I made a fanshot a week ago noting a very strange release point that Brad Penny has. I said when I had the time I'd give it a look into, so here I am with the time and Fangraphs wide open.
Let's start with the bare stats. In 16.1 inning pitched over 3 starts Penny has average 4.45 K/9, 4.45 BB/9, and 1.65 HR/9. So just looking at those stats right there, it's pretty disheartening. K's are pretty blah, he's walking too many, and yeah that many home runs is not acceptable. But continuing on, the HR's are the easiest to diagnose at this point in my search for answers. Looking at his FB% we can see that it's a good 10 points higher than compared to the rest of his career.
Also of note: His BABIP is around normal. Which maybe I'm using the stat wrong, but I'm kinda reading that as luck not being a hindrence here. Could he get less lucky? For sure. But if this is his pitching with average luck, then yeah, may Avila have mercy on our souls.
But moving on means pitch F/X. =)
So first thing we look at is his pitch distribution. The first thing to notice is how he basically uses his fastball and his offspeed pitches at an equal rate. My first rule of pitching is that you gotta establish that fastball. If you can't then you shouldn't be pitching. Breaking pitches are designed to confuse a batter and to keep him from sitting on the fastball. You throw too many and they lose their effectiveness. The next thing to note is a 2mph drop in fastball velocity. That's a pretty big drop.
Now this is the pic from the fanpost I reference earlier. This is Penny's release point for the season thus far. Penny is 6'4" and throws right handed from what I would call a 3/4 arm slot. What I note about this image is that his release is way to close to center. Normally it should be a bit more to the left in the image. But from the video's I could find, he arm doesn't do anything funny in itself. What I can take a good stab at based on the video's is that he lands on his plant foot too much toward the 3B line, which would make him have to release later, and would also cause some semi-weird contortions that could cause damage after a hundred or so pitches.
Looking at the location charts I see too many fastballs being left in a hitters happy zone. Probably why he's using the offspeed stuff more often, he's not having any trouble locating his curve ball out of the happy zone. Unfortunately, that doesn't usually fall in for strikes.
So as a final diagnosis for Brad Penny I would have to say that his problem is entirely his fastball. Drop in velocity plus an inability to locate makes it hard to survive as a pitcher. Mechanically, he's been releasing like that his whole career. Given his injury history, he might want to change that but ya know...old dog, new tricks.
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bless You Boys writing staff.