He may have lost on Saturday thanks to two early home runs, but Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar was carrying a 1.48 ERA in his previous seven starts. We found out during Saturday’s contest that Salazar has changed the grip of his two-seam fastball through the course of the season and has started to experience some additional movement as a result.
According to Pitch F/X data, Salazar was throwing his two-seam fastball sparingly during his rookie season (3.1 percent of the time) and last year’s up-and-down season (6.7 percent). This season, however, the young gun has increased usage of this pitch to 17.6 percent, and Salazar has seen is O-swing% (percentage of non-strikes that have induced swings) jump from 22.1 to 26.3. But why are batters swinging and missing? A good reason would be the additional inch of movement (5.4 inches) in toward right-handed hitters this season as compared to the last two (4.4 and 4.6, respectively).
A recent blog post on Grantland discussed the fastball usage of Salazar’s teammate Corey Kluber, who has one of the most dominant two-seamers in the game, charting in at 10.2 inches of horizontal movement. So while Salazar still has a ways to go if he wants to be discussed alongside the master, changing his grip and increasing his two-seam usage has worked wonders thus far.