Apr 18, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cingrani throws a pitch against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Great American Ball Park. (Photo: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)

Inside Tony Cingrani's First MLB Win

The final outcome of Tony Cingrani‘s first MLB start was in little doubt after the Reds scored four runs in their half of the 4th inning. The Good Guys would duplicate that in the following inning as Cincy would defeat the Miami Marlins by a score of 11-1.

The buzz surrounding this game was aimed at not only Cingrani starting for the first time in the bigs, but it was also brought about due to his counterpart in Marlins pitching phenom Jose Fernandez. In the end Cingrani notched his first MLB win, something Fernandez is still seeking.

So how did Cingrani do? Other than getting the win and one “bad pitch”, questions were raised. Let’s face it, there is always at least one question after any pitcher’s outing. The TV guys raved about Cingrani’s effort while, as word has it, was not as complimentary.

I’ll repeat a line I used from yesterday’s post about Cingrani: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

There are a couple of interesting notes here.

First, here’s Cingrani’s line: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 SO, 102 pitches, 65 strikes

That is a fair number of pitches for a five-inning outing. As you look at the following table, you will see that Cingrani threw less than 20 pitches in an inning only once.

Inning Pitches in Inning Strikes in Inning Strike% in Inning Cumulative Total Pitches Pitch LWTS in Inning
1 20 13 65 20 0.192
2 17 11 64.71 37 -0.547
3 22 11 50 59 0.283
4 21 16 76.19 80 1.339
5 21 13 61.9 101 -0.547

To an extent, Cingrani was accumulating an inordinate number of whiffs in Louisville (26 in 14.1 IP). As we know, some of your “A” stuff in Triple-A might not wash as well at the MLB level. This could explain a seemingly higher number of pitches from Cingrani. Nerves undoubtedly played into it as well.

But look at what Cingrani did in his three Louisville outings prior to being called up to Cincinnati.

Date IP SO Pitches Strikes Strike %
4/4/2013 6 14 84 55 65.48%
4/9/2013 6.1 7 102 62 60.78%
4/14/2013 2 5 41 27 65.85%
Totals 14.1 26 227 144 63.44%

The last two outings weren’t as economical as the first. Over his last two outings in AAA, Cingrani averaged a little over 17 pitches per inning. Makes that first outing look even more scintillating, doesn’t it? You throw 84 pitches and strikeout 14? Unreal.

Another point mentioned was that of pitch selection. A widely known fact is that Cingrani relies heavily on his fastball. In his 5 MLB innings last year, he used his fastball over 91% of the time. Last nights results…

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Whiffs / %
FourSeam Fastball 92.61 95.37 8.48 7.79 82 54 / 65.85% 9 / 10.98%
Changeup 85.28 86.36 8.72 4.42 8 4 / 50.00% 0 / 0.00%
Slider 77.7 79.3 0.65 -6.19 11 6 / 54.55% 3 / 27.27%

Even with the discrepancy of a single pitch in regards to pitch count, Cingrani wasn’t as reliant on his fastball last night, but it still accounted for about 81% of his pitches. Location is of extreme importance in this case. Batters can know it’s coming, but where it’s going is entirely a different matter.

The speed variance form his fastball to changeup was all right, too. Some would prefer a difference of around 10 MPH, but for others, 7+ works as well.

This is also why many are saying that development of his secondary pitches is crucial to his success. Granted, if circumstances had not come about for Cingrani to be called up, this development would obviously be on the path in which all of this was normally intended.

Something to watch will be how these pitches will develop now that Cingrani is in the big show. The learning curve could see more of a bend. And unless there is a blip in discerning his slider from a reported development of an 11-5 curve (another note I mentioned yesterday) in last night’s pitch F/x data, having a fourth pitch to add to his repertoire would serve Cingrani well.

There is also the possibility that in pregame discussions, it was determined to only go with the three different pitches for a number of reasons. Comfort and nerves are only a couple. We also can’t forget that he has so little time in the minors.

Nice to see the kid notch a win in his first start. Also nice to see him get a shaving cream pie in the face.

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