Musgrove’s changeup came in about 7.5 ticks slower than his fastball, which is decent velocity separation. The changeup was a Money Pitch, hitting the zone 46.1% of the time while getting a 19.4% SwStr% and 48% O-Swing rate.
Musgrove’s curveball had a decent 38.7% zone rate to go along with his 17.3% SwStr%, which led to a 43.1% K rate. When he missed his spots, batters made him pay, as the pitch allowed a .213 ISO.
I hate that we have to start with Musgrove’s worst pitch, his fastball. The pitch came in, on average, one tick slower than in 2018 and he saw his zone rate, SwStr%, and O-Swing percentage decrease on the pitch. What resulted was fewer strikeouts and a 138 wRC+ allowed.
Musgrove’s cutter was hittable when he threw it in the zone, as batters put up a 94% Z-Contact rate. Despite an increased line drive rate, the BABIP on the pitch fell, which helped keep the batting average against on the low side.
Did I say we started with his worst pitch? I suppose I should’ve been more specific — his fastballs. His sinker performed even worse than his four-seamer, allowing a .366 BAA. The pitch did its job of getting 63% ground balls, but BABIP is dark and full of terror.
Hopefully someone in the Pirates organization tells Musgrove to just throw sliders, because this pitch is nasty. The slider came in a tick slower from 2018, but had some additional movement. The pitch hit the zone a little less, but got a 19.5% SwStr% and 40.4% K rate, both career-bests.
The heater was greatly improved in 2018, rising in pVal from -6.3 to 5.5. Hitters made more overall contact with the pitch, but because he threw the pitch in the zone less often, the contact made was weak. He exchanged liners and grounders for weak pop-ups with an 8% increase in IFFB%. After hitting over .300 on the pitch last season, batters hit only .221 with a .132 ISO. It was a very effective early-count offering in 2018.
The slider took a small step back last season and was thrown less with Musgrove attaining a better mix on all his pitches. It was used as an out pitch, with a career-high K% and a career-low BB%. He gained two more inches of vertical movement on the pitch, causing hitters to swing and miss more often while making less contact. However, the contact hitters did make was harder, with an increased LD% and decreased GB%. Hitters hit only .218 versus the pitch, but a .066 rise in SLG% caused a pVal drop of 8.4 to 0.7.
Like many of his other pitches, the sinker lost vertical and horizontal movement, leading to hitters jumping all over it. Mainly used early in the count, hitters hit .361 off the pitch with a .362 BABIP after hitting only .273 with a .237 BABIP last season. There will likely be some positive regression coming, but the pitch isn’t fooling hitters with a low swinging-strike rate and high contact rates. It has had a negative pVal for his entire career.
After being one of his better strikeout pitches in 2017, Musgrove’s cutter took a step back despite gaining 2 inches in horizontal movement. He posted a career-low strikeout rate with the offering, and for the third straight season, his BAA and SLG% rose. He found the zone less often with the pitch, but hitters made more overall contact and were able to put the ball in the air. He will need to fix his home run problem with this pitch for it to regain its effectiveness.
Musgrove’s changeup became his Money Pitch last season. Despite throwing it with less vertical and horizontal drop, he found the zone more often and caused hitters to swing more but make less contact. Opposing hitters hit only .190 against it, thanks in big part to trading liners for grounders when they made contact. It was his fifth pitch but served as his out-pitch with a 38.6 K%, a rate that doubled his previous career high. It was a positive pitch after being a big negative in 2017.