Welcome to Week 2 of the GPS Location Report. This is my weekly dive into pitcher location and pitch usage to determine why a given pitcher is succeeding or struggling. Last week I dove into Dylan Bundy and determined that he was using his breaking balls to start at-bats and it was leading to a ton of success. He continued that success again on Tuesday making me look like a genius.

As my Twitter feed and my Tyler Alexander recommendation shows, I am not a genius. I will make mistakes and I will suggest things that end up being wrong but that is all part of the fun. Today, instead of looking at a pitcher who is having a career-best season, I’ll be diving into Jose Berrios who is having one of the worst years of his career.

 

Jose Berrios

 

Berrios has looked like a budding ace in the past few seasons. While he has always had stretches of true dominance mixed with struggles, but he had been a mid-3s ERA pitcher each of the last three seasons. However, the start of his 2020 has been brutal. This season he has posted an ERA just below 6. His hard-hit rate is rising and his K rate has dropped significantly.

The first thing I like to look at when I see massive changes in a performance like this is pitch mix. For Berrios, the main difference this season is a drop in sinker rate being offset but an increase in change-up rate. Overall, this would seem like a positive trend as his sinker has been historically hit harder than his change. So far in 2020, his change-up has been getting crushed. This could be a part of the issues he has been having but the change is still the pitch he uses least often.

The big difference in what I am seeing so far is that his fastball is getting torched. So far he has allowed a wOBA of 0.571 and an xwOBA of 0.522 according to Statcast. The average Exit Velocity on his Fastball is 96 MPH. Plain and simple, the pitch is just getting destroyed. This led me to consider that his ability to locate the fastball has regressed. Below I have included the location chart for his fastballs on top of expected wOBA.

 

 

Quite simply as you can see, his fastball location has been brutal. Especially early in the count, he has been leaving his fastball over the heart of the plate. However, the issues do not appear to be limited to solely the first pitch of at-bats. Many of his fastballs are being left over the heart of the plate. This seems to support the destruction currently being done on his fastball.

I decided to query the expected data and compared Berrios’s fastballs to all other pitchers. Among the 80 pitchers who have thrown at least 150 Fastballs, Berrios ranks 18th in location-based expected woba on the fastball. This may not seem terrible, but it also includes his sinker which has been fairly successful in 2020 so far. However, the issue is that while his fastball has a high expected woba, it also has an extremely low expected Whiff rate. Among the same sample of pitchers, his xWhiff is 11th lowest. The critical thing to note here is that among the ten pitchers ahead of him, Berrios has the highest expected woba. So based on where he is locating his fastball, he is not expected to generate many whiffs, and when contact is made the expected woba is extremely high. This is an extremely dangerous proposition for a pitcher and this could explain why he has been struggling so much to begin the season. When Berrios next takes the mound keep a close eye on his fastball location.

 

Stuff ERA Leaders

 

All stats are updated as of Sunday, August 16th. 

 

Stuff-ERA Leaders
Min 200 Pitches
Pitcher Stuff-ERA
Shane Bieber 2.2581
Dylan Bundy 2.6548
Aaron Nola 2.7192
Yu Darvish 2.8812
Frankie Montas 3.0125
Freddy Peralta 3.0912
Lance Lynn 3.1188
Dinelson Lamet 3.1337
Jacob deGrom 3.1364
Corbin Burnes 3.2242
Zac Gallen 3.2927
Carlos Carrasco 3.3862
Max Scherzer 3.3909
Max Fried 3.4068
Austin Brice 3.4263
Zach Plesac 3.4367
Trevor Bauer 3.4393
Alex Cobb 3.4531
Ryan Yarbrough 3.4996
Brandon Bielak 3.5175
Gerrit Cole 3.5185
Kyle Hendricks 3.5357
Sonny Gray 3.5477
Josh Lindblom 3.5556
Kenta Maeda 3.5621
Julio Urias 3.6049
Touki Toussaint 3.6147
Tyler Chatwood 3.6340
Lance McCullers Jr. 3.6445
Walker Buehler 3.6472
Luis Castillo 3.6693
Jalen Beeks 3.6725
Pablo Lopez 3.6782
Kevin Gausman 3.6887
Chad Kuhl 3.6960
Cal Quantrill 3.7003
Spencer Turnbull 3.7265
Brady Singer 3.7356
Zach Davies 3.7418
Phillips Valdez 3.7421
Yusei Kikuchi 3.7550
Jesus Luzardo 3.7587
Clayton Kershaw 3.7604
Alec Mills 3.7625
Zack Greinke 3.7820
German Marquez 3.7862
Griffin Canning 3.7876
Dallas Keuchel 3.8043
Andrew Heaney 3.8197
Yohan Ramirez 3.8297
Chris Bassitt 3.8359
Randy Dobnak 3.8383
Tanner Roark 3.8438
Tommy Milone 3.8441
Kyle Wright 3.8621
David Peterson 3.8848
Merrill Kelly 3.8854
Wade LeBlanc 3.8855
Brandon Woodruff 3.8927
Trevor Williams 3.8955
Justus Sheffield 3.8999
Garrett Richards 3.9008
Zack Wheeler 3.9138
Mike Clevinger 3.9296
Robbie Ray 3.9336
Hyun Jin Ryu 3.9375
Adrian Houser 3.9455
Tyler Anderson 3.9459
Colten Brewer 3.9507
Cristian Javier 3.9842
Lucas Giolito 3.9846
Antonio Senzatela 3.9976
Dustin May 4.0020
Elieser Hernandez 4.0049
Jose Berrios 4.0356
Patrick Corbin 4.0367
Jon Gray 4.0417
Framber Valdez 4.0420
Asher Wojciechowski 4.0508
Patrick Sandoval 4.0536
Joe Musgrove 4.0544
Alex Young 4.0745
Josh James 4.0830
Tyler Glasnow 4.1022
Matt Shoemaker 4.1052
Nick Margevicius 4.1261
Trevor Richards 4.1330
Martin Perez 4.1683
Kyle Gibson 4.1691
Logan Webb 4.1727
Danny Duffy 4.1926
Taijuan Walker 4.1954
Dylan Cease 4.2116
Tyler Alexander 4.2188
Kyle Freeland 4.2282
Kolby Allard 4.2344
Mike Minor 4.2405
Erick Fedde 4.2410
Ivan Nova 4.2592
Marco Gonzales 4.2599