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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Matt Garza vs. Ricky Nolasco: The tail of the tape from their July 3rd games

Tonight was likely a showcase of the two most sought after pitchers of the 2013 Trade deadline. Both pitched against top of their division teams.

The best way to determine the quality of pitching or stuff is by using Brooks Baseball and their Pitch F/X graphs.

Ricky Nolasco performance by pitch velocity against Atlanta:

Fastball between 90-92 starting out, throwing a mix of 2-seam and 4-seam, 75% (40 total) 4 seamers.
But the velocity after pitch 43 never returns. From then on, he goes to the slider for his swing and misses, throwing 29 sliders, getting 12 swings and misses. This is smart of Nolasco - the Braves love his fastball because it is BP speed (they missed only 4 of those), and Nolasco, can't nibble with it tonight. He mixed in enough Curves and Splitters to give the Braves fits as the game progresses.

Nolasco used a slide step to get 1.2-1.25 to home, but he ditched that around the 4th, the same time his velocity dropped. Get on base, he will have to concede the stolen base while using breaking stuff. I just don't think he can hump it up there. (NOTE: it was raining pretty consistently. However, pitchers deal with stuff like that always, adversity.)

By comparison, Atlanta's Mike Minor velocity was fairly consistent until his blowup in the 5th, where he threw 32 pitches, and obviously tired. Which is the GREATER point: Nolasco was not able to sustain his fast ball velocity past 50-60 pitches, making him vulnerable, tonight.

In his prior start, June 28th, Nolasco was better at sustaining his velocity because he was on 6 days rest. The start before that, June 21st, the real Ricky Nolasco tired at pitch 76, never returning upwards to his beginning velocity.

In short, Nolasco has a 5-inning, 75-pitch window to get you out, using his slider as his best weapon, if he can always throw that well. He might as well figure out how to throw more sliders. No matter what reporters print (Miami Herald), Nolasco is not ready (yet) for a big time playoff battle.

Nolasco's Pitches against Atlanta, July 3, 2013

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Whiffs / % SNIPs / % Linear Weights
FT (TwoSeam Fastball)90.2791.75-8.094.80116 / 54.55%1 / 9.09% 3 / 37.50%0.0342
FF (FourSeam Fastball)90.2292.1-4.686.843120 / 64.52%3 / 9.68% 12 / 52.17%-1.0115
CH (Changeup)84.1187.55-7.482.4442 / 50.00%1 / 25.00% 1 / 33.33%-0.2668
SL (Slider)81.6483.981.63-0.422922 / 75.86%12 / 41.38% 17 / 70.83%-1.9255
CU (Curveball)73.9676.59.18-7.23137 / 53.85%3 / 23.08% 6 / 50.00%-0.6200
FS (Splitter)80.2288.28-4.602.6185 / 62.50%2 / 25.00% 3 / 50.00%2.0335

Matt Garza Pitch Speed at Oakland, July 3rd

The conditions were better for pitching, no rain to fight.

Garza's graph shows the ability to reach back and get a bit more for a leverage situation. As late as pitch 101, Garza hits above 94 MPH. This was at the end of 7 innings against a patient, never unwilling-to-take-a -walk, Moneyball lineup.

Garza's only mistake: throwing back to back curves at pitch 54-55 to Moss, who hit a home run. Luckily, the Cubs scored off Bartolo Colon.

Garza throws usually nothing but Fastballs, he sinks one, or two, then a 4 seam, off the plate, up or strategically placed for pop-ups. Garza gets more vertical break (sink, but Nolasco gets more run, horizontally). The add/subtract works, and his range on both types of heaters, and top speed makes good hitters uncomfortable enough to be late, or just not able to get hard liners off him.

He doesn't miss that many bats. But neither does Nolasco. Garza's slider is above average when he surprises hitters, since they see about 85% fastballs. His curve can work well too, but he hangs 1 out of 4 of them. So, he doesn't usually throw many, and shouldn't to anyone with a lick of power.

Garza's pitch types at Oakland, July 3rd

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Whiffs / % SNIPs / % Linear Weights
FT (TwoSeam Fastball)93.0895.7-5.989.164932 / 65.31%6 / 12.24% 21 / 55.26%-2.0286
FF (FourSeam Fastball)93.5995.68-3.459.744125 / 60.98%2 / 4.88% 18 / 52.94%-1.0846
SL (Slider)85.7187.391.232.071811 / 61.11%4 / 22.22% 8 / 53.33%-0.9448
CU (Curveball)74.8576.594.60-8.9063 / 50.00%0 / 0.00% 1 / 25.00%1.2033

His prior start confirms too his velocity hovers right at 94 MPH. He loses only a fraction past 85 pitches, but puts 2 or 3 more fastballs above 94 at around 100 pitches, throwing a few more curve balls and sliders to a weaker Milwaukee team, getting by with it.

 Garza's velocity at Milwaukee June 27, 2013

The Final Analysis

Matt Garza is much, much better trade piece. He has been gradually stretched out his last 3 starts from 98 - 101 - 114 pitches, mixing some of his ancillary stuff, while showing consistent velocity. Nolasco, even on long rest, has suspect velocity once past 75 pitches. His fastball is very hittable for good FB hitting teams, like Boston, Oakland, Texas, or the Los Angeles Dodgers, playoff contenders all.

Garza should be the jewel piece of the trade season, if a team wants a better chance, than if they select Nolasco.

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