Twins righty Carl Pavano has certainly had a good start to the 2010 campaign, with a little under 7 strikeouts per 9 and barely over half a walk per 9. His ERA is just 1.58 and he’s already been worth half a win for the Twins. Certainly he is going to be worth the 8 million the Twins gave him this year.
But is anything really different about him from last year? Let’s look at how he’s achieved his hot start.First off, let’s look at how he attacks batters:
As you can see, Pavano, for the most part, comes right out and attacks the hitters. Remarkably, this has resulted in just 3 swings. All three were fastballs, and all three were hit on the ground. If Pavano continues to throw pitches that catch this much of the strike zone, and especially so many fastballs, he’s going to start getting hit hard early in the count.
Pavano’s fastball was awful last year, so let’s see if that’s changed at all in his first two starts.
This is fairly similar to his fastballs from last year (you’re just going to have to trust me, since I couldn’t get it to embed. Obviously this is a fairly bad sign as his fastball last year wasn’t very good. The problem is the fastballs at the top, the ones with the most “rise.” Now, as I am sure you have seen whenever you have read anything involving Pitch f/x, these pitches don’t actually rise, they just fall less than they would via gravity alone. If Pavano leaves the ball up, it will get crushed (although, paradoxically his high fastballs seem to have the most horizontal movement) because he doesn’t have the velocity (avg. 88.933 mph) to blow it by hitters.
Pavano’s control has appeared to be better this year, but that’s because his first pitches have been over the heart of the plate and either taken or the hitters haven’t done much with them. The key will be when hitters start to attack Pavano early in the count whether or not he will maintain that control. Although the main issue with Pavano over his career has been health and not performance. Still, there is no doubt Pavano is due for some regression. Just don’t jump out the window when it happens.