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Reviewing Framber Valdez's Choppy Start to 2022

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

I’ve always been a huge Valdez fan. His stuff is electric, and it’s been evident at times he’s special. He opened the season as the pitcher we believe he is, working 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball against the Angels. He followed this up with very mediocre pitching performances. In his first game, he only allowed one walk. The next two, 9 walks altogether. What happened?

I believe this revolves around velocity. Valdez is a pitch to contact starter, utilizing defense to get ground ball outs. The late movement on his fastball and sinker are the key to his success on the mound. So, why does velocity matter? The major point I’m trying to make here is that when you overthrow a pitch, you tend to take movement out of the equation. I saw this in the 2021 World Series. Valdez was hitting up to 97 mph at times, and pitches weren’t moving. It took away from his performance and allowed hitters to lay off much more often. He only pitched 4.2 innings in the World Series, with an ERA of 19.29 and a WHIP of 3.214, more than doubling his career average (1.324).

However, I also know when he’s not averaging a velocity over 92, he finds himself allowing more hits and walks. It’s synonymous with the concepts of pitching we were taught. You do not want to guide pitches, which could entail trying to control to much of where the ball is going, thus compromising movement and velocity. Second, you don’t want to overthrow your pitches.

***Credit to Fangraphs for the data used to generate this article

So, when we look at summary table above, we see that his effective comfortable zone is within the 92-92.9 mph range. This level allows Valdez to be most effective across the board. Although the visual wins and losses benefit him pitching into the 93 MPH range, it does not generate the most effective form of Valdez. An argument can be made wins and losses truly do not reflect a pitcher’s performance since there’s so many other factors involved in the result of the game.

I found his BABIP performance interesting, as it decreases within above green zone. BABIP is a measurement of a player’s batting average specifically on balls hit into the field of play. It does not account for home runs and strikeouts. This gives us an indication that balls are hit harder into play and gives the hitters more opportunity to get on base when in the red and yellow zones. This also shows the overall effect it has on his endurance and longevity in starts. Over the course of a season, this can add so many more innings to a bullpen.

All in all, seeing his performance when his velocity is up compared to when he’s most effective, Framber Valdez has a wonderful range to work in terms of velocity and how it relates to his performance. I believe developing the movement of his fastball and sinker only increases his chances of generating more strikeouts with the curveball and inducing many more outs in general over the course of a season. The game is meticulous with pitch counts, spin rates and the effect on the results, understanding what velocity means to these pitchers is great for any of us who watch them daily.

I will be recording a podcast episode talking about this as well! If you’d like to listen, please search for the Astronomical Sports Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or simply type it in google search. Links are also available on the twitter account, @AstroSportsPod.

Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed the article.

Written by Clint Irle – ClintTheScout and Host of the Astronomical Sports Podcast (@IrleClint117 on Twitter)

***Credit to Fangraphs for the data used to generate this article

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