Analysis: AJ Schugel became a Pittsburgh Pirate on January 19, 2016, when the team selected him off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. Felipe Rivero came over from the Washington Nationals in the Mark Melancon deal on July 30, 2016. Tony Watson has been a mainstay in the bullpen for the Pirates since his debut in 2011. All three possess devastating changeups.
There are multiple ways to define how good a pitch is. The slugging percentage off a certain pitch, the spin rate of the pitch, how whiff percentage, Fangraphs’ linear weight values, among others. There is also ways to quantify how well a pitcher plays the pitch off another, thanks to Baseball Prospectus’ pitch tunnel stats. The Pittsburgh Pirates feature three pitchers in AJ Schugel, Felipe Rivero, and Tony Watson who are excellent at throwing the changeup.
According to Brooks Baseball, Schugel threw 497 fastballs, 280 changeups, and 40 curveballs, or 60.83 percent, 34.27 percent, and 4.90 percent respectively. Among pitchers with 50 innings pitched, only Deolis Guerra, Fernando Rodney, Francisco Rodriguez, and Mike Morin threw the changeup more than Schugel.
Schugel only ranks 68th of 126 pitchers to throw the changeup 200 or more times. He ranks 38th in exit velocity and 76th in launch angle. None of these are elite, but his 10th lowest slugging against (0.216) is. His spin rate is on the higher end, ranking as the 32nd highest.
Schugel finished the season with the sixth-most runs (wCH) on his changeup among relief pitchers with 50 or more innings with 8.0 runs. His changeup got results in 2016, and that is because of how he set it up from his fastball.
Schugel has 139 sequences of first pitch fastball and second pitch changeup last season. He was among 141 pitchers to have that sequence at least 50 times. He ranked in the 87.1 percentile in …
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