Joey Wentz provides one of the lone highlights in Rays' sweep of the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers lefty Joey Wentz provided solid start in sweep.
The highlights were few and far between in a series in which the Detroit Tigers were outscored 21-3. However, on Sunday, left-hander Joey Wentz was in a pitcher's duel with a fellow lefty, Jeffrey Springs, who was dealing.
Wentz pitched 5.1 innings, allowed three runs on four hits, walked one and struck out three. He was able to generate 11 swings and misses by attacking the zone with a combination of three pitches. Lets breakdown how he was able to sequence them together for an effective outing, as Jake Rogers did a great job calling the game, setting up Wentz for success.
Changing eve levels
In total, Wentz threw 72 pitches, mainly using his four-seamer and cutter, which was a pitch he was developing down in the minors last season following surgery. He was using his fastball on the top of the strike zone, while his cutter was spinning higher (2,490 RPMs) than it did in 2022 (2,295 RPMs). That cutter was riding in on the bottom part of the strike zone. There were two hits off the pitch, which were a single and double, respectively.
The reason, along with the fastball that he was throwing at times on the inside of the plate, was important was it set up his changeup and curve effectively. His Z-Swing%, which is swing percentage in the zone, was 88% on a changeup. He threw 16, generated four whiffs, and 11 swings on the pitch. In other words, when the Tampa hitters were looking for either the cutter or the four-seamer, he was able to keep the Rays off-balance with the changeup being that effective.
He threw nine curveballs, and it was just as impressive for two reasons. One, he was able to generate a 44% CSW on the pitch. He was getting the Rays hitters to swing at a pretty good O-Swing% (swings outside of the strike zone) of 50%, as the Rays only put one in play. Like the changeup, he pounded it toward the lower part of the zone well.
The other reason was, like the cutter, the spin was up, but more importantly, the horizontal break average was better. Last season, it averages 8.6 inches of break, which was -1.3 below the league average. On Sunday, it was up, averaging 11 inches of break, allowing that higher CSW%. The horizontal break looks pretty good here.
The home run off Randy Arozarena was off a fastball low in the zone, and it was just a good job by Arozarena to golf it to left-center. Overall, this was an encouraging start by Wentz, with hopefully better things to come.