Elite pitchers have three or more valuable pitches, good pitchers have two, and bad pitchers have one. Some of these pitchers below have either one or two pitches and adding or improving one more pitch could take them to a whole other level. Pitch arsenals are important for obvious reasons whether it is keeping the batter on their toes, or if one pitch isn’t working that day you have other pitches to fall back on. Kind of like if Taco Bell is closed at least you can fall back on Chipotle (yes Taco Bell is better). Honestly, is there anything better in this world than a cheesy gordita crunch?!
Jakob Junis is probably the best one pitch pitcher on the planet. In 2019 he pitched 175.1 innings while providing a stellar 5.24 ERA (sarcasm). Junis makes this list because of his amazing, spectacular, superior slider.
Last year Junis slider was everything you wanted to see with a 34.0 O-Swing%, 40.0 Zone%, and 17.3 SwStr%. Junis utilized his slider really well and he, of course, used it often in two-strike counts. His slider was ranked seventh in swing and misses in a two-strike count. In other words, he was super efficient at getting batters to chase when he had them backed into a corner. In terms of break, Junis has an 8.32 horizontal break on his slider which is a ton of movement. When it comes to left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters it doesn’t matter, both sides of the plate put up an average against of .183 or lower.
Obviously, his slider is great, but his other pitches aren’t so great. His four-seam had a 183 wRC+ against with an HR/FB of 21.7%. The utilization of his four-seam was just brutal, in 2019 it put up a -15.1 pVAL. His sinker was even worse with a .350 batting average against and measly 4.5 SwStr%. He threw a changeup at times but didn’t get any swing and misses and it only had a six to seven MPH difference than his fastballs. His final pitch is his curveball which posted a lackluster .395 wOBA and .280 batting average against.
Proposal: Junis curveball has potential, it has extreme horizontal break and does show potential with a 25.6 Whiff%. He started using it more in the second half of last year and his deserved ERA went from 5.09 to 4.58, still not good but it is an improvement. What he needs to do is stop leaving his curveball in the zone. It has a way to high 48.2 Zone% and if he can start hitting the edges or getting hitters to chase out of the zone we could see Junis go from non-rosterable to a back end starter.
Trevor Richards didn’t have the best 2019, as a starter he had a 4.38 ERA, .321 wOBA, and 4.61 FIP. He was traded from the Miami Marlins to the Tampa Bay Rays and primarily used in relief after that. He did start three times for the Rays and faired rather well putting up 14.1 innings with a 2.55 ERA. There doesn’t seem to be a spot for Richards in the Rays rotation and he will most likely be a bullpen arm.
Richards is known for his fantastic changeup that he places really well in the bottom corners of the strike zone. It has some nice horizontal movement to it where it breaks hard right. While the 17.0 SwStr%, .207 batting average against, and 3.8 Barrel% are all great; what is most impressive is the 51.1 O-Swing%. When it came to hitters taking swings in the chase zone against changeups, Richards was ranked sixth overall. When it came to swings and misses in the chase zone he was ranked tenth. His changeup was also ranked second in RPM’s among starters.