Detroit Tigers: A deep dive into Joey Wentz after his first start of 2023
By Tyler Kotila
Detroit Tigers worked with Joey Wentz on adding a cutter.
Let's better define Wentz's arsenal. He has a fastball that works into the mid-90s. On Sunday, the pitch was solid, getting up to 94 mph here and there and having some oomph on it which is newer for him. The fastball spins up above the 2,200 range, right around the big-league average.
Beyond that, the cutter is not new in 2023, but it has been something he's added to his arsenal, and some adjustments with pitch design have him spinning it more. Which, in turn, is feeding a little jump in velocity and helping him tunnel it out of the hand better.
The cutter is in the mid-80s, getting up around 85 mph, which is a minimal uptick from 2022 but could wind up making a difference in the way the stuff plays out of the hand. The pitch has seen a jump in the spin rate, being up above 2,400 in his first start on Sunday, which is a sizable improvement.
Before talking changeup, his third pitch in the arsenal, his curveball, as labeled by Statcast, has mid-70s velocity with spin up above 2,500 RPMs. Again, being up from where he was in 2022. The pitch is not a big uncle charlie or a hammer but has significant break. Statistically, it grades out as a curveball on Statcast. It has an 11-5 shape and looks slightly like he's throwing a high-tilt slider.
Grade it out however you want, but having a fastball, cutter, or curveball that all appear similar out of the hand will play well. The changeup is an added bonus, especially being a left-hander, knowing he can throw the pitch to righties looking for chases off the plate or called strikes on the outer third for passive hitters.
The changeup is the mid-80s with spin-up above the 2,100 RPM mark. He may not effectively kill spin on the pitch, but it's an excellent offering to mix into his sequencing. The name of the game for Wentz is tunneling, and that's something he did exceptionally well in his first start of the year.