As I watch Mikolas throw against Cincinnati, I ain't help but wonder if there's been a dip in Mikolas' velo. I wonder if he's not hurt, or if there's not a mechanical issue. What am I talking about?
As I posted on some social media outlets, Mikolas has seen a dip in average velocity this year, across the board on every pitch. This according to charts from Brooks Baseball.
Some of the things that jump out to me here are the percentage of use changes for Mikolas on his Slider and his Four seam fastball. It clearly seems like Mikolas has lost some confidence on the slider, with it not being as hard and sharp as it was last year, and the fastball is simply too straight at 91-93, with today against the Reds seeing him sit 91 a lot.
In turn, Mikolas has gone to the Curveball an the Sinker, pitches that can be as effective at slower velocity due to movement. Harder to hit a fastball that is moving horizontally to the right hand batters box, harder to hit a ball continuing to dive down like a 12-6 curveball that Mikolas throws. A slower slider would just float throw the zone or hang up long enough to be touched by a patient hitter.
It was then brought to my attention that maybe Mikolas takes it easy going into the year, allowing for his arm to get in shape. So, I went back and looked at the same general amount of time at the beginning to last year.
What we saw in the first month last year was in fact the opposite. Mikolas was throwing much harder, with more Four seamers thrown, an even split on the Slider/Curveball, and a Change Up over 90. So it seems safe to say Mikolas isn't a typical slow starter, at least typical in the last two years.
So then I went and broke it down month by month for May June and July:
The story here is that Mikolas velo dropped over the course of last year, averaging truly around 94 after a hot start to the season, with a heavy use of the slider in the month of July. Has Mikolas been dealing with something long term?
I'm not sure it is fair for me to say that Mikolas is hurt, but at the very least you have to wonder if there is a mechanical issue. Maybe Mikolas got tired over the course of last year, that would make sense. But coming into the year tired would make a lot less sense.
As I have said a lot about this Cardinals team, "it's early". But it does concern you after watching Carlos Martinez loose his velocity last year that maybe Mikolas is in the same situation this year. The defense of Martinez would be that he is hurt, so can we make the same defense of Mikolas? Something to consider going forward.