So yeah, this title could be slightly misleading. Felix is 1-1 and has only had one bad start. But he is the King, and has yet to show a super dominating performance we have come to expect from him. He has faced the A’s three times. The A’s! They suck more than we do. He should have had at least one King-like performance. I know I was talking about sample sizes and why we shouldn’t panic earlier, and that still holds, but Felix should and must be better if we want to be average.
Unlike Patrick, who isn’t into using data to prove his points, I do research and look at how things have changed and what is different this year. All my stats come from Fangraphs.com, which is a super awesome site if you are either a baseball fan or a nerd, and as it happens I am kind of both so woooo! [Editor's note: didn't know Anthony was a wooo girl.]
The first thing to recognize is that Felix’s velocity is dropping. I am told he hit 94 a few times last night, which is encouraging, but his average velocity is still in the 91 range. That is not good. When a pitcher does not have excellent command, they need to be able to throw hard. This offsets their lack of command because they can miss and still get away with it. We are seeing some of this with Felix, but that is not the largest reason why he has not been great.
His changeup is excellent, like one of the best in the league. I love watching batters swing over the top of it and look silly (What’s up Yoenis Cespedes!). However, a changeup needs to be set up the right way for it to be effective. The most common and effective way is to throw hard and get the batter worried about getting thrown past. Felix has not been doing a great job at that, but he is still throwing his change 41% of the time. I will say that again. 41% of the time, Felix throws a changeup. This is ridiculous; he has not come close to that number before in his career. That is not good for him. Yeah it’s his best pitch, but a change up cannot be thrown 41% of the time if it is going to be effective.
So how can he get better? Felix, throw your sinker more! Please! It gets a bunch of ground balls. You know what happens a lot to ground balls? They become outs! Last year and in 2010 he threw his sinker about 30% of the time. He is throwing it 8.6% of the time this year. Really though? It is a pitch that has proven effective before and that is an indicator that it will be effective again. There is an old saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Why are you trying to change Felix? Please throw your sinker more! I am on my hands and knees (not really, my floor is pretty gross). That is a large reason why he is getting hit hard.
So Felix has shut down the A’s, done a decent job and gotten shelled. Is it time to hit the panic button? No, but too bad. I already did. He is getting predictable and dumb with his changeup and not throwing his sinker enough. If he can fix that, he can destroy the A’s. Like literally, Cespedes will run, then swim, then run again back to his mother in Cuba. The A’s shouldn’t be able to touch Felix and they have. That is why I am hitting the panic button. And why I am telling Felix how to get better. Go M's.