Buttrey’s changeup was supposed to be the better of his two secondary pitches, but it failed to convert that to results in 2019. It generated just a 9.9% SwStr rate, and was often thrown out of the zone and ignored, as its 37.9% zone rate and 31.0% O-Swing rate suggest. It ended the year with a -1.4 pVAL.
An effective slider was not on the radar for Buttrey before his 2019, and yet it was the pitch batters missed most in 2019, generating a 13.7% SwStr%. Averaging 83.8 mph at just 1868 RPM, it was especially good at generating misses when used out of the zone, with just a 40.9% O-Contact, but connected with bats in the zone 92.3% of the time.
The Angels were promised velocity when they acquired Buttrey, and his fastball certainly brought it, averaging 97.1 mph. He worked the pitch well up in the zone, and generated an 11.9% SwStr% while throwing it in the zone 59.6% of the time, resulting in a 5.8 pVAL.
Buttrey has a very good foundation thanks to his fastball. Thrown 59% of the time, he gets a solid swinging-strike rate (just under 10%), while continuously pounding the zone. Too many fastballs in the zone can cause some panic, sure, but Buttrey generated a huge ground ball + infield fly ball number (87%!!), thanks to his exceptional arm-side run and high heat. This is a great pitch for Buttrey to build his repertoire off of as long as he keeps producing weak contact.
The four-seam fastball is Barlow’s primary offering. Without high velocity or much arm-side run, the pitch leaves a lot to be desired. Despite velocity and movement, Barlow managed solid chase and swinging-strike rates. The fastball is effective as long as Barlow can continue to throw it for strikes over 60% of the time.
Surprise! Buttrey’s change is his third beautiful offering. 86 mph with massive arm-side run is not what a batter wants to see after his high-90s heat. If he can continue to control this pitch and keep its ground-ball rate high (67%), he will be a formidable weapon at the back of the Angels ‘pen.