Some Quick Thoughts on Jerad Eickhoff and the Curveball

So I am going to be brief here because Eickhoff has now qualified for my offseason series on graduated prospects so I want to save a lot of the big picture stuff for that.  What I really want to do is react to the development of his curveball.

Eickhoff mentioned recently that it took him a few starts to get a feel for his curveball due to the seams on the baseball.  After the trade and in Lehigh Valley the curveball had been his best pitch and out pitch.  The raw pitch count numbers show his increasing confidence in the pitch in the majors.

eickhoff

The success with the pitch has been immediate and in his last 4 starts (against the Cubs, Nats, Braves, and Mets) his numbers have been fantastic has he has gone 28.0 innings with a 0.96 ERA, allowing 17 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 33.

The curveball is an important part of Eickhoff’s arsenal because his fastball has been more average (90-93) in the majors and his slider is a solid pitch but doesn’t carry his arsenal.  Neither of those pitches help Eickhoff against left handed hitters and his changeup has really lagged.  Additionally the curveball gives Eickhoff a vertical component to Eickhoff’s arsenal allowing him to change the eye level of hitter.

The curveball itself has good movement and bite.  What makes it really good is that Eickhoff has shown command of the pitch and can drop it into the strikezone for a called strike and break it out of the zone for a chase.  But what makes the pitch all come together with his arsenal is the release point.  Here are the vertical and horizontal release points of all of Eickhoff’s pitches.

Brooksbaseball-Chart (3)

Brooksbaseball-Chart (2)

Most pitchers have some minor deviations in their release points on different pitches and we can see that the slider, changeup, and sinker deviate off the fastball.  The big thing is that the fastball and curveball come from the exact same place.  On the Phillies broadcast they talked that Eickhoff against right handed batters was starting the curveball at eye level and dropping it into the zone for a strike and that the batter saw it as a high fastball.  This shows the reasoning, the curveball is coming from the same place as the fastball and with the velocity difference the batter is frozen by the curveball.  If the batter does gear up for the fastball, Eickhoff will start the pitch in the middle of the zone and drop it away for a swing and miss.

The changeup is probably the key to Eickhoff staying in the rotation without major platoon splits.  The curveball is the key to his ceiling because it can be a real weapon against all batters.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

6 comments

  1. Romus

    I like the fact his CB has such great downward movement and a difference of approx. 15 mph velo less then his FB. Though he does throw both of those pitches about 3/4 of the time, so a developed CU added to his arsenal mix, especially facing lefties, would be a real plus for him moving forward.

  2. Slim

    Very helpful, Matt. Nola’s splits against lefties, except for HRs, look worse than Eickhoff’s. I look forward to your thoughts on that.

  3. Romus

    Mr Winkleman….what is your off-season menu going to be for PMTs?
    Will there be at least a weekly article to whet the appetite?

    • Matt Winkelman

      I have a giant backlog of things to write about, plus we have fall league, instructs, and then winter ball. So it might not be everyday but there will be something 3-4 times a week unless real life gets in the way. Season recaps and profiles on graduated players should take us well into November, at some point I need to write up the Top 50 as well. So no, not going anywhere, just need to process all of the information from the season

      • Romus

        Ok ..thanks, .that is a plate full from what I can see.

  4. bobmelan

    I knew Eickhoff was at least an 8th inning guy because of the pitch. Makes you wonder what the Phillies really know about the Rangers system because they plucked 5 fWAR from them this season.