Strasburg’s changeup keeps the ball on the ground at an elite 65.3% rate, generating an average launch angle of zero degrees and holding opponents to a .188 wOBA. The offspeed offering fooled more batters out of the zone last season with a 47.7% chase rate (up from 39.2% in 2018), and garnered a robust 22% swinging-strike rate.
For the first time in his career, Strasburg trusted his curveball as the primary option in his arsenal to spectacular effect. A Money Pitch with a 15.3% swinging-strike rate, 43.2% zone rate, and 40.6% chase rate, the breaking ball (86th percentile in curveball spin on Statcast) produced a stellar 23.2 pVAL and held opposing batters to a .202 wOBA and .162 BAA.
Despite overall consistency throughout the past three seasons, Strasburg’s fastball has been somewhat of a mixed bag. He allowed a .373 wOBA on the pitch in 2018 before righting the ship again in 2019. Still, the pitch wasn’t elite like it had been in his prime.
Strasburg all but abandoned his slider in 2019, hurling the pitch only 12 times. It’s unknown what changed with his slider delivery, but those 12 pitches yielded a comical wOBA of 1.311. It’s possible he just lost the feel for it, and no longer needs it as a fifth pitch.
Strasburg’s four-seam velocity was just a shade lower in 2018 at 94.6 mph as opposed to 95.4 mph in 2017. Its whiff rate of 19.4% compared favorably to last year’s tally of 18.1%. The batted-ball results were not great, as the fastball allowed a .270 batting average and a .360 wOBA. This was the first time since 2014 that Strasburg’s fastball notched a negative pVal at -4.2.
This was Strasburg’s best pitch in terms of whiff rate (46.9%), and it had a 21.5% swinging-strike rate. The batted-ball results were outstanding last year, as the change limited hitters to a .209 wOBA and .168 batting average. It was also exceptional at keeping batted balls on the ground with an average launch angle of 2 degrees. Overall, it was a positive pitch with a 1.9 pVal.
The curve was Strasburg’s primary breaking pitch, which he threw 19.5% of the time. The batted-ball results with the curve were very good, including a .173 batting average and .209 wOBA allowed. Its 35.8% whiff rate was good for 28th among starters (200-pitch minimum). Overall, it was a very good offering with an 8.2 pVal.
Strasburg’s secondary breaking pitch, the slider didn’t get particularly exceptional results last year, as it allowed a .321 wOBA and .286 batting average while also generating a fairly modest 28.4% whiff rate. It was also not great at getting hitters to expand the zone with just a 30.1% chase rate. Overall, it was an average pitch with a 0.1 pVal.
Strasburg’s sinker is an afterthought—little used (6.5%) and with woeful results, including a .490 wOBA and .400 batting average allowed. Like most sinkers, it was a very poor whiff pitch at just 14.9%. Velocity-wise, the sinker sat at 93.9 mph in 2018, which is a shade lower than last year’s 95 mph.