Friday, July 13, 2018

Cody Allen 2018 vs 2017

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Cody Allen, closer for the Cleveland Indians is the bookend of the worst bullpen in baseball this year. He's only blown one save through the All-Star break but his last outing in a non save situation--2/3 inning, 6 runs, 3 hits, 2 walks--had me wondering if this performance is an indication of something more substantial brewing over time.  Some basic pitching numbers along with Statcast data can shed light on this.

*  Opponents are batting more than 200 points HIGHER against Allen with runners in scoring position than last year.

                GAMES   PLATE APPEARANCES   OPP AVG.       2B   HR   RBI
2017:            69                    50                              0.226             1      2     16
2018:            32                    44                              0.432             3      1     14

*  Allen's has already walked 15 batters in 32 games. Last year his total was 21 with double the number of games pitched.

            RESULTS WITH COUNTS 3-0, 3-1, 3-2
                 GAMES         HITS/AB           BB   SO   RBI   HR   R
2017:             69            8-32  (0.250)     21    12     6       4      6
2018:             32            4-18  (0.222)     15     4      2       1      2   (THRU JULY 11)

*  Allen's velocity has steadily dropped from its peak in 2013 to its present level similar to last season

*  Batters are swinging at more of his pitches in the strike zone vs any other year since 2012.  Batters are more aggressive vs Allen.

* Yet opponents are also swinging and missing significantly more this season

* Batters are not swinging and missing at pitches up in the zone as much as last year

However he is still throwing pitches in roughly the same locations regardless of the batter

The result has been more fly balls this season than in any other season

Expected slugging percentage (formulated using exit velocity and launch angle from statcast) shows an increase from last year.

The increase in flyballs and expected slugging percentage is probably due to pitch location. His primary pitches (fourseam fastball and curveball) are higher in the zone this year vs 2017.

He has made adjustments to right handed batters this year and its showed. The real damage has been done on the other side of the plate where lefties are enjoying a large increase in OPS.  4 homeruns so far thru July 11th versus only 1 last year. 15 hits in roughly half the number of at bats.

Why is this happening?  He's leaving the ball over the plate more this year to lefties.
                              AB    H     HR   RBI   AVG      OPS
2017  LEFTIES    110   23      1        7     0.209     0.545

                              AB    H     HR   RBI   AVG      OPS
2018  LEFTIES     59    15      4      10     0.254     0.871 (THRU JULY 11)

The frequency of balls GROOVED (right over the plate) is higher with both his fourseam fastball and curveball. The increase is more pronounced with the fourseam. 

This has resulted in more flyballs.  Batters are pulling the ball more.  The number of weak hits is lower; the number of solid hits is the highest in three years!

The bottom line is Cody Allen is less effective when he doesn't locate his two pitches. This is essential now versus other years due to his decline in velocity. He needs to make adjustments DOWN in the zone especially to left handed hitter or the second half of the season will be more of the same