What might the Yankees have in Bryan Mitchell?

Brian Mitchell didn’t see any game action in his previous two stints with the Yankees, but the 23-year-old finally made his big league debut yesterday, throwing a scoreless eighth and ninth. Mitchell’s command seemed a little shaky, but his stuff was unquestionably good, enabling him to strikeout both Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley. He primarily threw two pitches — a mid-90’s fastball and an impressive curve — which accounted for 28 of 29 (97%) of the pitches he threw. He also mixed in a token slider.

When Jose Ramirez, Chase Whitley, and Shane Greene debuted with the Yankees this year, I queried the PITCHf/x database in search of pitchers with a comparable arsenal if pitches and similar stuff. Today, I’m repeating this exercise for Mitchell. To find comps for Mitchell, I looked for players (1,000 pitch minimum) since 2008 who threw either a fastball or a curve at least 80% of the time. I turned to PITCHF/x to find out how often these pitcher’s pitches fell within the minimum and maximum values for Mitchell’s velocity, break angle, break length, and spin from yesterday’s game. These are the pitchers who threw the highest ratio of pitches comparable to what Mitchell threw.

Player Mitchell% K% BB% ERA SIERA
Jim Johnson 55% 16% 9% 3.31 3.48
Tom Koehler 45% 17% 8% 4.17 4.35
Tanner Scheppers 44% 19% 10% 3.75 3.65
Tyler Chatwood 44% 13% 8% 4.34 4.67
Zach McAllister 42% 19% 9% 4.47 4.23
Lance Lynn 42% 23% 8% 3.60 3.62
Ivan Nova 41% 18% 8% 4.20 4.01
Blaine Boyer 40% 16% 9% 4.66 3.85
Shelby Miller 40% 20% 13% 3.36 4.06
Yoervis Medina 39% 24% 9% 2.66 3.59
Angel Guzman 39% 20% 8% 3.31 3.86
Brad Lincoln 38% 17% 10% 4.74 4.14
Francisco Rodriguez 36% 26% 7% 3.00 3.08
Stephen Strasburg 36% 29% 9% 3.15 2.78
Hector Rondon 36% 22% 7% 4.18 3.41
Anthony Swarzak 35% 15% 9% 4.41 4.30
Miles Mikolas 35% 15% 6% 5.10 4.49
Marcus Stroman 35% 21% 11% 3.34 3.43
Ernesto Frieri 35% 31% 7% 3.46 2.87
Josh Beckett 32% 22% 10% 4.02 3.62
David Hernandez 31% 23% 12% 4.14 3.80
Logan Kensing 30% 18% 14% 6.01 4.56
Kyle Drabek 30% 15% 8% 5.37 5.27
Jacob Turner 30% 15% 10% 4.77 4.49
Collin Balester 30% 18% 10% 5.30 4.37
Chris Resop 30% 20% 9% 4.44 3.83
Paul Clemens 29% 15% 8% 5.51 4.60
Jose Fernandez 28% 29% 9% 2.25 2.92
Anthony Varvaro 27% 20% 11% 3.31 3.64
Average N/A 20% 9% 4.08 3.90
Standard Deviation N/A 5% 2% 0.90 0.59


This is perhaps the most exciting list of comps I’ve come across so far, as there are some pretty excellent pitchers on this list. Seeing players like Strasburg, K-Rod, and Jose Fernandez is certainly encouraging, even if they represent the absolute best case scenario. Of course, there are also some stinkers in the group — the Brad Lincoln‘s and Logan Kensing‘s of the world — but overall, this is a pretty promising group of names.

Only time can tell what the future holds for Mitchell, but there’s certainly reason to be optimistic. His fastball-curveball combo is much better than average, which suggests he could make a fine late-inning reliever if he’s unable to piece it all together as a starter. Of course, as with any young pitcher, command will be the linchpin of his future success. If he’s able to locate his pitches, he’s someone who could be a real asset for the Yankees, possibly even as soon as next season. Otherwise, he could be the next Logan Kensing: A guy who’s lack of control prevents him from capitalizing on his good stuff.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs; PITCHf/x data courtesy of Baseball Savant.

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights either watching or thinking about baseball. He's also an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
This entry was posted in Analysis and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>