Detroit Tigers: A deep dive into Joey Wentz after his first start of 2023
By Tyler Kotila
Effective tunneling helping Joey Wentz find success for Detroit Tigers.
A quick crash course for those who do not have a huge grasp on tunneling. It's the art of making all of your pitches look the same out of the hand. Being able to throw pitches that are similar in shape at release but also different enough at the endpoint.
Here is a fantastic piece from Prospect Live about pitch tunneling that was up for a SABR award this year. The point is, with all of this tunneling talk, if you can keep your pitches close enough in velocity and close enough in the look out of the hand, you are going to have success.
At the very basic, look up PitchingNinja on Twitter and look at the "overlays" he posts. Notice the pitchers whose pitches stay stacked on top of one another before breaking. That deceptiveness creates struggles for hitters.
Wentz was executing just that. In Rogelio Castillo's highlight of Wentz's outing from Sunday, he noted that his pitches were playing up in the zone. This is mainly because he was able to fool hitters from getting on the barrel and driving the ball well.
Sure, he only had ten whiffs and three punchouts. Still, his pitches are similar out of the hand, meaning a hitter could be sitting fastball, get a cutter out of hand that looks like the fastball, he makes the decision to swing, thinking it's going to stay over the heart of the plate. It cuts away, and next thing you know, he's hitting it off the end of the bat for a weak ground out.
The point being Wentz has made tremendous strides in controlling his pitch mix for success. There's every reason in the world to believe that he can lock down a spot in the Tigers' rotation. He's not the next best arm or the future ace, but he's easily a solid no.3 or no.4 for the organization, and the changes he's made have paid dividends.