I don’t think anybody could be blamed for taking a little time to revel in the lopsidedness of the Mat Latos trade early on. Though most were lukewarm about shipping him out for the return of Anthony DeSclafani and Chad Wallach, Latos’s comments about the clubhouse and the medical staff burned that bridge pretty quickly. Fast-forward to two starts into the regular season and Cincinnati is decidedly on the sunny side of this trade.

Heading into the season, there was some reasonable apprehension about whether DeSclafani’s repertoire is enough for him to stick as a major league starter—in 2014 he leaned heavily on his fastball and slider, with his two-seamer, changeup, and curveball only used for a combined 12.9% percent of his pitches. DeSclafani abandoned that curveball pretty quickly after only really employing it in September of last season, admitting “it was a below-average pitch so I kinda canned it.”

After forgetting about trying to throw a curveball, DeSclafani fixed his mechanics to improve his slider. As he mentioned in the Eno Sarris article linked above, Anthony altered his breaking pitch to spike it more and its now a little over three MPH faster (averaging 84.9 this year to last season’s 81.7) with less movement overall. You can see here the difference in his release point between the two seasons:

Disco release points

His change in release point hasn’t seemed to negatively affect the rest of his pitches—the velocity and movement of his four-seam fastball, two-seamer, and change have remained consistent between seasons.

Disco repetoire

Obviously, one difference sticks out more than anything—DeSclafani is using his secondary pitches a lot more often so far in 2015. He’s throwing the two-seamer a lot more often (especially against lefties, throwing it 33.7% of the time to them, nearly equal to the number of four-seamers he’s pitched to opposite-handed hitters) and his slider and changeup have become more effective. Not pictured in these tables are the zone and whiff rates on his pitches. He’s throwing his slider for more strikes and getting hitters to swing and miss on that and his changeup more frequently (23.1% whiff rate on his slider, 22.7% on the changeup) even though batters are swinging slightly less at those pitches.

It’s looking like Anthony DeSclafani has a better feel for his entire repertoire than he ever has in his professional career. Having confidence in four different pitches (three of which he’s throwing over 20% of the time) goes a long to allay fears about his ability to stick in the rotation. As he continues to learn and refine his arsenal, DeSclafani may make a compelling argument for being placed a little higher in it in the near future.

20 Responses

  1. Vottomatic

    Already better than Latos and he’s making the minimum with 6 yrs of control…SCORE!

  2. reaganspad

    I appreciated Latos ability, but he did seem aloof and he was pretty tempermental which would cause him issues on the mound. I know that he had a healthy hate for the Giants which I loved.

    Hate that there is a backstory regarding his health and the Reds staff.

    Health is a squishy issue. Would like to see him get well soon, but I am glad that we are not dealing with that this season….

  3. Doug Gray

    The release point may not be different at all, but more of where he is standing on the rubber. I haven’t looked to see if that is what is going on, but the release point is the same in height, just different on the other axis which could be simply standing more centered on the rubber.

    • lwblogger2

      Good call… I’d have to look at video of him from last year and this year to know.

    • Kevin Michell

      Good point, Doug, I didn’t think to look for that. That would make a lot of sense. Please comment if you get a chance to look at any video for this!

    • jdx19

      My first thought, as well. Does look like he’s got a 2-inch delta on the Y, though, based on center-of-mass.

  4. lwblogger2

    I don’t think we can judge the trade, or any trade for that matter, so soon after it’s happened. That said, I like what I’ve seen out of Disco and Lotos’ verbal bashing of the Reds has caused me to lose an awful lot of respect for him. If that’s how he feels than rather or not the trade actually works out as far as personnel, it’s better that he isn’t in the clubhouse.

    I love that Disco is using the 2-seamer more, especially against lefties. At GABP, pitchers need something with a little sink or cut action on it. I also like that he’s throwing the change more. The arm-action on it, from the CF camera, looks pretty good. I wish I could get more looks at it from behind the plate. The early returns for DeSclafani are really good and I hope he keeps it up. I’d love to see the Reds get the better of this trade. I’ll happily eat some crow if I need to.

  5. Redgoggles

    With all things being considered (attitude/contract), I am at peace with the trade. However, one thing to keep in mind is that Latos has typically been a slow starter. Let’s revisit this in July, and hopefully it still holds true.

  6. CTRedsFan

    I bear no ill-will towards Latos. On thing you knew about Latos, when you handed him the ball he was going to compete, you got all he had that day, and I respect that.

    That being said, the Reds were not going to be able to re-sign him so trading him was the right move. Undoubtably, DeSclafani will have some rough patches during the season, but he seems to have the stuff and mental make-up to be a solid contributor to the rotation.

    Not a big fan of Walt’s but this seems to have been a pretty good trade

  7. JMO

    The Latos trade was brilliant. Simon was a great trade as well, even though IMO we should have kept Simon for 2015.

    • Tom Reed

      Suarez, down the road, will be a positive for the Reds.

  8. gaffer

    It should be easier to teach Disco a good changeup.

  9. bohdi87

    Walt gets an A- for the Disco/Latos trade (may bump up to A+ after time) but he gets a Z- minus for the Gregg/Marquis decisions.

    • gaffer

      It is funny how nearly no one here liked the Latos trade at the time, but now its all rainbows and ponies. I might suggest that Latos was traded to nearly the only team that offered anything, and Desclafani was really the only MLB ready pitching prospect that same team had. So, Walt may may or may not have had any “descision” to make.

      • Chris Miller

        How do you know that no other team was offering anything for Latos? I’m not buying that. I for one am a huge fan of Latos, and still think it was a bad trade. I’ll gladly be wrong if that’s the case, but two starts doesn’t tell me much. Secondly, Latos was dealing very good in his 2nd start, but sat for a long time during the 4th inning rain delay, gave up a couple of hits, and the bullpen let all his runners score. Jury is still out.

  10. Art Wayne Austin

    I like Desclafani’s approach better. Latos was a bully type pitcher, hit it if you can, with uncertain control while Desclafani uses the black to remind you pitching is an art.

    • greenmtred

      There have been some pretty able bullies down through the years: Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, even Aroldis. I like what I’ve seen of Desclafani but agree with LWblogger that it is too early to judge the trade, and would add that Latos’s inflammatory comments differ little from many made here concerning the medical staff and BP.

      • redmountain

        I am sorry that so many think Jocketty and the medical staff are so bad. I do not agree. We do not know what is happening in the front office and the medical staff has done well for this club and also for the players from other clubs who have had successful surgeries with them. As far as Phillips goes, I try and judge what a player is worth by what he does on the field. I have nothing to complain about with that.