Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Nick Pivetta
Sunday, May 27, the Blue Jays complete a three-game interleague series in Philadelphia. In the final game of the series, the Blue Jays draw Canadian pitcher Nick Pivetta while sending J.A. Happ to the mound.
Nick Pivetta is a native of Victoria, British Columbia, the second B.C. native to play the Blue Jays this season. Needless to say, the Blue Jays bats will need to produce more than they did against James Paxton.
Last season was not a good year for the young Canadian. Through 26 starts, the righty was worth just 1.1 fWAR while posting an 8-10 record, 6.02 ERA, 1.69 HR/9, and 70 ERA+. However, there was some reason for optimism as his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA all suggested that his ERA was inflated.
Pivetta has capitalized on these positive numbers, this season. Through 10 starts, the Canadian is already worth 1.5 fWAR, posting a 4-2 record, 3.23 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, and 119 ERA+. Pivetta’s worst start came on May 4 against the Washington Nationals. The righty pitched one inning, allowing five hits, three walks, two home runs, and six earned runs—talk about a rough day at the office. The right-hander has bounced back from that outing, allowing just one earned run across his next three starts.
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Pivetta offers a range of pitches, including a fastball, curveball, slider, sinker, and change-up. While offering a sinker and change-up, Pivetta rotates through his fastball, curveball, and slider, primarily.
The Canadian throws his heater 54% of the time, averaging a quick 95.47 mph. Along with the quick velocity, the fastball creates a little arm side run. In terms of stuff, the fastball is probably Pivetta’s best pitch. Despite the good velocity and movement, the four-seamer has produced a poor .299 batting average against.
The right-hander throws curves 23% of the time—a rate that is up about seven percent from last season. The hook has average movement and holds a decent velocity of 79.2 mph. The curveball does not produce a high amount of whiffs but has produced groundballs at a great rate of 58.62% of balls in play.
Pivetta has used his slider 15.3% of the time this season. Interestingly, the slider has dropped some velocity since last season—from 83.4 mph to 82.7 mph. The slider has been very effective this season, producing whiffs on 41.79% of swings and allowing a minuscule .059 batting average against.
The Canuck has seldom used his sinker and change this season. The sinker and change hold use rates of 4.8% and 2.8%, respectively. Interestingly, the sinker is a new pitch for Pivetta, he did not feature any during the 2017 season. Both the change and sinker have been responsible for a home run, as well. Unsurprisingly, the sinker holds a terrible .270 ISO against and the off-speed pitch holds an even worse 1.000 SLG against.
Pivetta pitches to fly balls, a result he has achieved at a good rate of 39.7%. Interestingly, unlike most fly ball pitchers, the righty is still able to achieve a fair amount of groundballs, holding a ground ball rate of 40.4%.
The Canadian does a good job at pitching away from hitter’s power, producing hits to centre field and the opposite field at least 6% more than pulled balls. This has helped Pivetta, as he has pitched to a great 0.85 HR/9. The right-hander allowed 25 long balls in 26 starts last season, so this is a great sign for the BC native.
In limited experience, the Blue Jays have been terrible against the Pivetta. Just Curtis Granderson and Yangervis Solarte have ever faced the right-hander. Both Granderson and Solarte are hitless in four and three at-bats, respectively. The slight glimmer of hope is that Granderson has a walk against the Canadian.
Next: Blue Jays: The Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Solution
The Blue Jays draw another difficult match-up in Pivetta. The right-hander is on his way to a break-out season and is incredibly hot over his last three starts. The Blue Jays will most likely need J.A. Happ to pitch another beauty to keep them in the game.