Nelson’s changeup had just 4.5 ticks of seperation from his fastball, but he threw the pitch just three times.
Nelson’s saw his curveball’s SwStr% and O-Swing% cut in half, while allowing a career-high 40% line drive rate.
Coming off injuries that kept him sidelined all of 2018 and most of the 2019 season, Nelson’s fastball came in a tick and a half slower than in previous years. The four-seamer and sinker also lacked the movement it had prior to the injuries.
Nelson’s slider came in 3 mph slower than normal, but featured more movement. While the pitch only hit the zone 38.5% of the time, a career low, it got a 19.3% SwStr% and allowed just a .188 BAA.
What a difference a year makes. Nelson’s sinker went from a -18.8 pVal in 2016 to a 15.7 pVal in 2017, a whopping 34.5 point swing. So what changed? Oddly, not too much. The pitch actually lost some drop, but batters still whiffed against it and hit it on the ground more than the year prior. Its 63.5% groundball rate also helped Nelson cut down on the homers, limiting the damage from the .295 average the pitch allowed. The four-seamer on the other hand was excellent at generating whiffs (12%) and had good rise to it, but was hit hard when opponents made contact, allowing a .208 ISO and 20.5% HR/FB.
Nelson worked the curveball into his arsenal a bit more in 2017 compared to the year prior, and despite below-average movement, he had great success with the pitch. He threw it hard and in the zone with regularity, and opponents made contact just 64.1% of the time on their way to hitting .191 with a .087 ISO against it.
After a couple of years where Nelson’s slider had good gloveside lateral movement but barely any drop, 2017 saw the pitch pick up several inches of vertical drop. As a result he piled up the whiffs with the pitch. It held hitters to a .264 average and .104 ISO, though the 34.3% line drive rate it allowed is concerning.
Nelson only threw 66 change-ups in 2017, so the sample size was small. It had a below-average whiff rate, but held opponents to a .200 average in its brief showing, albeit with a 25% HR/FB.