Can Anthony DeSclafani Maintain His Recent Success?
Over the course of his past three starts this season, Anthony DeSclafani is showing the Cincinnati Reds that he can be a cornerstone in their rotation for years to come. He’s been great on the mound so far in 2015 and seems to have vastly improved from his starts last year with the Miami Marlins.
The question then becomes whether or not DeSclafani can keep up his 2015 pace or if regression is in his future.
DeSclafani in 2014DeSclafani made 13 appearances last year with the Marlins, but he only started five of those games. The following statistics show how ineffective he was during last year’s starts with the Marlins.
It’s a small sample size to evaluate, but he obviously struggled in those starts, and the numbers reflect that.
According to FanGraphs , the 2014 league averages for GB%, LD%, and HR/FB were 44.8%, 20.8%, and 9.5%. DeSclafani deviated from those averages quite a bit last season, and struggled to prevent the long ball since he managed to give up home runs in four of his five starts.
It’s important to keep in mind that he never pitched more than 6 1/3 innings in a start last season.
Pitch Usage Comparison
The following chart displays his difference in pitch usage from 2014 to 2015.
It’s interesting to note that DeSclafani threw at least 70% fastballs in four of his five starts last season. His second most used pitch was his slider and then his minimally used changeup in a distant third.
Another intriguing point to note is that FanGraphs does not have him listed as throwing a curveball , last season but they have him listed as throwing one in 2015, something he worked on in the offseason.
DeSclafani in 2015
How have DeSclafani’s numbers fared so far in 2015?
There is a huge disparity compared to last season’s five starts, and it’s evident how dominant he can be based off his recent performances. These numbers were produced while facing the Pirates at home and the Brewers and Cubs on the road.
Watching each of his starts this season has been extremely interesting because he’s consistently keeping his pitches down. He occasionally misses his spots and leaves something up in the zone, but he’s been lucky enough to get away with it so far.
His ability to keep his pitches down in the zone has a lot to do with an improvement in his groundball rate, as well as his home run to fly ball rate. Changing his approach to be more of a groundball pitcher is something DeSclafani will need to rely on because his home ballpark is hitter friendly and was the fourth-best home run park according to Park Factor in 2014.
And, of course, he’s had occasional lucky breaks like this one.
When he's not getting lucky outs, he's doing a great job of keeping hitters off balance.
DeSclafani is proving to be a consistent starter who is finally adapting to the big leagues and looks to be pitching with more confidence and a new pitch. His recent success is definitely something that can be sustained if he continues to keep his pitches down and induce groundballs.