Padres Analysis: Andrew Cashner Bringing the Heat


Bringing the heat has always been a big part of baseball.

As the game continues to evolve, we see more and more pitchers throwing faster and controlling that velocity in ways that pitchers of the past could not. In a terrific article for the New York Times, Joe Ward and Amanda Cox analyze the speed game of baseball and what it means for the future of the game. They also take a look at the Top 20 “Top Guns” of the game, of which the Padres own Andrew Cashner comes in 8th place as pitchers who threw the most pitches 95 MPH or higher over the course of the season.

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The New York Mets had three starters on the list, including Matt Harvey who returned from Tommy John Surgery with no ill effects to his velocity. Four relievers were on the list including Mets closer Jeurys Familia and Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

I was a little surprised not to see Padres closer Craig Kimbrel on the list, but I believe it might have to do with the fact that he only pitched in 59 1/3 innings compared to 66 for Chapman. Kimbrel also had 11 fewer walks and 29 fewer strike-outs thereby reducing his pure overall pitch count for the season.

Regardless, we know that Cashner has the velocity to blow it by hitters and he did set a career high in innings and strike-outs this season. He also allowed seven more home runs and 29 more earned runs than he did in 2013 which led to an ugly season. So reducing his walks and even learning more how to ‘pitch’ than just throw hard will continue to aid his advance as a major league pitcher.

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His strike percentage went down overall this year(68% to 64%), while his ‘strikes looking’ went up a tick from 2014. Another advanced pitching metric that saw improvement in 2015 was his strike-out looking percentage, which jumped from 28 to 36%, suggesting that Cashner is fooling hitters with better control and painting of the corners than in previous seasons. Now the trick is get to that two strike count more often – as he went down 2% in getting to 2 strike counts compared to last season. Minor but over the course of a season can add up to more pitches and wear and tear on his shoulder which as given him trouble in the past.

I for one still believe in Andrew Cashner. While his record of 6-16 was atrocious and his ERA high at 4.34, he was healthy all year long and certainly in 2014 we saw glimpses of greatness in the big Texas right-hander. Entering his age 29 season it is exciting to see how Cashner will continue to develop under the continued tutelage of pitching coach Darren Balsley.