Yacabonis’ changeup has a ton of vertical drop and has many of the hallmarks of a good changeup (46.2 O-Swing%, 15.7 SwStr%). What’s holding it back? Two things. First, he needs to throw it in the zone more often (23.5 zone%), and second, when he does throw it in the zone, it gets walloped. Perhaps being able to throw it in the bottom of the zone more often will lead to more success for the pitch.
Despite a good zone%, Yacabonis actually walked more hitters with his fastball than he struck out. That is not a recipe for success. When he threw it in the zone, it had an 85.0 contact% with a .368 AVG, 1.027 OPS, and a 184 wRC+. There may been a good amount of bad luck involved as evidenced by its .410 BABIP but not enough to fully explain the pitch’s struggles
A lively pitch with above average movement in both directions, Yacabonis’ slider doesn’t quite get the results you would expect. Like most of his pitches, it doesn’t find the zone as often as you want (36.1 zone%) or get hitters to chase enough (29.3 O-Swing%) to be a truly effective weapon.
Yacabonis’ fastball let him down in 2018, as it was very poorly rated pitch (pVal of -4.9), but a lot of that can be attributed to its HR/FB% doubling from 14.3% to 29.2%. Otherwise, most of the pitch’s underlying stats actually improved. As a 2.3 pVal pitch in 2017, perhaps this pitch can return to its previous value with some HR/FB% regression.
Gaining 2.6 inches of overall movement, Yacabonis’ slider made huge leaps across the board from 2017 to 2018 including SwStr% (7.8% to 15.4%), O-swing% (27.7% to 33.6%), K-BB% (7.1% to 23.7%), and perhaps most importantly pVal (-0.8 to 0.6). If the pitch continues to improve, the sky could be the limit for this one.
Only thrown 37 times, Yacabonis’ changeup was hit hard, giving up an astounding 1.000 AVG and 483 wRC+. For perspective, it was only hit twice, so it’s hard to know the real quality of the pitch.