Can the sweeper and four-seam fastball finally expand his arsenal?
In December, Singer spoke about how the new pitching coaches "[tried] to make me pitch in different ways than I had before." If it ain't broke, don't fix it, but Singer looked broke at times in 2023. He could not lean on just his sinker-slider combination to confuse opposing batters, yet he seemed unwilling to deploy different pitches. But could pitching coaches Brian Sweeney and Zach Bove expand Singer's pitching arsenal?
Singer mentioned the coaches pushing him to use a four-seam fastball and sweeper again in 2023, something that fans did not see a ton in games. He only threw a sweeper 14 times last season, while Baseball Savant has not registered a four-seam from him since 2022. Even then, he has only thrown it 27 times in his MLB career, according to the site. Now, the slider being a slider variant could confuse pitch tracking, but it does not seem like a pitch Singer is devoted to using in games.
Singers trusting a third pitch has been an issue for years. During his peak in 2022, he doubled his changeup usage and kept batters off balance. But even then, it was a challenge for him to trust another offering.
“The mindset I had was, ‘In a crucial situation, why would I throw my third-best pitch if I know for a fact I can get this guy out with a two-seamer or a slider?'” he said. “I understand how you can say, ‘I don’t get that.’ But you’ve got to think about the competitive nature of what we’re trying to do.”
It is amazing to think that Singer would see a 50% whiff rate on his sweeper last year and not try to use it more. This is just one pitch, but it shows how the sweeper plays well off Singer's arsenal.
Something has to change for Singer if he wants to recapture his potential. The sinker and slider can still be his workhorse pitches, but developing and trusting other offerings is the next step in his progress.