Mitch Boggs, yes, our Mitch Boggs struck out 9 batters in 6 innings pitched the other night against the unflappable Natina!s. LaRussa called his outing “fantastic” and it looks like for the time being Boggs has cemented his role as the Cardinals’ 5th starter.
We all wondered where this “wipeout slider” of Boggs went last year, having read this scouting report from Baseball America:
Boggs still can reach the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball, but his low-90s two-seamer with sink and bore is his ticket to quicker innings. He has ditched his curveball and developed a wipeout slider that ranks as one of the best in the system. Few Cardinals pitching prospects have been as consistent or durable.
That wipeout slider seemed to go AWOL when he was called up previously, and we know aside from a game or two, Boggs was less than stellar in his debut. I compiled all of Boggs starts and came up with this movement graph —
(Forgive me if the legends don’t match, I made the other graph about a month ago).
The other night?
That is a good slider. The average slider moves 2.2 inches, horizontally and vertically. Unless Washington’s Pitch F/X cameras are totally wacky, Boggs’ slider is generating 5-11 inches of vertical movement at a given time. That is pretty fantastic. I’d have to investigate more if it is a case of a wonky camera in DC, but Boggs got 8 swinging strikes in 27 sliders thrown. (30%), so I’d like to think what we see is what we’re getting. Pitch f/x confused many of his sliders last year as a curveballs, but what we are seeing different from last year to this (at least for one start) is less downward break. The slider is less slurvy. Those other sliders you are seeing that have more “rise” and less vertical movement on his first graph are misclassified as well. That would be his cutter.
Looking at this graph, we can also judge Boggs’ sinker. An average one has about 7.6 inches of horizontal break and 4.7 inches of vertical “rise”. Knowing that, we can differentiate his four-seamer from his two-seamer. The two-seamer is the red blobs more on the left and it has about average movement.
As for Boggs’ changeup, it’s definitely a “straight” change. Very little horizontal movement at all. Usually the pitch breaks in on a right-hander more. Considering how much he throws the sinker and how little movement he gets on his change, I wonder if the pitch isn’t easily picked up.
One more thing I found interesting is that Boggs’ throws his slider from a higher arm angle release point than the rest of his pitches.
I don’t know if the .5-1 inch difference would be detectable by hitters or not, but it is sort of interesting.
The season is very young, but Boggs has a strikeout rate of 9 per inning with a K/BB ratio of 3.75. Whodathunk? With an improved slider and a simplified repertoire, Boggs is looking better than ever. 90-95 MPH heat, decent sink, great slider and fringy change. Not a bad arsenal for a starter. He’s always been a mystery as to how few bats he misses, but that is changing so far this year:
It’s also worth mentioning 4/5ths of his K’s have been swinging strikeouts. We’ll see if he can keep this up, but I’d say I’m more enthused about Boggs’ than ever before.