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The adjustment behind Cal Quantrill’s success

Maybe more of a medium dive?

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

By now, Padres fans are likely pretty comfortable with the idea of Cal Quantrill remaining in our rotation in the immediate future. After being selected 8th overall by San Diego in the 2016 draft, the big Canadian posted uneven results across 3 12 minor league seasons—which is a nice way of saying that he never posted an ERA south of 3.80 in a given season.
After finally being promoted this May, Quantrill posted a 5.14 ERA in 4 starts during his first major league month. At that point, skeptics might have been justified to think that Quantrill was more of a “guy” than a viable rotation cog. The last few months, however, have been a different story.

After spending the majority of June in the pen, Quantrill has emerged as a bright spot in these dogged days of summer. Since the calendar flipped to July, the righty has posted a 1.88 ERA in 38.2 innings, with 29 strikeouts against just 7 walks. He has gone six consecutive starts without giving up more than 2 earned runs.

On the heels of this success, I figured it was now a good time to talk about his repertoire.

This Is How He Does It

Fangraphs did a nice profile of Quantrill’s pitching arsenal last year. In the piece, the hurler said:

“I throw both [two-seamers and four-seamers], probably more four-seamers. When I’m throwing my fastball the best, it’s got good carry — it’s got good life — and I’m locating. It’s all pretty basic stuff. To me, it’s about throwing with conviction and executing my pitches.”

Apparently, something has changed between this season and last: Quantrill is throwing his two-seam fastball more than the four-seamer in 2019. At 36.5%, it stands as his most relied-upon pitch. That seems like a great idea—hitters are logging just a .206/.234/.324 slash line against Quantrill’s new favorite offering, which clocks in at 94.4 mph on average.

Quantrill’s slider is his second-most used pitch, at 21.2%. His Whiff % on that pitch is 42.86%—good enough for 16th among all major league pitchers this year. Hitters are mustering just a .238/.235/.397 effort against his slide piece.

Being able to throw 50%+ of your pitches to batting lines/results like that will go a long way toward establishing any pitcher as a reliable performer. It’s possible his newfound reliance on the sinker is a credit to the tutelage of Darren Balsley, and, if so, the Padres pitching coach should soon be able to add one more success story to his illustrious resumé.