Arguably Biebers worst pitch in 2019 was his change-up, which registered a -0.9 pVAL. Used predominately earlier in the count to steal a strike, it did get a ton of groundballs and was better at limiting hard-contact than in 2018.
Bieber saw his curveball’s swinging-strike rate spike from 14.5% in 2018 to 24.3% in 2019, due in part to opponents chasing the breaking ball more often (chase rate up 6.2% to 46.8%) while making less contact (54% O-contact rate in 2018 fell to 35.5% last season).
Fun fact, Biebers fastball had the xwOBA in 2019 (.343) as it did in 2018! Is that fun? Probably not, but it does show that his fastball was a tad lucky in 2019, with a .065 different between his SLG (.440) and xSLG (.505).
A veritable Money Pitch offering in 2018, a 35.2% zone rate (down 9.3% from 2018) loses the illustrious designation for Bieber’s slider. But Bieber’s primary breaking pitch carries a 23% swinging-strike rate, despite getting fewer batters to chase; the slider’s O-swing rate dropped 11.4% in 2019.
Bieber’s four-seamer, which sat at 93 mph, got hit hard last year to the tune of a .374 wOBA and .310 batting average allowed. The results were particularly ugly against lefties, who pummeled it for a .432 wOBA and .353 batting average. It also had a low whiff rate at just 17.4% and a paltry 4.9% swinging-strike rate.
His primary breaking pitch, the slider was excellent and quite the Money Pitch with a 43% whiff rate, 26.2% swinging-K rate, 52.9% chase rate, and a .278 wOBA allowed. He also showed excellent command of it with a stellar 44.5% zone rate. It was even better against righties with a .266 wOBA allowed and a 50% whiff rate. Overall the slider was good for a 3.8 pVal.
His second breaking pitch, Bieber featured his curve noticeably more against lefties. The results were reasonable with a 31.9% whiff rate, 35.3% zone rate, and a 40.6% chase rate. All told it was slightly below-average with a -0.8 pVal.
Bieber’s least used pitch was his changeup at just 3.7%. 66 of the 67 he threw last year were to left-handers. The results were just bad with a .357 batting average and .395 wOBA allowed. It’s ineffectiveness was at least part of the reason for his immense struggles against lefties last year.