Looking at the first two starts of Tony Cingrani for the Reds

Tony Cingrani now has two starts under his belt in the Major Leagues and the results have been quite strong: 12 innings, 2.25 ERA, 10 hits, 3 walks and 17 strikeouts. That is flat out getting things done. The two starts have both been good, but they have been quite different from each other. In his first start he lasted just 5 innings as he struggled with his control at times, while in the second start he lasted 7 innings and was much more pitch efficient.

Pitch Types and Movement

As we have covered and discussed here before, Tony Cingrani is throwing a breaking ball that depending on who you ask you will get a different answer about what the pitch is exactly. Well, thanks to the Pitch F/X data, we have a better idea of exactly what he is throwing. Let’s take a look at how his pitches are moving through two starts in the Major Leagues.


All data provided by MLB Advanced Media

His fastball is a 4-seamer with a good amount of rise and horizontal movement as well. When you couple the movement with the velocity and the deception, it is no secret that the pitch is outstanding. His change up is a pitch that he doesn’t rely on much at this point, but unlike most change ups he gets a little more cutting action than run on the pitch when compared to his fastball. His breaking ball, the much discussed one that we can see above as the black squares deserves some discussion. On this kind of chart, a typical slider would be near the 0 inch marker on both planes. A typical curveball will be in the 3-6 inch area on the horizontal plane, but in the -5 or lower range on the vertical plane. As we can see above, Cingrani has a ball that has horizontal movement like a slider mixed with vertical movement like a curveball. It looks like a slurve, though perhaps it could be a pure 12-6 curveball, where as most guys throw more of an 11-5 type of curveball which is why they get a little more horizontal movement on the pitch than we are seeing above. I would be more inclined to call is a curveball, as it has been labeled such by BrooksBaseball.net for almost all of the breaking balls he has thrown in 2013.

Pitch Usage

One of the concerns with Tony Cingrani in the past has been his excessive use of his fastball in favor of mixing in offspeed stuff from time to time. In his short time with Louisville to start the year he was mixing in his offspeed stuff a lot more than I had seen in the past. In his first start though, he relied heavily on his fastball while occasionally mixing in something offspeed. His second start was much better when it came to mixing in the offspeed stuff, though he was still pretty fastball heavy.


All data provided by MLB Advanced Media

From start one to start two he dropped his fastball usage and mixed in more sliders. His change up rate stayed the same in both games. Even at 74.5%, that would rank 16th out of 142 pitchers last season (combining all fastball usage between 2-seam, 4-seam, sinker and cutter). It will be interesting to see the usage rates as he gets more starts in the Majors. His fastball is his best pitch with the velocity and deception he gets.

Strike Breakdown by Pitch

4/18/2013 4/23/2013
Pitch calledK swingK foul in play calledK swingK foul in play
Fastball 20.4% 11.1% 51.9% 16.7% 25.9% 20.7% 29.3% 24.1%
Change Up 25.0% 0.0% 25.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 0.0%
Curveball/Slider 33.3% 50.0% 0.0% 16.7% 57.1% 14.3% 0.0% 28.6%

Cingrani was able to generate more called strikes and nearly twice as many swinging strikes on his fastball in his second start, which is likely a big reason he was able to be much more pitch efficient. I still believe he was wild within the strikezone and perhaps a little bit too much up in the zone, but he got the job done. He didn’t throw enough change ups in either game to really take anything from either set of data for the pitch. The same can be said for the slider/curveball given that it was only thrown 11 times in the first start.

Pitch F/X Comparison

While pitch velocity and movement may give us a good idea of a solid comparison of stuff, it doesn’t always give us a comparison of talent. As noted above, a guy like Cingrani gets a lot of deception on his pitches and then things such as location and mixing of pitches can make a huge difference between two guys with similar stuff. Still, it is fun to look at things like this to see how the pitches tend to move compared to other guys.

Pitch Velocity hMovement vMovement Comp
Fastball 92.5 7.91 9.32 Gio Gonzalez
Change Up 84.8 7.82 5.2 Jon Niese
Curveball/Slider 78.1 0.88 -4.84 Cole Hamels/Matt Moore

From a pure movement and velocity standpoint, there are some really good pitchers that Cingrani has pitches like. Gio Gonzalez had a very valuable fastball in 2012 and Cingrani’s moves and is in the same velocity range as his is. Jon Niese actually had a below average change up in 2012, but as I noted earlier, there is a lot more to a pitch than just velocity and movement. For the curveball/slider, I used one of each since the pitch is kind of in that slurve range. The curveball compared with that of Cole Hamels, but with a little more velocity. His curveball was an above-average pitch in 2012. The slider comparison came up with the slider of Matt Moore, but a little less velocity. The slider for Moore was also an above-average pitch in 2012.

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