This evening, Alfredo Simon is scheduled to be the starter for the Cincinnati Reds as they face the St. Louis Cardinals. This game has taken on a “do or die” feel as the Reds cannot afford to take too many more losses. Actually, it may already be too late for that.
Simon was named to his first All-Star squad when he posted some pretty impressive first-half numbers. He was 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.046 WHIP in 18 starts, 16 of which were quality starts. In those 18, Cincy sported a record of 15-3.
To frustrate opponents, they could muster only a .219 batting average against him.
Then the All-Star break came and went. The post-ASG Alfredo Simon has not been anything close to the pre-ASG Big Pasta. We’ll bring back his first half numbers and add the second half…
It’s suddenly all gone south on him. Any time we see this, there might be some areas that we believe is causing such a slide.
Well, if your first thought might be that a drop in velocity must be in play. That’s not it. His velocity has been pretty consistent for the entire season. See for yourself.
Has he lost movement? Maybe some.
Release point? Maybe some with his curve, but that’s not a pitch Simon throws a lot. That could be nothing more than not throwing it on a semi-regular basis.
Of note here. If a pitcher is showing extreme deviations in any or even all of these, you could make the assertion that he is starting to wear down as the season progresses (especially velocity). Thing is, Simon isn’t exactly displaying any real issues in any these three areas. (Although the movement seems to show some.) There’s honestly nothing that jumps out and grabs you to where you would definitively state that as the main cause.
On the release point, that could be simply a mechanical flaw where the kinks needs worked out.
That said, we must bring to the table that for this season, Simon has already pitched more innings at the big league level than he ever has. While that doesn’t appear to have any adverse effect on his pitches, at least for now, there are other areas in which we have no statistics that could measure the effect of the increase in innings pitched.
One might being into play the mental grind of being a starter as compared to being a reliever. Simon has pitched out of the bullpen in the previous two seasons.
Could it then be pitch selection? Is Simon depending too much on a singular pitch? Well, pitchers can fall into a habit of relying too much on one pitch. That is, unless your Bartolo Colon and the fastball is pretty much all you ever want to throw. Simon doesn’t exhibit near that much reliance on any single pitch, but his sinker does seem to be thrown more than others.
I know you see it. Something here does grab your eyeballs. We clearly see that Simon has cut back on throwing the curve and cutter and increased use of the the sinker along with the fastball and split. The sinker has jumpred a fair amount for August. Maybe this is an adjustment the team, Simon and the catchers have made. If it is, hitters have clearly keyed in on this, and it hasn’t worked.
Still, the sinker does not represent even half of the pitches he has thrown.
But the pitch Simon throws more than any other, that sinker as denoted on Brooks Baseball, is being hit at over a .300 clip. And I’ll add here that when I checked Fangraphs, I did notice something. The sinker is not considered a “plus pitch” for Simon. In addition, Brooks Baseball notes that Simon has served up 7 home runs when delivering it.
Another factor could be something so simple.
Sometimes, we look so hard (maybe too hard) to see why a pitcher is struggling that we forget to give the credit to the hitters. Should we not consider that the hitters have found something? Are hitters more in tune when Simon will throw a particular pitch (the reliance factor)? How the movement is? Have they adequately adapted to that movement? Is Simon possibly tipping his pitches?
Oh, and on that last question from above, I haven’t heard or read anything about that, so that would be nothing more than conjecture from those on the outside looking in, including myself.
With all the statistical data we have readily available, teams have even more at their disposal, including video. In other words, the hitters have made their adjustments. Alfredo Simon and the team must now counteract those to get him back on track.