Two and a half years ago, Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum squared off in Games 1 and 5 of the NLCS. At the time, they were probably the two best pitchers in baseball. Halladay won the Cy Young that year, and Lincecum led his team to their first of two World Series in three years. Kyle Kendrick was an afterthought.
Fast forward to today.
Halladay may be deceased. Lincecum looks like a boy and is an average pitcher at best. And Kendrick is among the league leaders in ERA. My, how times have changed.
Kendrick beat Lincecum last night, 6-2. He pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, six hits and no walks. His ERA is 12th in the league– 2.45. And you need to look no further for explanation than Kendrick’s pitch chart:
That’s Cliff Lee-like consistency. Kendrick threw 55 sinkers, all with nearly a one-foot break at 91 mph. His changeup kept hitters off-balance with the same break but with a 5-9 mph decrease. If we compare Kendrick to, say, Halladay, we’ll see the difference a bit of consistency can make. Here’s Halladay’s sinker from Sunday– more range in the speed and break (also, slower):
And here’s Lincecum’s pitch chart from last night:
Timmay had little horizontal break on his pitches and almost no consistency or differentiation between certain pitches. He does rely more on vertical movement than most, but still, these charts are a good snapshot of the difference command and consistency can make for a pitcher.