Promoted because we're big fans of Mr. Poopz -- Kurt
Doug Fister showed up in a Tigers uniform and quickly became a fan favorite. His numbers (despite his W-L) were beautiful, but Dave Dombrowski stole him from the Mariners for a very reasonable price. When he came to the Tigers he went from a bit of an unknown to becoming the Tigers #2 starter. Had Verlander pitched even a bit worse, he probably would've been the ace of the Tigers second half.
Rick Porcello showed up this season about 5 years younger than Doug Fister, but having approximately about the same amount of MLB experience. Porcello didn't get the luxury of much minor league experience. He pitched his first major league game at the age of 20, an age where most kids are going to school and not going to bars.
But despite the difference in experience and age, their games are essentially the same.
The charts above are ratio charts that give insight into how Fister's and Porcello's pitches end up. We can see consistently that their numbers are not all that different. They induce ground balls, get similar amounts of strike outs, walk at similar rates...but the truth is that in almost all the categories listed above, Fister is the superior pitcher. The differences are slight, but they add up. The only real advantage Porcello has on Fister is that he has a consistently better DP%.
But can marginal differences in these ratio's really create such a difference between the two players? The answer is apparently yes. FIP wise Porcello was at 4.06 and Fister was at 3.02. Quite a difference and some how Doug Fister creates it. So we have two new questions, what is the difference between these two players and what can Rick Porcello do differently to further himself as a MLB pitcher? The exploration after the jump.
Now normally I'd whip out a bunch more charts for you guys to look at, but in this instance the raw data speaks for itself in the difference between these two pitchers.
Velocity wise we once again see that if you were looking at these numbers, you couldn't tell Rick Porcello apart from Doug Fister. They top out on their fastballs at about 90mph and their off speed pitches all tend to be anywhere from 75-85mph. So obviously Doug isn't over powering Rick in anyway.
But we're looking for differences and again they are occuring in the ratios, and this time the ratios are those in how much they throw their pitches. First off, Fister prefers his four seam fast ball. Rick prefers his 2-seamer. But they both throw their preferential fastballs at similar rates. But at this point the similarities seem to stop. Rick is essentially a 3 pitch pitcher: Fastball, slider, changeup. Doug Fister has four. He includes a curveball into his repotoire.
Normally I don't put much stock into a single pitch, but pitch values give us an idea as to how effective these pitches are. Value wise Rick had one above average pitch last season, and that pitch was his slider. Fister had three. His curveball, fastball, and changeup where all effective for him. Now historically Rick has had an effective fastball in the previous two seasons, so I would expect his fastball to regain effectiveness this upcoming season automatically giving him two effective pitches. But two pitches pitchers are what I call short inning relievers and I don't want them starting.
Now Fister's and Porcello's pitches experience similar spin angles and similar spin rates, signifying that they move similarly, meaning that there is one more thing to talk about and that is that distribution of pitches I was talking about earlier.
One key thing that Fister does as a pitcher is distribute his pitches well. This is a confidence thing and an intelligence thing. He establishes his fastball first and foremost, but then he works in all his off-speed pitches without truly favoring one over another. This is deceptive and it keeps batters on their toes. Porcello is almost opposite. He establishes the fastball, but essentially only works in his slider. Yes it's an effective pitch, but when you are only intermittently throwing a change-up along with it, you become a bit predictable. One hung slider can blow open a game for the opposition.
But Rick Porcello isn't stuck. He's still young and capable of learning just a couple more things. If he can establish more confidence in his change-up while increasing it's effectiveness and throwing it more throughout a game, he can establish himself as a more effective pitcher. Down the road if he can further develop the curveball he's already been trying out, than you never know, we may have another Fister on our hands.
So final advice for Rick, practice makes perfect.
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bless You Boys writing staff.