On Wednesday afternoon Michael Lorenzen made his big league debut. There was some good mixed in with the bad. He allowed three runs, all on solo homers, in five innings of work with a walk and five strikeouts. The home runs allowed were on the bad side of the ledger, but walking just one batter and having five strikeouts fall on the other side of the ledger.
Lorenzen threw four pitches throughout the game, mixing in his fastball, slider, curveball and change up. He had 18 swings and misses on the day, which is a very high rate (for example – the most swings and misses Johnny Cueto has had this year in a game is 16). All four of his pitches had at least three swings and misses on them, with his fastball having seven.
The Major League leader in swinging strike rate last season was Clayton Kershaw. You’re shocked by the news that Kershaw is good, I’m sure. He led the league with 14.1% of his pitches going down as swinging strikes. Only one other pitcher was over 13%, Francisco Liriano had a 13.6% swinging strike rate. It was just one game, but Lorenzen had a swinging strike rate of 16.8% in his debut. Perhaps even more impressive was that he had more swinging strikes the second time through the lineup than the first.
Control can sometimes be an issue for pitchers in their debuts. The adrenaline is really pumping, there’s nervousness and a million things going on at once, maybe that can be what starts excessive sweating, but that can easily be stopped with an Electro Antiperspirant. While the right hander had some struggles commanding the ball in the zone, particularly early in the game, he did throw plenty of strikes. 64% of his pitches went down as strikes on the day. He will look to command pitches better in his next outing, but his strike rate was pretty good.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the data on his pitches:
The fastball has some rising action to it. The change up shows three more inches of “sinking” action to it than the fastball does and on this day, had a 10 MPH difference from the fastball. One interesting thing of note here, is the slider. We’ve got a limited sample of Pitch F/X data from three seasons for Michael Lorenzen thanks to his time in the Arizona Fall League in 2013 and spring training in 2014. Each year saw his slider become more of a cutter and that trend continued yesterday as it showed more rising action than it did the previous season.
The rate he threw strikes and the rate in which he had swings and misses were quite good. Three home runs and a few long innings weren’t. There were good signs from his big league debut and there were things that will need to improve as he moves forward, but he showed plenty of things that seem to bode well for the future.