What’s Up With Arquimedes Caminero?

Apr 17, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Arquimedes Caminero (37) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Arquimedes Caminero (37) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Arquimedes Caminero has been somewhat of an interesting pitcher in his one year and two months as a reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The fire-baller has had his ups and downs, and his 2016 season has been a down to date, but why?

In his first month of the 2015 season, Arquimedes Caminero electrified fans with his 100 mile per hour fastball, and he supported that heater with a 3.38 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 4.33 K/BB, a strike out percentage of 30.23 percent, and opponents hitting a measly .179/.256/.256 in his 11 games in the month of April. With closer Mark Melancon’s struggles, really only two games, some wanted to see Caminero in the role, and who can necessarily blame them?

Despite being a strong reaction to a small sample, Arquimedes Caminero sure looked the part. In April alone, Caminero was averaging a fourseam fastball at 99.62 mph, a cutter at 91.82, and a split at 91.88 mph. He was lighting up the radar gone and getting the results that are needed. He was exceptional.

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But Arquimedes Caminero hit a soft spot in July. He had a 7.59 ERA, a 1.875 WHIP, 1.60 K/BB, a strikeout percentage of 14.5 percent, and opponents hit .319/.418/.553 with three home runs allowed in 12 games. He looked lost and wasn’t the pitcher he looked like in the first three months. His fourseam was averaging 98.56 mph, his cutter 91.75, and split 89.99. His velocity was down, and so were his results. He was not very good, and nor was his September which featured a 5.15 ERA.

However, Caminero had a season that was solid overall. He ended the year with a 3.62 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 2.52 K/BB, and a strikeout percentage of 23. But this year something is different, and something is wrong. He currently possesses a 5.74 ERA, 6.38 FIP, and a WHIP of 2.106. What is the reason for these struggles and why are they surfacing now compared to last season?

From a numerical standpoint, Arquimedes Caminero has seen his walk rate increase from 9.1 percent to 15.4 percent, his strikeout rate decreased from 23 percent to 16.7 percent, and his home run rate has gone from 2.2 percent to 3.9 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Part of this problem stems from his line drive percentage going from 26 percent, right around league average, to 35 percent this year. Opponents are putting the ball in play at a much higher rate than last year, and those opponents have a bating average on balls in play (BABIP) of .277 to .375. In terms of a luck standpoint, he is failing to have the same good fortune. And when opponents are getting hits, they’re going for extra base hits, as 48 percent of all hits have gone for extra bases.

For Caminero though, there are some things that are more than just those numbers, there’s something to his pitches. Below is a look at his pitch type numbers (click to see full chart):

Caminero /

In terms of velocity, every single pitch is up from last season, something that can be a good sign, but as of right now it isn’t. His horizontal movement is also an improvement, except on his fourseam fastball. The real problem lies within his vertical movement.

On Arquimedes Caminero’s pitches, the ball does not have the same downward movement it did a year ago, which could lead to him leaving balls up higher in the zone. As seen in his line drives per ball in ball, everything that he throws has seen in an increase in the amount that are line drives, which also stems from leaving more pitches up. The vertical movement and line drives per ball in play are two things that are a contributing factor to he has not been as good this compared to last. The other thing that really stands out his the vertical and horizontal release points of Caminero (from BrooksBaseball.net):

Horizontal Release Point
Horizontal Release Point /
Vertical Release Point
Vertical Release Point /

These release points are easy to find a trend in the differences. Every single pitch that he throws has had a release point that is not only higher than last year but also farther from his body than last season. His release is not the same, and his vertical movement is more than likely effected by this.

The last point comes from the first chart, his decrease in usage of the fourseam fastball. That pitch was Arquimedes Caminero’s main weapon of attack last season. Used over 50 percent of the time, and has been decreased 22.88 percent. No longer is Caminero’s fourseam his main attack.

Even with the decrease in horizontal and vertical movement, it is should be a pitch he goes back to more. Even though opponents are slugging .474, they are also slugging .577 off of his sinker, .615 off his cutter, and .400 off his split. That fourseam fastball is a pitch that should be utilized more, as even this season it gives Caminero the higher whiff percentage between that pitch and his cutter.

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Overall, Arquimedes Caminero’s problems have been by an over performance last season and some bad luck this season, but there are other paths to see why he has struggled. Caminero’s control has gone south, he has given up more line drives and home runs, his hits allowed have been going extra base hits, and his vertical movement is not the same. The other is his release point has differed from last year to this, which looks to be a reason for his mass struggles.

*Numbers from baseball-reference and brooks baseball. Charts from brooks baseball