Warning: analysis with small sample sizes forthcoming.

Jeff Suppan’s starts with the Cardinals have been less disastrous than I (along with most other sabermetricians) would have predicted. How much of that success (can you really call 4-5 innings of blah pitching a success? Guess it depends on your standards.) is driven by luck is an entirely different story. To tell that story I’d be much more comfortable having additional data. In the interim let’s look at how Suppan’s approach has changed from his time in Milwaukee.

First pitch selection

Pitch mil sln
CH 13.05% 14.35%
CU 14.78% 11.81%
FC 19.77% 8.86%
FF 37.62% 62.03%
SL 14.78% 2.95%

A lot more fastballs, and he has basically scrapped the cutter/slider. This breakdown is more aligned with his previous tour with the Cardinals.

Now for location. His distribution of vertical location hasn’t changed much, so we’ll skip to horizontal location. First against LHB

Suppan v LHB

Then against RHB

Suppan v RHB

It looks like he’s throwing more strikes in general to LHBs (usually zone is considered from around -1 to 1) and less that are way off the plate outside. Against RHBs it’s almost the opposite as he has fairly dramatically shifted location to the outer half and off the plate outside.

So those are the primary differences I could find by quickly looking at the data. Note I didn’t even try to correlate the differences with any “success” improvements; my main goal was just to point out some differences to watch for. If he has continued “success” maybe we’ll revisit the issue in a couple starts.

Steve Sommer

Simulation analyst by day, father and baseball nerd by night

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