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2017 Arizona Diamondbacks Review: #34, Braden Shipley

Will Braden Shipley earn a spot in the rotation?

Braden Shipley
Braden Shipley
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
  • Date of birth: February 22, 1992
  • 2017 line: 10 games, 25 IP, 5.76 ERA, 18:15 K:BB
  • 2017 value: -0.2 bWAR
  • 2017 salary: minimum, arbitration starts 2020
  • SnakePit rating: 4.20

2017 analysis

Braden Shipley has three main pitches – a four-seam fastball which sometimes flattens out if he pitches it at top velocity (Nick Piecoro wrote that it is more effective when he throttles it back), an outstanding change-up that is very deceptive because it dies at the plate, and a “league average” curve with a big break “often early out of the hand.”

Because of inconsistency, in spring training he tweaked his delivery by adding a pause at the top of his delivery. In 2017, he pitched 109 innings in the minors and 25 innings in the Majors. He was so-so in the minors with a line of: 20 games, 109 IP, 5.78 ERA, and 74:42 K:BB. Overall, the story was similar in the Majors. Three weaknesses were:

  • K/BB fell from 1.5 in 2016 to 1.2 in 2017. His 1.2 K/BB is lower than all D-back pitchers except Descalso (6 batters faced) and Koch (3 batters faced).
  • FIP increased from 5.7 in 2016 to 6.24 in 2017. His 6.24 FIP was higher than all D-back pitchers except Barrett (6.27) and Koch (3 batters faced).
  • In 2017, lead-off hitters (batting order position one) did very well against him with a line of .417/.533/1.000=1.533 OPS.

He needed this season’s experiences to continue his development.

2018 prospects

The important question is whether Braden Shipley should be a reliever or a starter. In 2017, ERA and K:BB showed he was much more effective as a reliever than a starter.

  • Starter/enters-game-in-first-inning, 2017 line: 4 games, 18 IP, 7.0 ERA, 10:13 K:BB
  • Reliever, 2017 line: 6 games, 7 IP, 2.6 ERA, 8:2 K:BB

Before jumping to the conclusion that he should be a reliever, let’s look at whether he pitched differently in late innings. Brooks Baseball charts show that release points of his pitches (especially the curve and four-seam fastball) were more closely bunched in the eighth and ninth innings.

2017 Horizontal Release Point by Inning
2017 Horizontal Release Point by Inning Braden Shipley
2017 Vertical Release Point by Inning
2017 Vertical Release Point by Inning Braden Shipley

When release points are closer together, it makes it harder for the batter to see which pitch. The tables show that when he pitched in late innings, his pitching was more deceptive. He could pitch just as deceptively in the early innings, and thereby earn a spot in the rotation.

Deception is his strength. His change-up is his best pitch because of its exceptional deception. In 2013, he talked about having two types of curves (a strike curve and a spike curve) – that slight difference can add to his deception. Complimenting his deception, a scouting report written by Nick Stephens said he has an impressive pick-off move.

With a very high ceiling (the D-backs drafted him in the first round in 2013), if he continues to develop his strength as a deceptive pitcher, he could earn a position in the rotation. Alternatively, he has demonstrated excellent pitching in short relief.