How a similar style pitcher fares
So amongst these 32 arms, who has similar stuff with better home run numbers?
Matthew Boyd. He has a lower HR/FB rate, and better yet, Boyd over the stretch from 2017 to 2019, has the exact same average mph according to Fangraphs, clocking in at 91.4 mph.
So how do they do it? Is it that they have a different fastball in terms of movement or even in terms of the other results? The culprit for Kershaw is either the fastball or the curveball or the slider, he really doesn’t throw much else, and against the Yankees at least, it seemed to be the curveball.
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Boyd is nowhere near as good as Kershaw in terms of the numbers surrounding his home run rate, from ERA to strikeouts to WHIP, you name it. But if Kershaw could limit homers like Boyd, it would only serve to make him better.
So how did the Detroit Tigers’ emerging ace seem to do it?
While Kershaw and Boyd’s fastballs have produced similar results, their main secondary pitches have not. Boyd’s HR/FB is consistently between 7.5% and 11.5% while in two of the three seasons examined, Kershaw’s has been either 22% or 32%. Why?
Part of the reason may be that Boyd’s is a slider, or more likely that his slider garners around 3-5% more swinging strikes than Kershaw’s. Maybe Kershaw is floating too many into the zone, like what happened against Judge and DJ LeMahieu on Sunday. Maybe Kershaw could throw more of his own slider, since it has better home run prevention numbers, albeit in a smaller sample size than the curve and heater.
This could just be a story of mistakes being more susceptible to being rocked since the new ball narrative and launch angle revolution narrative emerged in 2017.
But for now, I’m content with Kershaw allowing home runs, especially when they’re of the solo variety, and even more okay with it when he strikes out 12 hitters from the hottest lineup in baseball. Even if they are without Giancarlo Stanton.