What went wrong with Armando Gabino?

Armando Gabino made his major league debut yesterday and by all means it was not very successful: He pitched for 2.2 innings, gave 5 hits, 4 earned runs (one of which in a bases loaded walk by Phillip Humber who relieved him in the 2nd inning), 2 walks and struck out one batter. Let's examine what went wrong.

Gabino was not getting his bread and butter pitches called strikes

Here is Gabino's Pitch F/X location data from last nights game (from Brooksbaseball.net):

Gabino's bread and butter are pitches in the red rectangle. For Gabino to be successful, he needs those to be called strikes. Gary Darling, the home plate umpire did not only call pitches down and out of the strike zone balls, but some in the lower part of the strike zone as well.

Gabino tried to adjust and was successful on the outside part of the strike zone (red squares to the left), but he left too many balls in the middle that resulted in being in play (blue squares)

Darling had a consistently small strike zone (here is his balls and strikes calls for all pitchers from both teams) :

Gabino threw very few changeups

Gabino's best pitch is a circle change. Last night he threw only 8 change ups in 57 pitches (and 3 of them in a row at some point in the third inning.) I am not sure whether this is due to the fact that the last time Joe Mauer caught him was in the Spring Training of the 2008 season, but for Gabino to be successful his change up ration should be higher and better mixed.

Gabino had a mechanical issue of sorts

Here is Gabino's release point from last night:

Very inconsistent, and it seems to form 2 nuclei very similar to Liriano's. Liriano's release point is different when facing RHB and LHB (because he steps on different place on the rubber depending on whether he faces a lefty or a righty), but Gabino's was all over the place regardless whether he was facing a lefty or a righty.

As you can see he releases his breaking pitches (orange) and change up (yellow) from a much straighter position than his fastballs (green and blue). This is a huge difference and easily picked up by an opposing batter who can wait on a pitch based on Gabino's release point.

He is tipping his pitches in a very bad way... When a ball comes from a straight delivery, the opponent can guess slider or change up and when it comes from a 3/4 delivery he can guess fastball and be right 100% of the time.

Not too good.

Gabino needs to fix these 3 things in order to be a successful major league pitcher:

  • Adjust when he does not get the low strike, but do not throw the ball in the middle of the plate (his 93 mph max FB is not good enought to blow by batters). Stay on the edges, like he partially did last night

  • Mix it up. Got to have batters beat him with his best weapon (change up) not with his least (fastball)

  • Get a consistent delivery and release point to improve his command and stop tipping his pitches


Joseph said...

How can you get better info than this? Great job of data collection and analysis

Twins Fan c.1981 said...

Not to call you out but where are reports that his change-up is his best pitch?

6 of the 9 changes he threw that night were middle-up. Not a good location to be flirting with.

thrylos98 said...

There were several scouting reports about his change up the last 4-5 years.

Small sample size, but you can see that in his single MLB game his change was his most effective pitch (FanGraphs link). Believe me :)

Twins Fan c.1981 said...

That's interesting. Have not seen it deemed that anywhere. Do you have a source on those scouting reports (BA, BP, Scout?)?

I'm not suggesting that it isn't his bread-and-butter pitch since I've only seen him throw once (aside from the youtube clips) but it is hard to quantify the results of 9 pitches as something effective. After all, only three were actually swung on and the reason for the "effectiveness" in the Fangraphs was because he recorded a groundout on one of those swings. Being up in the zone with your offspeed stuff is a recipe for disaster but in this case it could have been the nerves of starting a MLB game.

I like Gabino's arm action and I think he could be a solid contributor in the bullpen (esp. against RHB) but the Twins seem to be smashing a square-reliever peg into a round-starting pitcher hole.

thrylos98 said...

Some of those reports were at BA a couple of years ago and earlier. Some of them were in collections of Miracle scouting reports when he was there. I haven't seen anything that resembles as scouting report at Scout.com of BP.

The guy has 5 starts in the last 4 years... I am not sure that he can or cannot be a starter in this league, but he does need as much work as any other rookie who does not blow batters away. I can see him in middle relief, but would I take him ahead of Bonser/Neshek/Perkins? Not sure