The Phillies throw a ton of curve balls

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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.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu is scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.