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Jordan Lyles Post-Mortem: His First Five Starts

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After his first three starts, we've looked at what Jordan Lyles looked like according to Pitch F/X. That data came from BrooksBaseball.net, which has start-by-start breakdowns for the Pitch F/X data.

It doesn't tell us anything about the big picture, but now that Lyles has five starts under his belt, it can be more instructive to look at Lyles through the big Pitch F/X lens. Thanks to the database at TexasLeaguers.com, we can do just that.

Here's the movement chart for Lyles to this point:

Jordan_lyles_movement_chart_total_medium  

If we're looking at all his pitches, he's got three pretty clear groupings that have consistent movement with his fastballs (the four-seam, two-seam and cutter), his change and his slider. The curveball has quite a bit of movement but still needs work. He's just not as consistent with it as he probably needs to be.

That's not all, though. Let's look at his movement numbers and the results of all those pitches.

First up, his velocity charts and the actual numbers of different pitches thrown: 

Type Count Selection Velocity Vertical Horizontal Spin Angle Spin Rate
FF 161 32.7% 89.6 8.34 -4.69 209 1,905
SL 111 22.5% 85.2 2.84 3.50 133 917
CU 73 14.8% 76.9 -9.23 4.96 28 1,777
CH 63 12.8% 81.6 4.01 -7.16 240 1,524
FC 58 11.8% 88.6 7.77 -1.42 189 1,568
FT 23 4.7% 89.2 4.66 -7.74 239 1,767
FA 4 0.8% 88.4 4.08 -6.74 241 1,513

Unsurprisingly, Lyles works mainly off that four-seam fastball. As we've discussed in the past, the pitch isn't his best, but he gets good sink with it and it has good movement back on the hands of right-handers. His slider is heis second-favorite pitch with the next three pitches all closely grouped.

But, that tells us very little about how effective those pitches were. This next one gives a better picture of that.

Type Count Selection Strike Swing Whiff Foul In Play
FF 161 32.7% 67.7% 43.5% 3.7% 17.4% 22.4%
SL 111 22.5% 73.0% 55.0% 9.9% 24.3% 20.7%
CU 73 14.8% 64.4% 50.7% 12.3% 21.9% 16.4%
CH 63 12.8% 57.1% 42.9% 17.5% 12.7% 12.7%
FC 58 11.8% 63.8% 46.6% 10.3% 17.2% 19.0%
FT 23 4.7% 47.8% 39.1% 13.0% 17.4% 8.7%
FA 4 0.8% 50.0% 25.0% 0.0% 25.0% 0.0%

The funny thing about Lyles is I've read constant comments that he has control problems. I just haven't seen it yet. If he's missing spots, it's still in the strike zone, because all of his main pitches are right around 60 percent strikes. The problem, if he has one, is that he's not getting enough swings on those pitches. But, as the same time, Lyles is getting a good number of whiffs on those pitches. 

If you compare Lyles overall numbers to a guy like Brett Myers, who also throws a ton of strikes, Lyles gets more swings at his stuff right now. Myers has very few pitches where he's got over 40 percent swings and fewer still that are over about 9 percent on whiff rate. So, Lyles right now is somewhere between a contact, groundball pitcher and someone who can beat the other team with his stuff.

That's the overall look, though. It doesn't tell us how he's matching up against different batters. For that, we need to look at his splits data. Here's his splits for right-handers: 

Type Count Selection Strike Swing Whiff Foul In Play
FF 89 34.5% 68.5% 40.4% 4.5% 14.6% 21.3%
SL 54 20.9% 64.8% 48.1% 5.6% 18.5% 24.1%
CU 45 17.4% 66.7% 51.1% 13.3% 20.0% 17.8%
FC 35 13.6% 62.9% 45.7% 8.6% 20.0% 17.1%
CH 19 7.4% 68.4% 47.4% 26.3% 15.8% 5.3%
FT 12 4.7% 41.7% 33.3% 8.3% 16.7% 8.3%
FA 4 1.6% 50.0% 25.0% 0.0% 25.0% 0.0%

Lyles throws a ton of his pitches for strikes against right-handers. The only pitch where his percentage is higher overall than it is for right-handers and that's the slider. As good as that slider is, he hasn't been able to get right-handers to bite on it. He also doesn't have much success getting swings on his four-seamer to right-handers.

And now for left-handers:

Type Count Selection Strike Swing Whiff Foul In Play
FF 72 30.6% 66.7% 47.2% 2.8% 20.8% 23.6%
SL 57 24.3% 80.7% 61.4% 14.0% 29.8% 17.5%
CH 44 18.7% 52.3% 40.9% 13.6% 11.4% 15.9%
CU 28 11.9% 60.7% 50.0% 10.7% 25.0% 14.3%
FC 23 9.8% 65.2% 47.8% 13.0% 13.0% 21.7%
FT 11 4.7% 54.5% 45.5% 18.2% 18.2% 9.1%

Here's the weirdest thing about Lyles so far. He's been much more effective against left-handers in his short big league career. He's thrown a very high number of strikes on his slider and gotten quite a few swings and swing-throughs on the pitch. When batters do make contact, they're more likely to foul it off.

It's also why he's much more likely to throw that slider to left-handers in relation to that fastball. If there's an unsual number here, it's that his change has been less effective to lefties, both in the number of strikes he throws and his swings. 

Overall, though, Lyles has shown good stuff in his young career. We still have a long way to go to see how he's going to perform or even see if anything we can conclude from these numbers is real. After all, we're still dealing with about 100 pitches of each type. When I looked at Myers to compare, he's got over 300 pitches in each category and even that's a small number. But, again and again, Lyles is showing me that he can pitch in the majors. That's a big step.