Jair Jurrjens and Johan Santana from the same mold?

Jurrjens is going to miss his start against the Cubs today, but I was looking at a few things to get a better feel for his pitches before I saw that news alert, so forgive me for posting anyway.

I was looking through Josh Kalk’s PITCHf/x player cards (a great resource if you’re interested in some incredibly detailed information about pitchers and their repertoires) and noticed that Jurrjens’ two most similar pitchers from that perspective are Wil Ledezma (card, BR) and Johan Santana (card, BR).  One of those two players had a very unsuccessful stint with the Braves last year, and the other is plotting his course to Cooperstown, so they’re interesting comps to say the least.

Both Jurrjens and Santana throw a fastball, change, and slider, although Santana throws fewer fastballs and more sliders.  Santana gets more break on his slider, and it’s about 4 mph faster than Jurrjens’ (84 to 80).  They both see about 10 inches of vertical movement and 7 inches of horizontal movement on their fastballs while working in the low-to-mid 90s with that pitch.

The main difference between them, other than their use of the slider, is the difference in speed between their fastballs and their changeups.  Santana (even with rumors flying that he’s pitching hurt) gets a ridiculous 11 mph difference, while Jurrjens is somewhat less impressive at 8.  Santana’s changeup has long been considered a great “out” pitch, and he does use it more than Jurrjens with two strikes.

So, there are clearly some differences between the two pitchers despite their similar arsenals.  Hopefully Jurrjens will continue to develop and have a career arc more like Santana’s and less like Ledezma’s…I just thought that was an interesting comparison, since two pitchers with hugely different histories of success were the two most like Jurrjens based on PITCHf/x.

If you like looking at the PITCHf/x data as much as I do, you might find this primer from Mike Fast useful.

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