Topping out at 88 mph, Tomlin’s changeup was essentially batting practice for hitters in 2019 as they put together a .563 AVG against it with a .313 ISO and a 1.438 ISO. It simply doesn’t get enough strikeouts or generate enough whiffs to be an effective pitch for Tomlin in 2020.
The Little Cowboy’s best pitch, his curveball is surprisingly effective. It sits just on the edge of being a money pitch with a 38.5 O-Swing%, 38.1 Zone% and 14.7 SwStr%. It held opponents to a .233 AVG with a .140 ISO. Tomlin actually threw this pitch less often in 2019, and I wonder if perhaps he should go the other way and throw this pitch as much as humanly possible to help ensure his success
For the first time in years Tomlin’s fastball was a positive pitch by pVAL (2.7, up over 12 points from 2018). One of the biggest reasons for this was that the pitch was finally able to generate some ground balls, as his FB% on the pitch dropped. This is important because it helped reduce Tomlin’s HRs, which has always been his Achilles heel over the years.
Tomlin’s cutter was fantastic in 2019, wracking up 8.1 pVAL in just 489 pitches. With tons of the vertical movement that is the hallmark of a good cut fastball, Tomlin held opponents to a .243 AVG and a 76 wRC+.
Tomlin used his cutter more frequently than any pitch in 2018, and it actually produced an O-swing% of 41.2% and a Zone% of 52.8%, to go along with a solid swinging-strike rate. However, in what will become a trend for Tomlin’s pitches, hitters teed off on his cutter when they made contact, posting an ISO of .276, which was actually the lowest of all of his pitches. Overall, Tomlin allowed 3.2 HR/9, which ultimately knocked him out of the starting rotation.
Tomlin’s four-seam fastball was thrown in the zone 60% of the time in 2018 but produced a swinging-strike rate of only 2.4%. Opposing batters hit .333 against his four-seamer with an ISO of .370, and it’s hard to make a case for why it should be one of his primary pitches.
Tomlin uses his curveball as a free strike early in counts and doesn’t typically throw it late in counts, which explains why he didn’t walk a batter on the pitch all year. Tomlin’s curve consistently produces his best SwStr% each year, and 2018 was no different at 13.8%. Tomlin would likely benefit from throwing the pitch more often, as hitters only hit .232 against his curve. Of course, he allowed a .321 ISO on his curve due to a 31.3% HR/FB in 2018, erasing most of its value.
With most of Tomlin’s pitches in the 83-87 mph range, it’s hard to even classify his pitches sometimes. He doesn’t throw his two-seamer often, and it doesn’t look like a pitch that would help him improve on his rough 2018 season if he threw it more often.
Tomlin’s changeup is thrown at a similar speed to his other pitches and is typically only 5 mph slower than his fastballs. It isn’t enough of a difference to be effective, and Tomlin doesn’t throw the pitch often. Opposing batters have hit .279 against the pitch across his career.