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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cameron: Johnny Cueto's Fastball Unhittable

Dave Cameron pointed out today that a big part of what has made Johnny Cueto so amazing this year is that his four-seam fastball has been nearly unhittable:
I mean, sheesh.

Cueto is known as a sinkerballer, and that's still very much what he is.  His ground-ball percentage still stands at 53%, and he still throws his sinker a healthy portion of the time (22.5%).  But Cueto has been seeing uncanny results with his four-seam fastball, which he is throwing a bit more often this season:

***Note also: Tony Cingrani also appears on this graph of low wOBA allowed.

That increase in his four-seamer frequency seems to part of why he's showing a 1 mph increase in his "fastball" velocity this season, although all of his pitches are seeing small velocity increases:

I tend to expect that outliers as substantial as Cueto is in that first graph are due for a regression.  That shouldn't be a surprise, because Cueto has been so unbelievable this year.  It's pretty rare for a pitcher to be almost twice as good as everyone else on something.

Nevertheless, the Dodgers announcers were talking a lot about Cueto and the deception in his delivery last night.  I think that Cueto's increased velocity, coupled with the deception of how well he hides the ball during his delivery, are a bit part of why he's been able to accomplish what he has this year.  As Cameron states, this is not just a BABIP-inspired oddity.  I can't explain it either, but I am enjoying the ride.