A Baseball Weblog

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ivan Nova PITCHf/x

Ivan Nova is officially a member of the Yankees' rotation, and he will make his first start of the season tonight against the Twins.  This post can serve as a refresher on Nova's repertoire and his pitches' effectiveness (using 2010 data).  

Nova throws a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider.  Minor league scouting reports say that he threw both a four-seam fastball and a two-seam fastball in the minors, but I can only find one pitch in the PITCHf/x data.  It doesn't really look like either - it has the horizontal movement of a four-seamer but vertical movement closer to that of a two-seamer.  Since I can only find a four-seam grip from game photos, I'll refer to it as a four-seam fastball for now.  The curveball is pretty much a 12-6 pitch with good drop and not much lateral movement; the changeup moves about 9 inches away from a lefty batter with a little more sink than his fastball.  The slider that he threw 11 times last year is not the one he will be using this year - he's ditched it for a harder slider (thrown with a cutter grip) that he debuted in mid-March.  Onto the pitch data and results - the movement and velocity data for Nova vary greatly within his appearances, likely due mostly to calibration fluctuations.  To show these differences, I've separated the data into home (the left cell) and road (right cell) games.  The Yankee Stadium gun was running slow when Nova was with the team, and maybe some of his road starts were a bit hot (U.S. Cellular definitely was).  

#%vs RHBvs LHBSwing RateWhiff Rate Zone RateBall RateRV/100xRV/100



In PlayGB RateFB RateLD RatePU Rate


That fastball, whatever it is, is really good at inducing groundballs and is really not good at getting whiffs.  The curve and change were above league average in the whiff department (both in the 28%-30% range), which is nice, but I'd like to see a larger sample before getting too excited.  Neither pitch is thrown in the strike zone that much.
A few points:
  • He'll pick up a fair amount of groundballs with his sinking fastball.
  • He might pick up some whiffs on his curve and change, but they'll probably need to be thrown for strikes more to be effective.
  • I'll be on the lookout for his new slider today.  By its description (originally supposed to be a cutter but has more break and less velocity), it seems like a pitch that would typically generate groundballs and whiffs if commanded low in the zone.

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