Exactly a month ago, we looked at the development of Jen-Ho Tseng and his new 95 mph fastball. He has had an up-and-down season to date, mainly because of trying to add a few ticks to his fastball.
Here are the game logs that Tseng has put up this year. Above the line are games before the first article and below are those after. Also included in there is an All-Star break.
Since the date of the first post, Tseng pitched in four games with varying degrees of success. He has a 2.35 ERA in those four starts combined and a 0.69 ERA in July. In each of the starts you can also see an increase of the percentage of strikes he has thrown. Notice in his last start, where he gave up 2 hits in 8 innings, 76% of the pitches he threw were for strikes; that is an amazing percentage! Previously his best start saw him throw 65% strikes.
On the surface, it would appear that Tseng is simply getting better with his command. Sure it would. But that’s only a part of the story.
In his last two starts, Tseng has been outstanding; 13 innings of one run ball with 11 Ks would clearly indicate something that something has changed. That is true. I will just let these two tweets explain it all.
Is Jen-Ho Tseng throwing a cutter now?
— Stan (@Crewsett) July 10, 2015
Stan answered his own questions a few tweets later.
Throwing strikes with the cutter, two-seamer, and curve.
— Stan (@Crewsett) July 10, 2015
The interesting thing to me about Stan’s tweet is what is missing in Tseng’s arsenal: a changeup – easily his best pitch, and a plus pitch at that.
Most starting pitchers use only three pitches, including variations of those pitches. For Tseng to add a fourth pitch could change everything about his development. It could widen his arsenal and play mind games with every hitter. The fact that he has added a cutter to go along with his 93-95 mph heater could be a game-changer for him and the Cubs. Having four pitches that he can throw for strikes – with two of them being plus pitches – raises his value in the organization and most certainly on prospect lists at the end of the year.
Take a look at some video of Tseng’s most recent start:
I am still apprehensive about this new development.
On Thursday night, when he flirted with a no-hitter, I was on the road driving back from southern Illinois to where I live in northern Illinois. I was keeping up on Twitter but had trouble getting the video feed on my phone until I got home. I was excited to see that he had a new pitch and I was even more excited that Tseng had such great control the first (maybe) outing with it.
Call me crazy, but I need a larger sample size than 1 or 2 starts. I need months of data – like July and August. I want see how he does against another team. I want to see how he does with mixing in his change. I want to chart his pitches for a game. I want to know when he is using what, how it breaks in the first inning, the third, sixth, and into the seventh. Is the fastball still sustaining its velocity after adding the cutter? That’s a lot to know.
Get ready for: “Jen-Ho Tseng Part Three: Building a Better Battery.”
Tseng’s next start will be next Wednesday or Thursday against Potomac. With Duane Underwood down for a while, Tseng’s development of his cache of pitches might be the most exciting thing going in Myrtle Beach for a while.