Comparing Anthony Slama with Nick Blackburn


When Slama was called up to the major leagues, twitter reaction was amazingly in favor of it (as was I) and the move was heralded by some as a savior to the season. Likewise, there was much celebrating over the news that Nick Blackburn was moving to the bullpen.

I had seen Slama pitch only once (in the Future’s Game), so of course I was eager to see him today (especially after viewing his minor league stats). I knew that Slama’s stuff wasn’t elite,  but I was still disappointed.

After looking at his pitch f/x for today’s game, I had an interesting thought: How does his stuff compare with Blackburn’s?

after the jump:


Since the four seamer is the only pitch Slama threw enough to get any kind of read on it at all, I’ll just be looking at that.

Thanks to THT, we know that the average fastball velocity is about 92 mph, the horizontal break is -5.456 inches, and the vertical break is 9.783 inches of “rise.” According to these numbers, Slama has basically an average fastball (although below average for a reliever), roughly average break horizontally, and below average vertically.

Onto Blackburn:

This year, Blackburn’s fastball has an average velocity of 90.79 MPH, a horizontal break of 4.617 and a vertical break of 7.069. Since Blackburn is a sinkerballer, more rise is a bad thing. Interestingly, Blackburn’s velocity is close to Slama’s even though A. Blackburn is a starter and B. Slama was probably pretty pumped up for his Major League debut today. But the increased velocity for Blackburn may be the root of his lack of sink problem. Still, it appears that Slama has better stuff than Blackburn, but it’s a lot closer than the average Twin fan would think.

Thanks to Josh Kalk, Joe Lefkowitz and Dan Brooks for the pitch f/x data