Scouting Carrasco's debut with PITCHf/x

September 1, 2009

Carlos Carrasco had a rocky outing in his Major League debut tonight in Detroit against the below-average Tigers offense. The game is about to end as I write this, but the former Philadelphia Phillies farm hand has long been yanked, so it's a good time to look at what the PITCHf/x data says for the 6-foot-3 inch right-hander. First up, his start by the numbers:

3 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 3 HR allowed, 74 pitches (45 strikes), 0 ground outs, 4 flyouts.

Yikes. Not good. Only one of the homers allowed was a wall-scraper and that was Carlos Guillen's blast that barely landed into the glove of a fan about eight inches above the outstretched Matt LaPorta in right field. Placido Polanco's and Brandon Inge's long-balls both easily cleared the fence -- both in left field.

Now, the PITCHf/x goodness. First up, his average release points for the game:

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Carrasco's listed at 6-foot-3, 215-pounds.This scouting report noted that he's got a Jeremy Bonderman body type, and I'd agree with that. Big, sturdy legs, and a good-sized upper body. Because of this build, and a high 3/4 arm-slot, Carrasco's delivering the baseball around the 6-foot mark.

Here are all of his pitches release points plotted:


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Pretty nice little cluster. Carrasco threw 61% of his pitches for strikes tonight, which is a tick above the 59% major league average. Unfortunately, he probably threw too many strikes tonight, evidenced by the high hit total and three round-trippers surrendered. Here's his strike zone plot:


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A lot of pitches up and towards the center of the plate. That's typically not a good thing, even if you're a fireballer. Given that Carrasco's heater averaged just 92.4 tonight, throwing a bit above the belt and close to the heart of the plate isn't a good plan of attack.

Speaking of attack, here's how he attacked left and right-handed hitters tonight:


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The bold numbers inside each pie graph is the actual numbers of those pitches thrown. The number outside each slice is the percentage of those numbers. He really didn't abandon his change-up tonight against same-side batters like most right-handed pitchers do when they face right-handed hitters. He decreased his use of the fastball, maintained his use of the change and increased his use of the curveball against right-handed hitters. Interesting.

Finally, here's his average pitch flights for all of his pitches thrown tonight:


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To me, it looks like his fastball (blue line; 92.4 MPH) was flat in this outing. Doesn't look to generate much arm-side run either. A very straight fastball that he left up in the zone and towards the heart of the plate is not a recipe for success.

His breaking ball is a curveball (white; 77.6 MPH), but I've decided to go with the generic "breaking ball" code for all of these graphs. There's some decent diving action on it and just a bit of sweeping action -- not enough to make it an 11-to-5 breaker, but just enough to not make it 12-to-6. Maybe 11:30-to-5:30?

He didn't flash his curveball or his change-up (orange; 85.0 MPH) that much tonight, going with  68% heaters. Change-up had about the same amount of arm-side run as his fastball, but with better sinking action. It looked decent, but it's easy to understand why he may have gotten gun-shy with anything other than his fastball given his major league debut and he was getting hit hard early and often in it. On the road to boot.

Overall, it's tough to draw any sort of tangible conclusions from this -- it's more of an aid for the scouting reports you can find around on Carrasco. It does seem to corroborate why people are divided on his true talents -- our forums buzz with people thinking he's a middle-of-the-rotation starter (or worse), while some feel he's got No. 2 starter potential given his minor league success. If I had to choose one way to lean, based on scouting reports and the added PITCHf/x data, I'd lean closer to middle-of-the-rotation starter (or worse). I won't feel comfortable making any more conclusions until I can look at his arsenal in a greater sample. Tonight, though, his fastball was flat and left up in the zone over the heart of the dish.

All of the usual caveats apply here:

1. I'm not a PITCHf/x guru, I just play one on the internet.

2. This data is from one start.

3. The PITCHf/x system isn't infallible.

4. Pitch classifications are at my discretion, and may be wrong.

5. This data should always be accompanied with multiple first-hand scouting reports when looking at someone so young in their major league career.


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Mike Rogers runs his own blog, Fire Jim Leyland (no, he doesn't want him fired anymore). He also contributes to a San Diego Padres blog, Friar Forecast, and at the great sabermetric blog Beyond the Boxscore. He can be reached at