Cessa’s changeup was thrown to lefties 99% of the time, eating some volume away from his slider. It has lost both movement and effectiveness since 2017, now rating as below-average in drop and break to go with its 0.8 pVAL in 2019.
Cessa earned just a 7.4% SwStr rate on his curveball during his rookie campaign in 2016, and has almost abandoned it since. Its drop decreased by five inches in 2019, though this might be noise — he threw it a combined 42 times over two years, and just 12 times in 2019.
The 158 WRC+ batters earned against Cessa’s four-seamer was the lowest since his rookie year, and they saw it less than ever. Cessa dropped it to a 34.1% usage despite averaging 94.7 mph and touching nearly 97. Batters rarely chase this pitch, and it earned just a 6.3% whiff rate.
The slider is Cessa’s comfort blanket and the pitch he has the most confidence in, so much so he threw it 376 times more last season as he settled into more long relief work. It rewarded him with a healthy 33.7 K%. One thing to watch is its susceptibility to the long ball. Hitters found the stands 9 times against it last season.
Cessa kept his fastball in the park last year as hitters produced a .110 ISO against the pitch after posting a .333 ISO in 2017. Those gains were given back, however, as Cessa’s fastball allowed a .422 BABIP and opposing batters hit .384 against it in 2018.
Cessa’s slider was borderline elite in 2018 with a 42.9% chase rate, 36.6% zone rate, and a 18.3% swinging-strike rate. While its movement doesn’t jump off the page, it has been an effective pitch for Cessa, outside of 2017 when it allowed a .407 BABIP.
Essentially a two-pitch pitcher, Cessa doesn’t get to his changeup often. It does have intriguing rates that he improved on in 2018, with a 41.2% chase rate, a 44% zone rate, and a 14.3% swinging-strike rate. If given a shot to start, the changeup will be the pitch Cessa needs to develop to stick long term.
Cessa only threw 30 curveballs in 2018 and it doesn’t show much promise, with a 30% zone rate and a 3.3% swinging-strike rate.