Angels reliever Jimmy Herget caught baseball fans' attention Wednesday when he struck out Francisco Mejía on a curveball that broke so far inside that it actually hit him.
You don't see Major League hitters swing at a pitch that hits them very often, and when you do, you want to know how the pitcher did it.
Well, Herget has already been nicknamed "The Human Glitch" by Pitching Ninja for the frisbee movement he gets on his pitches. Here's a quick look at how Herget gets his stuff to move in such a funky way.
What makes Herget the Human Glitch? The way the ball spins coming out of his hand.
Statcast measures every pitcher's spin direction. Herget has one of the most horizontal spin axes of any pitcher.
With a funky sidearm delivery, Herget spins his pitches in such a way that their movement direction is almost perfectly horizontal. His sinker moves almost straight left-to-right. His curveball breaks almost straight right-to-left.
If you picture a clock face, 3:00 and 9:00 are the perfectly horizontal movement directions, 3:00 being horizontal movement to the right from the pitcher's perspective and 9:00 being horizontal movement to the left. The way Herget spins his sinker, the movement direction is 2:15 -- close to true left-to-right. The movement direction of his curveball is 8:45 -- almost true right-to-left.
That's an unusual look that hitters don't see very often. On top of that, Herget's sinker and curveball have a lot of movement. The combo of delivery plus break is how you get a swing like Mejía's.
Herget's sinker breaks an average of 18.4 inches horizontally. His curveball breaks an average of 16.9 inches in the opposite direction. So if he throws those two pitches the same way out of his hand, they could end up nearly three feet apart as they dovetail to opposite sides of the plate.
Herget has top-10 horizontal movement on both pitch types, for pitchers who have thrown a similar number of sinkers and curves.
Among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 sinkers in 2022, Herget's 18.4 inches of horizontal break ranks fourth. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 50 curveballs, Herget's 16.9 inches of horizontal break ranks seventh.
- Pitchers with more horizontal sinker movement than Herget: Aaron Loup, Adam Kolarek, Javy Guerra
- Pitchers with more horizontal curveball movement than Herget: Phil Maton, Rich Hill, Michael King, Corey Kluber, Adam Wainwright, Bryse Wilson
Herget's combination of quantity of pitch movement and plane of pitch movement make him a reliever worth watching. But if you saw him strike out Mejía, you already knew that.