Jeremy Hellickson Trusts His Changeup | The Process Report

Jeremy Hellickson Trusts His Changeup

Jeremy Hellickson’s first inning against the Rangers showed off his confidence in the changeup.

Let’s go through the inning before getting to the numbers.

Hellickson started the night with a fastball; a misplaced pitch on the inner-third of the plate. Ian Kinsler ripped the ball into left field. A fortuitous carom allowed Desmond Jennings to return the ball to the infield quickly, holding Kinsler to a long, loud single. Hellickson responded from the inauspicious start in fine form. He located a fastball down and away for strike one to Elvis Andrus. After a fastball in the dirt, Hellickson tossed his changeup. Andrus was too early on it, and bounced a double-play ball to Ben Zobrist.

With two outs and the bases empty, Hellickson now turned his attention to Josh Hamilton. He missed good with fastballs on either corner, and then with an offspeed pitch low. You couldn’t blame Hellickson for being timid against Hamilton. But he didn’t concede the walk just yet. He threw a fastball away for a strike and then coaxed Hamilton to whiff at a changeup. With a full count, Hellickson went to his curveball, low and away, and Hamilton tapped it to Zobrist to end the top of the first inning.

Hellickson went to the changeup on three different occasions where a fastball is expected: 1-1 to Andrus, 2-0 to Hamilton, and 3-1 to Hamilton. According to Brooks Baseball, Hellickson throws his changeup 37 percent of the time he trails a left-handed batter in the count; and 34 percent against righties. When Hellickson falls behind 1-0, he throws 42 percent changeups. Same with 2-1 counts. Hellickson has the confidence in the pitch to throw it in counts where hitters are expecting fastballs.

The results were good on Friday night, and have been throughout the season. Batters are hitting .233 on changeups in counts with more balls than strikes. The danger in throwing a changeup in a batter-friendly count is the possibility of the hitter teeing-off if the pitch isn’t sold well. Sure enough, 43 percent of the hits have gone for extra bases. So, look for the changeup in hitter-friendly counts the next time Hellickson pitches—and hope that the batters are looking fastball.



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