As noted in Monday’s preview, Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff relies on his beautiful curve to supplement his mid-90’s fastball and rack up the strikeouts. While Mets starter Noah Syndergaard pitched slightly better, Eickhoff was still excellent, surrendering only two runs on five hits and three walks with nine strikeouts over nine innings. It’s the second start in a row Eickhoff has struck out nine.
Eickhoff isn’t the only Phillie to utilize a curve. In fact, all of them use it, as August Fagerstrom illustrates in a great research piece at FanGraphs. As a team, the Phillies have thrown curves at a 27.4 percent clip, about seven percent higher than the next-most curve-happy team, the Athletics. Fagerstrom notes the single-season high in the Pitchf/x ERA is the 2012 Pirates’ 24 percent. Not only are the Phillies throwing curves more than anyone else, they’re also putting the most spin on those curves with over 2,600 revolutions per minute.
Fagerstrom surmises that the Phillies specifically targeted Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton during the offseason for their curves and the amount of spin each pitcher puts on it. The Phillies’ obsession with the curve may be their organizational philosophy, similar to how the Mets have become fascinated with the slider.
It’s a really good piece by Fagerstrom and if you’re a fan of baseball wonkery, give the full article a read.