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 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.

9 Responses

  1. sultan of swaff

    Good analysis, Doug. In addition to the debate over whether Cingrani has the secondary stuff to stick as a starter, I would point out its imporant to mention stamina as well. Last night certainly put those concerns to rest for me. He finished up with a 93mph fastball to end his outing, while sitting around 92 the whole night. That’s a big plus IMO.

  2. Stock

    Very impressive night for Cingrani last night. He has proven that his ability to miss bats is not limited to inferior minor league hitters. His K/9 thus far this year is behind only Darvish, Scherzer and AJ Burnett among SP with at least 10 IP. When hitters do make contact it is often not solid. His IFFB rate is 14th best in the majors (of the 148 SP with at least 10 IP) and his LD rate is 27th best. On the downside he did only face the Marlins and Cubs and he gave up a HR each start. His third start vs. the Nationals will be interesting.

    Another thing I liked about him is he works fast. As a fan that is great and as a defensive player behind him it is great.

    I think the time has come to move Cingrani up one spot in the Reds prospect rankings. I had him #2 over the winter. He is clearly #1 now.

  3. WallyP

    Doug very nice write up. Cingrani is that pitcher that will get better with each start. This is a double edge sword . A pitcher like Cingrani is new to the league, the batters have never seen him and that is certainly to the advantage of Tony. We all know he goes up there and challenges you. We also know that Tony will need to get better with progression and secondary stuff. I have no doubt that this will happen. He will perform thi year and I would ride him. He is a big strong guy and he will not wear down
    Don’t baby him , use the Nolan Ryan school of pitching

    • The Duke

      Cingrani is about ready for a full season workload. He could likely go 180-190 IP this season without issue.

  4. IndyRedsFan

    I hate to show my ignorance, but can someone explain how this grid is to be interpreted.

    I assume the center of the axis is some reference point, and the numbers are the distances in inches from that reference point.

    Is that correct?

    If yes, what is the reference point? Is it the release point? or?????


    • Doug Gray

      It references the amount of movement each pitch gets compared to the pitch that was thrown the exact same way without gravity causing what it causes. For example, every fastball thrown is actually going to have “rise”, but clearly they do not actually rise. That is because gravity does its magic.

  5. Mac624

    Here’s the real question. What happens to him when Cueto returns? Send him down or move him to the pen or move Leake to the pen for long relief? I figured the way Leake started he’d move but he’s picked it up big time the past couple outings too.

    • Doug Gray

      Send him down. You are going to need another starter at some point. Make sure he is ready to start.