Thanks to a plethora of injuries to the Dodgers’ starting pitchers, the Dodgers called up 23 year old right-handed starter Matt Magill to make a start. He pitched well, throwing strikes nearly 70 % of the time, striking out 7 and walking just 2. In this post, I want to look at the Pitch F/X data from his start and see if it helps us predict his future, along with telling us why he was successful.
First, let’s look at his actual release point, where he lets go of the ball
His closest comparisons in release point data are Tyler Cloyd, Andy Sonnanstine, P.J. Walters, and Lance Lynn. Lance Lynn is the only one with good velocity out of that group (and the only one with MLB success out of the group), along with Magill. It was a very consistent release point as well, showing the ability to repeat his arm angle and his overall delivery.
As we saw with Jake Arrieta, maintaining this delivery throughout the outing is key. So let’s see if Magill dropped down by inning:
It seems that Magill was relatively consistent throughout the outing, maybe dropping a little in the 6th, but raising back up when he came back out for the 7th. Velocity by inning seems to tell the same story:
Other than the 7th, he reached over 93 MPH every inning, and he was close in inning 7. Despite being 23, starting the season in the minors (where they are usually very conservative with pitch counts early in the season), and throwing over 100 pitches, he remained consistent in delivery and velocity. So now, time to look at his actual pitches in themself
I didn’t include labels in the graphs, so the fastball is clearly the hardest thrown pitch, so that top group is the fastball. The few that spin as much, or even a little more than the fastball, but are slower in velocity, is the changeup. The pitches that spin less and are slower than the fastball (but faster than the change) is his slider. MLBAM tags seperated some of his sliders and called them cutters, there is no reason for this, as we see in the spin chart (and when you look at movement), so I am conflating the two. So Magill is a three pitch pitcher, or at least was in his first start. It is a pretty traditional group of pitches, other than the fact that he doesn’t have a curveball. He has a fastball that doesn’t quite reach 95, but sits 93 MPH the majority of the time, with a pretty hard slider, most of them over 85 MPH. Let’s get an idea of how he pitches, via the strike zone breakdowns of his three pitches:
He seems to like to go to the glove side more than the arm side with it, really getting in on lefties or away from righties. He also prefers throwing it high more than low, making sense with his velocity.
His slider, the second most frequent pitch:
As you would expect, it breaks away from right-handers, nearly all of them on the glove side of the plate. He left some up, and seems to prefer throwing it for a strike, though he can throw it low and away.
His changeup was by far the least frequent pitch he threw:
It’s location was inconsistent, probably showing that he threw it the least because he has the least amount of command with it. The development of this pitch will be very important of course, both because it’s a 3rd pitch Magill can go with, and it is a changeup. This will help keep lefties off balance, something he did a great job of doing in the minors, with no real platoon splits. It is a little doubtful that he can do that in the big leagues with just the fastball and the slider.
Magill currently has two big league pitches that he can throw for strikes or throw out of the zone. He showed advanced control and an ability to repeat his delivery in a consistent manner. I don’t think there is much of a reason for him to throw many more minor league innings this year, s he certainly looks like he belongs in the Dodgers rotation for now (they should, at least, give him the opportunity to make his way through the league and see if the league picks up on his two pitches. If they do, they can move him to the bullpen, or send him back to the minors to work more on his changeup).