When working with White Sox pitchers, Don Cooper talks a lot about adding and subtracting pitches from their repertoire. In the aftermath of Monday's game against the Brewers, Cooper and Jeff Samardzija might want to talk a long look at Samardzija's four-seam fastball.
2014 was an excellent season for Samardzija. In 33 starts between the Cubs and A's, he had an 2.99 ERA / 3.09 FIP with 8.3 K/9 and 0.8 HR/9. He also used his four-seam fastball 23.14% of the time. He moved it around the strikezone, but there's a lot of up-and-in, just like you're supposed to with a good fastball.
This season is a different story -- 4.80 ERA / 3.99 FIP with 7.0 K/9 and 1.2 HR/9. Also, the up-and-in fastball is nowhere to be found. The four-seamer is a little inside, but a lot of them are getting an awful lot of the plate.
... and last night in Milwaukee there was only one inside fastball thrown to a righty in the strike zone with the hottest spots away from righties. As Alton Brown would say, that's Good Eats.
That's also how righties Ryan Braun, Hector Gomez, and Carlos Gomez go a combined 5-for-8 with a walk, double, triple, homer, and three runs scored off a right handed starter.
Just for comparison sake, take a look at where Jose Quintana's four-seamer has gone this season.
That's your Captain of Attitude.
Obviously, the fastball has been a concern for the White Sox. In Samardzija's previous start against the Tigers, he threw only one four-seam fastball while throwing 50 cutters out of 105 total pitches. He got the win, but there's no way a starter can survive without a four-seamer. His splitter usage has also already been cut. Cutting his four-seamer turns him into a sinker-slider guy. In other words, a nice bullpen arm. It's hard to imagine, but for the Sox to improve this season, the Coop'll-fix-'em project for 2015 could be Jeff Samardzija.