The changeup has basically been eliminated from Stammen’s arsenal down from 2% usage in 2017. The veloicty differential is not great enough to be useful going foreward.
The knuckle-curve has become Stammen’s putaway pitch as he added some vertical drop. Witha 19.5% SwStr% and a 42.7% chase rate, Stammen may need to increase the usage of his curve in order to drive up his strikeout rate.
Stammen’s heavy fastball arsenal is anchored by his sinker. Thrown neasrly 70% of the time, it’s easily his best pitch netting a 12.6 pVal in 2019. Unlike most sinkers, Stammen can use his sinker both up and down in the zone. While it doesn’t generate a ton of whiffs, it’s very effective with just a .287 xwOBA against the pitch.
Stammen uses two pitches to complement his sinker. He utilizes his slider more frequently than his curve and it has a hard sweeping action. It was not as effective in 2019 as it went from an elite whiff pitch to below-average thanks to a huge drop in chase rate and zone rate.
It is never too late to enjoy the best season of your career, which is exactly what 34-year-old Craig Stammen did in 2018. This success was largely due to him hitting his spots with his sinker. He had less movement than he ever had with the pitch, the velocity stayed par for his career, he was not generating more swings and misses, and he was a deadeye with his location. He cut his 2017 walk rate in half and enjoyed a six-percentage-point bump in his K rate—all because of his control.
There are positives and negatives to this slider’s 2018 report card. The negatives are the usage went down, it has not been hit harder since 2010, and the pVal went down. Positives are that Stammen decreased his walk rate, kept the strikeout rate the same, and created more swinging strikes. His other pitches are due for some regression in 2019, but his slider could bounce back in the upcoming season.
Like one of NES’ best games, this pitch was a punch-out machine in 2018. Unlike with his other two pitches, Stammen gained two inches of movement on this one, which led to a 22% swinging-strike rate and a career-high 47.6% K rate, all while continuing his four-year streak of not walking a batter with his curve.