Urena’s changeup saw marked improvement in 2019 as it was worth 2.2 pVAL while improving its K% to 25.0 (up 6.6%) and holding opposing hitters to a .174 AVG with a .469 OPS and .087 ISO. A huge shift in movement toward horizontal movement combined with a full mph gain in min velocity may help explain the pitches success last season.
Urena saw his average fastball velocity drop by nearly a full mph in 2019 but he saw a huge improvement in its results thanks to gaining nearly a full inch of horizontal movement cutting its BB% in half.
Another of Urena’s pitches that sacrificed velocity for added horizontal movement, his slider saw a marked drop in its success (-5.1 pVAL) in 2019 despite bumping its SwStr% all the way up to 17.8 and its K% all the way up to 32.9. If Urena can continue to grow his O-Swing% above 30.0, perhaps we will see a reversal of fortune for his slider in 2020.
Urena throws two different types of fastballs, and he throws them hard. He made small improvements across the board in 2018, and his fastball was no exception. What continues to hold Urena back, however, is his strikeout rate. Urena relies on his fastballs as much as any pitcher in the league, throwing them 58% of the time. And even though he improved his fastballs’ swinging-strike rate in 2018, a 6.2 SwStr% is still too low for a pitch thrown as often as he throws it.
Urena’s slider produced better results in almost every category in 2018, even with some BABIP regression. Urena increased his slider’s GB% from 34.3% in 2017 to 46.7% in 2018, possibly due to some increased downward movement. Urena’s slider is an effective pitch but lacks lateral movement, which holds him back in generating swings and misses. Batters had a 13.5 SwStr% and a 26.7 O-swing% against the slider, and which adds to Urena’s overall inability to miss bats.
Despite a huge regression on his changeup’s BABIP, Urena was able to make enough slight improvements to maintain its effectiveness in 2018. Urena’s changeup generates the highest O-swing% of all of his pitches at 38.6%, a skill he needs in order to improve his ability to miss bats. Unfortunately, it is his least thrown pitch, likely due to his 30.5 Zone% on the changeup.