Results tagged ‘ Pitcher Profile ’

Pitcher Profile: Carlos Marmol

MARMOL-WEB

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Other Pitching Profiles:

• RHP Edwin Jackson

• LHP Travis Wood

• RHP Scott Feldman

• RHP Jeff Samardzija

• RHP Carlos Villanueva

• LHP James Russell

• RHP Shawn Camp


Signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1999, Carlos Marmol made his major league debut as a starter in 2006. But the Dominican native returned as a relief pitcher in 2007 and turned heads when, filling in for the injured Ryan Dempster, he closed out the ninth inning with a scoreless frame for his first major league save.

Since 2007, Marmol has been the Cubs’ primary closer, and he’s led the relief staff in strikeouts each year. Though the 30-year-old’s two-pitch arm boasts impressive power, he often struggles with command. He’s recorded more walks in his career than he’s allowed hits.

After giving up runs in his first three appearances of 2013, manager Dale Sveum pulled Marmol from the closing role. But since the change, Marmol has delivered four straight scoreless appearances. If that performance continues, Sveum may consider renaming the righty to the closing spot, especially with Fujikawa on the DL.

Marmol is one of several pitchers profiled in Vine Line’s 2013 Pitching Preview, available in the April issue, on sale now. We’ll be posting pitching profiles throughout the month, so be sure to check back to see what’s in store on the mound for 2013.

CARLOS MARMOL
Repertoire (Avg. MPH):
4-seam (95), Slider (85)
Age: 30
2012 Stats: 55 IP, 29.2 K%, 18.2 UBB%, 3.42 ERA, 115 ERA+, 1.54 WHIP

Last Season: Up and Down. Marmol had a rollercoaster year, finishing stronger than he started. He struggled with command early on, lost the closer job in May and missed a few weeks with a thigh strain. By mid-June, he stepped back into the ninth-inning role, where he saved 18 of his last 19 opportunities and posted a 2.09 ERA. Pitching coach Chris Bosio worked to simplify things for Marmol, getting him to stop shaking off his catchers.

Plan of Attack: Keep it simple with pure stuff. Marmol is a classic two-pitch power reliever—trusting quality of stuff rather than depth. He throws a mid-90s fastball with run and a slider that, at its best, is one of the game’s true wipeout pitches. Marmol used to throw his slider as much as his fastball early in the count, particularly against righties, but his usage has grown more conventional of late. In 2012, he threw a first-pitch fastball more than two-thirds of the time before turning to the slider when ahead. Of course, command is Marmol’s biggest weakness and overcoming problems there is vital to his success.

Putaway Pitch: Slider. The nature of Marmol’s slider has changed a bit from the sweeping slurve it once was. In 2011, Marmol started throwing a smaller version—manager Dale Sveum called it a cutter—that blurred the large velocity/movement differences between his two pitches. That was scrapped in 2012, and his slider became more of a downward-biting pitch. Marmol also threw his slider harder than ever before—reaching an average of 85 mph by season’s end. But he also was throwing his hardest overall since early 2010. That increase in velocity coincided with improvements in all of his numbers—a good sign if Marmol can carry it forward.

Pitcher Profile: James Russell

RUSSELL-J-080112-SG-01

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Other Pitching Profiles:

• RHP Edwin Jackson

• LHP Travis Wood

• RHP Scott Feldman

• RHP Jeff Samardzija

• RHP Carlos Villanueva


James Russell was drafted as a starter in 2007, but the southpaw from the University of Texas was summoned to the bullpen during his 2009 minor league season—a move that has paid off for the organization. Russell posted a 4.96 ERA in 49 innings in 2010 and then a 4.12 ERA in 67.2 innings the following year. Though he showed improvement with each season, he really found his niche as a middle-to-late-innings reliever in a breakout 2012 season.

Recording a career-best 3.25 ERA in 69.1 innings of relief, he remained constant in a rather unstable bullpen. Both his strikeout and walk totals could stand a little improvement for a reliever (55 K, 23 BB), but he did manage a respectable 8.7 H/9 total. Throw in his seven wins (good for third on the team), and 2012 was a successful year for the 27-year-old.

Russell is one of several pitchers profiled in Vine Line’s 2013 Pitching Preview, available in the April issue, on sale now. We’ll be posting pitching profiles throughout the month, so be sure to check back to see what’s in store on the mound for 2013.

JAMES RUSSELL

Repertoire (Avg. MPH): 4-seam (90), 2-seam (89), Cutter (88), Change (82), Slider (82), Curve (74)

Age: 27

2012 Stats: 69.1 IP, 18.8 K%, 5.6 UBB%, 3.25 ERA, 121 ERA+, 1.30 WHIP

Last Season: The 2012 bullpen makeover elevated Russell and Shawn Camp to the team’s No. 2 relievers (based on Tom Tango’s metric Leverage Index), with Russell getting a greater share of the team’s critical innings as the season went along. Russell also became a more substantial bridge to the closer. In 2011, Russell faced one batter in 20 percent of his appearances; in 2012, he did that in just seven of 77 games (9 percent).

Plan of Attack: A reliever vs. lefties and a starter vs. righties. Russell lives away, away, away. It may be predictable, but his ability to locate with a deep arsenal makes it effective. His splits against lefties and righties were virtually the same—from AVG/OBP/SLG to K% and UBB%. It looks like there’s a reason for it, though he’ll have to prove he can sustain the trend.

Against left-handers, Russell becomes more or less a two-pitch guy, primarily relying on his low three-quarters arm angle to sweep sliders away. He also pitches backward. He threw a breaking ball on 76 percent of first pitches and went with 39 percent fastballs when ahead in the count. The first-pitch slider seems to work because it resulted in a ball only 24 percent of the time—and 62 percent strikes.

On the other hand, you can see Russell’s roots as a starter in how he attacks righties. The overall mix of hard and soft stuff is about half and half, and his cutter, two-seamer and change all play more significant roles. Using his full repertoire gives him a continuum of speeds and movement to keep hitters guessing.

Putaway Pitch: Slider. Though Russell relies on his breaking ball more on the first pitch, it’s still a weapon late in the count. Lefties have trouble laying off it, and righties struggle to pull the trigger as it comes through the backdoor.

2013 Pitching Profile: Carlos Villanueva

Villanueva

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Other Pitching Profiles:

• RHP Edwin Jackson

• LHP Travis Wood

• RHP Scott Feldman


After becoming a free agent in October 2012, Carlos Villanueva struck a two-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs in early January. The Giants first signed the 29-year-old Dominican Republic native as an undrafted free agent in 2002, and then traded him to the Brewers in 2004.

Villanueva made his major league debut with Milwaukee in 2006 and played a valuable swing role with the team for five seasons before moving north of the border to the Blue Jays. For his career, he has a 33-35 record and a 4.23 ERA. He has made only 57 career starts in 302 games, but made the most starts of his career last season (16) with the Jays.

For now, with Matt Garza and Scott Baker on the DL, Villanueva fills the fifth spot in the Cubs starting rotation. In his first game against the Braves on April 6, Villanueva looked strong, going 6.2 innings with six strikeouts and one earned run. He staked his team to a 5-1 lead, but earned a no-decision after the Braves rallied in the eighth and ninth innings.

The man with the best moustache in baseball is one of several pitchers profiled in Vine Line‘s 2013 Pitching Preview, available in the April issue, on sale now. We’ll be posting pitching profiles throughout the month, so be sure to check back to see what’s in store on the mound for 2013.

CARLOS VILLANUEVA
Repertoire (Avg. MPH):
4-seam (90), 2-seam (89), Change (82), Slider (82), Curve (74), Slow Curve (63)
Age: 29
2012 Stats: 125 IP, 23.4 K%, 8.1 UBB%, 4.16 ERA, 102 ERA+, 1.27 WHIP

Last Season: For the second consecutive year, Villanueva played a swing role, filling in admirably as a starter before fading late. Now he joins the Cubs on a two-year deal that has him replacing an injured Matt Garza early on. Usage will be important: Villanueva’s numbers have suffered from a few bad starts in the past.

Plan of Attack: Pitch to all four quadrants. Villanueva relies on a full assortment of pitches to all corners of the zone. His command is vital. He pitches off his four- and two-seam fastballs, and he loves to pull the string with a change-up on an aggressive hitter. He goes to the change heavily when behind in the count, as well as on first pitches against lefties. It got him in trouble with the long ball in 2012, but he gets a good mix of grounders and whiffs when it’s working down and away.

Putaway Pitch: Slider. Villanueva’s best breaking ball is his slider, a pitch with hard downward bite. More than 60 percent of his strikeouts last year came on the pitch, and it’s effective whether breaking in on lefties or away from righties. It did flatten out in 2011, and Villanueva’s strikeouts hit a career low. But the renewed tilt last year bounced the K rate back from 15 percent to 23 percent.

*Numbers courtesy of Brooks Baseball

—Sean Ahmed

2013 Pitching Profile: Scott Feldman

Feldman-Web

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Other Pitching Profiles:

• RHP Edwin Jackson

• LHP Travis Wood


When the Cubs (2-1) take on the Braves (2-1) at Turner Field Friday night, Scott Feldman will take the mound for his debut appearance as a member of the rebuilt 2013 Cubs pitching staff. Feldman signed a one-year deal worth $6 million, with a possible $1 million in incentives, back in November.

The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher spent 2005-12 with the Rangers. After two seasons pitching out of the bullpen, Feldman was converted to a starter in 2008. He had a breakout year in 2009 when he finished with a 17-8 record, which tied for fourth in AL wins. He also tied for the major league lead with 12 wins on the road.

Last season’s 5.09 ERA was a bit higher than his career 4.81 mark, but Feldman evolved into a strikeout pitcher with a career high 7.0 K/9. Though he’ll make his first NL start on the road, Feldman looks forward to standing on the mound at Wrigley Field, where he has never pitched before.

“I can’t wait,” Feldman said. “I’m sure it will be one of those things where you get some little goose bumps going and realize you’re in Wrigley. It’s cool. It’s like playing in Fenway or Yankee Stadium.”

Feldman is one of several pitchers profiled in Vine Line‘s 2013 Pitching Preview, available in the April issue, on sale now. We’ll be posting pitching profiles throughout the month, so be sure to check back to see what’s in store on the mound for 2013.

SCOTT FELDMAN*
Repertoire (Avg. MPH):
4-seam (92), Sinker (92), Cutter (90), Change (86), Curve (77)
Age: 30
Arm Angle: Three-quarter
2012 Stats:
123 IP, 17.9 K%, 5.6 UBB%, 5.09 ERA, 89 ERA+, 1.38 WHIP

Last Season: Looking for a Return to Form
Feldman is a balanced veteran who broke out in 2009, earning himself a three-year deal with the Rangers and an Opening Day start in 2010. But he got hit around on his way to a 5.48 ERA that year, missed most of 2011 due to microfracture surgery on his knee and wrapped up his Rangers career with a 5.09 ERA in 2012. Though last year marked his second poor full season in a row, the fundamentals showed something different. His K rate jumped from 12 percent to 18 percent, his walk rate dropped from 7 percent to 6 percent, and he gave up fewer extra-base hits.

Plan of Attack: Stay off the Barrel
Nothing out of Feldman’s hand is straight. He’s a true sinkerballer, turning the ball over to create heavy movement and get batters to pound the ball into the ground. But he’s more than a one-trick pony, mixing all four of his primary pitches—sinker, cutter, change and curve—in all counts and situations. He prefers to jam hitters to produce a bevy of choppers and pop-ups. He’ll bust his cutter up and in against lefties, while boring his sinker down and in on righties.

Putaway Pitch: Curveball
Feldman’s other weapon is a curve that has developed into a breaker with more drop and glove-side sweep. He uses it roughly a quarter of the time, and he gets an above-average 35 percent whiffs when a batter swings (up from about 25 percent in 2009). Look for the curve to be thrown away, goading righties into swinging over it and lefties into taking it for a called third strike. Because the curve and change have gotten more play, he’s become less of a ground ball pitcher and more of a strikeout guy.

*Numbers courtesy Brooks Baseball

—Sean Ahmed

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