Breaking Down Jarrod Parker's Top Pitches

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Breaking Down Jarrod Parker's Top Pitches
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

In Jarrod Parker's second season as a starting pitcher for the Oakland Athletics he has emerged as a young star thanks to an impressive arsenal of pitches.

Parker has been untouchable since May 22, compiling a 8-0 record, 2.48 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 16 starts. He's gathered nationwide attention for besting All-Stars like Chris Sale, Yu Darvish and Chris Tillman.

All of Parker's pitches have some combination of pinpoint accuracy, breathtaking speed and sharp movement, which have helped him erase all memories of his rough April.

 

Fastball

Parker sets the pace with a four-seam fastball that can dance up to the mid-90s, impressive for a 6'1" hurler built like Tim Hudson.

The four-seamer is Parker's establishing pitch, used early in the count to show hitters what he's capable of. When he throws a fastball with two strikes, the ball normally flies above the letters.

After throwing his four-seam heater in 42.5 percent of his pitches last year, Parker has trimmed it down to 27.3 percent. He now throws his two-seam fastball 35.1 percent of the total pitches, up 14.6 percent from 2012. 

His four-seam and two-seam move at almost the same speed, so Parker can switch back and forth depending on what's working better in each particular start.

Parker isn't afraid to use two-seam on right-handed batters, even though it spins over the inner half of the plate. 

 

Slider

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009, Parker has shied away from his slider, telling FanGraphs' Eno Sarris that he "got hurt and didn't want to throw as many breaking pitches."

His slider sits around 83-86 mph, not dazzling by any means but distinguishable from his off-speed stuff.

Parker's slider breaks well, and it has made small gains in velocity since he broke into the majors. He uses it most often on right-handed sluggers like Jesus Montero.

 

Changeup

Perhaps his deadliest pitch, Parker's changeup comes in between 79-82 mph and tumbles down out of the zone. Even as a rookie last year, Parker's changeup baffled veterans like Robinson Cano.

In fact, as Jeff Sullivan's FanGraphs piece said, Parker went the entire 2012 season without anyone homering off his changeup.

Parker came up big in a crucial win over the Texas Rangers on October 2 last year, striking out Josh Hamilton twice with nasty changeups off the outside corner. And remember, this was back when Hamilton was good.

Even if a hitter is sitting on Parker's changeup, he won't be able to anticipate the movement. Parker told FanGraphs' David Laurila that he throws both a split change and a circle change. 

 

Curveball

Coming out of high school, Parker's curve and change were about equally strong. But, just like he backed off of his slider to protect his arm, Parker has stopped using his curveball almost entirely since the surgery.

Only 0.3 percent of Parker's offerings this year have been curveballs, lowest in the AL among players who throw the pitch. He can still put a decent 12-6 drop on the ball, but since he can throw changeups effectively, there's no sense in putting extra pressure on his arm.

Hitters scouting Parker will focus on his four main pitches, so the curve is still valuable as a surprise every once in a while.

As Parker develops into an ace, all eyes will be on what he throws. Will his curveball reappear? Will his changeup keep avoiding bats? Which fastball will he use most often, and why?

 

All advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

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