=== Texasleaguers.com ===
In 2009, we used Dan Brooks' wonderful site for same-day pitchFX data. I guess MLB.com makes the raw data available to the public, and Brooks' site was one of the first to crawl over daily and format the data in a readable fashion.
Texasleaguers.com, right now, is an even better mousetrap. It just takes a few seconds to line up four or five pitchers so that you can compare their pitch trajectories, strike zone scattercharts, etc.
=== Swerveball Dept. ===
SSI did this for the four pitchers at the back of the M's rotation, and by the time we were done looking up those, we pulled up Jo-El Pineiro's, too. See if you can guess why :- )
SIDE-TO-SIDE SWERVE, 2-SEAM FASTBALLS, APRIL 2010
- 5 inches - Ryan Rowland-Smith
- 7 inches - Ian Snell (actually, FX claims he doesn't throw a 2-seamer; this is the 4-seamer)
- 8 inches - Jason Vargas
- 5-8 inches - Standard break on a 2-seam fastball
- 4-5 inches - Shawn Kelley, for reference
- 11 inches (!) - Doug Fister
- 10 inches - Joel Pineiro (on the "sinker")
Can you guess why we wanted to know Jo-El's break? ;- )
=== Son of Kal-El Dept. ===
Over the offseason, we did a two-part POTD on Jo-El, which you can read here and here. We agreed with Dave Allen that Pineiro, with his incredible 89 mph screwball, became the pitcher for "testing" the outer limits of bad-K, great-BB performance.
SSI's prediction was that Pineiro would probably continue to be very effective with this one-pitch arsenal for another 1-2 years, something like Scott Erickson (e.g.) was effective for 2-plus years.
This is the kind of question that Bill James used to love to wallow in: what are the upper bounds of performance in Scenario X? Jo-El investigated that in 2009.
The Angels apparently pegged Jo-El about where SSI did, signing him to a 2 / $16M contract. SSI opined that this was about right. Pineiro is off to a gorgeous start in Anaheim: 2-2, 3.64, 15:4 control, 0.3 homers.
=== 80% Fastballs ===
When we last saw Doogie, 2009, he was using a plus-plus (+1.3 runs / 100) change to great advantage, throwing only 61% fastballs.
But of course, in 2010, Fister is throwing almost nothing but fastballs -- and he has a surreal run value of +3.29 runs/100 on it.
The M's three catchers -- Wakamatsu, Johnson, and Moore -- got a load of that Jo-El swerveball in March, and said, let's go with that. At $400k, why not.
One interesting difference is that Pineiro's swerveball "sinks" compared to the typical two-seamer. Pineiro's rises only 3 inches relative to vacuum, whereas Fister's rises 10 inches. So Pineiro does indeed have the added advantage of throwing a "heavy" ball and getting grounder's. Fister's 2-seamer depends on weak contact, as opposed to depending on GB's as such.
This doesn't exactly mean that all is lost, if the M's want to try to transmogrify Fister into Joel Pineiro II. Fister has a lot better control than Pineiro, as you can see from their Texasleaguers.com strike zone scattercharts.