KC Royals Yordano Ventura Start 1 Stats Breakdown


Yordano Ventura‘s first start of the season has to be considered a success, but I just wanted to look at it in detail to see if anything looks glaringly good or bad. He is a rather important player not just this year, but now is set up as one of the cornerstones of the Royals rotation for up to seven more seasons. Other than the moment where all KC Royals fans’ hearts stopped as he cradled his arm on the ground, game one was pretty uneventful, thankfully it there seems to be nothing to worry about so far.

The start went well overall from  line perspective, 6 innings and only 1 run is always good and is even better when there is only 4 hits and 1 walk. The game score was a 60, so it was an above average start even when you consider peripherals. On the surface, the only not great part was the 2 strikeouts. It is almost inconceivable that Ventura will finish the year averaging 3K/9IP, so I am not going to start worrying about such a thing after one game.

What I really want to focus on is if this looked like a game for Ventura last season. His velocity was lower than we typically see, average of 2MPH on the four seam fastball, 1.5 on two seam, and 2.6 on the cutter. This is not unusual early in the season and in cold weather, but early last year was still faster than this. I sincerely hope the Royals have told him to back down and not go for 100 quite so much just from an injury mitigation perspective, so this will be something to watch. His fastball was extremely effective on Monday, so the slightly lower velocity did not seem to change performance.

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The only real difference with the fastball that could be a problem was movement, in particular vertical. His four seam fastball and cutter were a little flat. With the cutter the sample size is ludicrously small, so I will ignore it. The fastball seemed to be in the cluster of usual movement, but without the best outcomes. Last season the vertical movement had more extreme outcomes, but going game by game it looks like this start was nothing really unusual and again could have just been weather related.

Pitch mix in one game is hard to really say anything about. He did seem to throw the four seam fastball a little less, 42.3% vs. last year’s 53.9%. He still is going to lean on his fastball, but maybe this says he will mix up his grips a little more. STATS inc. and PitchF/X disagree on whether those are accruing to cutter or two seam, but most of the non-four seam fastballs seem to have ended up as one of those two.

Throwing strikes is good most of the time, and the 46.9% strike rate is not what you want to see. Also, first pitch strikes were only thrown 52.4%. In 2014 those rates were 47.7% and 61.4%, so really only the first pitch variety were a lot different than last year. And really, he had six starts last year below a 52.4% F-Strike, so it is not a remarkable number either.

Basically I just wrote a bunch of words to say that Yordano Ventura looked like himself in his first outing, which is exactly what we want. Velocity is the only thing I think looks like it is out of the norm, but not far enough that I would be worried. It looks like Ace Ventura is ready to roll, and I am looking forward to seeing if Danny Duffy can follow suit tonight.

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