Ever since Covey was called up to the majors in 2017, he’s thrown his changeup harder each season. It started at an average speed of 84.2 mph in 2017, but now clocks in at 85.7 mph. He also threw it more often than ever before, up to 18.06% of the time from 11.6% of the time in 2018.
Covey struggled throwing every single one of his pitches last season, including his 81.99 mph curveball. Before being sent down to AAA after an outing where he failed to record a single out, he posted a 7.98 ERA and 6.06 FIP.
Covey threw a mix of sinkers and four-seam fastballs in 2019, both clocking in at an average speed of 94.37 mph. Despite his reliance on what should be a ground-ball-inducing pitch, he only manages to generate a 41.9% ground-ball rate, by far the lowest mark of his career.
Covey more than quadrupled how often he threw his 90.96 mph cutter, up to 21.79% of the time from just 5.0% of the time in 2018. It also generated significantly less value season over season, fropping from -0.8 pitch value in 2018 to -5.5 in 2019.
Covey only threw six sliders in 2019, but even that was enough to generate -3.8 pitch value.
As the thrown% amount indicates, Dylan Covey is predominantly a sinker thrower. His first 100-plus-inning season of his career saw him go to the sinker more than 60% of the time and generate some below-average numbers. Covey seems to pitch to contact with the sinker: It had a 4 SwSt% and a 91% contact rate. 60% of the time, the contact turned into a ground ball, which is dangerous enough itself, especially considering the 16.3% HR/FB rate on the pitch. While the GIF featuring the pitch showcases some nice run, Covey’s sinker has below-league average horizontal and vertical movement to it. The pitch is not all bad, however. It does generate above-average ground-ball rates, and when he can keep it down, Covey can have success with it.
Covey began the 2018 campaign relying on his slider 17% of the time, and the pitch had some lackluster results. Before the All-Star break, the slider had a -1.3 pVal, a .368 wOBA and a .358 BABIP. Post break, Covey decided to cut his usage of the pitch to just 6.7% instead relying on his cutter, which he introduced on Aug. 1. From that day forward, Covey only threw his slider more than 20% in a game once; he frequently threw it minimally or not at all. Instead, Covey started relying on his sinker when ahead in the count or with two strikes. Covey may continue to tinker with the slider, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it give way to his cutter in 2019.
Covey had a lot of success with his changeup in 2018, and for good reason; it’s a very good pitch. It induces an above-average amount of whiffs (especially out of the zone) and is frequently buried, so when batters do make contact with the pitch they either pop it up or hit a ground ball. While Covey often goes to his sinker when ahead, his 35% strikeout rate on his changeup was his highest of any pitch in his arsenal, and his .100 batting average against was far and away his lowest. If Covey can start to mix in this pitch a bit more, it could lead to more success for him.
Covey’s curveball is a strange pitch solely because of how he utilizes it: to lead off at-bats. When ahead in the count or with two strikes, Covey will often go to his sinker, leaving his 12-6 to start off. The pitch does have an above-average amount of movement to it, yet Covey is rarely able to bury it, often leaving the pitch in the middle of the plate where batters can feast on it.
This was one of Dylan Covey’s more difficult pitches to find, not because he doesn’t throw it too often (though that didn’t help) but because of the 40 or so times he did throw it, it was only a swinging/called strike eight times. To be fair, the pitch is more for inducing ground balls, which it did at a 67% clip. The pitch shouldn’t be written off, as it seemed Covey was going to it far more frequently in his last five starts, indicating it could be a bigger part of his arsenal moving forward. If that’s the case, the pitch would need some work as batters hit .278 off it.