April 17, 2021

Pitch Design: Which Fastball Should Marco Gonzales Focus on in 2020? (FanGraphs)

Dan Szymborski recently posted the 2020 ZiPS projections for the Seattle Mariners. The system forecasts lefty Marco Gonzales to be the best pitcher on Seattle’s staff. That should come as no surprise considering that Gonzales has been far and away the best arm the Mariners have had to offer lately. According to ZiPS, he’s expected to throw at least 170 innings in 2020 and post a 4.26 ERA (4.12 FIP) with a WAR of 2.6. Despite his strong showings in 2018 and 2019, ZiPS indicates a fair amount of regression for Gonzales this coming season.

After two straight seasons of 3-plus WAR, can we expect a pitcher who throws two fastballs that barely reach 90 mph to maintain that level of performance? Despite his ability to spread his arsenal out, especially when he’s ahead of the hitter, there is a change to Gonzales’ pitch selection that could facilitate another impressive season for the 27-year-old former 19th-overall draft pick.

Gonzales threw five different pitches in 2019: a sinker, cutter, a fading changeup, a sweeping, slurve-ish curveball, and a four-seamer, all with above-average command:

As you can see, Gonzales throws three different fastball variations. His…

Read “Pitch Design: Which Fastball Should Marco Gonzales Focus on in 2020?” at FanGraphs