Cubs Stats to Follow: Adbert Alzolay Has a New Pitch

Say hello to Adbert Alzolay’s new sinker.

Though he’s best known for his four-seam, curve, and change, 24 of the 90 pitches (26.7%) Alzolay has thrown at the big league level this season have been sinkers. He hadn’t thrown any before this season, as the below figure illustrates.

But is Alzolay really throwing a sinker or is the classification an artifact, I asked myself, since Baseball Savant has not classified any Alzolay pitches as sinkers. The answer to my question, though, is a resounding Yes, Alzolay is in fact throwing a sinker.

The reason I believe Alzolay is throwing a sinker is that Brooks Baseball shows the pitch with twice as much horizontal movement as his basic four-seam. And the difference in movement between his four-seam and sinker is beyond statistically significant and clearly separate, which you can see below.

I went into the video archives to find an Alzolay sinker and came up with this 95+ mph tailing beast that induced a weak grounder. That will play, folks.

I’m excited about this new pitch for three specific reasons. First, I think it’s possible it will help Alzolay generate more weak contact, especially on the ground. Second, I’m confident that his changeup — previously graded at a 40 by scouts — will be more effective because its horizontal movement is nearly identical to this new sinker. Third, the more effective pitches a starter owns, the more likely he can get through the order multiple times.

This is not just some new pitch that Alzolay has used sparingly and it doesn’t appear to be a misclassification, either. No, Alzolay is literally throwing a sinker once every at-bat. To me, it’s a big deal.

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