We thought it would be interesting to see what an excellent blogger from the Rays side of the tracks thought about the Bucs this spring. Robbie Knopf who covers the Rays over at Rays Colored Glasses took a look at Correia and gives a prediction on the right hander’s upcoming season.
Scouting Kevin Correia
Hi, I’m Robbie Knopf, a staff writer at Rum Bunter’s fellow FanSided site, Rays Colored Glasses, and I have some scouting notes for you from a Rays-Pirates spring training game I attended two Sundays ago. These are completely unbiased for the simple reason that I’m a Rays fan and am not particularly familiar with the Pirates, and hopefully I’ll be able to give you a different perspective on some of your favorite players. We’ll start today with my notes on Kevin Correia along with a prediction for how he’ll do in 2012.
The Pirates’ starting pitcher at the game I attended was Kevin Correia, who we know went 12-11 in 2011 with a 4.79 ERA and a 5.02 FIP. In the game, Correia went three shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out 1. On the day, Corriea’s fastball started just 85 to 86 MPH before jumping to 87-91 the rest of his outing. After looking at his Pitch F/X data, I realized that he was working on his sinker pretty much his whole outing. His sinker featured nice movement away from right-handed hitters although its sink was just decent.
Correia’s sinker wasn’t an overpowering pitch especially at lower velocities, but it was able to force groundballs when he located it down in the zone. Correia was around the zone all day with his sinker, but the important thing for him moving forward is his sinker command. Correia’s sinker is a critical pitch for him to perfect because his fastball may be a little harder (he only threw it a couple times but it was never below 89) but it was (and is) a straight pitch and when his command isn’t pinpoint, it’s extremely hittable. Correia also mixed in a cutter at 86 MPH that had sharp late downward movement, but hitters were able to recognize it well. It lost effectiveness because he was unable to throw it from the same release point as his fastball. Correia had nice control of his cutter, but once again he had some difficulty commanding it.
On the day, Correia was working on his sinker and cutter and threw his fastball just a couple times. He noticeably held back his curveball, which was his best swing-and-miss pitch in 2011. But the third pitch he used on the day was a changeup at 77 MPH that he used a couple of times. It had an excellent speed differential with his fastball and sinker, and even though it didn’t have the type of horizontal movement his sinker has, it had better sink and he located it well, and it was easily his best pitch on the day. Of course, Correia will have to establish his fastball in order for his changeup to be effective when he uses more often.
Correia struggled in 2011 as his K/9 shot down from his 6.6 career mark entering this past season to just 4.5. What was interesting was that his BB/9 dropped from his 3.6 career mark to just 2.3. However, that improvement in control was misleading because his command remained sub-par as he allowed 1.4 home runs per 9 innings, the 4th-highest ratio among NL pitchers minimum 100 IP.
As we all know for Correia to be consistently effective, he will need to locate his pitches better. But one reason for optimism is that Correia has made progress with his sinker and that should take some pressure off his fastball and help him limit the longballs. Based on what I saw, I would project a spike in strikeout rate for Correia, a somewhat lesser increase in walk rate, and a decrease in homer rate to say 5.5, 2.8, and 1.2 respectively. That amounts to a 4.64 FIP which remains unimpressive but would be a definite improvement for Correia.
Kevin Correia is a decent major league starting pitcher and he should be a serviceable back-of-the-rotation for the Pirates in 2012. He’s nothing special, but he’s not as bad as the 5.09 ERA he posted the last two seasons.