Contreras' Start Against the Cubs

Jose Contreras’ loss against the Cubs yesterday puts a dent in what has been a very good month of June for a guy who was in the minor leagues this past May.

His line read like this last afternoon: Seven and one-third innings pitched, seven hits allowed, five runs allowed (four earned), one walks and eight strikeouts. The big blow, of course, was a Geovany Soto three-run homer which put the Cubs up for good.

Despite his first loss since May 8th, Contreras showed a few positives in yesterday’s loss.

Here’s his pitch distribution chart against the Cubs:


Contreras Pitch Dist vs Cubs (via mpindels)

And his pitch distribution throughout the season for comparison:


Contreras Pitch Dist Season Avg (via mpindels)

As usual, the majority of pitches he threw were four-seam fastballs, but Contreras’ really went to the changeup a bit more than usual yesterday. I’m not sure what the Cubs’ scouting report for yesterday’s game ready (perhaps Cub hitters struggle against the change), but instead of relying on the slider as his primary secondary pitch, he stuck with the change.

Here is a look at Contreras’ movement yesterday. Bear with me a little: I’m still learning how to graph pitches using the data extracted from MLB Gameday and I’m by no means a master of Microsoft Excel, so if the graph is a little difficult to comprehend I do apologize. The X-axis represents Contreras’ Horizontal Movement while the Y-axis represents his Vertical Movement:


Jose Contreras Movement vs Cubs (via mpindels)

Here’s a numerical version of Contreras’ average movements along with average velocities obtained by Brooks Baseball:


Contreras Movements and Velocities vs Cubs (via mpindels)

The movements aren’t too different from Contreras’ season averages, but he was throwing a bit harder than usual. The average velocity of his four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider and curveball were a bit higher than usual. Both of his fastballs topped out at around 95 MPH and we saw a number of fastballs in the 93-94 MPH range. You can’t discount the human element in baseball; perhaps Contreras was a little more amped up for a game with this type of significance, but it’s clear his velocity was not a problem at all.

Another plus were the 8 punchouts that tied a season high. Four of them came from the four-seam fastball, three from the changeup and one from a nasty curveball/forkball thrown to Alfonso Soriano who struck out three times against Jose (Soriano had previously gone 5 for 8 against Contreras’ with 3 home runs).

There were most definitely a few negatives: Despite a season groundball rate of 50%, Contreras was very flyball prone yesterday giving up two home runs. He also looked much more line drive prone compared to previous June starts.

But he was efficient, throwing just 99 pitches the entire game, nearly 2/3 of them going for strikes. He was throwing harder than usual and showed us both his fastball and changeup can be outpitches. It’s never good when you lose to one of the least productive offenses in baseball, but as a whole, the were positives to take from this start.

Information was obtained from Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball.

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