“I’m frustrated overall with the fastball command ... It’s just consistently terrible. Today it was absolutely terrible." -- Manny Parra in the Journal-Sentinel
We've been here before with Parra. In fact, I wrote about it last week after a similar start in Colorado. Sunday's start against the San Diego Padres was more of the same.
He threw 100 pitches. Of those, 42 were fastballs. Only 20 of those fastballs resulted in strikes, and none of those were swinging strikes. It's safe to say he wasn't fooling anyone.
So instead of sitting here and giving you an update on how many runs below average his fastball is (hint: it still stinks out loud), let's take a look at something new. It's no secret that Parra's mechanics can easily get out of whack (it was something that was covered extensively when Rick Peterson was hired...by the way, check out that gem of a quote from Attanasio in the 6th graf). Take a look at this graph of his release points, courtesy of Brooks Baseball's pitch f/x data:
Just for comparison's sake, here's the release point chart for the other starter in Sunday's game, Jon Garland:
It's pretty clear that Garland's release points were much more consistent, based on the tighter cluster. Parra's release points are much more erratic, forming more of a horizontal line than a circular cluster.
When you look at pitch types, you can see that most of Garland's pitches are also clustered according to type -- look at all those pink "curveball" points essentially placed in the same spot. When you look at Parra, though, it looks as though he had a hard time finding a consistent release point on nearly all of his pitches. His splitter is generally his best pitch, and as you can tell from the purple points, it's also his most consistent release point. The two home runs he gave up today were on two-seam fastballs -- the baby blue points that pop up all over the place. His release points have always tended to be a bit erratic, but when you compare the above graph to his past two starts, Parra was worse than usual.
When Peterson was hired, I was one of those guys hoping that he'd be able to work some magic on Parra, getting a solid season or two out of him. Hell, if he could do it with Oliver Perez, he could do it with Parra, right? At this point, though, it doesn't seem like Peterson has made much of a difference -- in fact, there's a chance Parra is actually worse this year than he's been previously. This is admittedly pure speculation, but Parra doesn't seem to be the type that gets better when you make him think about his mechanics...you're better off just letting him pitch.
It might not matter for long, though -- Adam McCalvy is reporting that the Brewers may give Parra's rotation spot to someone else in September. After that, Parra is eligible for arbitration in the offseason, and despite his poor play is probably going to get a significant raise. Let the speculation on his future with the organization begin.