With a -1.8 pVAL, the curveball was the best of a bad breaking ball bunch for Velasquez in 2019. The pitch still yielded a .317 WOBA and 100 wRC+, symptomatic of what was a difficult year across the board for the hurler.
Far and away Velasquez’s best pitch in 2019, a strong 11.8% swinging-strike rate contributed to top-tier strikeout (26.7%) and chase numbers. Still, the pitch yielded a .324 opponent WOBA and 106 wRC+, suggesting much of this positivity may have been precipitous.
A rough pitch for Velasquez in 2019, the slider yielded a respectable 20.4% K rate and middling contact numbers on the year. A 40.7% swing rate and .411 opponent WOBA suggests its effectiveness has depleted significantly, though.
The four-seam is Velasquez’s primary offering, but he decreased its use in favor of his slider and sinker in 2018. He saw an increase in drop of two inches and also improved his SwStr% by about 2.5%. While an elevated BABIP limited the pitch value of his four-seamer, Velasquez improved the swing and miss and popup rates by throwing it up in the zone more often.
The curveball has very good downward movement, but has not been an effective secondary pitch for Velasquez. Given the .312 batting average and 150 wRC+ against the curve, Velasquez should look to use the slider more as a primary breaking ball, as hitters are not chasing his curveball like they did in past years.
Velasquez threw his slider more in 2018 and was dead even with the curveball use as his primary breaking pitch. The slider amazingly provided identical swinging-strike rates and wRC+ from 2017 to 2018. The slider showed slight improvements in terms of swings outside the zone, zone contact and ground-ball rate. It continues to be effective, but does not have the elite whiff rates to become a primary putaway pitch.
Velasquez increased his two-seam fastball use. Despite above-average swinging-strike rates for the pitch, a .340 batting average against the pitch hurt its overall results. An elevated BABIP of .354 is likely the culprit for the poor results and given nearly 50% ground-ball rate and the ability to limit home runs off the two-seam, I’d expect better results going forward for Velasquez.
The changeup is used sparingly by Velasquez and for good reason. The changeup was thrown in the zone less than 33% of the time while producing a swinging-strike rates about 3% below league average for the offspeed offering. The .364 wOBA on the changeup is an improvement from 2017. With four other pitches, Velasquez should scrap this pitch going forward.