Earlier this week, I read this article on Fangraphs/(rotographs section) by Eno Sarris that displayed and discussed PITCHf/x data from Yovani Gallardo's two-seamer, a pitch he's using more heavily than he has in past seasons, and the data suggests it doesn't seem to be an effective pitch for Gallardo. In fact, it may be hurting his performance.
As far as what the two-seamer is supposed to do for a pitcher, and its tendencies, the author provides a summary on the pitch from Harry Pavlidis's pitch classifications
"the sinker* gets more ground balls than the four-seamer (52% to 36%) and fewer whiffs (5.1% to 7%)"
*The two-seam fastball is sometimes classified as a sinker, due to similar movement – you'll see it at Brooks Baseball, for example.
Sarris goes on to say that Gallardo's GB% from use of the FT (two-seamer), at 45%, is actually just a notch above league average, which isn't high enough to net positive returns. Since this was written, it's up to 49%, so it's
In fact, the author adds that Gallardo has surrendered 137 wRC+ (!) on this pitch, and wonders why the Brewers RHP hasn't discarded it sooner if it doesn't seem to work.
"Normally, when a pitcher alters his pitching mix and doesn't find the results he wanted, he’ll change it up. Maybe Gallardo will stop throwing two-seamers so much and go back to the heater."
So, might this suggest, then, that either Rick Kranitz and maybe others to keep using it, or maybe Yo' isn't comfortable without it, just relying on his four-seamer? Or, is it possible that no one has pointed out that his results just aren't there with the FT for it to be an effective pitch for him, and that he should either use it differently, or stop altogether?
It looks as though the 1st and/or 3rd things I'd named might not be the case, if we look at his latest outing, and the frequency at which he threw the pitch,, he threw them for only 7% of his pitches. Though, it may be that he, Lucroy, or Kranitz felt as though it wasn't as necessary since the opponents (in this case, the Athletics) had not seen him until this point during the regular 2013 season.*
*it turns out there is a small but at least measurable difference in how batters could struggle against a pitcher they aren't familiar with, and do a bit better after 13 PAs. I just learned this, and had no idea! Interesting! Still, it doesn't justify some managers' tendencies to look at a small (what looks like) success or failure rate and rely heavily on matchups. Arg.
Some more on the pitch that presents a case for Gallardo dropping it, or, changing how he uses it –
there was a drastic drop in K% from last season (17.3%) down to 10.3% this season. He is also giving up a good number of line-drives, at ~ a 35% clip! That's not good! Maybe it is appealing to go to more often, because his FB% was cut by more than half the amount from last season, but he's thrown so many more of them. Another thing that may look appealing for staying with it is that he is getting some weak contact, in the form of infield fly balls with it ( 22.2 % ).
Overall, though, if Gallardo is going to live with a 5.3 % Swinging Strike rate with the pitch, and, looking at how his overall strikeout numbers are down (7.33 K/9 / 18.6 % K%), and he's not getting a satisfying number of GBs, and with the line drive % being as high as it is, it does seem like it has been a hinderance more than a help, thus far…unless that previous outing means anything, and he is re-examining the pitch!
(Mini-Yo' illustration has been included. This is important. He kind of looks like the shape of a K!).