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Typology

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Spurred to action by reader requests, Capitol Punishment today provided a thorough review of the various pitch types hurlers employ and how to spot them while taking in a baseball game. Armed with several boxes of books cluttered before me, tonight I figured I'd expand on the theme by exploring which pitches the various Nats hurlers employ. For starters (and relievers, ha!), I referred to the handy-dandy Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, which is probably the most exhaustively-sourced review of pitch types employed by big league pitchers (especially pitchers of recent history). For our purposes, it's a good but incomplete initial foray into reviewing what Washington's pitchers throw, for the simple reason that most members of the Nats' staff haven't been around that long. The Neyer/James Guide is a 2004 publication, so its data/reports are current through the 2003 season. Take a look at the team's roster, and you'll isolate the problem: not many of those guys are going to be featured in the Neyer/James Guide. And there aren't---only three on the active roster, plus the currently disabled Pedro Astacio. (For the record, the book's initial standard was 1000 big league innings, then 400 appearances---and then the standard became so low that guys like Travis Driskill made the cut. If the book came out today, it would probably include comments on guys like Patterson, Armas, Cordero, Ayala, Majewski, Rauch, or at least most of them.)

Below are the notations and observations on the four pitchers listed. I have briefly supplemented the information where applicable:

LIVAN HERNANDEZ

The Neyer/James book cites the 1998 and 2000 editions of The Scouting Notebook as stating that Hernandez was a three-pitch pitcher earlier in his career: 1) mid-90s fastball, 2) slider, 3) change. According to an unsourced, "later career" assessment, Hernandez featured a standard four-pitch repetoire: 1) 87-92 fastball, 2) curve, slider, change. Also included is an insight from an interview Neyer conducted with Randy St. Claire in September 2003: Midway through that season, "Hernandez began throwing all of his pitches from the same arm slot, and his strikeout rate jumped dramatically." However, a 2004 scouting report noted that Hernandez would occasionally vary his arm angle to change speeds and get more movement on his breaking pitches. Obviously, we know by now that Livan will do just about anything on the mound; it's part of his charm, unless he's being hammered.

MIKE STANTON

Citing the 1992 and 1999 editions of The Scouting Notebook, the Neyer/James Guide states that Stanton throws three pitches: 1) fastball, 2) curve, and 3) slider. As Stanton was a Yankee during its lastest dynasty-run of the late 90s and thereafter, Sports Illustrated's annual World Series scouting reports are useful. The 1998 edition stated that Stanton's fastball lacked movement and was often left up in the zone; the 1999 edition called Stanton overrated but complimented his breaking ball. The latter scouting report did not clarify which breaking pitch to which it referred, but I am going to assume it referred to a sweeping slider that would be effective on lefty hitters.

FELIX RODRIGUEZ

The Neyer/James Guide cites the 1998-2003 editions of The Scouting Notebook for the proposition that Rodriguez throws: 1) a fastball (90-93 mph), 2) a high-80s slider, and 3) an occasional change. It contains a notation that "Rodriguez relied almost exclusively on his outstanding [four-seam] fastball, having never really got[ten] the hang of the slider or change-up."

PEDRO ASTACIO

According to the Neyer/James Guide, citing the 1994 Baseball Almanac and the 1999 Scouting Notebook, Astacio throws: 1) a sinking fastball, 2) a slider, 3) a "big, slow curve," and 4) a change. I'd also add a more recent addition: 5) a rehab pitch.

Anyway, like I said, that's all the Nats the Neyer/James Guide lists. Maybe we can pick up this project for the remaining pitchers---on the blogs and at the fan sites---by compiling reports of pitch types presented in the media, as well as supplementing our own observations.