Jacks’ pitching coach offers insight on World Series


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Nick Aeilts, Reporter

The 2021 World Series kicked off Tuesday night, and this year, it features the Atlanta Braves against the Houston Astros.

The Astros are back in the fall classic for the third time in five years, while the Braves make their first appearance since 1999.

The Collegian talked to SDSU pitching coach Kirk Clark about what makes certain pitches effective and who he thinks the best pitcher is in the series, going over one starting pitcher and one relief pitcher from each team in the series.


LHP Framber Valdez:

With their best ace, Lance McCullers Jr., unavailable for the series due to injury, Framber Valdez will take the mound in game one.

Valdez features a sinker as his primary pitch, throwing it a little over half the time. His fastball clocks in at an average of 92.5 mph.

Valdez takes just five mph off his fastball for his changeup and throws it more than any of the other pitchers on this list, throwing it 12.1% of the time.

“The best pitch that you can pair with any fastball is a changeup,” Clark said.

You will see changeups more from starting pitchers than relief pitchers because the starters will face batters multiple times. The changeup is used so batters aren’t able to time up the pitchers’ fastball.

Valdez’s punch-out pitch is his Curveball. He throws it 30.8% of the time. Look for Valdez to throw this pitch low in the dirt anytime he gets a batter into an 0-2 or 1-2 count.

Valdez’s best pitch: Sinker

RHP Ryne Stanek:

Stanek has the highest average fastball velocity on this list, sitting at 97.7 mph.

“Velocity is king, but movement and command are a close second,” Clark said.

Stanek throws his fastball 59.7% of the time, which is somewhat low for a relief pitcher with a velocity that high. He also throws a splitter and slider 21.8% and 18.5% of the time, respectively.

He will likely use those pitches to finish off batters.

Stanek’s best pitch: Fastball


RHP Charlie Morton:

Morton pitched for the Astros the last time they won the world series so, he’s going to be an interesting pitcher to watch against Houston’s lineup.

Morton is one of the few starting pitchers who throw the curveball more than the fastball, with both pitches being thrown right around 35% each.

Morton’s curveball ranks in the 98th percentile for a spin in the majors, meaning his curveball moves more than just about any other pitcher’s. Don’t expect to see much of his cutter and changeup, but he throws each of those around 5% of the time.

Lastly, Morton throws a sinker but doesn’t feature it like Valdez does, throwing it less than 15% of the time.

Morton’s best pitch: Curveball

LHP Tyler Matzek:

Matzek has been huge for the Braves throughout the playoffs. He has appeared in nine games this postseason and has allowed just four hits and two runs.

“He has two wins and four holds, so to me, he’s impacted most games for the Braves from the pitching side this postseason, which to me makes him the most impactful arm this postseason right now,” Clark said.

Matzek throws his fastball 70% of the time with an average velocity of just over 96 mph. His finishing pitch is his slider, with an average velocity of 85 mph.

Matzek’s best pitch: Fastball

-Pitch metrics obtained from fangraphs and baseballsavant



GAME 1: Tuesday, Oct. 26 @ 7:09 p.m.

GAME 2: Wednesday, Oct. 27 @ 7:09 p.m.

GAME 3: Friday, Oct. 29 @ 7:09 p.m.

GAME 4: Saturday, Oct. 30 @ 7:09 p.m.

GAME 5 (if necessary): Sunday, Oct. 31 @ 7:09 p.m.

GAME 6 (if necessary): Tuesday, Nov. 2 @ 7:09 p.m.

GAME 7 (if necessary): Wednesday, Nov. 3 @ 7:09 p.m.