Before his start on Thursday in Milwaukee, Dodgers right-hander Carlos Frias — celebrated on multiple occasions by the present author in these same pages — Dodgers right-hander Carlos Frias had thrown 110 pitches over three appearances, including a 70-pitch start on May 1st against Arizona.
Over the course of those three appearances, Frias’s fastball sat at about 96 mph — unsurprising, that figure, given both his scouting reports and also his previous work in the majors. More notable with regard to those first 110 pitches was this, though: the absolute slowest among them was a changeup he’d thrown at 88.9 mph to David Peralta on May 1st.
Relative to his fastball, that pitch represents about a 7 mph differential. This is absolutely the slowest pitch he’d thrown, however, out of a sample of 110. Or, phrased differently: Carlos Frias, despite imparting some different spins on his pitches, had basically thrown all of them within 5 mph (either above or below) of his average fastball velociity. That sort of practice isn’t entirely alien to relievers who work in the shortest of stints, perhaps. Even Aroldis Chapman, though — whose fastball sits at about 99 mph — features a pair of pitches with lower average speeds than Frias’s absolute lowest single one entering the latter’s May 7th start.
The purpose of this post is to alert the reader to how, during yesterday’s start, how Frias threw a pair of pitches not merely below 90 mph, but also 80 mph. It’s not unheard of for him: last year, over over 32.1 innings of work, he threw 12 pitches below the 80 mph threshold (not including intentional walks). But that’s 12 pitches out of the ca. 500 he threw, or roughly 2%. To witness Carlos Frias throwing a pitch below 80 mph is a bit like witnessing a rare specimen of flora or fauna in its native habitat.
Here’s the first of his sub-80 pitches from Thursday, a fourth-inning curve at 79.8 mph to Gerardo Parra:
And the second of them, a fifth-inning pitch (also a curve) at 77.3 mph to Scooter Gennett:
Even from this sample of two, there are clues about Frias’s probable future usage of the pitch and also what it looks like to opposing batters. Both of the curves are thrown on 0-0 counts. A probable conclusion from that: Frias regards this slower curve more as a means by which to record an easy first-pitch strike rather than a swing and miss. What else one finds is that both curves draw swings — this, despite the fact that he’d thrown basically zero of them that game and definitely zero of them earlier in the season. A possible conclusion from that: hitters see the pitch well.
Whatever the case, one is able to conclude with some certainty that Frias has the ability still to throw a curve and to throw any kind of pitch at something slower than 80 mph.
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.