It feels good to finally be able to use a Demi Lovato song in my title. Forget Chad Kuhl let’s talk about Demi! What star power! What charisma! What a voice! Name another song besides the one in the title! You can’t!
**inner-monologue** Wait, don’t take that bet. Don’t show your true colors when you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I Ralph Lifshitz am actually a Demi Lovato fan. PFFT! That would be preposterous! **inner-monologue-out**
Chad Kuhl of the other hand, different story. Now he is a someone who’s fandom I’d consider! (You don’t believe me do you?) The 24 year old righthander, has followed up a promising rookie campaign with an inconsistent 2017. That’s not to say this season hasn’t had it’s bright spots. He looks on pace to reach at least 150 innings, his velocity has jumped nearly 3 miles per hour on the fastball, his swinging strike rate is up, and despite a 4.52 ERA, he’s been slightly unlucky (68.5% LOB, .316 BABIP). Luck aside he’s struggled to limit contact, and has always walked a few more batters than you’d like to see. Since the calendar turned to July, Kuhl has been a top 30 starter going 4-2 over 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .211 BAA, and his 21% K% is up about 2% from his career norm. More than likely this is a hot streak but with a player this young it’s best to see for ones self. Today we’ll dig into Kuhl’s most recent start vs St. Louis at home to get a closer look.
Scouting Report: Kuhl is a high volume sinkerball guy, simple and plain, relying on the pitch for nearly 2/3rds of his usage. His sinker unlike most in the game brings elite velocity, sitting 95-97, and touching 98 to 99 on occasion. His secondaries are led by a high 80’s to low 90’s slider, with 12 to 6 movement. The pitch generates a fair amount of swings and misses with a 21% SwStr%, while also limiting nearly any good contact, as shown by the .195 BAA on the pitch. His second most used secondary, his changeup, isn’t a great pitch. While the SwStr% of 11.2% is solid, the .380 BAA is downright frightening. Which is why it’s even more baffling that he doesn’t use his curveball more. His hook is arguably his best pitch, generating swinging strikes at a 13.5% rate, with an insane .095 BAA, driven by a 63% groundball rate. It’s going to be interesting to watch Kuhl’s sequencing and situational pitch usage in this start. I need to wrap my head around the change usage vs. the curve. All in all, on paper Kuhl has it all, a high 90’s fastball, groundball contact, and three secondaries with a SwStr% of 11% and up.
NO GIFS THIS WEEK, MLB BLOCKED ALL VIDEOS OF CHAD KUHL’S START. NO IDEA WHY. I BLAME THE RUSSIANS.
Matt Carpenter – Fastball 97, strike 1, 97 MPH fastball inside, nicks Carpenter, and he’s off to first.
Paul DeJong – 97 MPH fastball outside, ball 1, slider at 90, low and outside, ball 2, 98 MPH fastball outisde, ball 3, strike at 97, 98 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 4, walk.
Jedd Gyorko – 97 MPH on outer-part of the plate, strike 1, 98 MPH fastball gets a groundball to third, and Harrison tosses to second for the final out.
Solid inning for Kuhl, as he got two big groundballs following the walk and hit batsman. Excellent early velocity from Kuhl as he hit 97-98 on the gun. Only threw one non-fastball in the first. Will be interesting to see his pitch mix moving forward.
Jose Martinez – First pitch fastball at 97, strike 1, 96 MPH inside, ball 1, slider at 90 MPH ball, 96 MPH fastball fouled off, strike 2, 98 MPH fastball hit down the first base line for a double.
Kolten Wong – slider at 88 bounces off Diaz’s glove and Martinez takes third, 97 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 2, 97 MPH fastball low and inside, ball 3, 97 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, strike 1, 98 MPH fastball hit into right for an RBI single.
Randal Grichuk – 96 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, strike 1, 98 MPH fastball on the inside, ball 1, fastball at 97 strike 2, slider at 89 low and outside for a ball.
RAIN DELAY…after nearly two hours we pick back up again with Randal Grichuk with a 2-2 count.
Randal Grichuk – Fastball at 98 low and outside gets a called third strike. Nice pitch by Kuhl.
Carson Kelly – 98 MPH low and outside, ball 1, 98 MPH fastball low, ball 2, 97 MPH fastball high and inside, strike 1, fastball 97 on the inside, fouled off, strike 2, 99 MPH on the inside, ball 3, 97 MPH fastball hit down the line and Josh Harrison makes a great play to make the catch and fire to second for the out.
Michael Wacha – 99 MPH strike 1, 98 MPH fastball low, ball 1, 98 MPH fastball swinging strike 2, 92 MPH change up low, and Wacha holds up, ball 2, fastball at 99 on the inside, ball 3, 96 MPH on the inside fouled off, the umpire gets hit by the pitch and the game is delayed again… fat ump is good to go, and we’re back. 97 MPH fastball is hot on the ground to short, and Sean Rodriguez fires to first for the final out.
Watching Kuhl pitch is excruciating, seriously he has no idea where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. No command of his fastball at all, and he works almost exclusively with the heat at that! It’s pretty obvious why he has control issues.
Matt Carpenter – fastball at 97 strike 1, changeup fouled off strike 2, slider at 91, low and inside, ball 1, slider at 89, low and inside, ball 2, high and outside changeup at 89 hit to left for the first out.
Tommy Pham – 88 MPH changeup on the inside, ball 1, 97 MPH fastball low and outside, ball 2, 97 MPH fastball doen Main St. taken for strike 1, curveball at 82 under the hands, swinging strike 2, and he goes back to the curveball again at 84 for a swinging strike 3.
Paul DeJong – 97 MPH fastball inside, ball 1, 91 MPH slider on the outside, ball 2, 97 MPH fastball fouled off, strike 1, 98 MPH on the outer-half fouled off again, strike 2, curveball gets another swinging strike.
Whoa! Why is Kuhl only throwing that hook 5% of the time? It’s a far better pitch than his change or slider. He’s thrown it three times and got swinging strikes all three times. There’s also a nearly 25 MPH velocity drop between his sinker and his curveball. Much better inning for Kuhl.
Jedd Gyorko – 97 MPH fastball on the inside, strike 1, curveball at 82 low and inside, ball 1, 94 MPH fastball on the inside is fouled off, strike 2, 89 MPH changeup fouled off, 88 MPH slider low and outside, and Gyorko holds up, ball 2, 95 MPH fastball on the outer-part of the plate for strike 3.
Jose Martinez – 88 MPH changeup, high and outside, ball 1, fastball at 95 over the plate, strike 1, 88 MPH slider on the outside, ball 2, 95 MPH fastball high and outside, ball 3, 95 MPH fastball fouled off, strike 2, full count, fastball on the outside, fouled off again, fastball at 96 hit hard on the ground to Josh Harrison, and he makes another great diving stop and fires to first for the out.
Kolten Wong – 97 MPH fastball hit right at Frazier, and he tosses to first for the final out.
I guess my harsh words after the second inspired Kuhl, or maybe it was just the strain of dealing with the rain delay, but he’s stuff is much sharper now than it was, and he’s done a good job of mixing in his breaking and off speed stuff. Still want to see that curveball more.
Randal Grichuk – fastball at 96 low and outside, ball 1, slider low at 87, ball 2, fastball at 96 way outside, ball 3, fastball at 93, swinging strike 1, fastball at 94, fouled off, strike 2, 95 MPH fastball hit on a rope to left center, and he’s in there with a stand-up double.
Carson Kelly – slider at 90 MPH in there for strike 1, curveball gets a swinging strike 2, 86 MPH curveball bounces off the shin guard and out of play, ball 1, wild pitch, 88 MPH slider on the outside, and Kelly holds up, ball 2, high fastball at 99, ball 3, full count, slider gets a swinging strike 3.
Luke Voit – fastball at 98 way outside the zone, ball 1, 89 MPH slider low and inside, ball 2, 96 MPH fastball in the dirt, ball 3, fastball at 95 over the plate for a strike, 95 MPH fastball lined right at SEan Rodriguez for the second out.
Matt Carpenter – changeup at 90 MPH, strike 1, 97 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, strike 2, great pitch, 91 MPH slider fouled off, 97 MPH fastball high and outside, ball 1, curveball at 87 inside and low, ball 2, changeup on the outside, ball 3, full count, curveball at 84 gets a swinging strike 3, and Kuhl is out of the inning.
Final Line: 5 IP, 3 Hits, 1 Walk, 1 Run, 6 K’s, 92 Pitches, 50 Strikes, 8 swinging strikes.
Summary: A weird start from the jump with the long rain delay, injured ump, and other quirky stuff. Kuhl did a good job keeping it together, all things considered. After settling down in the third, and seemingly finding his control, Kuhl looked locked in. Even taking something off the fastball made him more effective overall, as is usually the case. His curveball really needs to be used more, and it should be at the expense of his weak change. Which not was very impressive, it seemed less like it’s own pitch and more like a slider that was a little flat. Kuhl has a tendency to overthrow at times, and his control and command of his pitches pay the price. I still don’t feel his fastball command is very good, which is unfortunate when you consider his elite velocity. Kuhl to me a is a good matchup streamer against aggressive lineups, just don’t expect him to get deep into games.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
Disabled List (Ranking When Active): Max Scherzer, WAS (1), Clayton Kershaw, LAD (3), James Paxton, SEA (5), Yu Darvish, LAD (7), Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Lance McCullers, HOU (16), David Price, BOS (24), Johnny Cueto, SF (28), Brandon McCarthy, LAD (42), Jacob Faria, TB (43), Felix Hernandez, SEA (54), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (66), Reynaldo Lopez, CWS (76), Scott Feldman, CIN (84), Adam Wainwright, STL (87), Matt Harvey, NYM (99) Brandon Finnegan, CIN (100)
- Someone @ Kate Upton for me, because Imma bout to talk real nice like about Justin Verlander. For starters, as mentioned on last week’s Razzball Podcast w/ Grey, Halp, and myself, his velocity is at his highest point in his career. That’s nuts! He’s 34! Only Justin Verlander, fine wine, and myself get better with age, but I digress. The true star of “the fappening” is a man possessed over his last 9 starts, going 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .188 BAA, and a K/Bb of 3.94. He ain’t dead yet.
- Though we lost two top 10 starters this week, there is some good news in the hopper. It looks like the returns of Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, and perhaps Noah Syndergaard are not too far away. We welcome back onto the list the Brewers Chase Anderson, the Yanks Masahiro Tanaka, and the D-Backs Robbie Ray as well.
- Coming off a nice start on Saturday, the Astros Collin McHugh has reinvented himself upon returning from injury. He re-worked his slider, and is now throwing it nearly 20% of the time after scrapping it in 2016. While at the same time he’s all but eliminated his cutter and change. The shift in approach is drastic as his cutter, change, and curve in 2016 accounted for nearly 55% of his pitch usage, yet only accounts for less than 30% in 2017. I might have to profile his next start…