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Fangraphs: Kevin Gausman is Learning to Elevate


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http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/kevin-gausman-is-learning-to-elevate/

In January, I asked a simple question: should Kevin Gausman and James Paxton throw more high fastballs? The thinking was this: the Rays have been prioritizing high fastballs. An effective high fastball has a particular movement, with lots of rise as observed on PITCHf/x. Gausman and Paxton throw fastballs that qualify, but they also threw the bulk of those fastballs low. What if they didn?t do that? Could more strikeouts and success follow? I didn?t know, but I thought it at least worth wondering.

I was going to leave this alone for a while, eventually re-visiting, maybe in August or September. But my own accidental discovery forced my hand. And it didn?t take much Googling to stumble upon this, which came up as the first result for my query:

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If you ask me, Gausman is much more effective when he keeps the ball low. I like going to the high fastball, slightly out of the strike zone, when the pitcher is ahead in the count but he generally seems like he gets hit when he gets the ball up. All 96 mph fastballs are not created equal.

Take a look at the proceeding piece:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/should-kevin-gausman-and-james-paxton-throw-more-high-fastballs/

I think it does a good job of showing that Gausman has exactly the type of four seamer that misses bats high (+10 inches of vertical movement).

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Take a look at the proceeding piece:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/should-kevin-gausman-and-james-paxton-throw-more-high-fastballs/

I think it does a good job of showing that Gausman has exactly the type of four seamer that misses bats high (+10 inches of vertical movement).

I read Sullivan's proceeding piece when he first wrote it. A couple things, though, need to be remembered. Sullivan cites a quote attributed to Gausman regarding Tillman "making a living" by elevating his fastball. I think this is a case of selective memory.

Tillman's ability to elevate the FB often comes after he is ahead in the count and not because he's constantly making pitches there. His FB is not good enough that he could be in the same location all the time. He's also benefited by the fact that he's a big guy ( listed at 6'5" ) and he creates a difficult angle from his arm slot.

If Gausman is using this as motivation then he needs to revisit how to set up hitters. It would explain why there seems to be less use of his two seam FB down in the zone which, to me is a much more effective pitch with more movement if not the velocity of the four seam variety. They can both be used in tandem effectively with the CH if he's not on some mission to blow everyone away with elevated FBs.

The heat map and recent trends from this year make it clear that is what's happening and so I wonder what is being said or not said by Wallace and Chiti or Buck. Is it something he's trying for the moment?

He has SO stuff, he just needs to know when and how to use it.

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I read Sullivan's proceeding piece when he first wrote it. A couple things, though, need to be remembered. Sullivan cites a quote attributed to Gausman regarding Tillman "making a living" by elevating his fastball. I think this is a case of selective memory.

Tillman's ability to elevate the FB often comes after he is ahead in the count and not because he's constantly making pitches there. His FB is not good enough that he could be in the same location all the time. He's also benefited by the fact that he's a big guy ( listed at 6'5" ) and he creates a difficult angle from his arm slot.

If Gausman is using this as motivation then he needs to revisit how to set up hitters. It would explain why there seems to be less use of his two seam FB down in the zone which, to me is a much more effective pitch with more movement if not the velocity of the four seam variety. They can both be used in tandem effectively with the CH if he's not on some mission to blow everyone away with elevated FBs.

The heat map and recent trends from this year make it clear that is what's happening and so I wonder what is being said or not said by Wallace and Chiti or Buck. Is it something he's trying for the moment?

He has SO stuff, he just needs to know when and how to use it.

Buck wants Gausman to do this.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baltimore-sports-blog/bal-new-curveball-could-improve-kevin-gausmans-already-explosive-fastball-20150409-story.html

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I think it's one of the best pitches in baseball, said Gausman. Chris Tillman makes a living out of throwing an elevated fastball off his curveball. It's a tough pitch for hitters to react to, and to lay off of.?

Just like his teammate, Gausman is augmenting his high heaters with hooks. He still throws a slider, but feels really comfortable with my curveball right now. A decreased comfort level in the pitch he's reintroduced to his arsenal wouldn't deter the Oriole from elevating fastballs. According to Gausman, the former isn't predicated on the latter.

Elevated fastballs were a big part of Gausman's game when he was an LSU Tiger. That changed when he got to pro ball and was continuously told, Throw strikes down and away, down and away. With the blessing of pitching coach Dave Wallace, and bullpen coach Dom Chiti, he's once again climbing ladders.

The catcher's mask is his key when he goes upstairs, and the goal is enticement, not called strikes.

I like to throw at the mask, explained Gausman. At the mask, my fastball has a little rise to it at the end. I also don't throw it in or out, because guys won't swing at that, especially up and in. But a fastball right down the middle, above the strike zone, is a really good pitch. Hitters will go after that, and if you have plus velocity, and it?s up enough, it's tough to hit.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/sunday-notes-bryce-on-stats-storen-gausman-eflin-almora-more/

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