After numerous false starts and a persistent drizzle which threatened to undo me once again, I finally got the chance to sit down and chart a Jairo Labourt start (and finish). I must have then done something good to someone as I showed up to last night’s game (in glorious sunshine) against Boise oblivious to who was starting for Vancouver. Turns out it was Labourt again! So today is double chart Wednesday with some comments from C’s pitching coach Jeff Ware thrown in for good measure. Enjoy.
First, the lines for both starts:
The most impressive column from that table is the walks. That’s three straight games now (he held Tri-City on the 9th of August to one walk in five and two-thirds innings) where he’s been able to limit the free passes issued, while still missing bats. In fact, the last three games has seen Jairo put up a 23 K’s to just the 4 walks. Impressive. Especially for a guy that struggled so much with his command at the start of the season.
Breaking down what he threw:
|Running Pitch Count vs Boise||FBs||Sliders||Change|
|Running Pitch Count vs Everett||FBs||Sliders||Change|
In both games the 6’4″ lefty looked to establish the fastball early before mixing in his breaking stuff later in the outing. Last night, in the first two innings, Labout threw 22 pitches, 19 of which were fastballs. He tends to find the zone more consistently when working in the low to mid 90s. I’ve noticed a tendency for head whip to the 3rd base side when Labourt is running the fastball up in the upper 90s. This was especially prevalent in the Everett game.
Last night was the most relaxed I’ve seen Jairo throw. He stands on the 3rd base side of the rubber, has a moderate sized leg kick, some hip rotation at the top, and nice arm speed coming through.
After the game, I asked C’s pitching coach Jeff Ware about the lack of whip. He said it wasn’t anything special they were working on, just the same process. Since spring training, the Jays have been looking to get Labourt moving straight ahead, using his lower half more, and ensuring he doesn’t get ahead of himself.
Of the 48 fastballs thrown last night, 32 were for strikes including two swinging strike threes. He was able to work down. Owning the lower half of the zone while also spotting both sides of the plate. He induced a ton weak contact. He wasn’t necessarily breaking bats like Miguel Castro but of the 7 hits given up, I counted one as smoked and two that were hit relatively well. Of the other four, two were bunt singles, one was a routine ground ball that ate up Alexis Maldonado and was somehow scored a double, and the last was a chopper to the 5/6 hole which Barreto couldn’t make the play on. The Hawks were not barreling up Labourt’s fastball at all.
As for the secondary pitches. The difference in the slider between the two outings was night and day. After throwing to very flat breakers early against Everett, Labourt threw it more like a cutter the rest of the outing, not getting much depth at all to the pitch. Against Boise he threw the big slider, with both nice tilt and depth, generating a ton of swinging strikes, especially against left-handers. For Ware, this is something they had looked to improve on. He noted that the cutter like movement may help him down the road, but for now they wanted Labout to get on top of his slider, getting a wider, deeper break.
Similar process for the change. He threw two flat ones early on against Boise, shelved it for a few innings, but then broke it out again late, getting excellent depth and run on the pitch. I had a great view of his wind up from where I was sitting and couldn’t detect any discernible slowing of the arm for the pitch. In fact, it was the most consistent I’ve seen him with his mechanics thus far.
For the most part I’ve been very impressed with the past two starts. Like the C’s staff, I’d like to see more consistency to the breaking ball. With Labourt’s great fastball, being able to throw a hard breaking slider will be a huge weapon. His change is still a work in progress but there are flashes of a very nice pitch developing.
Labourt only turned 20 during spring training. The disappointment over the demotion from Lansing probably stuck with him for awhile but he’s definitely turning a corner. Having never really been a huge strikeout guy early in his career, the 9 K performance last night puts his K/9 ratio at 10.74 which leads the Northwest League. He’s also yet to give up a home run this season. With a low 5.7 H/9 it’s hard to fathom the 3.48 FIP. But, oh ya, the FIP formula includes walks and HBPs to a factor of three.
Well, like I said above, the last three starts have only yielded four walks and one HBP. Let’s just hope this trend continues through the final two starts of the season and into the playoffs.