BB/9, he’s struggled with strikeouts, 5.00 K/9. He’s a contact pitcher, with a career batted ball rate of 47.3% groundballs, 33.1% flyballs, and 19.6% linedrives. As we saw in the increased whiff rate against lefties, the right hander indeed has a reverse platoon split. His career tripleslash versus righties is .283/.344/.438, compared to .265/.339/.406 facing lefties. He also has better home numbers than away, with a 4.31 ERA at home compared to 5.17 on the road.
Against The Yankees
In 4 starts, and 6 total appearances against the Yankees, he’s pitched to a 4.76 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched. Yankee hitters have hit him at a .308/.394/.505 rate, with a 6.0 K/9, and a 4.8 B/9. Granderson has the most success, who in only 8 at bats has 3 homeruns. Jeter, Arod, and Teixeira also have homeruns against Feldman.
|Probable Yankee Lineup||At Bats||Triple Slash|
|Derek Jeter SS||11||.273/.333/.818|
|Curtis Granderson CF||8||.625/.700/.1.875|
|Alex Rodriguez 3B||11||.364/.417/.636|
|Robinson Cano 2B||11||.273/.273/.273|
|Mark Teixeira 1B||13||.308/.333/.615|
|Nick Swisher RF||6||.167/.400/.333|
|Raul Ibanez DH||8||.375/.375/.750|
|Andruw Jones LF
|Russell Martin C||2||.000/.000/.000|
While Feldman doesn’t have overly impressive numbers, some of his pitches look strong. With high whiff rates on his offspeed pitches, its questionable why he throws so few of them with two strikes. Of course, we’re entering his 8th major league season, so theres no reason to suspect that he’ll change the game plan for the Yankees tonight. With a history of poor numbers, my expectations aren’t optimistic for Feldman, and it looks like the Yankees should have no trouble hitting him.