After hearing Jose Quintana talk about efforts to improve his changeup for 2019, I am so stoked. I absolutely love that Q is trying to incorporate more changeups into his game, something discussed here at CI last August. Getting that offspeed pitch dialed in could elevate the lefty’s game.
“My focus [this offseason] was on my changeup,” Quintana told The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma ($). “I’m trying to use that pitch more with my stuff. My strengths are my fastball and breaking ball, but I want to be better with my changeup. That feels really good right now and I’m going to use it in a lot of games.”
Normally a four-seam/curveball kind of pitcher, Q knows the value of incorporating another secondary pitch, especially one that moves the opposite direction from his curveball.
“I want to use [the changeup] in the game and get good results,” Quintana added. “I think that pitch could make the other two pitches stronger. I’m ready to use it. I want it.”
That August 25 start noted in the opening paragraph featured more changeups than at any point in the season, but it didn’t really follow or establish any bigger trend in that regard. Ultimately, Quintana might never have felt as comfortable throwing the offspeed pitch and got away from throwing it to close out the season.
I wonder, though, if he was actually trying to adjust his changeup late in the year. You can see from the figure below that his changeup was actually tailing less and less as the season progressed (lower value numbers = less tailing action). As a consequence, he didn’t whiff as many batters. I don’t know why his changeup had less horizontal movement, whether it was intentional or due to fatigue. Maybe it was even totally random.
No clue, but something absolutely did change.
So while we don’t know why his mechanics shifted, we can say with certainty that whatever Quintana was doing with the changeup as the season progressed didn’t work. But if he successfully builds the confidence to make the changeup a more consistent part of his repertoire, his outlook for 2019 drastically changes for the better.
Same goes for beyond this coming season, but we’ve already seen enough fuss over more immediate projections.