March 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm by Franklin Rabon under Atlanta Braves
Earlier today Tommy Hanson’s drop in velocity was causing a mild panic on twitter, even though his results were very good. He was routinely throwing pitches in the 88 MPH range and was topping out around 90 MPH. However, later that day on twitter, Kris Medlen revealed that Tommy had been throwing almost exclusively 2-seamers instead of his normal 4-seam fastball for the first time this spring. Typically most pitchers not named Jonny Venters throw their 2-seam fastball 2-3 MPH slower than their 4-seam fastball.
The pitch was very effective, as you can see in the .gif below, which was an 0-0 pitch to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning.
It remains to be seen if Tommy will throw this pitch in a real game, as this was the first time I can ever recall him throwing it much, if at all, in a game. If he can effectively mix this in with his normal 4-seam fastball, he could really keep hitters off balance. However, many pitchers have trouble keeping a good feel for both a 2 and 4 seam fastball simultaneously.
It will be interesting to watch this develop as we get into the regular season, both because we aren’t even sure if Tommy will continue to throw it or if he was just experimenting with it. And if he does it would be nice to really see what it’s doing with pitch f/x.
You can compare this to his 4-seamer here.
This pitch was 88 MPH.
Also, you can see that Tommy’s ‘new’ delivery is more or less the same, just a little faster to the plate, if you haven’t already seen it. I also don’t really love that he shows the ball to the second baseman in his windup (instead of showing it to the third baseman) as that is believed by some experts to be a little tougher on the shoulder. But the field of biomechanics as it applies to pitching is young still, so that may just be speculation.
Edit: According to Joe Lefkowitz Tommy threw 82 2-seam fastballs in 2010.
I watched some of them from the April 20th game of 2010 against the Phillies. You could see why he didn’t throw them too much in 2010 and dropped the pitch altogether in 2011. Really, it wasn’t even noticeable as a 2-seam fastball unless you were looking for it. The pitch had virtually no movement, in fact it probably had less movement than his 4 seam fastball. It was nothing like the down and towards the RH batter’s box action he was getting from the pitch yesterday. Perhaps something about Tommy’s loss in velocity and tweaked delivery allow him to get more movement on the pitch, or maybe he just figured out the action on it better. But for whatever reason, it was a substantially better pitch in his most recent outing than it was in 2010.