What Is Andrew Triggs?

Obviously you should use “who” rather than “what” when dealing with human beings — and I’m not suggesting that Andrew Triggs is some sort of robot — but when we try to understand pitchers, we often classify them in different buckets. And those buckets are things. So the question is, in which bucket does Triggs belong? How should we sum him up?

Let’s try three different labels and see if any of them make sense, beginning with…

A Slider/Cutter Guyer
It’s right there on his player page. Brooks Baseball has it the same. Andrew Triggs throws a slider or a cutter more than half the time.

That would make you suspicious, maybe, of his hot start. His pitching-independent numbers are fine, but there isn’t really a great road map for this type of pitcher. It didn’t quite work for Shane Greene as a starter, for one. For another, there isn’t a single qualified starter this year who throws only a cutter and slider as his secondary pitches.

Mike Leake is the closest to that sort of mix, and even he throws a changeup 10% of the time. If you consider Triggs a slider/cutter thrower, then you really want him to keep working on that change. “I keep working on it and working on it,” Triggs told me about the changeup recently, “but it’s clearly a developing pitch. It’s my fourth pitch, but it’s improved a lot.” Jeff Sullivan was tracking it, but it really looks like has only thrown a couple of them so far this year. Sullivan found a decent illustration:

Only throwing two changeups might be okay! Head on down to the PITCHf/x classifications on his player page, though, and you’ll notice that Triggs is on a different list according to that system.

A Slider/Curve Guyer
As a multiple-breaking-ball pitcher, Triggs has more company. Last year, there were 14 such qualified pitcher, including some randos named Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, and Jake Arrieta.

If you look at his slower breaking ball and remove any frame of reference given by his release point or fastball movement, it certainly looks like a curve. The harder one looks like a slider. You can see why PITCHf/x calls them thusly.

Andrew Triggs’ Breakers vs the League’s
Horizontal Move Vertical Move Velocity
League Righty Slider 2.8 1.2 84.3
Triggs Fast Breaker 2.1 0.2 83.2
League Righty Curve 6.1 -5.8 77.8
Triggs Slower Breaker 8.3 -2.7 75.9

Even mechanically, it makes sense to call his slower breaking ball a curve. “I hold my slider like a curveball,” Triggs admitted. “I actually learned it from Tommy Milone and he taught me how he threw his curve and how he thought about it.”

Here it is in action thanks to Sullivan again. Bangarang:

If you call Triggs a slider/curve guy, then you may be interested in how “distinct” his two pitches are. With his frisbee-like slow breaker and a more vertical fast breaker, the closest comp in terms of two breaking balls from a right handed starter is… Corey Kluber.

Yeah, but Trigg is also:

A Sidearmer Guyer
If you look at this Sullivan graphic regarding Triggs, you might be struck by how low Triggs’ arm slot is.


Sidearmers, or low-slot guys like this, usually have large platoon splits. It has something to do with how long a lefty gets to the see the ball, and also the movement, which can sometimes be very side to side without as much sink or ride.

But then take a look at Trigg’s spine tilt, and his hand slot. Both of those things are upright. On purpose. “I don’t want my spine to tilt too far,” Triggs said of his mechanics. “When I feel tall, when I feel like I’m staying tall through my delivery, I get more on top of the ball and everything seems to be better.”

That slot does create great sink and fade on his fastball. Only six pitchers had more sink on their fastballs, and one (Ben Rowen) was specifically called out by Triggs as throwing “roller-coaster balls.” But if you sort the league by height-adjusted release-point data, Triggs is surrounded by some very different pitchers: Aaron Nola, Cory Gearrin, and… Pat Neshek. That last is interesting, because here’s an image of Neshek releasing the ball. Note his hand angle, or at least where the ball (augmented) comes out relative to his elbow.

It’s not super easy to see, but that ball is coming out of a spot that’s further away from his body than Triggs’ release point above. Neshek’s hand slot mirrors his arm slot, while Triggs says on top of the ball more. In related news, Triggs’ sinker gets nearly six inches more drop than Neshek’s.

Hand slot and arm slot combine to provide deception for some pitchers, and Triggs is one of them. By staying on top of the ball with spine and hand, he’s giving his ball enough sink and sideways movement to get lefties out, maybe. Because, normally, a guy with that arm slot would be used out of the bullpen to face righties.

There might be one last trick that’s helping, too. “This is all to Stephen Vogt’s credit,” said Triggs. “But, especially on days where the changeup wasn’t great, we started to back-door the cutter to lefties. It’s slower, and it functions in terms of location.”

The truth, as always, is somewhere in between. It’s probably true that Andrew Triggs is not just a sidearmer who can’t get lefties out, especially since his two breaking balls look distinct enough. He may not be Corey Kluber, but he’s also probably not Shane Greene or Pat Neshek.

Even if we don’t know what to call those two breaking balls necessarily, they’re working for the pitcher, and he’s enjoying it. An ERA in the low threes through 80-plus innings in the majors wasn’t necessarily on the menu for him in college. “I was serviceable in college, I was never a dominant pitcher,” he laughed, adding yet another label to the debate.

With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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5 years ago

I like to imagine that whatever device you typed this on auto-corrected ‘guy’ to ‘Guyer’ because it has correctly identified which of those words you are more likely to use.

5 years ago
Reply to  tb3nn3tt

Also, it’s a true mark of a deep leaguer that you’re more likely to type the name of a platoon outfielder whose only real skill is getting hit by a pitch than the word “guy.”

5 years ago
Reply to  tb3nn3tt

That had me really confused too. I kept thinking, who’s Guyer? I know there’s a Brandon but he didn’t pitch, so is there something I’m missing here?