Tag Archives: Taylor Jungmann

Taylor Jungmann can’t survive on two pitches

Not many starting pitchers in Major League Baseball can be successful while throwing just two pitches. Pitchers usually face a batter two or three times throughout a game, and if the batter has to guess from just two pitches, odds are he’s going to have a favorable outcome. Hall of Famer Greg Maddux is one of the few successful two-pitch pitchers, but he’s the definition of an outlier. He relied heavily on an elite sinker and devastating changeup, and ended up being one of the game’s best thanks to his knack for forcing ground balls. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another two-pitch pitcher who can do that.

That’s what Taylor Jungmann is trying to do, though, as he is solely throwing a four-seam fastball and a curveball thus far in 2016. Yet, the results haven’t been favorable. In fact, they’ve been downright poor.

Through three starts, Jungmann has a 9.00 ERA, 4.88 FIP and 4.39 xFIP. He’s striking out just six per nine and is allowing a .357 batting average on balls in play, which, by the way, is the 12th-highest mark in the majors. Usually I would say that high of a BABIP isn’t sustainable, but Jungmann’s pitches are getting crushed at such a high velocity, I’m not so sure we’re going to see much of a dip. According to Baseball Savant, Jungmann has allowed an average exit velocity of 93.98 mph; only 10 other pitchers have been hit harder (min. 100 pitches). Oddly enough, two of those pitchers are also Brewers in Wily Peralta (95.64 mph) and Jimmy Nelson (94.83 mph). Maybe it’s a Milwaukee thing.

Clearly, hitters aren’t being fooled by what Jungmann has to offer, partly because neither of his two pitches are considered dominant. That’s showcased by his numbers.

Jungmann

As you can see from the chart, Jungmann loves throwing his fastball, while mixing in his curveball about 31% of the time. Brooks Baseball says he’s thrown three changeups, but that could just be a classification error.

Jungmann has just eight strikeouts on the year, 75% of those coming via is curveball. His curveball has actually been somewhat successful; it’s his heater that batters are demolishing. Just look at Jungmann’s BABIP and isolated slugging. It’s sky high. The reason his curveball has limited hitters to a .211 batting average can be explained by the fact that hitters are simply expecting his fastball. Wouldn’t you be if you knew your pitching opponent threw it at a 66.8% clip with only one other pitch option? Of course you would.

Throwing just two pitches is new for Jungmann. He didn’t do it in 2015, and as far as I can tell, he didn’t do it in the minor leagues. Last season Jungmann used a bigger arsenal of weapons.

Pitch

A year ago he had a changeup and sinker. Where have they disappeared to in 2016? And why? It’s not like they were ineffective pitches. On the contrary, actually. Jungmann allowed a .244 batting average against his sinker, and a lowly .143 average versus his change. And in case you forgot, Jungmann had a wonderful rookie season, posting a 3.77 ERA and 3.92 FIP. Why he chose to abandon two pitches that worked for him is a question that deserves an answer. Did new pitching coach Derek Johnson make that call? Was Jungmann uncomfortable throwing those pitches?

Before we all start freaking out, though, we must realize it’s only April and Jungmann has only pitched 13 innings. Maybe the right time to throw his sinker or changeup hasn’t occurred yet. That seems likely seeing as how Jungmann threw those two pitches just 18% of the time last year.

But nonetheless, Jungmann’s season hasn’t started according to plan. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up and his fastball is being served on a silver platter. He needs to either start mixing up his pitches like an actual major league starting pitcher, or hope his fastball and curveball magically become Aroldis Chapman– and Clayton Kershaw-esque.

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What can we expect from Taylor Jungmann in 2016?

Through 17 starts and 100.1 innings, Taylor Jungmann has been worth 2.2 Wins Above Replacement, making him the most valuable starting pitcher on the Milwaukee Brewers. The 25-year-old Jungmann has posted an impressive 3.05 ERA with an almost as equally impressive 3.37 FIP. He’s done a marvelous job of keeping the ball in the yard and has limited batters to just a .285 wOBA.

Jungmann’s success is rather surprising and unforeseen. Most people had him pegged as a back-end starter with the upside being a chance to be a solid three-guy. But during his MLB debut season, Jungmann has pitched nothing short of an ace.

But should we really expect that going forward?

The quick answer is no. I expect his stats to take somewhat of a hit in 2016, and there are a few reasons why I believe this.

Throughout his minor league career, which began in 2012 in High-A ball, Jungmann had a knack for allowing a relatively high batting average on balls in play (BABIP). In 30 games across two seasons in Triple-A, batters hit safely on 32 percent of balls they put in play. Granted, that number is a bit inflated because of the park environment Jungmann pitched in this season in Colorado Springs. That being said, however, Jungmann is allowing just a .283 BABIP in the majors, which is drastically lower than what we saw from him in the minors. As you should know, 100 innings is too small a sample size to take seriously, which is why I’m not a believer in those numbers. I believe hitters will start hitting him harder as his time in the majors grows, and as a result, his BABIP will rise.

Jungmann relies a ton on his fastball. Probably too much. Right now, he’s throwing a fastball at a 68.9 percent clip. Only four qualified starting pitchers throw heaters more often. Now, if Jungmann’s fastball was in the mid-to-high 90s, he could probably get away with over usage, but because it averages just barely 92 mph, it’s nothing too special. If Jungmann ever misses with location, hitters, especially as they begin to learn his tendencies, will feast on him. Adding another pitch to an arsenal will surely help, but also throwing his changeup more would be beneficial. Look for him to do that in 2016.

Good command is key if Jungmann wants future success, and his command has been impressive in the majors, something you couldn’t say when he was down on the farm. During his time in the minors, he issued his fair share of free passes. In both of his years in Triple-A, he posted walk rates of over 10 percent, which is why his minor league FIP numbers were never as impressive as his ERAs. His 8.7 BB% with the Brewers this season is encouraging, but also surprising due to his troubles in the minors. If Jungmann somehow reverts back to his bad location ways, 2016 will be a bumpy ride.

It’s fair to say Jungmann has been great in 2015, and it’s also fair to say he has overachieved. And when a rookie overachievers, it’s typical to think he will eventually regress. Well, color me typical, because that’s exactly what will happen. He’ll be more of a 3.80 ERA pitcher than a 3.00 ERA pitcher in 2016. But that’s okay. Nobody expected him to be an ace, anyway.

Grade the game (June 30, 2015)

After each (most, at least) game, I’ll write a short but of course exciting recap of said game. Then, you the reader, will have the opportunity to give the Brewers a grade based on their performance. Simple enough, right?

Taylor Jungmann (2.74 ERA/3.19 FIP) squared off against soon-to-be-traded (?) Cole Hamels (3.26 ERA/3.58FIP) Tuesday, as the Brewers looked to at least split the series against the Phillies. Jungmann did his job and kept his ERA low, giving up two earned runs in six innings. He did, however, allow a home run to Carlos Ruiz (48 wRC+) who came into the game with zero to his name. Hamels was brilliant, striking out seven while only allowing two earned runs. Ryan Braun (.356 wOBA) continued his dominance at Citizens Bank Park. Through the first two games, he’s racked up seven hits in 10 at-bats. I mean, that’s good, right? The Brewers squeaked out a 4-3 victory, but not before Francisco Rodriguez made it interesting in the ninth.

The play that made the game worth watching: Aramis Ramirez stole a base. Seriously.

Stat of the day: Hernan Perez is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak. He has a 129 wRC+ since joining the Brewers on June 2.

My grade: B

Defense again plagued the Brewers, but a solid start from Jungmann and great work from Jeremy Jeffress sealed the victory.

 

 

Grades so far (beginning on June 29)

A: 0

B: 1

C: 0

D: 0

F: 0