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  • Michael Simione

A Series: Emerging Pitches Part 3 - Four-Seam Fastballs

Stock Photo: USA Today

The Series

For the third article of this series, we will be talking about four-seam fastballs. Four-seam fastballs can be lethal with the right kind of movement and have been proven to be a viable pitch. If you would like to see parts one and two of this series you can check it out here and here.

Julio Urias

Admittingly I was not aware that Urias’s four-seam fastball was this good. His fastball clocks an average speed of 95.2 MPH with 2496 RPM which ranks eighth among all four-seams. It’s one thing to throw a four-seam fast and it’s another thing to be able to utilize it correctly and Urias certainly does that as he produced a stellar 15.3 pVAL.

When hitters do make contact on this pitch they have a lot of trouble creating quality contact. His four-seam had a 2.0 Barrel% which ranked second in the league. Not only that but it produced a low 88.1 exit velocity and .102 ISO against. Improvement seemed to be on its way as it had an average SwStr% of 12.0, but in the last three months, his SwStr% was 9.6, 14.1 and 17.4.

Urias has a lot of talent and will finally get his shot in the Dodgers rotation. While I don’t expect a lot of innings out of him, he certainly will provide draft day value. If his four-seam can become an elite pitch the sky seems the limit.

Tony Gonsolin

Would you look at that, the first two pitchers on this list play for the Dodgers! While Gonsolin’s four-seam isn’t as flashy as Urias’ I do believe it’s on the way to becoming a lethal pitch. It produced some pretty great numbers with a 2.2 Barrel% (3rd) and .236 batting average against. Hitters clearly struggled against this pitch and it seemed to be getting even better.

The best thing about his four-seam fastball is the vertical movement of 9.1. He has a nice rise on his four-seam that makes it very difficult for hitters to catch up to. He also increased the vertical movement later on in the year, and in doing so his xwOBA on his fastball dipped to .343 in September.

Unfortunately, we aren’t sure if Gonsolin will be in the rotation for the Dodgers, although I am pretty confident at some point he will be. Pair this upcoming four-seam fastball with his splitter and slider and we have a pitcher who can be very exciting to own in 2020.

Elieser Hernandez

Oh, man, do I love me some Elieser Hernandez. His four-seam fastball was his weak point in 2020 and he even decreased the usage towards the end of the year. But I think we will see it perform much better in 2020.

Last season it put up a .298 batting average against with a .404 wOBA and horrible 155 wRC+., but that came with a .252 xBA and .341 xwOBA! He was clearly unlucky with this pitch and to bring the point home, even more, all you have to do is look at his BABIP of .336 on his fastball. Just like Gonsolin

Hernandez also has a nice rise to his fastball with a 9.0 vertical movement.

With some clear bad luck and a nice rise on his four-seam, I can see this pitch developing into a solid one. When he lowered its usage in the last month its xwOBA dipped to .271 while his SwStr% rose to 11.7. Elieser already has an awesome slider (seriously go watch it) and if he can match it with this up and coming four-seam fastball, he seems like a solid late-round flier.