Beau Brieske and Matt Manning

Matt Manning and Beau Brieske come from very different places. Matt Manning of course has the pedigree of being a first rounder who’s been a top prospect for the Tigers for a long time. Beau Brieske is just a 27th rounder who happened to make it to the big leagues. Brieske has none of the pedigree or hype that Manning has but their debuts are surprisingly similar. Matt Manning was called up due to Matthew Boyd getting injured and was rushed out to the MLB. Brieske was a similar emergency callup except he didn’t even pitch in Toledo. Both these players had (or are having in the case of Brieske) poor seasons by most measures. No one is trying to argue that Manning’s 2021 performance was great given his 5.80 ERA and same from Brieske’s 2022 so far sitting with a 4.19 ERA. Sure both have had their ups and downs but given the circumstances it is too early to assume anything. Why am I comparing them you might ask then? That’s because in my opinion despite how comparable these two seasons are (and trust me they are) I think that one of these pitchers has a much brighter future than the other. That pitcher is Beau Brieske.

To prove my point we’ll have to dive into a couple things and I’ll start with Manning’s fastball. To put it mildly. It is bad. 8th percentile in spin rate and only slightly above average velocity (although his incredibly long extension helps the pitch look faster) it is an uninspiring offering to say the least. You might say that a fastball doesn’t need super high spin rate to be effective, and in certain circumstances you’re correct. Take Josh Hader as an example: He’s consistently had terrible spin rate on his fastball yet he’s been a dominant closer that the Padres traded for. Yet Hader’s success is because of how well his fastball interacts with his slider and arm angle more than the fastball itself. Another example of an underwhelming fastball being effective is the Tiger’s own Tarik Skubal. He’s managed to get by and pitch incredibly well at times this season despite having an underwhelming fastball. The reason is because Skubal is throwing it significantly less. Skubal decreased his fastball usage by about 10% from 2021 to 2022 and now throws his amazing slider more often than he does his fastball. He’s getting by thanks to avoiding using it as much and relying more on his other pitches. While this has led to a lot more success I still think his fastball ultimately limits his ceiling as a starter. You might be tempted to ask now: "Why exactly can’t Manning make the same adjustments as Skubal and find success as well?" Because he doesn’t have the same quality of secondary pitches as Skubal.

During Manning’s 2021 in the MLB his curveball was his best pitch, providing -2 run value overall throughout the season and being his only pitch to do so in 2021. He doesn’t have another pitch that has generated the same results. You might be tempted to point out that in 2022 his slider has generated negative run value and has been great but given the small sample size and how metrics like spin rate, active spin, and velocity haven’t changed at all as well as where he pitches it. Therefore I would consider those numbers to be highly suspect.

Beau Brieske on the other hand, not only is his fastball a much better 80th percentile in spin rate which is well above average and has been able to generate negative run value, but he also has a much better secondary pitch in his changeup. His changeup as anyone who’s watched him pitch is by far his best offering having a 21.6 whiff% and even when it gets hit it has a 25% hard hit rate which means that it generally produces good outcomes when thrown. Brieske’s biggest obstacle right now in becoming a good starter would of course then be developing a tertiary pitch of some kind. As of right now his only other offspeeds are his curveball and slider, both of which have been bad this year, but he only has to make them passable offerings that he can mix in to complement his fastball and changeup. This is a much more doable task than Manning developing his secondary and tertiary pitches to be good enough to compensate for his bad fastball.

This article isn’t a grand declaration that Beau Brieske is going to become an ace, nor is it me guaranteeing that Manning is going to be a terrible pitcher. This is simply a comparison of the two where I make my case as to why I think that Brieske is significantly more likely to become an above average pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.